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Quick Take: Coronavirus is still here & the numbers are getting worse

Ian Bremmer's Quick Take:

Hi, everybody. Ian Bremmer here and welcome to your week. I hope everyone's having a decent Monday. So much talk about. I want to really focus on coronavirus. Still have to think that is the story in the United States and globally. Everything else is second, third place. A very critical driver of the US election, of course, as it should be. The most important crisis of our lifetimes, irrespective of where you place responsibility, accountability, blame. Your view of that has to be a significant driver of how you think about voting.

The numbers are getting worse. Both in the United States, in Canada, in Europe, and in global developing markets, we are seeing larger numbers of coronavirus cases. In part, that is increased testing though, in many states in the US, we still have positive rates well over 10% of testing, which means we're not testing as much as we need to. That is true in the United Kingdom, that is true in other countries as well. I would argue that the numbers that we're seeing are still so much lower than what the reality is in terms of total cases that we've had. The World Health Organization believes at this point that we probably have about 10% of humanity that has gotten coronavirus. In other words, something like 800 million people, about 20 times the total numbers of cases that we are aware of.

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What We’re Watching: Trudeau hangs on, Mali sanctions lifted, US stimulus uncertainty

Canadian government survives confidence vote: Against the backdrop of intense political discord and an ethics controversy that caused his approval ratings to plummet in recent months, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's Liberal government will live to see another day after surviving a confidence vote in parliament. Building on a "bold" plan for Canada's post-pandemic revival delivered last month (which many analysts criticized as lacking sufficient detail), Trudeau presented his plan for economic and social recovery — including the creation of 1 million new jobs in the near term — in what's called a parliamentary "Throne Speech." After some political wrangling, his minority Liberal government held on after a 77-152 vote, avoiding a snap election thanks to the support of the left-leaning New Democratic Party. A string of ethics scandals (in which the PM was found to have violated federal conflict of interest rules) has cratered support for Trudeau, a former darling of the center left. We're watching to see whether his ambitious recovery initiative will also steer Trudeau's own political bounce back.

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The countries who don't love Trump

Last week, we wrote about governments that are hoping for a Trump victory. This week, we look at the other side of that question.

Over the past four years, many world leaders have expressed confusion and frustration over US President Trump's erratic leadership style — with some expressing a lack of trust in his administration's commitment to a constructive foreign policy.

This is reflected in global polls, which show that favorable views of the US have plummeted to all-time lows in many countries, particularly among traditional American allies in Europe.

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The US COVID response under Trump was not "merely mediocre"

An op-ed in the New York Times says that the US coronavirus response under President Trump was mediocre, but not catastrophic, when compared to the response of other countries. But the "peer country" examples selected by columnist Ross Douthat don't paint an accurate picture. Ian Bremmer and Eurasia Group analyst Scott Rosenstein take issue with Douthat's argument in this edition of The Red Pen (where we keep op-eds honest).

Today, we're taking our red pen to a recent piece from New York Times columnist Ross Douthat. The title is provocative, "How Many Lives Would a More Normal President Have Saved?" It sounds like Douthat is about to go big on the failure of President Trump's response to the pandemic. But no, that's just the headline. In reality, what he's saying is it isn't a catastrophe and may end up just being, meh, especially when you compare the US to peer nations. Not so fast, Ross. Let's break down the argument and get out the red pen.

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US election seen from Canada: Trump "shook everything up"

Althia Raj is Ottawa bureau chief for The Huffington Post Canada. Our conversation has been edited for length and clarity.

Alex Kliment: How might the outcome of the US presidential election in November affect Canada?

AR: First of all, it's really important to understand just how interconnected Canada and the US are, and just how dependent Canada is on the United States. The United States is Canada's largest trading partner. But 20 percent of Canada's GDP is based on exports to the US market. So safeguarding that relationship is the number one job of the Canadian prime minister.

If Joe Biden wins in November, first there's a question of tariffs. Donald Trump has slapped 10 percent tariffs on Canadian aluminum. If Biden wins that's something that the government will hope to see eliminated. And Justin Trudeau was really hoping to work with Hillary Clinton to continue some of Barack Obama's clean energy initiatives and energy regulation. That obviously did not happen with Donald Trump's administration. So, psychologically, the administrations would be aligned.

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