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‘Economies Are In Lockdown’: Trump Tests Negative For Virus, Europe Shuts Down As Infections Soar

“We have not reached our peak".

Donald Trump surprised the media on Saturday when he announced he’d taken the coronavirus test, despite previously suggesting he didn’t see the utility in subjecting himself to the inconvenience.

I’ll save you the suspense: Trump’s test was negative. As of the time he was tested (by his account, Friday evening), the president was not positive for COVID-19.

“Last night after an in-depth discussion with the President regarding COVID-19 testing, he elected to proceed”, Sean Conley said, in a statement. “This evening I received confirmation that the test is negative”

And it’s a good thing, because no body double would suffice. Only Trump can be Trump.

Jokes aside, the outbreak is no laughing matter. Spain declared an emergency (effective immediately and lasting at least 15 days) and told people to stay in their homes, becoming the second European country (after Italy) to institute a nationwide lockdown.

The government said citizens are allowed to leave their homes only to buy food, go to work if working remotely isn’t possible, to help others or to seek medical assistance for themselves.

The decision came after a sharp spike in cases. There are now 6,200 infections and some 190 deaths. Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez’s wife tested positive, according to a government statement.

France closed all nonessential business, starting at midnight Saturday. “Too many people still go to cafes and restaurants”, French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe said, during a press briefing in Paris on Saturday. “We must show more discipline”.

As ever, the following chart is accurate to the best of my data gathering abilities, and is based on official government statistics and figures reported by the most reputable, mainstream media outlets. Still, the accuracy of the numbers is obviously impossible to verify in real-time.

Norway has effectively shut itself off from the rest of the world. The country’s airports, ports and border crossings are all closed. The army is enforcing the order. “We’ve decided to shut our airports, close our ports and implement extensive controls along our border”, Prime Minister Erna Solberg declared.

Remember, this is just about the last thing Europe needed right now. Output contracted in Italy and France in Q4 and the bloc’s economy was essentially flatlining even before the epidemic. On Friday, the EU Commission said a recession is now the base case.

“The direct impact through all channels is estimated to reduce real GDP growth in 2020 by 2.5 percentage points compared to a situation where there would be no pandemic”, the EC lamented. “Given that real GDP growth was forecast to be 1.4% for the EU in 2020, this would imply it could fall to just over -1% of GDP in 2020”.

Meanwhile, Israel is now limiting gatherings to just 10 people. Benjamin Netanyahu shuttered all leisure and entertainment venues starting Sunday morning.

In the US, North Carolina closed all public schools for at least two weeks starting Monday, Gov. Roy Cooper said Saturday. Mississippi declared a state of emergency, bringing the total (including the District of Columbia) to 32. Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp authorized as many as 2,000 Georgia National Guard troops to assist in efforts to address virus concerns and Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger postponed the state’s Democratic Primary scheduled for March 24 (it’s been is rescheduled for May 19).

At the risk of stating the obvious, none of this is market-friendly news, not that markets should be anyone’s highest priority right now.

Economic activity is effectively shutting down across major economies, and the US will likely be next assuming cases continue to rise, which they almost assuredly will, according to all experts.

“We have not reached our peak”, NIAID director Anthony Fauci cautioned on Saturday. “We will see more suffering and death, predominantly among the vulnerables in our society”.

“Western governments are no longer trying to contain the virus but to pursue a ‘delay’ strategy to limit the peak in infections, which otherwise threatens to overload health services”, Rabobank’s Michael Every wrote Friday.

“Economies are in lockdown and markets are in turmoil”, he added. “Quite rightly, this is the short-term focus for all of us, and suggests the virus will dominate most of 2020”.


10 comments on “‘Economies Are In Lockdown’: Trump Tests Negative For Virus, Europe Shuts Down As Infections Soar

  1. Dana says:

    17-year-old Avi Schiffmann, a high school junior from Mercer Island outside Seattle, started a website in late December, when coronavirus had not yet been detected outside of China. Now the site has been visited by tens of millions from every country on Earth.

    Meet the 17-Year-Old Behind a Website Tracking Coronavirus Cases That Is Now a Vital Global Resource

  2. Alex says:

    Does anyone really believe Trump?

  3. trmalthus says:

    COVID-19 (i.e., SARS-CoV-2) is a moving target at this point. Be sure my intent is not to trivialize this issue but I feel that there needs to be some sort of perspective…

    Coronavirus Disease 2019 vs. the Flu (

    COVID-19: Approximately 153,523 cases worldwide; 2,508 cases in the U.S. as of Mar. 14, 2020.*

    Flu: Estimated 1 billion cases worldwide; 9.3 million to 45 million cases in the U.S. per year.

    COVID-19: Approximately 5,789 deaths reported worldwide; 51 deaths in the U.S., as of Mar. 14, 2020.*

    Flu: 291,000 to 646,000 deaths worldwide; 12,000 to 61,000 deaths in the U.S. per year.


    The risk factors associated with COVID-19 include:

    Cardio issues;
    Diabetes (circulation (?));
    Chronic respiratory disease; and
    Hypertension/High Blood pressure (anyone a trader here?).

    The risk factors are driven by COVID-19’s “Interstitial pneumonitis” which makes it harder for your heart to pump blood through your pulmonary vasculature. These factors are important on there own (~40% of the pre-existing conditions in confirmed lethal cases), they also tend to be age related.

    One site suggested that COVID-19 is 20x more lethal than influenza, I feel that it too early to tell. There is concern that the real problem may be that severe, not necessarily lethal cases, will overwhelm health care facilities..

    There is more discussion at the web site above…

    • mfn says:

      Public health officials are turning to a data tracker created by a 17-year-old for the most accurate, up-to-date information:

    • Tom says:

      No offense, David, but what you provided is a superficial info dump, not perspective.

      Comparing current COVID-19 statistics with influenza is seriously misleading. First of all, the number of COVID-19 infections in the United States is a moving target since it is increasing at an exponential rate. Unlike the flu there are currently no known vaccines for it, and unlike flu patients a much higher proportion of those who are infected with the novel coronavirus require extensive medical care. If its spread is left unchecked COVID-19 is projected to infect a significant proportion of the population of the United States. With a mortality rate of 1% (which is significantly lower than the current global average) that could result in the death of hundreds of thousands of Americans.

  4. Anonymous says:

    Germany tries to stop U.S. from luring away firm seeking coronavirus vaccine
    3 MIN READ

    BERLIN (Reuters) – Berlin is trying to stop Washington from persuading a German company seeking a coronavirus vaccine to move its research to the United States, prompting German politicians to insist no country should have a monopoly on any future vaccine.

    Germany’s Health Ministry confirmed a report in newspaper Welt am Sonntag, which said President Donald Trump had offered funds to lure the company CureVac to the United States, and the German government was making counter-offers to tempt it to stay.

    “The German government is very interested in ensuring that vaccines and active substances against the new coronavirus are also developed in Germany and Europe,” the newspaper quoted a Health Ministry official as saying. “In this regard, the government is in intensive exchange with the company CureVac.”

    Contacted by Reuters, a spokeswoman for the German Health Ministry said: “We confirm the report in the Welt am Sonntag.”

    Welt am Sonntag quoted an unidentified German government source as saying Trump was trying to secure the scientists’ work exclusively, and would do anything to get a vaccine for the United States, “but only for the United States.”

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