CORONAVIRUS ALERT 3/10/2020
The Atlantic Council’s Coronavirus Alert is a regular summary of policy, economic, and business events around the emergency. To stay updated, sign up to the Coronavirus Alert here.
Italy imposed a country-wide lockdown to contain the spread of coronavirus, imposing travel restrictions and a “stay home” order as carriers including British Airways suspended flights. Cases in New York overtook those in Washington and California, while China showed signs of a slowdown in infections.
QUOTE: “The government and the people of Italy are taking bold, courageous steps aimed at slowing the spread of the coronavirus and protecting their country and the world,” said Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, director-general of The World Health Organization, The Telegraph reported.
HEALTH AND SCIENCE:
- Italy imposed emergency measures on the entire country, ordering 60 million people to stay at home, seeking permission to travel only for work or family emergencies. The number of deaths in Italy increased by nearly one-hundred to 463 on March 9. Seven prisoners died during riots that started after all visits were suspended. “We all must give something up for the good of Italy,” the BBC cited Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte as saying. “We have to do it now.”
- The World Health Organization says coronavirus is close to becoming a pandemic, The Wall Street Journal reported. “We’re reaching that point,” Michael Ryan, executive director of the WHO’s health emergencies program, said in a March 9 news conference, it reported. “We’re very close.”
- New York state now has 142 cases of coronavirus, more than Washington or California, The New York Times said. Among those who have tested positive for the virus is Rick Cotton, the executive director of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. Officials in New York said they are considering shutting public schools in and near New Rochelle for a number of weeks, it reported. Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo said this is a “significant hot spot” for the virus.
- The United States has now 754 confirmed cases, with at least twenty-six deaths, The Wall Street Journal reported. Of those, twenty-two are in Washington, two in California, and two in Florida.
- China’s leader Xi Jinping visited Wuhan for the first time since the virus started there, sending the message that the country has coronavirus under control, Quartz said, citing state news agency Xinhua. A 100-year-old man was discharged from a hospital in Wuhan after recovering from the virus, the Independent said, also citing Xinhua.
- The spread of the virus slowed sharply in the worst-hit countries in Asia, The Wall Street Journal said. China reported nineteen new cases today, taking the total to 80,754, while there were 131 new cases in South Korea for a total of 7,513. That “bolster[s] the case for government-imposed lockdowns and tight quarantine measures” elsewhere in the world, the Journal said.
- In the UK there will be “many thousands of people” who contract coronavirus, said Dr. Jenny Harries, the country’s deputy chief medical officer, Sky News reported. “99% of those will almost certainly get better and most people will have a really quite mild disease,” Harries said. Five people have died in the UK, where 319 cases of the virus reported, Sky News reported. The peak of the virus is likely to occur within the next fourteen days in the UK, The Scotsman cited her as saying.
- Iran has reported forty-three additional deaths from coronavirus, taking the total to at least 237, the BBC reported. Tehran province is the worst affected. Those figures may mask the reality of the problem in the country, the BBC said.
- Those who contract coronavirus “emit high amounts of virus very early on in their infection,” news service Stat cites a study by scientists in Berlin and Munich as showing. Those who are mildly unwell are still not infectious about ten days later, the study suggests.
- Germany, Europe’s largest economy, has reported the first two deaths from coronavirus, Reuters said. The total number of cases there rose by 20 percent to 1,139, the newswire reported.
- Facebook said last week that it was “temporarily” banning the sale of face masks on its online marketplace, but masks were still for sale on Monday and at up to $1,000 each, The Verge reported.
QUOTE: “Italy is a fault line across the European financial and economic system,” said Paul O’Connor, head of the multi-asset team at Janus Henderson, Reuters reported. “It is the last place you needed to see this adverse economic shock.”
FINANCE AND ECONOMICS:
- Mortgage payments are suspended in Italy as the entire country enters a lock-down to contain the spread of the virus, the Independent said.
- The Dow Jones Industrial Average posted its biggest decline since 2008 yesterday, CNBC reported. The S&P 500 dropped 7.6% led by financials and energy stocks. Much of the decline came after Saudi Arabia slashed the price of oil, marking a u-turn from previous attempts to support the oil market, CNBC said.
- “[I]t was always a possibility that OPEC and non-OPEC members would fail to reach an agreement to further cut production,” writes Reed Blakemore, deputy director in the Atlantic Council’s Global Energy Center. “That the meeting would devolve into an outright collapse of OPEC+ and weekend price war builds an additional shock into an already uncertain economic forecast and will have a geopolitical ripple effect”
- The FTSE 100 share index rose on the morning of March 10 following its worst session yesterday since the financial crisis in 2008, Reuters reported. “We’re looking for government responses and central bank responses to try and ease the burden on financial markets,” the newswire quoted Keith Temperton, a trader at Tavira Securities, as saying. The UK Budget statement takes place on March 11.
- US President Donald J. Trump said he will ask Congress to reduce payroll taxes and give relief to hourly workers affected by the economic impact of coronavirus, The Washington Post said. Key congressional Democrats dismissed the proposals, saying they have plans of their own, the newspaper said.
QUOTE: “It seems pretty difficult to avoid a recession in the first half of the year” in Europe, Ángel Talavera, head of European economics at Oxford Economics in London, cited by The New York Times. “The spread of the disease in Europe is a game changer. The question is how deep it will be, and how long it will last.”
BUSINESS AND TRAVEL:
- British Airways cancelled all of its scheduled flights to Italy today, the Financial Times (FT) reported, while discount carrier Ryanair suspended all flights to, from and within Italy until April 8.
- Japan is preparing an extra $4 billion in financial measures, including help for workers who have had to take time off after schools closed, the FT said.
- Halifax, a UK bank, shut a call centre in Northern Ireland that employs 1,000 people after an employee tested positive for coronavirus, Reuters reported.
- Private equity firm KKR shut its two London offices after an employee tested positive for coronavirus, the Financial Times said.
- Coronavirus continued to disrupt events around the world. Belfast cancelled the city’s annual St Patrick’s Day parade, as did Dublin and Boston. Seattle rock group Pearl Jam postponed the North American leg of its tour.
QUOTE: “We’re going to lose a chunk of activity and then we’ll grow out of it. That’s the good news,” The New York Times quoted Julia Coronado, president of MacroPolicy Perspectives as saying. “But are we going to boom out of it or crawl out of it? Crawling is looking more likely.”
- Johns Hopkins University interactive web-based dashboard to visualize and track reported cases in real-time.
- CDC provides frequent updates and background information on Coronavirus.
- The World Health Organization daily situation reports.
- Harvard Business Review guidance on managing the emergency for corporate decisionmakers.
- The Society for Human Resource Management resources on managing communicable diseases.
- The Wall Street Journal has a useful guide to travel and travel insurance.
- State Department Travel Advisory for China.
New Atlanticist Mar 9, 2020
Saudi Arabia and Russia feud over coronavirus oil response: Will everyone lose?
By David A. Wemer
“While Russia’s decision last week not to support OPEC’s proposal for a production cut and the subsequent oil price war—which as of publishing has pushed Brent crude down more than 9 percent—is surely part of the larger story of the economic impacts of the coronavirus outbreak, it is actually better understood as a geopolitical story about how US energy production growth has strengthened the United States’ international posture, which in turn has reshaped a number of global relationships,” Randolph Bell says.
Inflection Points Mar 7, 2020
Coronavirus is already changing the world
By Frederick Kempe
The first returns are in regarding how the coronavirus episode might change the world. No doubt the virus is a curse, but it also could be a blessing if politicians and voters heed its lessons. As Winston Churchill said on the cusp of World War II, “Never let a good crisis go to waste.”
New Atlanticist Mar 3, 2020
Coronavirus and the oil market: The effects thus far and what to expect next
By Reed Blakemore
The week of February 21 will be one the oil market won’t soon forget—one which exposed exactly how sensitive the prices are to the demand side of the market. Yet, while the possibility of a major supply correction remains in the cards, a longer-term correction to the oil price collapse of the past week will require a restoration of market confidence in economic growth and the future oil demand picture.