A version of this story first appeared in CNN Business’ Before the Bell newsletter. Not a subscriber? You can sign up right here.London (CNN Business)Faced with an unprecedented crisis, economists and investors are racing to understand the depth of the coronavirus recession and its aftershocks. The problem is, the datasets they’d typically rely on are practically useless.Take the monthly US jobs report, which is due out for March this Friday. In normal times, it provides crucial information: How many jobs were added to the economy? What’s the unemployment rate? Did wages go up?A vital snapshot of America’s economic health, it’s usually a must-read. But because the survey was conducted in the second week of March, before many of the shutdowns aimed at controlling the spread of the novel coronavirus came into effect, it’s already outdated.”This is not a normal recession that builds and spreads through time,” Justin Wolfers, an economist at the University of Michigan, told me. “Rather, it’s an incredibly synchronized event with the government as a conductor.”Recessions, Wolfers noted, generally unfold over a period of months or quarters. This time, the economic blow from the pandemic, and efforts to contain it, has been instant.What it means: The first


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