2020-09-30 —

... even as the city has contained the spread of the virus, it has been unable to exert control over its threat to the economy. Numerous economic indicators suggest that New York City will face an extended financial crisis, the likes of which has not been seen since the 1970s.The city has already slashed spending to make up for billions of dollars in lost tax revenue, but it may lose billions more.


"We're on the verge of a tragedy," said Richard Ravitch, the former state official who helped engineer the rescue of New York City's finances in the 1970s and thinks this crisis is worse. "I don't know what's going to happen to the city."


Along Manhattan's major retail corridors, which once thrived on business from tourists and office workers, storefronts sit empty, as national chains abandon ship. Some New York retail institutions, like Brooks Brothers and Lord & Taylor, have declared bankruptcy; Century 21 was the latest to do so.

At the Flatiron Building, the landlord was so eager to keep a retail tenant in place that he offered the company free rent through the end of the year. The retailer, Estee Lauder's MAC, declined, and the space is now empty.

Just 37 percent of hotel rooms were occupied in the second week of September compared with 90 percent in the same period of 2019, according to STR, a hospitality analytics firm.


In a recent interview, Mr. Stringer said he supported deficit spending too, as long as it is part of a broad-based financial plan that includes efficiencies. He said that as comptroller, he would only give the borrowing his formal approval if those conditions were met.

"I think there's a lot that we can do to manage those savings, draw down on reserves, and use borrowing as a bridge to a stimulus package that will get here hopefully sooner rather than later," said Mr. Stringer, a candidate for mayor next year.


But it's unclear whether deficit spending will actually solve any of the city's problems, or merely delay the inevitable -- 22,000 potential layoffs -- while burdening future generations with onerous debt service payments.


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