How is it possible that a once-in-a-century pandemic that killed hundreds of thousands of Americans and left millions more jobless didn't also destroy the country’s economy? One of the biggest reasons: Jay Powell and the Fed. Trillion Dollar Triage is the inside story of how an unassuming civil servant created trillions of dollars from thin air, fended off a barrage of attacks from Donald Trump, and made sure the worst economic shock since the 1930s didn’t turn into a second depression.

By February 2020, the U.S. economic expansion had become the longest on record. Unemployment was plumbing half-century lows. Stock markets soared to new highs. One month later, the public health battle against a deadly virus had pushed the economy into the equivalent of a medically induced coma. America’s workplaces—offices, shops, malls, and factories—shuttered. Many of the nation’s largest employers and tens of thousands of small businesses faced ruin. Over 22 million American jobs were lost. The extreme uncertainty led to some of the largest daily drops ever in the stock market.

Nick Timiraos, the Wall Street Journal’s chief economics correspondent, draws on extensive interviews to detail the tense meetings, late night phone calls, and crucial video conferences behind the largest, swiftest U.S. economic policy response since World War II. Trillion Dollar Triage goes inside the Federal Reserve, one of the country’s most important and least understood institutions, to chronicle how its plainspoken chairman, Jay Powell, unleashed an unprecedented monetary barrage to keep the economy on life support. With the bleeding stemmed, the Fed faced a new challenge: How to nurture a recovery without unleashing an inflation-fueling, bubble-blowing money bomb?

Trillion Dollar Triage is the definitive, gripping history of a creative and unprecedented battle to shield the American economy from the twin threats of a public health disaster and economic crisis. Economic theory and policy will never be the same.

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