“I don’t kid”, Donald Trump shouted on Tuesday, over the loud din of Marine One’s rotors.
He was responding to a question from a reporter who asked whether the president was joking when he told a (relatively small) crowd in Tulsa that he recently instructed “his people” to “slow down” on coronavirus testing due to the poor optics associated with higher case counts.
“We have got the greatest testing program anywhere in the world”, Trump went on to declare. “We test better than anybody in the world. Our tests are the best in the world. By having more tests, we find more cases”.
It was an unfortunate soundbite. It’s obviously true that more testing means more cases, but it doesn’t seem to occur to the president that his surrogates (Peter Navarro included) have deflected criticism by leaning on the contention that his remarks in Tulsa were an attempt at humor.
Now, Trump has explicitly stated that he was not joking.
The president’s comments (and I should note that he weighed in on a variety of topics during the same lawn chat with the media) came on a day when Anthony Fauci told Congress the latest increase in infections in some states is “disturbing”.
Apparently, Houston-area ICU beds will reach capacity in just 11 days, going by the rate of expansion seen over the past two weeks.
The good news is that fatalities are still largely trendless, although ideally, deaths would drop to zero and stay there.
In a sign of the times, the EU may block Americans from entry once Europe reopens its borders. That’s according to a draft list of countries from which travelers will (or won’t) be permitted depending on Brussels’ assessment of foreign governments’ handling of the pandemic.
“That prospect, which would lump American visitors in with Russians and Brazilians as unwelcome, is a stinging blow to American prestige in the world and a repudiation of President Trump’s handling of the virus”, The New York Times writes, adding that “European nations are currently haggling over two potential lists of acceptable visitors [and] both include China, as well as developing nations like Uganda, Cuba and Vietnam”.
There are so many jokes — but the nature of the situation renders them tasteless, so I’ll refrain.
For what it’s worth, cases in Italy dropped to just 122 on Tuesday. That is the lowest since February 26. By contrast, California had more than 5,000 new confirmed infections, a record.
Speaking of records, the S&P 500 growth index notched a new all-time peak on Tuesday (h/t SP). So did the Nasdaq.
It makes little sense to call this a “bear market rally” for broad gauges which have recouped the entirety of the March selloff.
You can persist in applying that derisive label if you like (“bull” and “bear” are always just semantics after all), but the fact is, the selloff never happened as far as big-cap growth and tech are concerned.
Speaking of that, growth shares are on track for their best quarter versus their value counterparts on record. You have to switch to a weekly chart to view the rotation that took place in late May and early June.
And as for the titans — they’re all at record highs.
At least America has that going for it.