Everything Is Awful. So Why Is the Stock Market Booming?

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Everything Is Awful. So Why Is the Stock Market Booming?

Investors are betting that powerful interventions from Washington will protect the long-term profitability of major companies.

Neil Irwin

By Neil Irwin

  • April 10, 2020, 5:00 a.m. ET
    • 295
The New York Stock Exchange late last month.
The New York Stock Exchange late last month.Credit…Johannes Eisele/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

What on earth is the stock market doing?

Death and despair are all around. The number of people filing for unemployment benefits each of the last two weeks was about 10 timesthe previous record — and is probably being artificially held back by overloaded government systems. Vast swaths of American business are shuttered indefinitely. The economic quarter now underway will most likely feature Great Depression-caliber shrinkage in economic activity.

Yet at Thursday’s close, the S&P 500 was up 25 percent from its


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