Anxious to spur an economic recovery without risking lives, U.S. President Donald Trump on Sunday insisted that “you can satisfy both” — see some states gradually lift lockdowns while also protecting people from the coronavirus pandemic that has killed more than 60,000 Americans.
The president, fielding questions from Americans in a virtual town hall from the Lincoln Memorial, acknowledged valid fears on both sides of the issue. Some people are worried about getting sick; others are reeling from lost jobs and livelihoods.
But while Trump increased his projection for the total U.S. death total to 80,000 or 90,000 — up by more than 20,000 fatalities from what he had suggested just a few weeks ago — he struck a note of urgency to restart the nation’s economy, declaring “we have to reopen our country.”
“We have to get it back open safely but as quickly as possible,” Trump said.
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After more than a month of being cooped up at the White House, Trump returned from a weekend at the Camp David presidential retreat in Maryland for the virtual town hall hosted by Fox News Channel.
The president said of his backdrop: “We never had a more beautiful set than this.”
As concerns mount about his reelection bid, Trump stuck to his relentlessly optimistic view of the nation’s ability to rebound soon.
“It is all working out,” Trump said. “It is horrible to go through, but it is working out.”
Many public health experts believe the nation cannot safely reopen fully until a vaccine is developed. Trump declared Sunday that he believed one could be available by year’s end.
U.S. public health officials have said a vaccine is probably a year to 18 months away. But Dr. Anthony Fauci said in late April that it is conceivable, if a vaccine is soon developed, that it could be in wide distribution as early as January.
Though the administration’s handling of the pandemic, particularly its ability to conduct widespread testing, has come under fierce scrutiny, the president defended the response and said the nation was ready to begin reopening.
“I’ll tell you one thing. We did the right thing and I really believe we saved a million and a half lives,” the president said. But he also broke with the assessment of his senior adviser and son-in-law, Jared Kushner, saying it was “too soon to say” the federal government had overseen a “success story.”
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Trump’s impatience also flashed. While noting that states would go at their own pace in returning to normal, with ones harder hit by the coronavirus going slower, he said that “some states, frankly, I think aren’t going fast enough.”
He singled out Virginia, which has a Democratic governor and legislature. And he urged the nation’s schools and universities to return to classes this fall.
Federal guidelines that encouraged people to stay at home and practice social distancing expired late last week.
Debate continued over moves by governors to start reopening state economies that tanked after shopping malls, salons and other nonessential businesses were ordered closed in attempt to slow a virus that has killed more than 66,000 Americans, according to a tally of reported deaths by Johns Hopkins University.
The U.S. economy has suffered, shrinking at a 4.8 per cent annual rate from January through March, the government estimated last week. It was the sharpest quarterly drop since the 2008 financial crisis.
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Roughly 30.3 million people have filed for unemployment aid in the six weeks since the outbreak forced employers to shut down and slash their workforces. It was the worst string of layoffs on record.
The president’s advisers have nervously watched Trump’s support slip in a number of battleground states and he was presented with polls late last month that, if the election were held that day, had him losing to Democrat Joe Biden.
The president’s aides believe restarting the economy, even with its health risks, is essential to a victory in November and are pushing for him to pivot away from discussions about the pandemic and onto an American comeback story.
To that, he will begin traveling again, with a trip to a mask factory in Arizona planned for Tuesday. And the grand setting of Sunday night’s town hall was meant to evoke patriotism and overcoming national adversity.
Larry Kudlow, Trump’s top economic adviser, said on CNN’s “State of the Union” that the administration would “pause” to review the effectiveness of trillions in economic relief spending before making any decision on whether additional aid is needed. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said Thursday that state and local governments are seeking up to $1 trillion for coronavirus costs.
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The Senate planned to reopen Monday, despite the Washington area’s continued status as a virus hot spot and with the region still under stay-at-home orders. The House remains shuttered. The pandemic is forcing big changes at the tradition-bound Supreme Court: The justices will hear arguments, beginning Monday, by telephone for the first time since Alexander Graham Bell patented his invention in 1876.
The leaders of California and Michigan are among governors under public pressure over lockdowns still in effect while states such as Florida, Georgia and Ohio are reopening.
Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, a Democrat, said Sunday that the armed protesters who demonstrated inside her state’s Capitol “depicted some of the worst racism” and “awful parts” of U.S. history by showing up with Confederate flags, nooses and swastikas.
Despite the opposition of Michigan’s Republican-controlled Legislature, Whitmer has extended a state of emergency declaration and directed most businesses statewide to remain closed. Trump on Sunday night singled out her and Washington Gov. Jay Inslee, also a Democrat, for criticism even as he praised the federal coordination with most governors.
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Some people participating in other public protests across the U.S. have not kept their distance from one another and have rallied without masks, not heeding public health recommendations.
Dr. Deborah Birx, coordinator of the White House coronavirus task force, called that behavior “devastatingly worrisome.” She said people will feel guilty for the rest of their lives if they end up infected and unwittingly spread the virus to vulnerable family members.
Lemire reported from New York.
© 2020 The Canadian Press
Province's decision to reopen economy still lacks some clarity: CFIB – HalifaxToday.ca
The Atlantic Vice President of the Canadian Federation of Independent Business says he’s pleased with the province’s decision to reopen the economy, but adds it still lacks some clarity.
On Wednesday, Premier Stephen McNeil announced the province’s next steps to reopening the economy, saying businesses that were required to shut down due to the COVID-19 pandemic will be able to restart operations on June 5.
Jordi Morgan told NEWS 95.7 he’s happy to hear this, but adds there are still some questions that need to be answered.
“It remains to be seen how well this happens because we’re still not entirely clear on what all the requirements are for these individual businesses,” said Morgan.
Morgan is also pleased with the province’s new small business reopening and support grant, a $25 million fund that will help businesses welcome back customers safely.
“Very happy to see that because there are a number of businesses that are going to require some bridging to reopen, invest in personal protective equipment and other things that are necessary in order to operate the business,” said Morgan.
He says once they get all the guidelines in place, they’ll have a better idea of how to operate and keep both the public and employees safe.
Nearly 40% of the economy may vanish in Q2 because of COVID-19, but then do something surprising – Yahoo Canada Finance
The S&P 500 has crossed the 3,000 level again and investors are clearly riding high on hope for a second half economic recovery post the worst of COVID-19.
<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="But that doesn’t mean the market is immune to a pullback this summer primarily because the economic data will likely continue to be horrible. Remember bulls, the U.S. economy has been kicked in the face by the pandemic, and a rebound won’t happen overnight simply because states are reopening. Corporate sales and profits remain under severe strain, sending many off to explore bankruptcy or cut thousands of workers even with quarantines being lifted.” data-reactid=”17″>But that doesn’t mean the market is immune to a pullback this summer primarily because the economic data will likely continue to be horrible. Remember bulls, the U.S. economy has been kicked in the face by the pandemic, and a rebound won’t happen overnight simply because states are reopening. Corporate sales and profits remain under severe strain, sending many off to explore bankruptcy or cut thousands of workers even with quarantines being lifted.
<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="“We think that the reported unemployment rate may be around as high as 20% in May,” Barclays chief U.S. economist Michael Gapen warned on Yahoo Finance’s The First Trade. The unemployment rate in April increased by 10.3 percentage points to 14.7%.” data-reactid=”18″>“We think that the reported unemployment rate may be around as high as 20% in May,” Barclays chief U.S. economist Michael Gapen warned on Yahoo Finance’s The First Trade. The unemployment rate in April increased by 10.3 percentage points to 14.7%.
Gapen believes the U.S. economy may contract a whopping 40% annualized in the second quarter, then surprisingly grow by 25% in the third quarter and 8% in the fourth quarter.
Part of Gapen’s cautiousness on the economy in the second quarter stems from his outlook on the consumer, which comprises two-thirds of the U.S. economy as is often cited.
“I think when we move into the third quarter, the savings rate will start coming down. All else equal, we are expecting the consumer to remain cautious. I think you will see a blend. Some return to normalcy, but it will take time,” Gapen explains. “Negative wealth is still at play. Equity markets are doing well, but the average household may not feel that. And I think that there will be caution and a preference for saving.”
To be sure, recent economic data warrants the markets taking a short-term breather.
<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="Another 2.123 million Americans filed for unemployment benefits in the week ending May 23. Over the past 10 weeks, more than 40 million Americans have filed for unemployment insurance. U.S. durable goods orders tanked 17.2% in April, U.S. Commerce Department data showed Thursday. Durable goods dropped 16.6% in March.” data-reactid=”34″>Another 2.123 million Americans filed for unemployment benefits in the week ending May 23. Over the past 10 weeks, more than 40 million Americans have filed for unemployment insurance. U.S. durable goods orders tanked 17.2% in April, U.S. Commerce Department data showed Thursday. Durable goods dropped 16.6% in March.
Pending home sales in April fell 33.8% year over year, the National Association of Realtors said Thursday. That marked the biggest decline since January 2001.
“I think the market has priced in that April is probably the worst of the economic data,” explained Sevens Report Research founder Tom Essaye. “While it looks like the worst is behind us — which is great — we need to start to see more improvement.”
<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="Brian Sozzi is an editor-at-large and co-anchor of The First Trade at Yahoo Finance. Follow Sozzi on Twitter @BrianSozzi and on LinkedIn.” data-reactid=”37″>Brian Sozzi is an editor-at-large and co-anchor of The First Trade at Yahoo Finance. Follow Sozzi on Twitter @BrianSozzi and on LinkedIn.
<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="Read the latest financial and business news from Yahoo Finance” data-reactid=”38″>Read the latest financial and business news from Yahoo Finance
<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="Follow Yahoo Finance on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Flipboard, SmartNews, LinkedIn, YouTube, and reddit.” data-reactid=”50″>Follow Yahoo Finance on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Flipboard, SmartNews, LinkedIn, YouTube, and reddit.
France Paves Way for Economic Restart After Taming Virus – BNNBloomberg.ca
France will lift domestic travel restrictions and allow most bars, restaurants and museums to reopen as the country slowly unfreezes its economy following weeks of stringent controls to contain the coronavirus epidemic.
While France won’t completely return to normal, it can ease restrictions starting on Tuesday as confinement measures proved more effective than expected in combating the spread of the disease.
“Freedom will finally become the rule again, and prohibition the exception,” Prime Minister Edouard Philippe said Thursday, following a cabinet meeting. “The results in terms of public health are good, even if we remain cautious.”
From the coming weekend, the state will accelerate plans to restart schools, reopen parks and scrap a rule limiting travel within France to 100 kilometers. The government favors opening internal European Union borders from June 15, while leaving a decision on travel beyond the bloc to the EU.
In areas including Paris and the surrounding region, lifting curbs will be slightly slower. Bars and restaurants will only be able to open outdoor spaces, and sports centers will not open until the next phase starting June 22.
France is following other major European economies in relaxing restrictions on the public. Germany has already undertaken a broad restart of businesses. In Spain, cafes and restaurants in Madrid and Barcelona re-opened this week, and foreign tourists should be allowed in again from July without a two-week quarantine.
Greece is also relaxing curbs on travels, re-opening restaurants and allowing foreign tourists from mid-June.
Economic pressure to relax the rules was mounting in France after it implemented one of the strictest lockdowns. For two months, locals were banned from going more than one kilometer away from their homes without a justification.
The government eased some restrictions earlier this month, following a drop in the number of severe Covid-19 infections. But the economy has continued to suffer with activity around 21% below normal levels, according to estimates from national statistics agency Insee, which expects France’s 2020 contraction to be deeper than the 8% the government forecast.
“A new front is opening today: The country will have to fight against the impact of a historic recession,” Philippe said.
The French state has already announced a plan to revitalize the car industry and will announce another plan for the aircraft sector next week.
The government has also earmarked 18 billion euros ($20 billion) for the hard-hit tourism industry, which represents around 7% of GDP. France has suggested domestic tourism would be possible during the summer with some restrictions, but that trips to foreign countries could remain on hold.
Read More: Tourism Slump Has Holiday Destinations Scrambling
The restaurant and hotel industry has warned that social-distancing measures could dent profitability in the long run, as fewer people will be able to be catered to and costs will rise.
©2020 Bloomberg L.P.
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