Coronavirus update from Brazil, Hong Kong and Boris Johnson's UK
As economies reopen, what is the update with the pandemic?
We're no longer epicenter here in the United States or New York, it's now South America. It still feels like the epicenter is New York but no, we're moving along. Big challenges in terms of how those economies are going to respond to lockdowns as they move towards peak, are going to be much more impactful economically on those countries. They're going to need a lot more international support. It's going to be challenging for them to get it. In particular, Brazil, which is the new epicenter taking over from the United States. Has had some of the worst governance of any democracy in responding to this crisis. Massive infighting domestically between the president and governors, the blue state-red state issue, the president wanting to open up and cheerleading, and the governors who in Brazil are much more responsible for health care than they are for the economy in the eyes of the voters, they particularly, they want to actually keep lockdowns. The impact of all of this on individuals in Brazil is because they have a president who is saying this is all fake news, is they're not engaging in social distancing. That's led to a lot more people dying in Brazil. In fact, larger numbers of daily death count now in Brazil than the United States. It's why the US put the travel ban on non-Americans, of non-citizens, non-permanent residents coming back from Brazil.
As protests resume, what is happening in Hong Kong?
The Chinese government itself, mainland government, is going to have a new national security law. That will mean that Chinese intelligence and national security police can work on the ground in Hong Kong. They will be responsible for ensuring that there is no sedition against the mainland, defining any demonstrations or political opposition to the mainland. It basically undermines the one state-two systems agreement that mainland China and Hong Kong has had. There will be big demonstrations in Hong Kong as a consequence of this. A lot less tolerance on the part of the Hong Kong government and the mainland Chinese government to those demonstrations. You'll probably see more violence. You'll certainly see a lot more arrests. And the big point is you'll see the United States putting sanctions on China, maybe even ending the special trade regime that the United States has with Hong Kong. That really ends the ability of major financial institutions and others that rely on rule of law to use Hong Kong as their entrepot for business between China and the rest of the world. Some will go to Shanghai, many will go to Singapore, but Hong Kong will take a real beating. And they're middle class in the business community is going to get hurt.
What does a Dominic Cummings scandal mean for the UK and Boris Johnson?
I mean, if this were happening in the United States, it would be a one-day scandal. But in the UK, it is a much larger scandal. This is the chief adviser to Boris Johnson. He's the guy who was acting as prime minister when people thought Boris Johnson might die from coronavirus. But turns out, that despite the lockdown, he was traveling with his kids a couple of hundred kilometers, miles excuse me, a couple hundred miles to be with his family. Admitted to having done it and otherwise driven for another trip. Did not apologize. Said he didn't break the law. That apparently the governance guidance that comes from the UK, it applies to the little people, it doesn't apply to people like Dominic Cummings. And the opposition is pretty severe. It is certainly helping the Labour Party, who now has a much stronger leader than they did back when Jeremy Corbyn was in charge. And it's undermined Boris Johnson's approval rating quite a bit. The UK has handled getting into coronavirus lockdown pretty badly. They, of course, were some of the latest in Europe to engage in lockdown which led to a lot more people getting sick, a lot more people dying than other countries in Europe. And now they're having a hard time getting out because of this massive and very polemic fight over Boris Johnson and his chief adviser. He is standing by Cummings. Cummings is not resigning, nor is he apologizing. In the United States, that seems to work these days. Let's see how it works for the UK.