Coronavirus Trajectory, Economic Crisis & Authority of US Governors

What is the COVID-19 update? Is the world on a path to recovery yet?

Some of the world is. China is, despite secondary outbreaks. Singapore numbers are expanding significantly. More concerned that the resilience of this virus is greater than expected. It's not a waltz, kind of tango. Start. Step back. On the economic side, those hit earliest, dealt with real crackdowns are now picking up. The numbers in Europe have plateaued and are going down. Today in New York City, hospitalizations for the first time, total number from coronavirus, going down. Not just new hospitalizations, total hospitalizations. Our health care system - not going to get overwhelmed. What a relief. It makes me feel better about second tier cities in the US. We're not anywhere close to a peak in the developing markets, poorer parts of the world. They will need a lot of economic support, a tremendous amount of testing that they don't have. It's going to be many months before they're through it. It's going to impact a lot of people.


What's the potential the world faces a global economic crisis worse than The Great Depression?

Pretty low, thankfully. But the numbers from the IMF today in their global outlook are the worst we've seen compared to banks or the World Bank. The more we learn, the worse the economic impact is. The more we learn, not necessarily the worse the health impact is. Those are two very different trajectories. We push down the curve, we can get numbers of people dying down. The more we push down the curve, the economic impact is greater. Challenges with restarting the economy are greater when you shut down absolutely everything. What we're seeing now from the IMF is a 3% contraction of the entire global economy in 2020. They expect a rebound in 2021. They have virtually no confidence in the 2021 figures. There's no upside. I've never seen that from an IMF outlook before. By far the worst economic crash since The Great Depression, much worse than the recession in 2008-2009, which had been the high watermark, post-Great Depression. That was a 0.1% contraction in 2009. We're looking at over 3%, potentially more downside. You can open the economy, but only incrementally. Even when you open it, people aren't consuming the way they used to. While the people dying are mostly not productive labor - in Italy, the average age is like 81, of folks that have died from this, the people you're taking out of the economy are productive labor. The jobs that aren't coming back, that's productive labor. Minimum this year and early next year 10% of the total labor force. The impact is going to be great. And that's before you see if major financial crises emanate from emerging markets. I'm worried about all of that.

Finally, what is with the showdown between Trump and state governors? Does Trump have "total" authority?

Of course he doesn't have total authority. That doesn't abdicate total responsibility. Trump says things in his press conferences, they're a waste of time. They continue to be aired by television and everyone says, "oh my God, Trump has said this stuff," but the reality is the American system is a federal system. Governors matter. School systems, sanitation engineers, managers, workers report to the governors. The fire brigade and police forces, the governors. When you shut down the economy, the governors are the ones saying, "we've got to shut it down." And when you reopen it, they say, "we're going to reopen it." Trump's president. If he wants to say, "I'm the one that's ultimately in charge, the buck stops here at my desk," he can say that. The reality is that the governors matter a lot more. The very good news is that most of the governors in the United States are capable, competent. Have empathy for their citizens. And they also have bureaucracies with expertise, they listen to those people. Not just New York and California, also Ohio and Massachusetts and Maryland. Republican governors, too, acting effectively. There have been a few, particularly Florida, as well as a couple of mostly rural states, that haven't had explosions of cases, that have not gotten with the program. They'll probably suffer more as a consequence. The majority of the country is being governed by capable folks, doesn't involve the White House. That's just fine.

Emily Ademola lives in an area of Nigeria that has been attacked by Boko Haram militants in the past. Looking for water was very risky, and without access to water, the community – especially children – were at risk of waterborne diseases. Eni, in partnership with FAO, built a water well in Emily's community in 2019.

Watch Emily's first-hand account about how access to water "close to our doorsteps" has improved the quality of life for her community and her family.

There's never a great time to impose higher taxes on funeral services — but doing it in the middle of a raging pandemic is an especially bad move. Yet that was one of a number of measures that the Colombian government proposed last week in a controversial new tax bill that has provoked the country's largest and most violent protests in decades.

In the days since, the finance minister has resigned, the tax reform has been pulled, and President Iván Duque has called for fresh dialogue with activists, union leaders, and opposition politicians.

But demonstrations, vandalism, and deadly clashes with police have only intensified. Two dozen people are dead, 40 are missing, and the UN has criticized Colombian police for their heavy-handed response.

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While residents of wealthy countries are getting ready for hot vaxxed summer — COVID is still ravaging many low- and middle-income countries. The horrifying scenes coming out of India in recent weeks have gripped the world, causing governments and civil society to quickly mobilize and pledge support.

But on the other side of the globe, Brazil is also being pummeled by the pandemic — and has been for a year now. Yet thus far, the outpouring of aid and (solidarity) hasn't been as large.

What explains the global alarm at India's situation, and seeming passivity towards Brazil's plight? What are the politics of compassion?

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Paris-London face-off at sea: France and the UK are at loggerheads in the high seas this week over post-Brexit fishing access in Jersey, an island off the English Channel. Furious at regulations that they say makes it harder to fish in these lucrative waters, dozens of French fishing boats amassed near the Channel Island, threatening to block access to the port. In response, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson deployed two naval vessels — a move critics say was an unnecessary escalation, and an attempt by the PM to flex his muscles and bolster the Tory vote ahead of Thursday's regional election. France, for its part, sent its own naval ship and threatened to cut off Jersey's electricity supply, 90 percent of which comes from French underwater cables. Fishing rights was one of the final sticking points of Brexit trade negotiations, an emotive political issue for many Britons who say that they got a subpar deal when the UK joined the European Economic Community in the 1970s. Though an UK-EU Brexit agreement was finally reached in December 2020, it's clear that there are still thorny issues that need to be resolved.

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10: Joshua Wong was sentenced along with other Hong Kong democracy activists to 10 months in prison for participating in a vigil last year marking the anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre in Beijing. Wong is currently behind bars for participating in separate pro-democracy protests, and will only start this new sentence after that term concludes in November.

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What's the biggest foreign policy misconception that Americans have about the US's role in the world? According to international relations expert Tom Nichols, too few Americans believe that the US, in fact, has a critical role in the world, and that the things Americans enjoy, from cheap goods to safe streets, are made possible because of American global leadership. "Americans have become so spoiled and inured to the idea that the world is a dangerous place that they don't understand that the seas are navigable because someone makes them that way. They don't understand that peace between the great powers is not simply like the weather, that just happens," Nichols tells Ian Bremmer. Their conversation is featured on an episode of GZERO World, airing on US public television – check local listings.

Watch the episode: Make politics "boring" again: Joe Biden's first 100 Days

The cover story of The Economist declares that Taiwan is "The most dangerous place on Earth," because China might finally be ready to plan an invasion of the island. But are the consequences of such a move worth the many risks to China and its President Xi Jinping? Ian Bremmer breaks out the Red Pen to to explain why a US-China war over Taiwan is unlikely.

We are taking our red pen to a recent article from The Economist. The Economist, you ask, how could I? I love The Economist, I know, I know. But you'd lose respect if I give this piece a pass. In fact, it was the magazine's cover story this week, so I had no choice. The image and headline say it all. Here it is, Taiwan is now "the most dangerous place on earth" as US/China relations continue to sour in the opening months of President Biden's administration.

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Delhi-based reporter Barkha Dutt's decades of journalism couldn't prepare her for the horrific experience of covering the death of one specific COVID-19 victim: her own father. In a conversation with Ian Bremmer, Dutt recounts her desperate struggle to find an ambulance to take her father through Delhi traffic to reach the hospital, only for him to die in the ICU. Their in-depth discussion looks at India's struggle with the world's worst COVID crisis in the upcoming episode of GZERO World begins airing on US public television Friday, May 7. Check local listings.

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Would China really invade Taiwan?

The Red Pen

India’s COVID crisis hits home

GZERO World Clips
The GZERO World Podcast with Ian Bremmer. Listen now.

GZEROMEDIA

Subscribe to GZERO Media's newsletter: Signal