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March 14, 2020

COVID-19: NOW A NATIONAL EMERGENCY

This Day in History | 1950

The FBI begins their “Ten Most Wanted ” list to help publicize dangerous fugitives. The list was inspired by a news story the previous year. That story featured the “toughest guys” the FBI wanted to capture and it caught the attention of FBI director J. Edgar Hoover.

Good morning Middle Americans, 

We are waking up to a new reality this weekend. If you have kids, chances are their school is closed. Offices around the country are shuttering. People are tele-commuting, things are changing and it’s all because of the coronavirus also known as COVID-19 is here to stay. The president has declared a state of emergency and congresses has passed an emergency aide package that may or may not keep the economy afloat. As a nation, we are facing the our biggest challenge in a generation. Oh year, and it’s an election year. 

Also, oil prices continue their slide. People are staying home, the world is shutting  and so will a lot of American oil companies. There will be blood. As in  red ink in the form of losses. 

Finally today, Bill Gates is stepping down from the boards of Microsoft and Berkshire Hathaway. 

Read all about it. 


-Fraser Dixon

Trump Declares Virus Emergency; House Passes Aid Package

(AP) — President Donald Trump on Friday declared the coronavirus pandemic a national emergency, freeing up money and resources to fight the outbreak, and then threw his support behind an aid package in Congress that is on track to provide direct relief to Americans.

From the Rose Garden, Trump said, “I am officially declaring a national emergency,” unleashing as much as $50 billion for state and local governments to respond to the crisis.

Trump also announced a range of executive actions, including a new public-private partnership to expand coronavirus testing capabilities with drive-through locations, as Washington tries to subdue the new virus whose spread is roiling markets, shuttering institutions and disrupting the lives of everyday Americans.

But he denied any responsibility for delays in making testing available as his administration has come under criticism for being too slow to respond.

Trump said, “I don’t take responsibility at all” for the slow rollout of testing.

As the House prepared to vote late Friday, Speaker Nancy Pelosi trumpeted the hard-fought package that will provide free testing, sick pay for workers, enhanced unemployment benefits and bolstered food programs.

“We did what we said we were going to do: Put families first,” said Pelosi, flanked by Democratic lawmakers, including many freshmen. The House passed the bill after midnight on a bipartisan vote, 363-40. It now goes to the Senate.

Trump’s tweet of approval instilled fresh energy in the package, all but ensuring that wary Republicans would join with a robust vote.

“I fully support H.R. 6201: Families First CoronaVirus Response Act,” Trump wrote.

Learn more here

Testing Lag Ignites Political Uproar

(Washington Post) -Concerns about the lagging pace of coronavirus testing have exploded into a major political issue, with lawmakers of both parties angrily demanding more tests for Americans as President Donald Trump has insisted problems that have hindered capacity are being addressed.

The issue dominated separate briefings for members of the House and Senate on Thursday, emerged in the presidential race and became a flash point at a House Oversight and Reform Committee hearing, where the country’s top public health officials struggled to explain why more Americans could not get tested for a global pandemic.

The uproar extended to the presidential campaign, where Democratic candidate Joe Biden called the Trump administration’s inability to quickly scale up testing a “colossal . . . failure of planning, leadership, and execution.”

“Tests should be available to all who need them and the government should stop at nothing to make that happen,” he said.

Learn more here

Coronavirus Will Change How We Shop, Travel and Work for Years

(Bloomberg) – Every economic shock leaves a legacy. The deadly coronavirus will be no different.

The Great Depression spurred a ‘waste not want not’ attitude that defined consumer patterns for decades. Hyperinflation in the Weimar Republic still haunts German policy.

The Asia financial crisis left the region hording the world’s biggest collection of foreign exchange. More recently, the 2008 global financial crisis drove a wedge through mature democracies that still reverberates, with workers suffering measly pay gains in the decade since.

This time it’s a public health emergency that’s shaking up the world economy. In just a matter of weeks, people in affected areas have become accustomed to wearing masks, stocking up on essentials, canceling social and business gatherings, scrapping travel plans and working from home. 

Even countries with relatively few cases are taking many of those precautions.

Read more here

Oil Prices Continue Sharpest Drop Since 2008 Financial Crisis 

(Reuters) – Oil prices on Friday posted their biggest week of losses since the 2008 global financial crisis, rocked by the coronavirus outbreak and efforts by top exporter Saudi Arabia and its allies to flood the market with record levels of supply.

The rare combination of severe shocks to both supply and demand has caused the crude market to collapse as producers around the world steel themselves for an unexpected glut of oil in coming weeks.

“It’s a problem of an oil price war in the middle of a constricting market when the walls are closing in,” U.S. energy historian Daniel Yergin said.

The coronavirus sparked panic selling across markets for the bulk of the week. The virus has infected at least 138,000 people worldwide and killed more than 5,000, disrupting business, markets and daily life. 

Get the latest here

Bill Gates Leaves Microsoft Board

(CNBC) – Microsoft announced on Friday that Bill Gates is leaving the board, effective Friday. Gates is also stepping down from his position on the board of Berkshire Hathaway.

“I have made the decision to step down from both of the public boards on which I serve – Microsoft and Berkshire Hathaway – to dedicate more time to philanthropic priorities including global health and development, education, and my increasing engagement in tackling climate change,” Gates said on LinkedIn. “The leadership at the Berkshire companies and Microsoft has never been stronger, so the time is right to take this step.”

“With respect to Microsoft, stepping down from the board in no way means stepping away from the company,” Gates said. “Microsoft will always be an important part of my life’s work and I will continue to be engaged with Satya and the technical leadership to help shape the vision and achieve the company’s ambitious goals. I feel more optimistic than ever about the progress the company is making and how it can continue to benefit the world.”

Find out more here


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