When the pandemic shut down the economy this spring,
all but closed the department where
works as an optician. Her children’s schools closed, too. She thought she might have to dip into savings as they hunkered down in St. George, Utah.
Instead, her financial situation improved.
Though her earnings dropped when she cut back hours to look after her children, company bonuses and a federal stimulus check put extra money in her pocket. She bought stocks right before the market roared back this spring and refinanced her mortgage as interest rates plummeted.
The coronavirus crisis has unfolded in ways few could have expected. Bankers, consumer advocates and, yes, journalists, assumed that when the economy fell apart in March, Americans’ finances would, too. Many recalled how the last financial crisis knocked millions of people off their feet.
This crisis is nothing like the last one. But, with the benefit of hindsight, it is becoming clear just how much the 2007-09 recession shaped the coronavirus recovery.
Then, the government response led to a slow recovery that required years to take hold. This time, faced with a bigger and quicker economic shock, the government response rolled out in weeks—handing