What is going on between the WHO, the US and China?
We need someone to blame for this virus crisis, right? Trump will be elected or not in November on the back of well over 100,000 deaths, horrible economic performance and unemployment. No real bounce seen before November. Probably a second wave just before elections, given the seasonality of the virus. Which means you've got to blame China, the World Health Organization. And that means the Americans threatening to pull out of the organization as a whole, saying that they're doing lifting for China and also demanding investigation, as are other countries, of China for how they handled the initial outbreak of the disease. I am much more sympathetic to calls about Chinese responsibility because it's clear they did mishandle and did cover up the early days of this virus. The Chinese are saying they're only prepared to accept an investigation after the crisis is over. The WHO is saying that's three to five years from now. I agree on the time frame. Don't agree that that would be an appropriate way to handling it. A lot of countries around the world, particularly allies of the United States, are increasingly putting pressure on China. Big trade dust-up between the Chinese and the Australians as a consequence. Not directed by the United States, which is interesting. Australia did that all by themselves.
Secondly, how are lockdown measures affecting Turkey during Ramadan?
Erdogan, the president who was trying to reopen the economy understands if they allow fully people to come to mass prayers and the rest during Ramadan, would lead to much more significant outbreaks. They have gotten their testing regime up significantly. Their economy is in real trouble. They're keeping it locked down while Ramadan is going on. That is a smart move. Certainly, one of the economies out there that I am most concerned about. They're going to need to go someplace for international aid, most likely that the IMF and Erdogan wants no part of it. He said publicly, absolutely not, a horrible organization, they force all sorts of unacceptable reforms, put you under their thumb. But if it's not them, I don't see money for them. The potential for a really messy exit, capital controls, default, seems reasonably high in the coming year in Turkey.
How is Vladimir Putin and Russia handling the pandemic?
Pretty badly. Doctors keep getting thrown out of windows in Russia. We don't like to see that. Doctors that are dealing with the coronavirus, they've been not upfront around how many people were getting this disease in the early days, as well as how many people have been dying from it. Russia now has the second highest number of cases in the world that they're reporting. Though the death toll is still pretty low, quite low, because if people die from other illnesses, even if they have coronavirus, they usually will put the other illness. A lot of doctors are saying this is being mishandled. Putin presently at 59% approval ratings. That's the worst approval rating of his entire presidency. Keep in mind that also, that's on the back of $30 oil. A big fight that was mistimed with the Saudis on that front. And, of course, economic contraction. Putin has no opposition to speak of in the country. He's not under any pressure to leave. It's not under any pressure to go anywhere, even after this term is over. He's changing the constitution, over time. He's going to be president for life. But he's not governing well, and his economy and his country is in severe decline. And that's obvious in the what they can and can't do in other parts of the world.
Finally, another health minister gone. Where is Brazil and its coronavirus response?
Pretty much the worst of any major democracy around the world. Two health ministers, both capable, fired within four weeks. Not something you normally want, but really not during a pandemic. In Brazil, they're saying that everyone should be taking the miracle drug, chloroquine. We now have President Trump saying he's taking hydroxychloroquine himself, even with the FDA saying you shouldn't. But he hasn't gotten rid of Fauci or a second head of the infectious disease response. Bolsonaro, by a strong head and shoulders, deserves the accolade for most incompetent response of a democracy to coronavirus.