Opposition candidates for
Poland’s upcoming presidential election are squabbling over how to stop
the ballot because of the pandemic, but the ruling Law and Justice (PiS)
party isn’t giving ground. The leading opposition candidate Małgorzata
Kidawa-Błońska on Sunday suspended her campaign to protest the
government’s refusal to delay the vote from May 10 in light of the
“Today in Poland there is no
other task than the battle with the epidemic and its consequences,”
Kidawa-Błońska, of the opposition Civic Coalition party, said in an open
letter. “In these circumstances, organizing presidential elections would
be a criminal action.”
She called on her rivals to
take the same step and said if the election isn’t delayed then it should
be boycotted. Other opposition candidates aren’t going along. Independent
Szymon Hołownia, who has also suspended his campaign and says PiS’s dogged
effort to stick to the electoral calendar despite the pandemic is
“madness,” said Sunday that a boycott means a loss of civic
Duda is far ahead in opinion
polls thanks both to a gather-round-the-flag sentiment common during
crises, and because opposition candidates can’t easily campaign during
ever-tighter lockdown measures. One new poll has Duda romping home in a
first-round victory with 65 percent support, although turnout would only
be 31 percent. However, he’d only take 44 percent if the election were
Days after President Trump said he hoped
the country would be “opened up
and raring to go” by Easter, he instead
announced on Sunday an extension of federal guidance on social distancing
throughApril, in a continued effort to slow the spread of the
The nation has reached more than
136,000 confirmed cases of covid-19, the disease caused by the
coronavirus, and more than 2,400 related deaths — with numbers continuing
to climb across the country. Calling his previous statements
targeting Easter “just an aspiration,” Trump said he now expects the
covid-19 death rate to peak in two weeks, around the same time as the
The president’s comments came after
a top medical adviser to the White House and state governors said in
television interviews Sunday that they could not envision an easing soon
of measures designed to slow the virus’s spread, warning that the outbreak
will continue taxing hospitals and could kill thousands more people.
Anthony S. Fauci, the White House
adviser, said on CNN’s “State of the Union” that models suggest the virus
could cause between 100,000 and 200,000 deaths and that millions of people
could be infected. If coronavirus-related deaths remained under
200,000, Trump said, “we all together have done a very good job.”
Amir Peretz is set to join a unity government led by Prime Minister
Benjamin Netanyahu and will be appointed Finance Minister,
following a Sunday meeting with representatives of Benny Gantz’s Kahol
Lavan party. Peretz vowed during the election campaign not to join
a Netanyahu-led government, citing the premier’s pending corruption trial.
Fellow Labor lawmaker
Itzik Shmuli will also be joining and will head the Labour, Social Affairs
and Social Services Ministry, but their party colleague Merav Michaeli
will remain outside the government. The portfolios they will
receive will be part of the quota that Netanyahu allocated to Gantz’s
Labor ran in
Israel’s March 2 election on a joint left-wing slate with Meretz, who
would not join Netanyahu’s government, and Orli
Levi-Abekasis’ Gesher, who formally requested two weeks ago to split from
the alliance. Yair Lapid’s Yesh Atid and Moshe Ya’alon’s Telem
broke off from Gantz’s
Hosen L’Yisrael, which will continue to be called Kahol Lavan.
right-wing bloc will retain the finance, health and education portfolios.
The Public Security Ministry, too, will remain in the hands of Netanyahu’s
Likud. Gantz’s party will take the defense and justice portfolios,
as well as the Foreign Ministry. They will also head the following
ministries: communications; economy; labor; culture and sports;
immigration and absorption; tourism; and science and technology.
Across the rich
world, governments and economists are scrambling to work out how costly
virus-related lockdowns will be. Will the economy shrink by a tenth or a
third? Is the slump going to last for three months, six or more? A
similarly unnerving and inexact exercise is happening in boardrooms as
firms try to estimate by how much their cashflows will fall and whether
they have the resources to survive.
Amid the chaos one thing, at least,
is clear: a few powerful firms are set to gain more clout. Already some
are a source of financial stability. It costs less to insure Johnson &
Johnson’s debt against default than Canada’s. Apple’s gross cash pile of
$207bn exceeds most countries’ fiscal stimulus.
On March 23rd Primark, a fashion
retailer, said it was shutting all 376 of its stores in 12 countries,
forgoing over $770m in sales per month. It expects to save only half its
costs. For most firms the picture is murkier, and perhaps not quite as
glum. Some factories are still running and white-collar firms operate
Silicon Valley and Big Pharma
dominate. Technology firms make up 48 of the top 100. The likes of
Microsoft (10th), Apple (13th), Facebook (14th) and Alphabet (18th) operate
with big cash buffers. Demand for some of their products is surging:
Microsoft’s team-working software, for example. Another 24 are health-care firms.
For Italy, the test of EU
solidarity in responding to the coronavirus crisis came down to a simple
point: Your bond is your word. But EU heads of state and government failed
Rome’s test during a videoconference on Thursday by refusing to back the
idea of “corona bonds” — a common debt instrument to help
finance the response to the coronavirus pandemic.
Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe
Conte, furious about adamant opposition to the corona bonds concept by the
Netherlands and Germany, upended the videoconference by declaring that he
would not support the leaders’ concluding statement. Conte issued an
ultimatum giving officials in Brussels 10 days to come back with “an
Spanish Prime Minister Pedro
Sánchez weighed in to support Italy, aligning the two countries that have
suffered the most coronavirus deaths. On the eve of the virtual summit,
nine countries, including Italy, Spain and France, sent a letter to Michel
urging a more collective economic response by the EU, including a specific
reference to common debt instruments — in other words, corona bonds.
German Chancellor Angela
Merkel, however, made clear her view that corona bonds should not be part
of Europe’s response. Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte has been firm in his
country’s opposition to the corona bonds, and Austrian Chancellor
Sebastian Kurz and Finnish Prime Minister Sanna Marin also spoke out
against the idea.
Benny Gantz was
voted in as Knesset speaker on Thursday, paving the way for an
“emergency” unity government with Prime Minister Benjamin
Netanyahu, as Israel’s government works to mitigate the coronavirus crisis.
Over the past year, Gantz has repeatedly vowed never to join a
Netanyahu-led government, citing the premier’s corruption cases.
Gantz’s Kahol Lavan party has split moments ahead of the vote,
after the party leader nominated himself for the position of Knesset
speaker, in a bid to keep the possibility of a unity government with
Netanyahu’s Likud party. Kahol Lavan’s
Lapid and Moshe Ya’alon, who
were critical of the move, filed a request on Thursday to split their
Knesset roster. Their two factions will remain as one party under the name
The vote on Gantz’s nomination was approved
with 74 lawmakers in favor, including many of Netanyahu’s right-wing bloc,
and 18 against. Some parties, including Lapid’s Yesh Atid faction,
boycotted the vote. In his first speech as Knesset speaker, Gantz
argued for an “emergency national unity government” to allow
Israel to recover from the coronavirus outbreak.
“These are not normal times,” he
told lawmakers, “and they call for unusual decisions.” He
said this was “the right thing to do at this time,” stressing he
would “not compromise democracy,” but made no direct remarks on
Netanyahu’s impending trial. Lapid accused Gantz of “surrender
without a fight” and “crawling” to join a Netanyahu
government, asserting that his party would remain in the opposition.
negotiating rounds on the UK’s future relationship with the EU have been
abandoned as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, with Boris Johnson’s
government still to table a comprehensive legal text for both sides to
work on. During a European Commission briefing on Thursday, envoys for the EU
capitals were told that holding negotiations via video-conferencing had so
far proved impossible.
The two sides are
trying to find a way to maintain dialogue in the coming weeks and months
to kickstart the talks, but a previous schedule for negotiating rounds,
with weeks set aside for consultation and preparation, has been ditched.
The fact that the UK was still to table a legal text added an extra layer
of difficulty, EU sources said.
Street’s public insistence that a similarly comprehensive text would be
tabled earlier this month, EU sources said the UK had tabled only four
documents covering trade, transport, aviation and nuclear cooperation.
London has not tabled legal text on significant issues including security
cooperation or fisheries, and nor has it made its texts public.
EU sources said
the position was desperate. “We can’t even move out of Brussels to our
capitals to talk it through,” said one source. “Everything is in the deep
freeze.” The EU’s chief negotiator, Michel Barnier, is in
quarantine having been infected with the coronavirus. The UK’s chief
negotiator, David Frost, has been in isolation after showing symptoms.
Picon’s fields in Huelva, on the Atlantic coast of Spain tucked between
Seville and the border with Portugal, are normally teeming with some 200
workers mostly from Morocco and Romania pulling the delicate berries from
the plants and packing them for shipment. But this year, there are fewer
than 100, largely locals — and Picon has no clue how he’s going to get the
Huelva to Hamburg and Newcastle to Naples, Europe’s farmers are struggling
to find people to bring in rapidly ripening fruits and vegetables, which
frequently must be hand-picked, usually within a window of just a few
days. They typically rely on seasonal workers from eastern Europe or
northern Africa, but fears of the coronavirus are keeping hundreds of
thousands of migrant laborers from leaving home.
asparagus are already being left to rot in Spain, Italy, and southern
France. Farther north, producers of everything from salad greens and
tomatoes to onions and peas are fretting about what to do as the spring
and summer growing season picks up. The labor problems have some in
the business worried that urban shoppers could face produce shortages. The
concern is that even crops that get picked won’t reach consumers because
outdoor markets are closed and transport links are iffy.
France expects some
200,000 workers will fail to show up this year. Coldiretti, an association
of Italian farmers, estimates the country will be short as many as 100,000
foreign laborers. Germany typically has 30,000 migrant farm workers in
March and 80,000 by May. With restaurants, hotels, and shops mostly
shuttered due to the pandemic, governments are hoping people from those
sectors, or students facing months without classes, will fill the void.
The coronavirus pandemic is a
human tragedy of potentially biblical proportions. Many today are living
in fear of their lives or mourning their loved ones. The actions being
taken by governments to prevent our health systems from being overwhelmed
are brave and necessary. They must be supported.
But those actions also come
with a huge and unavoidable economic cost. While many face a loss of life,
a great many more face a loss of livelihood. Day by day, the economic news
is worsening. Companies face a loss of income across the whole
economy. A great many are already downsizing and laying off workers. A
deep recession is inevitable.
The challenge we face is how to
act with sufficient strength and speed to prevent the recession from
morphing into a prolonged depression, made deeper by a plethora of
defaults leaving irreversible damage. It is already clear that the answer
must involve a significant increase in public debt.
Faced with unforeseen
circumstances, a change of mindset is as necessary in this crisis as
it would be in times of war. The shock we are facing is not cyclical. The
loss of income is not the fault of any of those who suffer from it. The
cost of hesitation may be irreversible. The memory of the sufferings of
Europeans in the 1920s is enough of a cautionary tale.
EU leaders will on Thursday
discuss a “Marshall Plan-like” stimulus package to fight the dire effects
of the coronavirus on the bloc’s economies, European Council President
Charles Michel said Wednesday. Leaders on Thursday are expected to call on
the European Commission to put together a new plan for economic recovery.
Speaking on Belgian television
channel LN24, Michel said he had earlier this week discussed “the way we
are going to put in place what I call a Marshall Plan-like stimulus
strategy” with the bloc’s 27 ambassadors, ahead of Thursday’s
videoconference of heads of state and government.
“And when I say Marshall
Plan-like, I say with a strong ambition,” he added. The impact of the
economic shock on businesses means “we must be very active, very soon.” Michel
described the endeavor as “an intra-European plan which must mobilize EU
capital in the framework of the European budget; which must mobilize national
funds and which should also mobilize the private sector,” adding: “We will
have to use all the tools.”
In a draft statement prepared
ahead of the leaders’ discussion and seen by POLITICO, officials wrote
that the bloc would need an “exit strategy, a comprehensive recovery plan
and unprecedented investment” for the coronavirus crisis, and would
“invite the Commission to start work on a proposal for a Roadmap for
recovery accompanied by an Action Plan.”
Over the past weeks, hundreds of
thousands of Afghans have crossed back into their home country from Iran,
which is one of the countries worst afflicted with the novel coronavirus,
with tens of thousands of cases documented so far. So far at least 50 people have tested positive for the coronavirus in Herat
In some ways the new threat couldn’t
come at a worse time, with peace talks between the Taliban and Afghan
government stalemated and U.S. attention focused elsewhere—back home on
its own dire coronavirus outbreak rather than forcing the two sides to
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo
visited Kabul on Monday but left frustrated,
threatening to cut off up to $2 billion in U.S. aid to Afghanistan unless
President Ashraf Ghani and his chief political rival, Abdullah Abdullah,
resolve their differences over the recent national election, which both
claim to have won.
The ancient city of Herat is home to
about 1 million people, according to the governor’s office. Located in
northwest Afghanistan, it is the country’s third-biggest city, surrounded
by lush gardens where families picnic on weekends. The country’s Ministry
of Public Health has urged the government to put the city under lockdown,
but no presidential order has so far been given for this.
government was toppled by a no-confidence vote Wednesday (25 March) less
than two months after coming to power, plunging the unstable democracy
into political uncertainty as it tries to halt the spread of coronavirus. After nearly 12 hours of debate,
82 MPs in the 120-member assembly voted in favour of the motion of no
The vote ends a brief and bumpy
alliance between two former opposition parties who took power last month
with a mandate to loosen the grip of an old guard that has held sway over
Kosovo for more than a decade. The partnership quickly broke down
with the junior partner in the coalition, the centre-right LDK, initiating
the motion after weeks of tension with Prime Minister Albin Kurti, leader
of the left-wing Vetevendosje party.
President Hashim Thaçi, whose party
lost in the last elections, now has the power to give Kurti — his
political enemy — another chance to form a government or call a new poll.
The tumult has outraged citizens who want their leaders to focus on
combating the coronavirus. Doctors warn that a swell of cases could
overwhelm Kosovo’s underfunded and understaffed hospitals.
Before the parliamentary session
began, one citizen breached partial lockdown orders to raise a banner at
the entrance that read: “The most dangerous pandemic in Kosovo is
politics. Shame!”. Unable to protest on the streets because
of coronavirus restrictions on gatherings, Pristina residents have been
clanging pots and pans every evening from their terraces in a show of
anger over the political squabbling.
Senate leaders and the Trump
administration reached agreement early Wednesday on a $2 trillion stimulus
package to rescue the economy from the coronavirus assault,
setting the stage for swift passage of the massive legislation through
both chambers of Congress.
The Senate bill would direct
payments of $1,200 to most American adults and $500 to most children,
create a $500 billion lending program for companies, states and cities,
and extend an additional $367 billion to help small companies deal with
payroll problems. It would bolster the unemployment insurance system and
pump $150 billion into U.S. hospitals. The bill more than doubled in size
in just a few days.
This pertains to the $500 billion loan and loan guarantee program that the Treasury Department would be tasked
with administering for companies, states and cities. Of that amount, $425
billion is supposed to go to businesses, cities and states. An additional
$50 billion would go to passenger airlines, as well as $8 billion for
cargo airlines, and $17 billion for firms that are deemed important to
Other provisions include a massive
boost to unemployment insurance, expanding eligibility and offering
workers an additional $600 a week for four months, on top of what state
unemployment programs pay, $150 billion for state and local
stimulus funds and $130 billion for hospitals. The stock market
rose sharply Tuesday in anticipation of the deal, with the Dow Jones
industrial average surging more than 2,100 points, or 11.4 percent.
of the euro area are close to an agreement to use the European Stability
Mechanism to provide credit lines of up to 2% of their GDP to tackle the
consequences of the coronavirus COVID-19. The Eurogroup discussed on Tuesday
(24 March) what instruments Europe could deploy to release the fiscal
stimulus and restart the economy, as the bloc is expected to suffer a
The package will be presented to
the leaders on Thursday and they will decide the shape and size of the
European fiscal response, on top of the national packages already adopted.
To date, euro member states adopted stimuli totalling around 2% of the
region’s GDP, around €240 billion, doubling the size of the efforts made
up until last week against the pandemic.
The Eurogroup teleconference
focused on how to use the European Stability Mechanism, the EU’s bailout
fund to offer loans to eurozone countries. “We are committed to
exploring all possibilities necessary to help our economies get through
these difficult times,” Eurogroup president Mario Centeno said after the
ESM chief Klaus Regling explained
that the credit lines would be available for all euro members, but it
would be up to each of them, or a group of them if they requested it.
Each member state will be able to request a credit of up to 2% of its GDP,
but it could be even higher for serious situations, said Regling. Northern
countries, notably Germany and the Netherlands, have been staunch
opponents of the eurobonds.
Almost all countries in the West
dealing with the coronavirus pandemic have by now arrived at the same
lockdown strategy, with some local variations. Only one major exception
stands out. Sweden, while facing an undisputed high-risk outbreak of the
virus, has committed to going its own way in combating it.
Stockholm’s coronavirus efforts stand
out as markedly measured—or, as some would have it, dangerously tame.
The Swedish government appears to be betting that its national culture is
distinctive enough to pull off public health policies other countries
can’t. Whether it will regret doing so remains to be seen.
Primary schools remain open, borders
are only partially closed, there are no compulsory quarantines or
shutdowns of restaurants, bars, or public spaces. While there is a ban on
public gatherings, the 500-person limit is more generous than in other
countries. As of Tuesday, a total of 36 Swedes have died after
contracting the novel coronavirus.
The explanation, some analysts say,
lies in Sweden’s combination of politically independent public
agencies—including the Public Health Agency, which is front and center of
the current crisis management—and the high level of public trust in them.
The agencies are guaranteed freedom from so-called ministerial rule, which
means politicians do not have the power to intervene directly in a public
agency’s day-to-day operations.
The Japanese authorities and the
IOC kept insisting, long after everyone else stopped believing them, that
all was going to plan. On March 17th the IOC said there was “no need for
any drastic decisions at this stage”, and that it was “fully committed” to
holding the Olympics in July, even as betting markets gave that
outcome a 15% probability.
On March 20th the Olympic flame
duly arrived in Japan from Greece. But after that things unravelled
quickly. Three days later Australia and Canada announced they would not
send teams to an Olympics held in Tokyo in July and August. Britain,
France and America urged the IOC to reach a decision quickly.
On March 24th Japan and the IOC
bowed to the inevitable. Abe Shinzo, Japan’s prime minister, told
reporters that he and Thomas Bach, the IOC’s president, were in “100%
agreement” about postponing the games. Another reason for delay came with
a recent spike in covid-19 infections in Tokyo.
A joint statement from the IOC and
the Tokyo organising committee said they would be rescheduled to next
year, but not later than the summer, in order “to safeguard the health of
the athletes, everybody involved in the Olympic games and the
international community”. For Mr Abe, postponement of the games is
a personal embarrassment, in light of his long refusal to countenance a
delay to what has become a legacy project for him.
The EU is set to agree for
North Macedonia and Albania to begin their long-awaited accession talks,
as the bloc seeks to strengthen ties with the western Balkans. Member
state foreign and Europe ministers will meet by video on Tuesday to sign
off on a compromise deal that has overcome French-led resistance to
The provisional accord, the
first step towards enlarging the 27-member EU since the UK quit the bloc
in January, comes as Russia and China deepen their footprints in the
region. The launch of accession talks is no guarantee of EU membership.
The proposed revised agreement
meets the demands of the enlargement sceptics by imposing extensive
conditions on Albania. These include electoral and judicial reform, action
against corruption, amending its media law and tougher action against
The final breakthrough was
confirmed on Monday, when Athens signalled it was happy with assurances on
its fears that Albania’s census and property registration rules would
discriminate against the country’s Greek minority. The provisional
accord would mean four of the six western Balkans countries are in
enlargement talks with the EU, after Montenegro started in 2012 and Serbia
The U.S. State
Department is instructing its top diplomats to press governments and
businesses in Eastern Europe and Eurasia to ramp up exports and production
of life-saving medical equipment and protective gear for the United
States, part of a desperate diplomatic campaign to fill major shortcomings
in the U.S. medical system amid a rising death toll from the new
It represents a stark turnaround for
the United States, which has traditionally taken the lead in trying to
help other less-developed countries contend with major humanitarian
disasters and epidemics. The request could also undercut claims by
U.S. President Donald Trump, who has repeatedly insisted that the United
States can handle demands for tests and medical equipment on its own.
China, meanwhile, is pushing to
refurbish its image by sending its doctors and tens of thousands of
medical kits abroad to the countries hit the hardest by the coronavirus,
after botching the initial response to the virus, helping lead to its
spread across the globe. Trump’s third-ranking diplomat, David
Hale, has asked all bureaus to report on what foreign countries would be
able to sell “critical medical supplies and equipment” to the
“Depending on critical needs, the
United States could seek to purchase many of these items in the hundreds
of millions with purchases of higher end equipment such as ventilators in
the hundreds of thousands,” the email reads. The email stresses that the request
applies to host countries “minus Moscow,” indicating the United States
will not call on Russia for support.
After a weekend
barrage of social media posts documenting sanitizer shortages and soap
aisle raids across America’s supermarkets, Melissa Hanesworth and Tara
Engel felt they had to act. By March 20, Pernod Ricard’s facility
in Fort Smith, Ark., where it makes Malibu coconut rum and Seagram’s gin,
had produced 1,000 gallons of hand sanitizer.
effort comes as businesses the world over rethink their day-to-day
operations so they can help governments fight the coronavirus. Major
corporations are heeding the call to address civic need at the fastest
pace since World War II.
In the U.S., 3M Co. is doubling
its production of N95 respirator masks to an annual rate of 2 billion and
Tesla Inc. founder Elon Musk is holding conversations with Medtronic Inc. about “state-of-the-art
ventilators.” H&M, the mass-market clothier, is adapting its production
lines to supply more surgical garments.
In the U.K., Smiths Group Plc has ramped
up the manufacture of its own medical ventilators, which are in short
supply, and has made the intellectual property to produce them available
to other companies; the government has asked engine maker Rolls-Royce Holdings
Plc and McLaren Automotive to help
Wamkele Mene’s first days at
work were a huge anticlimax. Last week, as he was sworn in as Africa’s new
trade czar, the continent was becoming engulfed in the global fight
against the coronavirus. Trade talks aimed at launching the African
Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) on July 1 are now on hold.
“It would be unreasonable for
any government to direct resources to meet the deadline when the public’s
health is so gravely at stake,” Mene told POLITICO, adding that he
expected heads of state to announce a delay in the coming weeks. “My view
now is that the focus should be on saving lives.”
Coronavirus permitting, the
intention is still for AfCFTA to launch this year, with officials looking
to resume talks toward the end of May. Even without the interference of a
pandemic, achieving a deal looked challenging — despite the progress so
far. There is also a massive infrastructure deficit in Africa and a large
amount of investment is still needed for roads, train linkages and air
The current text proposes
countries having five years to drop tariffs to zero on 90 percent of their
goods. They then have seven years to drop tariffs on 7 percent of their
tariff lines, while the remaining 3 percent can be protected. In reality,
it could take much longer.
Mr. Trump was
scathing as he accused Beijing of concealing the outbreak first detected
in Wuhan that has become a pandemic now paralyzing the United States.
“Certainly, the world is paying a big price for what they did,” he said.
As Mr. Trump toughens his condemnations of Mr. Xi’s government, experts
fear that the two world powers are heading into a new Cold War.
Even some health
officials in the Trump administration have warned that denouncing China’s
government could make it more resistant to sharing accurate data about the
virus. China has shared the genome sequence of the
virus, and Chinese scientists have written many public papers on the
virus, even if officials initially covered it
China also has the
power to interfere with medical supply chains into the United States, and
its economic policies are crucial to the wider global economy. Eswar
Prasad, a China expert and professor of trade policy at Cornell
University, called the new hostility “dispiriting.” Trump officials
are also gauging the effect of the coronavirus and a related spike in
tensions on their trade talks.
But China hawks
see the pandemic as a chance to spotlight what they call the sinister
nature of China’s Communist Party, turn international opinion against it
and combat its anti-American conspiracy theories. The hardened
messaging from Washington has infuriated China’s government, whose
officials and news outlets have fired back.
“The coronavirus outbreak has
done what local and international politicians and activists have been
unable to do,” writes Daoud Kuttab. Israeli and Palestinian leaders are
talking at the highest level and stepping up cooperation through existing
official channels to contain the spread of the novel coronavirus.
On March 18, Israeli President
Reuven Rivlin called his Palestinian counterpart, Mahmoud Abbas, to say
that cooperation is “vital” and that “our ability to work together in
times of crisis is also testament to our ability to work together in the
future for the good of us all.”
Israeli and Palestinian leaders
hammered out an agreement that allows 30,000 Palestinian workers from the
West Bank to stay in Israel for at least two months in order to limit the
traffic at border crossings and thereby prevent the spread of the virus.
This number could increase to 70,000. Israel must provide housing and
sanitary facilities, per the agreement.
Eldar points out that the
relationship between Israel Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon and his
Palestinian counterpart, Shukri Bishara, has been key to cooperation
during otherwise acrimonious ties. This connection could be lost if Kahlon
is replaced if and when a new Israeli government is formed.
Hungary’s nationalist government
submitted a draft law to parliament Friday (20 March) that would enable it
to rule by decree for an unlimited period of time, citing the corona
emergency. The bill would enable the government to indefinitely
extend the state of emergency and special powers, removing the current
requirement for MPs to approve any extension.
The special powers would make it
possible for prime minister Viktor Orban’s government to “suspend the
application of certain laws, derogate from legal provisions, and take
extraordinary measures in the interest of guaranteeing the stabilisation
of the lives, health, personal and material security of citizens, as well
as the economy”.
Under an extended and indefinite
state of emergency, anyone who publicises false or distorted facts that
interfere with the “successful defence” of public health, or can
create “confusion or unrest” related to the outbreak, can be
punished by up to five years, or three years, in prison. This has
created fears that it could enable the Orban government to decide what can
be reported and what is true.
Elections and referendums would
also be postponed for the indefinite time of the emergency, making it
impossible to replace MPs, for instance, if they die in the corona
outbreak. Four-fifths of MPs will need to support the swift move. If
opposition parties do not support the quick vote, parliament can vote on
it in eight days. That vote would require only a two-thirds
majority for the government to gain extraordinary powers, which Orban
holds in parliament.
COVID-19 pandemic is having a dramatic impact on Germany’s demand for
electricity. According to initial projections, Germany could emit between
50 and 120 million tons less CO2 this year, meaning it could even exceed
its climate target.
German industry is largely at a
standstill: production is being interrupted, and entire plants are
temporarily closed. In a forecast, the Kiel Institute for the World
Economy (IfW) assumes that German GDP could fall by as much as 4.5% in the
event of a nationwide curfew and by up to 8.7% in the worst case. This
is likely to have a massive impact on the country’s demand for electricity.
At around 230 terawatt-hours per
year, industry alone consumes almost half of Germany’s electricity needs,
followed by trade, commerce and the service sector, which is now also
largely at a standstill. In comparison, households are much smaller
consumers. With just under 130 terawatt-hours, they come third in relation
to all electricity consumers.
Since emissions would decrease anyway
due to warmer weather and conditions on the energy market, Agora
calculates a “corona effect” of 30 to 100 million tons. Power
prices are also expected to fall. The coronavirus is already having
an impact on the EU’s carbon market, where the price of a ton of CO2 has
fallen from around €23 to just €16.
As of March 2020, the entire world is affected by an
evil with which it is incapable of dealing effectively and regarding whose
duration no one can make any serious predictions. The economic
repercussions of the novel coronavirus pandemic must not be understood as
an ordinary problem that macroeconomics can solve or alleviate.
Rather, the world could be witnessing a fundamental shift in the
very nature of the global economy. The immediate crisis is one of
both supply and demand. Supply is falling because companies are closing
down or reducing their workloads to protect workers from contracting
COVID-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus.
The supply shock is exacerbated by a decrease in demand due to the
fact that people are locked in, and many of the goods and services they
used to consume are no longer available. If you shut countries off and
stop air traffic, no amount of demand and price management will make
The world faces the prospect of a profound shift: a return to
natural—which is to say, self-sufficient—economy. That shift is the very
opposite of globalization. If the crisis continues, globalization
could unravel. The longer the crisis lasts, and the longer obstacles to
the free flow of people, goods, and capital are in place, the more that
state of affairs will come to seem normal.
Earth is shutting down. In the struggle to get
a grip on covid-19, one country after another is demanding that its
citizens shun society. As that sends economies reeling, desperate
governments are trying to tide over companies and consumers by handing out
trillions of dollars in aid and loan guarantees.
Nobody can be sure how well these rescues will work. But
there is worse. Troubling new findings suggest that stopping the pandemic
might require repeated shutdowns. And yet it is also now clear that such a
strategy would condemn the world economy to grave—perhaps
intolerable—harm. Some very hard choices lie ahead.
Spooked, governments are rushing to impose controls that would have
been unimaginable only a few weeks ago. Scores of countries, including
many in Africa and Latin America, have barred travellers from places where
the virus is rife. Times Square is deserted, the City of London is dark
and in France, Italy and Spain cafés, bars and restaurants have bolted
Data for January and February show that industrial output in China,
which had been forecast to fall by 3% compared with a year earlier, was
down by 13.5%. Retail sales were not 4% lower, but 20.5%. Fixed-asset
investment, which measures the spending on such things as machinery and
infrastructure, declined by 24%, six times more than predicted. That has
sent economic forecasters the world over scurrying to revise down their
Senator Richard M. Burr sold hundreds of
thousands of dollars’ worth of stock in major companies last month, as
President Trump and others in his party were still playing down the threat
presented by the coronavirus outbreak and before the stock market’s
The stocks were sold in mid-February, days after
Mr. Burr, Republican of North Carolina and the chairman of the
Intelligence Committee, wrote an opinion article for Fox News suggesting that the United
States was “better prepared than ever before” to confront the virus. At
least three other senators sold major stock holdings around the same time,
disclosure records show.
Two weeks after Mr. Burr sold his stocks, he
spoke at the Capitol Hill
Club in Washington to
a nonpartisan group called the Tar Heel Club, warning that the virus could
soon cause a major disruption in the United States. “There’s one
thing that I can tell you about this: It is much more aggressive in its
transmission than anything we have seen in recent history,” Mr. Burr said.
Mr. Burr accused NPR of twisting his comments
into a “tabloid-style hit piece.” He argued that the report made him look
duplicitous for sharing information at a publicly advertised event that
was consistent with the message members of the Trump administration were
then trying to promulgate. He did not address his stock sales.
Inc. and Google’s YouTube
agreed to reduce the quality of their video streaming in Europe to relieve
networks strained by the coronavirus pandemic. The moves follow
separate discussions between European Industry Commissioner Thierry Breton
and Netflix Chief Executive Officer Reed Hastings, and with Google Chief
Executive Officer Sundar Pichai and YouTube’s CEO Susan Wojcicki.
YouTube said Friday it would temporarily switch
all traffic in Europe to standard definition by default for 30 days.
“We will continue working with member state governments and network
operators to minimize stress on the system, while also delivering a good
user experience,” YouTube said in a statement, adding it has so far only
seen a few usage peaks.
Netflix will begin reducing bit rates across all
its streams in Europe for a month, the Silicon Valley-based company said
in a statement Thursday. “We estimate that this will reduce Netflix
traffic on European networks by around 25% while also ensuring a good
quality service for our members.”
The virus outbreak has shuttered schools,
businesses and restaurants in much of the region, sending millions of
people home — where they’re using services like Netflix and YouTube. The
amount of time people spent streaming spiked by
more than 20% worldwide last weekend, including more than 40% in Austria
and Spain. While traffic has increased, EU telecom regulators say there
haven’t been any signs of congestion in Europe and operators appear able
to cope with the situation.