The ugly truth about the US economy

On GZERO World, Ian Bremmer asked financial historian Adam Tooze: Did the US really have the greatest economy in the world?

There are pockets of incredible affluence, of great success, of technological prowess of world conquering corporate ambition. Think of the tech firms, think of the way in which American banks have swept European competition out of the way. America, corporate America, elite America is one of the great winners of globalization, unsurprisingly, since they were the architects of that project. Have acquired other people along the way. The Chinese now are major contributors.


But that just doesn't capture the reality of middle America, let alone the bottom 20% to 30% of the American income of wealth distribution who have seen barely any real income growth. There's a huge argument about the statistics, but there's very little real dispute about the fact that the real incomes of those at the bottom third have seen barely any progress since the Bicentennial. American history divides into two epochs. Moment of the American dream up to 1976 and the period since. What this crisis does is of course hit precisely the weakest communities. It hits those who are most fragile, whose health insurance is precarious, who are working part time jobs in the service sector. It hits women as well. And it turns out from a medical point of view, it's the African American population, all of which are groups also which have minimal financial resources. We know that 40% plus of American households can't basically cover expenses for more than a few months without a paycheck and have precious little financial reserve, basically no net wealth. So those people are going to suffer a fundamental shock here. And this idea of rebuilding, really or making them whole begs the question of what it is that we would plan to return to because they weren't whole in the first place.

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Facing the biggest economic crisis in the EU's history, the European Commission's president, Ursula von der Leyen, pulled out all the stops this week, unveiling an unprecedented plan to boost the union's post-coronavirus recovery.

The plan: The EU would go to international capital markets to raise 750 billion euros ($830 billion). 500 billion of that would be given to member states as grants to fund economic recovery over the next seven years; the remainder would be issued as loans to be paid back to Brussels. The EU would pay back its bondholders for the full 750 billion plus interest by 2058, in part by raising new EU-wide taxes on tech companies and emissions.

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"A lot of people are going to die until we solve the political situation," one Brazilian medical expert said recently when asked about the deteriorating public health situation in that country. For months, Brazil has been one of the countries hardest hit by the coronavirus pandemic, steered by a President who has repeatedly dismissed the severity of the virus and rejected calls to implement a national social distancing policy. To date, two Brazilian health ministers have either resigned or been fired for pushing back against President Jair Bolsonaro's denialism. Meanwhile, Brazil has emerged as a global epicenter of COVID-19, with almost 27,000 deaths, though health experts believe the real toll is way higher. Here's a look at Brazil's surging daily death toll since it first recorded more than 10 deaths in one day back in March.

Watch GZERO World as host Ian Bremmer talks to acclaimed foreign policy expert Richard Haass, president of the Council on Foreign Relations and author of "The World: A Brief Introduction." Haass explains that while the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted every aspect of life as we know it, the major issues confronting geopolitics in the 21st Century already existed.

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62: Southeast Asia is one of the world's largest sources of plastic waste, and Thailand is a big culprit. Before the pandemic, Thailand tried to address the problem by banning single use plastics, but that's fallen apart fast: in April, Thailand recorded a 62 percent increase in plastic use, due largely to increased food deliveries as coronavirus-related lockdowns keep people at home.
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