(Adds background, more comments from Trump)
WASHINGTON, March 19 (Reuters) – President Donald Trump on Thursday opened the door to a radical shift in the U.S. government’s relationship to private industry as the coronavirus outbreak upends the nation’s economy, saying he would back the government taking stakes in certain companies.
Asked if he would support the federal government moving to take an equity stake in some companies, Trump said: “I do. I really do.”
Trump, speaking at a news conference at the White House, added: “We will be helping the airline industry. We will be helping the cruise ship industry. We probably will be helping the hotel industry.”
U.S. government investments in public companies are rare except in the case of bailouts to save ailing firms and jobs.
Bailout requests related to the spread of coronavirus, in the form of direct grants, loans, loan guarantees and tax relief have topped $2 trillion, but companies rarely seek government ownership for fear they would lose control of their business.
Asked if a trillion dollar stimulus is enough, Trump said: “We will know about that later. We’ll see what happens. It depends how long, so much depend on what’s going on in this room, in terms of the medical. If we can stop it in its track the virus, it’s plenty. If we can’t, we’ll have to go back and talk.” (Reporting by Jeff Mason and Alexandra Alper; additional reporting by David Brunnstrom; writing by Susan Heavey Editing by Sonya Hepinstall)
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