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Coronavirus update from Brazil, Hong Kong and Boris Johnson's UK

As economies reopen, what is the update with the pandemic?

We're no longer epicenter here in the United States or New York, it's now South America. It still feels like the epicenter is New York but no, we're moving along. Big challenges in terms of how those economies are going to respond to lockdowns as they move towards peak, are going to be much more impactful economically on those countries. They're going to need a lot more international support. It's going to be challenging for them to get it. In particular, Brazil, which is the new epicenter taking over from the United States. Has had some of the worst governance of any democracy in responding to this crisis. Massive infighting domestically between the president and governors, the blue state-red state issue, the president wanting to open up and cheerleading, and the governors who in Brazil are much more responsible for health care than they are for the economy in the eyes of the voters, they particularly, they want to actually keep lockdowns. The impact of all of this on individuals in Brazil is because they have a president who is saying this is all fake news, is they're not engaging in social distancing. That's led to a lot more people dying in Brazil. In fact, larger numbers of daily death count now in Brazil than the United States. It's why the US put the travel ban on non-Americans, of non-citizens, non-permanent residents coming back from Brazil.

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Beijing makes its move on Hong Kong

It looks like China's leadership has finally had enough of Hong Kong's pro-democracy movement.

In a speech on Thursday to the national people's congress, a symbolic confab of the country's ruling elite, Premier Li Keqiang announced a new national security law that would outlaw secessionist activity and criminalize foreign influence in Hong Kong. The measure, an explicit response to recent pro-democracy protests there, would also permit mainland China's security agencies to operate openly in the city.

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Coronavirus Politics Daily: Argentina on the brink, Egypt's emergency law abuse, Hong-Kong's political fever

Argentina's economy on the brink: Mired in economic crisis, Argentina is on the verge of defaulting on its international loans for the ninth time in its history. Years of economic mismanagement had pushed Argentina into a recession even before the government imposed one of the tightest coronavirus lockdowns in Latin America in late March. The country's already weak currency, meanwhile, has taken a further hit because of the health crisis, pushing up the cost of $500 million in interest due over the next few weeks. The country's leftwing government says that, given soaring healthcare costs and emergency financial aid being doled out to help Argentines weather the COVID-19 storm, it can't make the payment and has appealed to international creditors, including the World Bank and IMF, to delay or renegotiate about $65 billion in debt. Buenos Aires has the support of hundreds of respected international economists who have called on bondholders to take a "constructive approach" to Argentina's restructuring proposal. In normal times, Argentina would get little sympathy from international lenders fed up with its unreliability and political gamesmanship, but the global economic downturn could finally give the desperate country some leverage with economic heavyweights in Brussels and Paris.

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Coronavirus Politics Daily: Iran exports virus to Afghanistan, Beijing's crackdown in HK, Australia calls for global probe

Iran exports virus to ailing Afghanistan: As Iran grapples with one of the largest COVID-19 outbreaks in the world, thousands are fleeing to neighboring Afghanistan to escape the plague, wagering that returning to conflict-ridden Afghanistan is safer than staying in hard-hit Iran. But Afghan authorities say this trend is having the reverse effect, bringing the virus into a country that has limited resources and is hobbled by conflict. Many of the people now returning fled conflict in Afghanistan years ago in search of a better life in Iran. But as work for Afghan day laborers dried up amid coronavirus lockdowns, and news circulated about the inundation of Tehran's hospitals, some 243,000 have made the journey from Iran to Afghanistan in recent months. There are now over 1,000 confirmed coronavirus cases in Afghanistan, including an outbreak at the president's palace, and at least 40 deaths (though this is likely a gross undercount as Afghanistan only has the capacity to perform around 100 tests a day for a population of almost 39 million). Afghanistan's COVID outbreak comes at a particularly precarious time for a country that has one of the weakest healthcare systems in the world: When cases were first spreading last month, the Afghan government was negotiating a historic peace accord with the Taliban insurgent group, which includes the withdrawal of US troops. The Taliban, meanwhile, has continued to wage war, carrying out more than 500 attacks in recent weeks in provinces that are already hit by COVID-19.

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