Effective COVID-19 responses; Danger in China's anger at Trump; UBI

Ian Bremmer takes (slightly) more than 60 seconds to share his analysis:

Which country is combating the COVID-19 pandemic best? Who's doing worst?

Best? Clearly, Singapore, Taiwan. Got out early. Had tests. Incredibly transparent. They got clear information to their people and the people actually listened to their government. Relatively small, wealthy, and homogeneous populations, also with health care systems that actually work. So, I would say they're doing it the best. Who's doing it the worst? Got to be Iran, where you have lack of capacity, lack of information, no trust in government, massive and early explosion of cases, awful lot of people getting killed. Beyond that, though, there are a lot of leaders out there that are doing it badly. Leaders that early were basically telling a great story to their people and as a consequence, weren't able to respond effectively. Effectively lying to their people and here, I mean, it doesn't matter what side of the political spectrum you're on, you need to get facts out there early and not just what your gut tells you. In the UK, Boris Johnson. In the United States, Donald Trump. In Mexico, Lopez Obrador. In Brazil, Bolsonaro. I mean all have really mishandled this for their own populations and as a consequence, the impact of coronavirus, it's going to be a lot worse.


Why is China expelling American journalists?

A big deal, saying they're expelling Wall Street Journal, New York Times, Washington Post from China and Hong Kong. And, you know, by the way, The New York Times coverage of China has been, if anything, very positive. The Chinese don't care. They're angry at the Americans, particularly now that President Trump has on a couple of days started beating the drum on the "China virus" as opposed to coronavirus. And by the way, yes, it initially came from China. And yes, the Chinese government absolutely clamped down on transparent information. So as a consequence, this thing exploded. They are ultimately responsible for that. But calling it the China flu, especially in the context of where US-China relations are right now, is incendiary. And they are absolutely feeling very confident about their relations with other countries in the world. They're hitting the Americans back. This is a dangerous place for these two countries to be.

Is UBI a realistic solution for our current economic situation?

UBI being universal basic income? I don't think that ongoing permanent UBI is realistic because we haven't tested it. We don't have a system for it. It'd be incredibly expensive. And we don't know if it works. But certainly, near term, I firmly believe you're going to see something that feels like UBI for now. In other words, direct stimulus where every American gets a check. That is a more efficient way to get money deployed into the economy, to get consumers less worried and spending, than other more indirect fashions of benefits. And I also think that the amount of total stimulus you're going to see in the US by spring is going to be well over a trillion dollars. It's not for want of money that the Americans are going to be unable to fight this if we have problems. It's much more about political leadership and the comparative port development of our health care system.

Brazil's governors take on Bolsonaro: We've previously written about the tensions between local and national governments over coronavirus response, but few places have had it as bad as Brazil. As COVID-19 infections surged in Brazil, the country's governors quickly mobilized – often with scarce resources – to enforce citywide lockdowns. Brazil's gangs have even risen to the occasion, enforcing strict curfews to limit the virus' spread in Rio de Janeiro. But Brazil's president, Jair Bolsonaro, has mocked the seriousness of the disease and urged states to loosen quarantines in order to get the economy up and running again. "Put the people to work," he said this week, "Preserve the elderly; preserve those who have health problems. But nothing more than that." In response, governors around the country – including some of his allies – issued a joint letter to the president, begging him to listen to health experts and help states contain the virus. The governor of Sao Paulo, Brazil's economic powerhouse, has even threatened to sue the federal government if Bolsonaro continues to undermine his efforts to combat the virus' spread.

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Governments of the developed world are finally responding with due sense of urgency, individually in 3 different ways.

1st, stand health care systems up so they won't get overwhelmed (late responses). The private & public sector together, building additional ICU beds, supply capacity and production of medical equipment and surge medical personnel in the US, Canada, across Europe & the UK. Unclear if we avoid a Northern Italy scenario. A couple days ago, Dr. Fauci from the NIH said he was hopeful. Epidemiologists and critical care doctors don't feel comfortable. Not in New York, Chicago, LA, Boston, Philadelphia, New Orleans. In Europe, particularly London, Madrid, Catalonia, Barcelona, might be significantly short.

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The major outbreaks of coronavirus in China, Europe, and the United States have garnered the most Western media attention in recent weeks. Yesterday, we went behind the headlines to see how Mexico and Russia are faring. Today, we'll look at three other potential hotspots where authorities and citizens are now contending with the worst global pandemic in a century.

Start with India. For weeks, coronavirus questions hovered above that other country with a billion-plus people, a famously chaotic democracy where the central government can't simply order a Chinese-scale public lockdown with confidence that it will be respected. It's a country where 90 percent of people work off the books— without a minimum wage, a pension, a strong national healthcare system, or a way to work from home.

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In the end, it took the coronavirus to break the year-long deadlock in Israeli politics. Prime Minister Benjamin "Bibi" Netanyahu will still face corruption charges, but he has yet another new lease on political life, as he and political rival Benny Gantz cut a deal yesterday: Bibi will continue as prime minister, with Gantz serving as Speaker of the Knesset, Israel's parliament. After 18 months, Gantz will take over as prime minister, but many doubt that will ever happen.

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