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Ian Bremmer: Coronavirus Global Developments & Outlook

This week began with a staggering Trump press conference. Doctors Fauci & Birx giving an expectation of 100,000 to 240,000 deaths in the US, presuming nationwide social distancing by the end of this week and hospitals don't get overwhelmed. You will be personally affected, with personal knowledge of people in hospital, killed by this disease.

Does the US end up more like Italy or more like South Korea? Washington State responding quickly with lockdown, improving health care capabilities is like South Korea. Parts of the US not under lockdown. Many states on the "periphery" of the mainline US economy. Some had later breakout of coronavirus. Some did not have political leadership.


Here in New York City, response was late. Had resources to attract federal, global support, buying critical equipment, pharmaceuticals and medical supplies to improve infrastructure. I expect 4 to 5X daily cases in NY, the next several weeks. The NY medical system may not have to triage patients away from ICU care. Unlikely for parts of southern FL, New Orleans, Georgia, other states. Some of US will feel like Italy, and other parts like South Korea.

Record levels of inequality not seen since the Gilded Age, before the Great Depression, grow dramatically. 10 million new unemployment claims in just 2 weeks. Reflected in broad expectations of US unemployment by the middle of this year. If we're roughly at 10% now, may get to 13% - 17%. Staggering numbers, priced into markets. Economic relief from the US government is adequate for the next 3 months, more money is likely.

This is where you give the highest marks for the US. Steve Mnuchin, the Secretary of Treasury, and Nancy Pelosi, Speaker of the House, worked together on an economic package allowing the US to effectively respond to the biggest economic shock of our lifetimes. If Obama and a Republican House, you would not have expected faster or better, on the fiscal side.

Health care response lacking coordination in the US, with governors bidding against each other to get ventilators and masks. What does that mean? Those with money, international connections, better bureaucracies get more. This should be nationally coordinated. It's not.

Europe? Same problem, lack capacity or coordination. It's worse. In some cases, active refusal to engage in social distancing, several countries with vertical separation of at-risk populations. In Sweden, the Netherlands, the UK. It has failed. European countries are not getting necessary medical personnel or equipment to surge. In Spain and France, medical systems are overwhelmed, as in northern Italy. Other countries, Germany, doing well. You're not seeing coordination.

Absence of coordination globally makes optimism harder. Some areas may functionally control outbreaks in the next 8 weeks - end of May, beginning of June, in parts of the US, could release some of the present lockdown. Getting to work, data on who is and is not already gotten the disease, has immunity. Scaled, random testing. Coordination is lacking, requiring more stringent border controls; supply chains will be ineffective.

In the developing world, you lack coordination. In some parts, governance is horrible. Implementation isn't there. Health care systems aren't up to speed. Economic support, if not domestic, will not be there internationally. If they need 10% of GDP in relief, but can only pay 1%-2% percent, where's the rest of the money going to come from? There will be some international relief, but not massive humanitarian support.

China sending lots of medical personnel and equipment. It's nowhere close to what the Americans or Europeans would be capable of. The developing world is going to be really short, late. This will spread like wildfire. Upside for emerging markets: populations are younger, so mortality should be lower. Restarting the global economy will take longer. Supply chain and travel will take a hit.

Think about the global economy. Think about humanity as one common humanity. This global crisis lacks coordinated response. The US won't be the epicenter. The developing world can't do social distancing because people are on top of each other & don't have basic sanitation. We're going to give them less money, they'll have less capacity. The human impact is going to be greater.

Khant Thaw Htoo is a young engineer who works in Eni's Sakura Tower office in the heart of Yangon. As an HSE engineer, he monitors the safety and environmental impact of onshore and offshore operations. He also looks out for his parents' well-being, in keeping with Myanmar's traditions.

Learn more about Khant in the final episode of the Faces of Eni series, which focuses on Eni's employees around the world.

Over the weekend, some 40,000 Russians braved subzero temperatures to turn out in the streets in support of imprisoned Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny. More than 3,000 protesters were arrested, and Navalny called on his followers to prepare for more action in the coming weeks.

But just who is Alexei Navalny, and how significant is the threat that he may pose to Vladimir Putin's stranglehold on power in Russia?

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Ian Bremmer's Quick Take (part 1):

Ian Bremmer here, happy Monday. And have your Quick Take to start off the week.

Maybe start off with Biden because now President Biden has had a week, almost a week, right? How was it? How's he doing? Well, for the first week, I would say pretty good. Not exceptional, but not bad, not bad. Normal. I know everyone's excited that there's normalcy. We will not be excited there's normalcy when crises start hitting and when life gets harder and we are still in the middle of a horrible pandemic and he has to respond to it. But for the first week, it was okay.

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Ian Bremmer's Quick Take:

Russian opposition leader Navalny in jail. Hundreds of thousands demonstrating across the country in Russia over well over 100 cities, well over 3000 arrested. And Putin responding by saying that this video that was put out that showed what Navalny said was Putin's palace that costs well over a billion dollars to create and Putin, I got to say, usually he doesn't respond to this stuff very quickly. Looked a little defensive, said didn't really watch it, saw some of it, but it definitely wasn't owned by him or owned by his relatives.

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Even as vaccines roll out around the world, COVID-19 is continuing to spread like wildfire in many places, dashing hopes of a return to normal life any time soon. Some countries, like Israel and the UK for instance, have been praised for their inoculation drives, while still recording a high number of new cases. It's clear that while inoculations are cause for hope, the pace of rollouts cannot keep up with the fast-moving virus. Here's a look at the countries that have vaccinated the largest percentages of their populations so far – and a snapshot of their daily COVID caseloads (7-day rolling average) in recent weeks.

The GZERO World Podcast with Ian Bremmer. Listen now.

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