Wall Street Bankers And Trump Ignore Health Experts, Want To Restart Economy Before Easter
Leading U.S. bank executives met two weeks ago with President Donald Trump at the White House, telling him they are strongly capitalized and prepared to help small businesses and American consumers weather the coronavirus outbreak.
CEOs of Bank of America, Goldman Sachs, Citi, JPMorgan Chase and others said there is no financial crisis, banks are in good shape, and bankers want to provide liquidity, Reuters reported.
Last week, Trump said the coronavirus crisis could last until July or August. This week, he’s saying the country wasn’t built for shutdowns. He wants the country back to normal and spending like there’s no tomorrow by Easter. Easter Sunday is April 12. Trump said he “would love to have the country opened up and just raring to go by Easter.”
Increasingly restless with the restrictions imposed to slow the spread of the coronavirus, Trump is going against the advice of public health officials. It amounts to rolling the dice amid the worst public health crisis in a century, The Hill reported.
Trump may choose to take the gamble, going for a best-case scenario where projections for the virus prove overblown. He is glorified by voters for saving their livelihoods as he, and he alone, defies the more cautious advice of experts.
The U.S. unemployment rate could rise to 30 percent in the second quarter because of shutdowns to combat the coronavirus, according to a prediction by Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis President James Bullard. Gross domestic product could drop an unprecedented 50 percent.
Pre-virus, the U.S. economy was hyped as being strong. How strong? Forty-four percent of U.S. workers earned low wages, according to a Brookings Institute report. The median hourly earnings were $10.22 for 53 million people in the U.S. For full-time year-round workers, median annual earnings were about $24,000, Myra Adams reported for Real Clear Politics.
“How will millions of small-business owners and more millions of their employees pay their bills? Government payouts and loans will not be enough to stop the hemorrhaging. Will corporate landlords cut them breaks or even delay rent payments during the mandatory shutdown?” Adams wrote.
There’s no real acknowledgment from Trump that the virus is going to get worse in the near term, Axios reported.
“This is a medical problem. We are not going to let it turn into a long-lasting financial problem,” Trump said in a press conference on Monday.
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Axios health reporter Caitlin Owens wrote that a former Trump administration official told her, “A policy of returning people to work too soon should be called the ‘let old people die already’ policy.”
If Trump decides to take his foot off the brakes next week and if states follow suit, the number of coronavirus cases would probably be more than the health care system can handle.
“This is when truly horrific things can happen — like patients suffering as health care providers are forced to make in-the-moment decisions of who lives and who dies,” Owens wrote. “If the virus’ continued spread causes people to still be concerned for their health, and they don’t start spending money again in droves, then service workers may be putting their health back on the line for weak demand and a lackluster rebound.”