Covid-19 Will Redefine What It Means to Feel Safe

(Bloomberg) --

History has shown us that the world can look quite different when it comes out the other side of a crisis.

Without a doubt, the challenge of combating the coronavirus will change us in many ways: Culturally, how we work, how we study, how we socialize. It'll alter our economies, the way governments behave and how they interact  — with both their people and each other.

There’s a lot of talk by governments of the “war” on the virus, evoking leaders like Winston Churchill and talking of the need to shift to a “wartime” footing. Enormous sums are being deployed to tide over businesses and individuals, a fair bit of that money borrowed. There will be a long, painful period of recovery and reconstruction.

Governments will have to face up to a fundamental examination of priorities as people rethink what it means to them to feel secure. There will be greater discussion around “personal security,” with demands that governments spend more on health and welfare.

The virus has ripped through decades of underfunding of national health systems, with shortages of medical workers and emergency equipment. Voters will want more money to go into medical and scientific research.

As Alan Crawford writes today in this important story, we could see a shift from traditional budgetary priorities like military spending. Entire systems of economic governance could be upended.

For all nations that will be difficult. For some it may be impossible. Iran, Venezuela and North Korea have crippled health services. But their leaders’ hold on power is also anchored in a strong military. So how to choose?

Covid-19 Will Redefine What It Means to Feel Safe

Global Headlines

Historic deal | The world’s top oil producers pulled off an agreement to reduce global petroleum output by nearly a 10th, putting an end to the devastating price war that brought the energy industry to its knees. The focus now shifts to whether the cut can dent the massive glut that keeps growing as the virus shutters the global economy.

  • Click here for how the deal forced Russia’s Vladimir Putin into stinging concessions.
  • Read how Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador scored a political win by convincing nations to let him cut output far less than other OPEC+ members.

Staggered re-open? | Parts of the U.S. may be ready in May to ease emergency measures taken against the coronavirus pandemic, but there’s no universal “light switch” to flip on, the federal government’s top infectious diseases expert said. With Americans poised to start receiving stimulus payments this week, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis President Neel Kashkari warned the economy could still face 18 months of rolling shutdowns.

  • Click here for more on the intense pressure Congress is under to negotiate another interim rescue package this week.

Sister returns | North Korean leader Kim Jong Un further solidified the standing of his younger sister by returning her to a position in the Politburo. Part emissary, part personal assistant, Kim Yo Jong splashed onto the world scene when she visited South Korea for the 2018 Winter Olympics and has taken on a more visible role in representing the reclusive state.

Nearing deadline | Israel’s president rejected Benny Gantz’s request for more time to form a government, improving Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s chances of retaining power. Netanyahu had made clear he and Gantz were not close to a power-sharing agreement. Unless they jointly request more time before Gantz’s mandate expires at midnight, President Reuven Rivlin has said he’ll give parliament three weeks to nominate someone else. That favors Netanyahu because nobody else has his level of support.

Time to choose | Joe Biden is in the earliest stages of choosing a running mate who can help him defeat U.S. President Donald Trump in November. The presumptive Democratic presidential nominee is far behind the Republican incumbent in fund-raising and hamstrung by social distancing rules as he prepares to begin his vetting process, Jennifer Epstein and Tyler Pager report.

What to Watch This Week

  • French President Emmanuel Macron addresses the nation tonight and may announce a lockdown extension until mid-May.
  • U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson is out of the hospital but won’t return to work yet as he recovers from Covid-19.
  • South Korea is the first major country to hold a general election in the throes of the pandemic, with early voting underway for 300 National Assembly seats.
  • Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan rejected the resignation of his interior minister over an abrupt weekend lockdown that saw people flock to stores for panic buying.
  • China’s ambassador to the U.S. says Beijing is still implementing the first phase of their trade deal. That's as the contraction in China’s foreign trade is set to continue.

Tell us how we’re doing or what we’re missing at balancepower@bloomberg.net.

And finally ...With churches closed amid coronavirus lockdowns, millions of Christians reflected on the Easter message of resurrection at home in isolation. Religious services streamed online included Pope Francis celebrating Easter Mass to an empty St Peter’s Basilica. Jews and Muslims marking Passover and Ramadan this month, too, face similar restrictions. Even the Easter bunny fell victim to the pandemic, as Swiss chocolate makers offered unprecedented price cuts, with stores shuttered and many consumers suddenly jobless.

Covid-19 Will Redefine What It Means to Feel Safe

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