Economic stimulus checks are prepared for printing at the Philadelphia Financial Center May 8, 2008, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Jeff Fusco/Getty Images

U.S. economic officials now face the fog, if not of war itself, then at least of something like it. President Donald Trump has declared a “big war” on the coronavirus. Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell has spoken of an “unusual, new kind of uncertainty added on top of our regular uncertainty.”

Amid today’s fog, familiar winds of debate howl about the size and speed of economic stimulus legislation. Some people, favoring action, argue that additional spending would avert a deeper downturn and prolonged recovery. Others worry about raising budget deficits or inflation. In normal times, in a normal downturn, familiar principles of economics would

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