Ian Bremmer: Health, Financial, Political Response to COVID-19

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.


We'll see in 2-4 weeks. If responses are adequate, caseload will still explode, but mortality will be dramatically lower by 80 or 90%. The US caseload now is highest in the world. China lies about cases, but the US dramatically under-tests. On balance, the US has a larger outbreak than China at the peak. But the likelihood of a lot of American deaths looks lower. The key variable is, do we get the health care system surged adequately in the next few weeks? It's a race against time.

Dramatic response from the developed world on the monetary & fiscal side. On the monetary side, central bankers are reading from the 2008-2009 playbook. We had a financial crisis. Regulations ensured that the banks became more robust. On fiscal policy: US $2 trillion stimulus is 10% of American GDP. The Fed is able to leverage that with additional loans; a functional equivalent of $4 trillion, 20% of GDP - should be enough relief to get through 1/5 of the year, 2 months. No one thinks supply and demand is coming back in the next 6, 8 weeks.

The fiscal stimulus appears sufficient; market response has been positive so far. Congress members believe we will need more stimulus in 2 months. What kind? How big? Another $2-4 trillion, or more? The closer to elections, the more challenging.

Emerging markets need the same scale of stimulus, but don't have the cash. India on lockdown, done state by state. A few states, Punjab, Kerala, Maharashtra, look like they're doing a decent job. Other states, not. Net 80 to 90% of the Indian economy is informal - the way you get money to people has to be direct. Source of money has to be external. IMF, international financial institutions, US, Europe, others have to step up. I'm skeptical.

Emerging markets are going to experience bigger crises and crash- don't have governance resilience or coordination, need money. Turkey has a steep curve of cases, problem with social distancing. Different from the Nordics or Japan. Cultural features play in why cases explode in Italy and Spain - large numbers of people spend more time in close proximity, lead to many more cases. That's a problem for Turkey.

The Brazilian president refuses to shut down or call for social distancing. He's going after the governors that are shutting down the economy. If an explosion doesn't happen in Brazil and the economy's in decent order, he'll look like a hero. I think Bolsonaro is going to be in trouble.

Better story on US-China. After Trump has been saying the China virus, & the G-7 couldn't come up with a joint statement because Secretary of State Pompeo was saying it's got to be the Wuhan virus and no American allies agreed. Trump yesterday has a conference call with Xi Jinping. Tweets about it. Calls it the coronavirus. Is that because Trump doesn't have a willingness to talk honestly to Xi Jinping's face? Is he scared or is he actually backing away from a cold war? I think it's more the latter than the former. Trump doesn't want the economy to take a bigger dive from starting a fight with the Chinese. He's backing away. Good news.

Will it stick? Depends on how Trump's numbers do, as the election gets closer and it's harder to give a good story. This story is going to shift from numbers to people. A couple weeks ago, none of us knew people that died of coronavirus. Few knew people that had it. Now, a lot of us know people that have it. Some know people that died. Trump's lack of human empathy is going to be more challenging. I worry that we end up in a much more confrontational stance of the Americans vis-a-vis the Chinese.

"I knew that history was my life's calling."

On Bank of America's That Made All the Difference podcast, Secretary of the Smithsonian Lonnie Bunch shares his journey and present-day work creating exhibits that inspire visitors to help our country live up to its ideals.

Viktor Orbán, Hungary's far-right populist prime minister, likes to shock people. It's part of his political appeal. Orbán has proudly proclaimed that he is an "illiberal" leader" creating a frenzy in Brussels because Hungary is a member of the European Union.

It's been over a decade since the 58-year old whom some have dubbed "the Trump before Trump" became prime minister. In that time he has, critics say, hollowed out Hungary's governing institutions and eroded the state's democratic characteristics.

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Why do (most) world leaders drink together? It can get them to agree on stuff they wouldn't while sober. Booze "helps people get cooperation off the ground, especially in situations where cooperation is challenging," says University of British Colombia professor Edward Slingerland. Alcohol, he explains, allows you to "see commonalities rather than just pursuing your own interest," which may put teetotaler politicians — like Donald Trump — at a disadvantage. Watch his interview on the next episode of GZERO World. Check local listings to watch on US public television.

In countries with access to COVID vaccines, the main challenge now is to convince those hesitant about the jab to roll up their sleeves, and this has become even more urgent given the spread of the more contagious delta variant. So, where are there more vaccine skeptics, and how do they compare to total COVID deaths per million in each nation? We take a look at a group of large economies where jabs are available, yet (in some cases) not everyone wants one.

Marietje Schaake, International Policy Director at Stanford's Cyber Policy Center, Eurasia Group senior advisor and former MEP, discusses trends in big tech, privacy protection and cyberspace:

QR codes are everywhere. Are they also tracking my personal data?

Well, a QR code is like a complex barcode that may be on a printed ad or product package for you to scan and access more information. For example, to look at a menu without health risk or for two-factor verification of a bank payment. And now also as an integral part of covid and vaccine registration. QR codes can lead to tracking metadata or personal data. And when your phone scans and takes you to a website, certainly the tracking starts there. Now, one big trap is that people may not distinguish one kind of use of QR codes from another and that they cannot be aware of the risks of sharing their data.

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Now that the Tokyo Olympics are finally underway, your Signal crew will be bringing you some intriguing, uplifting, and quirky bits of color from a Games like no other…

Today we've got— the best freakout celebrations!

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Tanzania reverses course on COVID: Just four months ago, the Tanzanian government was completely denying the existence of the pandemic. Then-President John Magufuli insisted Tanzania was COVID-free thanks to peoples' prayers, and refused to try to get vaccines. But Magufuli died suddenly in March — perhaps of COVID. His successor, current President Samia Suluhu, has acknowledged the presence of the virus in Tanzania, and although she was initially lukewarm on mask-wearing and vaccines, Suluhu has recently changed her tune, first joining the global COVAX facility and now getting vaccinated herself to kick off the country's inoculation drive. Well done Tanzania, because if there's one thing we've all learned over the past 18 months, it's that nowhere — not even North Korea, whatever Pyongyang says — is safe from the coronavirus.

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16: A new study tracking Earth's "vital signs" has found that 16 out of 31 indicators of planetary health are getting worse due to climate change. Last year's pandemic-induced shutdown did little to reduce global carbon dioxide emissions, stop the oceans from warming, or slow the shrinking of polar ice caps.

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How booze helps get diplomacy done

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