domingo, 10 de mayo de 2020

Donald Trump’s Lifelong Obsession with Comebacks

“American Comeback,” the Trump campaign titled a new ad out this week. “THIS NOVEMBER,” the ad proclaimed, making clear the comeback he is referring to is not just the country’s struggle with the coronavirus pandemic but the restoration of his own political fortune, “THE GREATEST COMEBACK STORY IS WRITTEN.”

That Trump—in the throes of the worst public health crisis in more than a century and the most devastating economic downturn since the Great Depression—is writing rosy history long before it has actually happened might seem audacious. It borders on the fanciful when considering the slew of numbers—the steadily mounting death toll, near-record unemployment and a majority of Americans dissatisfied with his handling of the crisis—that sketch a future trending in the opposite direction. But this is a page from a playbook Trump has used many times before.

At key points in Trump’s long and public life—from his nadir in the 1990s to “The Apprentice” more than a decade later to his embattled campaign a decade after that and finally to his tumultuous presidency—Trump has used the idea of the comeback as a critical weapon in his arsenal of self-invention. A believer in a binary worldview that was a core teaching of his flinty father—there are winners and losers, and he always must be the former, not the latter—Trump has used “comeback” as a fortifying piece of rhetoric that masks periods of failure, delaying a reckoning until there’s something to brag about. Others might wait for actual evidence that a comeback has occurred, but Trump repeatedly has advertised his comebacks months and even years in advance. He has used it to bend in his favor unflattering media narratives—to tweak perception, to alter reality—to conjure power, positivity and a sense of propulsion, especially at junctures when he’s running low on all three.

“The world that he lives in and projects, there are just two roles in it,” Trump biographer Gwenda Blair told me. “You’re a winner or a loser. And if there’s a moment that you’re not quite a winner, you’re almost a winner. You’re practically a winner. It’s a cloak that contains winning as a part of it.”

“It’s his way of saying, ‘I had a setback, and now I’m coming back’—but he never says he had a setback,” former Trump publicist Alan Marcus told me.

“He also uses it as a starting off point to build momentum,” added Marcus, who worked for Trump from 1994 to 2000. “It was a word that he pushed off on.”

“Comeback,” said Sam Solovey, a contestant on the first season of “The Apprentice,” who prepped for the show by reading every Trump book and biography, “is the placeholder until victory is at hand.”

It helped him get to the White House. And now, forced by circumstance to abandon his victory lap messaging of “Keep America Great,” Trump is reaching for it again as he tries his hardest to stay there.

“It’s just as critical to 2020 as it was in 2016, if not more so,” former Trump aide Jason Miller told me. “If he’s the outsider, if he’s the insurgent, he wins reelection. If he’s viewed as the insider, the one who’s the power holder in a tumultuous time, then winning becomes much tougher.”

“My name is Donald Trump,” he said in the intro of the first show of the first season of “The Apprentice,” launching into a quick series of words and pictures associated with success. For Trump, the reality television show on NBC, which debuted in 2004, was a chance to cement his comeback tale—and to do it in the way that he wanted, sandwiching what he took to calling his “glitch” or his “blip” basically between brackets of unfettered triumph. “But it wasn’t always easy,” he explained. “About 13 years ago, I was seriously in trouble. I was billions of dollars in debt. But I fought back. And I won.”

In the first half of the ’90s, Trump constantly skirted financial ruin, facing for years the possible permanent tarnishing of the image he had cultivated in the ’70s and ’80s as an infallible deal-doer. “Donald was broke,” Stephen Bollenbach, the CFO Trump’s lenders made him hire, would say. “He was worse than broke. He was losing money every day.” Even so, Trump talked about his comeback, not when his struggles began to wane but practically from their start.

“All Donald knew was that he was still a story,” Wayne Barrett wrote in his seminal biography. In the spring of ’91, according to Barrett’s reporting, Trump announced to a consultant that he was determined to return to the cover of Time. “He said he would be the comeback of the century.”

In 1992, he redoubled his efforts, earning honeyed headlines on the cover of New York magazine and on the front page of the Washington Post. He refused to reflect on the past, skated through the present and relentlessly spun toward the future. “I’m not going to look back and say it was tough and blame myself,” he told the Sunday Times of London. “I could be even bigger than ever.”

Gossip columnists marveled at Trump’s ability to shape the nature of the story. “I mean,” Linda Stasi of the New York Daily News told the Boston Globe in 1994, “it’s not like he’s the president.”

Business bigwigs, meanwhile, marveled at it because … it wasn’t true. “I think his recovery is an illusion,” a real estate executive who did frequent business with Trump said to the reporter from the Globe. “It’s like the emperor has no clothes. I guess if you keep repeating it long enough people begin to believe it.”

And he did. And they did.

And it worked.

In 1995, not quite five months after Trump successfully started selling stock in his failing casinos in New Jersey and his resurgence was looking legitimately less and less like a mirage, some of New York’s business and government leaders honored Trump at a luncheon in Manhattan for what they dubbed “the comeback of the decade.” The lieutenant governor called him “the comeback kid.” Bill Fugazy, a limo company tycoon and onetime Roy Cohn crony, gave Trump a glass-encased boomerang. “You throw it,” he said, “and it always comes back.”

In 1996, in articles about Trump, the Daily News and the New York Times used “comeback” in headlines. By this time, thanks to the casino deal plus at-long-last development on a plot of land he was involved with on the Upper West Side, those headlines were no longer wrong. “I think it says,” Trump said, “what I’ve been doing over the years has been right.” (Sound familiar?)

And in 1997, out came The Art of the Comeback, the sequel of sorts to The Art of the Deal. “It never occurred to me to give up, to admit defeat,” Trump (really Kate Bohner) wrote. “He simply skips over the losing part. It is the unspoken chapter in the ongoing narrative,” said Solovey, the first-season “Apprentice” contestant. “He left out the Art of Losing.”

Hence the intro to the show in ’04. That same year, too, on multiple occasions, he made the claim that the Guinness Book of World Records listed him as having made the greatest personal financial comeback of all time. It’s true. It did, in 1999 and 2000, a Guinness World Records spokesperson told me, before “the Records Management Team” decided “the concept of a ‘comeback’” was not “standardizable across the globe.” To use it the way he wanted to use it, he didn’t need it to be.

He kept “comeback” as a cudgel, of course, when he turned toward politics.

In 2015, a little more than a month before he came down the escalator and officially entered the fray as a presidential contender, he gave a speech to the Republican Party of Sarasota County, Florida. “Our country is not going to have a comeback,” he said, “with any politician.”

The rest of 2015 and into 2016, for most of the campaign, he didn’t use the word that much—until he needed it, in October, when polls pointed to him losing to Hillary Clinton and perhaps by a lot. “I know how to make a comeback,” he said in a speech October 3 in Loveland, Colorado, referring to his experience in the ’90s. “I don’t even think of it as a comeback,” he said that same day in a speech in Pueblo, Colorado. “It was just, like, you know, we had tough periods, good periods, tough periods. We just knew that things were going to be just fine.”

“America’s comeback begins on November 8,” he said in a speech in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, on October 15, a week after the uncovering of his lewd comments on the “Access Hollywood” tape, when many figured his candidacy surely was doomed.

He’s never stopped using the word as president. But it started to tick up at the turn of the year. He was always going to run in 2020 by talking about a “comeback.”

But he wanted to run on one he was saying had just occurred—and that he had engineered. “Three years ago, we launched the great American comeback,” he said in his State of the Union address the first week of February. “We’re in the midst of the great American comeback,” he said repeatedly that month and into early March.

At that point, though, the dire reality of the coronavirus and its consequences began to become clear. It was no longer a credible pitch. The Trump campaign this year was going to be about KAG—Keep America Great—but now it’s another round of MAGA. Make America Great Again. Again. Trump not only has not shied away from using the word “comeback” but has doubled down, simply shifting from trumpeting one to forecasting another—to trying, as is his wont as a devotee of Norman Vincent Peale, to speak it into existence, never, ever losing, always either winning or on the way.

“There’s going to be a comeback very, very quickly, as soon as this is solved,” he said in a coronavirus briefing on March 18. “And it will be solved. We will win. And there will be a comeback.”

“We’re going to have a very quick comeback,” he said on Fox News on March 24.

“We’ll be the comeback kids,” he said in the briefing on April 15. “All of us. All of us.”

“He has very few moves,” Marcus, the former Trump publicist, told me, “and one of those moves is the comeback move.”

jueves, 7 de mayo de 2020

COVID-19: how Asia-Pacific is emerging from lockdown

• Asia-Pacific are beginning to introduce easing of lockdowns due to COVID-19.

• Even countries with low case rates face economic hardships.

• Phased reopenings are being implemented in many places.

Countries all over the world are announcing their plans to emerge from COVID-19-inflicted lockdown, and the Asia-Pacific region is no different.

Even countries like Thailand and Viet Nam, that have not suffered a heavy infection rate or death toll, must now reckon with the economic damage caused by the pandemic, and are eager to cautiously reopen their schools and get people back to work.

Here is a roundup of measures announced from countries and economies in the Asia-Pacific area:

South Korea, one of the countries earliest-hit by the coronavirus, announced on Wednesday an easing of social-distance regulations implemented two and a half months ago. The country, which did not enforce home confinement, will now ask citizens to adhere to four new basic regulations, including self-isolation for three or four days if they fall ill.

Schools in the country will reopen on 13 May, with senior pupils preparing for university entrance exams to return first and younger pupils from 20 May. Museums, libraries and nightclubs will also progressively reopen.

The country has now gone three days without a case of locally transmitted infection – and with 10,800 confirmed cases and 255 deaths overall, has been praised for its strategy to control the outbreak. But the fight against COVID-19 is not over, warned Jeong Eun-kyeong, Director-General of the Korea Centre for Infectious Disease Control and Prevention. "South Korea can return to the intensive social distancing system at any time if the situation worsens," he said.

Hong Kong SAR's Chief Executive Carrie Lam announced a partial easing of lockdown conditions on Tuesday. Beginning on 8 May, cinemas, bars, gyms and mahjong parlours, among other things, will be allowed to reopen, and secondary school classes are set to resume on 27 May. The limit on public gatherings will double to eight people.

The government also announced plans to distribute reusable face masks to all 7.5 million citizens.

The Hong Kong region has so far seen only 1,040 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and four deaths. But its economy was already under severe strain following months of disruption from pro-democracy protests: its GDP shrank by 8.9% in the first quarter against 2019, the largest reduction since records began.

Singapore – one of the hardest-hit Asia-Pacific countries with 18,000 confirmed cases – has initiated a de-escalation of its lockdown, beginning with a reopening of traditional Chinese medicine outlets this Wednesday, with further phases to come on 12 and 19 May.

12 May will see food-retail outlets, barbers and hairdressers and laundry services reopen, to be joined by schools – subject to mask-wearing and other controls – on 19 May.

Around 85% of the country’s cases have occurred among migrant community workers living in dormitories, and wider community transmission remains low.

Thailand, with just under 3,000 confirmed cases and 54 deaths, gave the green light to restaurants, hair salons, golf course and open-air markets to resume activities on Monday. But alcohol sales will continue to be banned for a further month.

The government, currently seeing single-digit daily increases in cases, will continue to monitor the infection rate as part of a four-phase plan to easing its restrictions. "Slow and steady. We are moving on cautiously and healthily," said Natapanu Nopakun, deputy spokesperson at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Nearby Viet Nam was the first South-East Asian country to lift its lockdown, on 22 April. Its stringent quarantining policy has made it an exemplar on COVID-19 containment, with only 237 confirmed cases and no deaths.

But many businesses remain closed and the inevitable economic damage brought about by continuing curfew – extended until 31 May – means a fragile, tourism-dependent economy will be put to the test.

At the southern end of the Asia-Pacific region, the Australian government was due to meet with state leaders on 8 May to discuss creating health protocols for a “COVID-safe environment” that might allow widespread reopening of businesses by early July.

New Zealand has already begun to loosen its lockdown restrictions, last week moving from level four to three, allowing schools and certain businesses to reopen.

Both countries have been broadly successful in their containment efforts, with under 7,000 confirmed cases and 96 deaths in Australia and under 1,500 confirmed cases and 21 deaths in New Zealand. With both contemplating exit strategies, it is suggested the border between them may soon reopen, to create what has been referred to as a “trans-Tasman travel bubble”.

5 priorities for business leaders in the new reality of COVID-19

COVID-19 means leaders need to find a path from a shuttered economy towards growth and prosperity.
Organizations will need to be reconceived to combine human ingenuity with machine learning.
Stakeholder capitalism is more urgent than ever.
How companies behave now will be remembered for many years to come.

A year before the COVID-19 outbreak, we co-authored an article, Winning the ’20s, in which we argued that the basis of competitive advantage was shifting. The combination of technology-fuelled change, the rise of new learning technologies, and declining long-term growth rates, which require accelerated innovation, called for companies to compete on their rate of learning.

This imperative has only been reinforced by the pandemic. COVID-19 has made organizations aware of the limits of their ability to learn quickly in an extremely fast-moving environment, in which 10 days of hesitation can lead to the quadrupling of infections, and to an escalation of business and societal disruption.

The pandemic has also layered on an enormous transitional challenge: the need to move from a shuttered economy, to a path towards growth and prosperity. This journey involves three phases – flatten, fight, and future. Companies in many sectors will have to survive a brutal short term in order to access long-term options. But while survival may be top of mind today, thriving in the future is the long game. And this requires leaders to respond to a new environment, a new customer, and heightened societal expectations.

Five imperatives for leading in the new reality

To address these enormous short and medium-term priorities, we see five leadership imperatives.

1. Sustainably flatten the curve

The only tools we can use to slow the epidemic are quarantine and aggressive social distancing, measures that are tantamount to freezing the real economy and for which there are few historical precedents. There is no acceptable trade-off between deaths and dollars, so we must seek to break the compromise by not only flattening the curve but by doing so sustainably for both lives and livelihoods, until we have medicines to effectively treat the disease and/or a vaccine to prevent it.

In the interim, we need new approaches: large-scale testing, both for infection and immunity; new models for risk stratification; new practices for rapid tracing, tracking, and enforcement; and new guidelines for when, where, and how to open communities and the economy – and for when and how to react if infections recur.

2. Win (back) the new customer

As the disease is brought under control, businesses will need to start the journey to win the new customer in the post-crisis world. The trickiest aspect of this will be distinguishing between crisis-induced short-term changes and more permanent shifts, with companies pivoting from a crisis management mindset to a more creative and imaginative one.

Against this backdrop, two trends are already clear. The first is a massive acceleration of the shift towards digital platforms and channels. Traditional enterprises will need to make sure that they fully participate in this shift rather than risk accelerated disruption from digital incumbents.

The second is the enormous challenge for many parts of the economy to restore consumer trust. We need to build “control towers” – capabilities that allow us to monitor and rapidly adapt to the constantly shifting landscape and adjust offerings and restructure businesses to reflect new conditions around the world.

3. Accelerate digital transformation

Well before the crisis, many businesses were pursuing digital transformation programmes. But what was a discretionary, self-paced transformation has become an urgent priority. Businesses and consumers have essentially been given an opportunity to try out and get accustomed to digital shopping, working, and collaboration all at once. This and the generally superior economics of digital channels will accelerate the penetration of digital business models.

These digital transformations need to be holistic, focussed on value creation, and not predominantly technology driven or constrained by existing processes and offerings. Above all, to compete dynamically on the rate of learning, organizations will need to be reconceived to combine human ingenuity with machine learning. Companies must focus on the human side of digital transformation at least as much as the technological side, including by incorporating new ways of working.

4. Create advantage through resilience

Companies have spent decades building efficient, extended global supply chains that located production activities in low-cost locations and connected them with digitally enabled logistics. Their effectiveness has been measured in terms of speed, cost efficiency, and profitability. But COVID-19 has shown that systems built mainly to maximize efficiency tend to be brittle under stress, and many companies are already planning to rebuild their supply chains in a more decentralized and resilient manner.

In addition to supply chain resilience, balance sheet resilience is of heightened importance. In the short term, this requires cost reduction, a focus on cash, and in some cases government support. Longer term, it could reduce the power of activists to push boards, and of asset managers to pursue greater leverage and large share buybacks.

5. Mobilize purpose in the common interest. Before the crisis, many CEOs were engaging deeply in corporate purpose, multi-stakeholder capitalism, and sustainability in response to global warming and other collective concerns. This agenda will certainly become more urgent and specific as a result of COVID-19.

As citizens and small businesses endure enormous hardship while governments support major enterprises with unprecedented support packages, we should expect intense scrutiny of the social relevance and contributions of corporations. How individual companies act and communicate in this extraordinary period will likely be remembered for many years to come.

All of these ideas are potentialities, which will be realized only through our individual and collective actions. Never has the premium on leadership been higher. Business leaders need to create a collective narrative of hope and catalyze bold collective action if we are to look back at COVID-19 as an inflection point for collective progress, rather than as a squandered opportunity.

COVID-19: 4 questions parents should ask about tech for kids

About 1.5 billion children globally are out of school due to COVID-19.
Many parents are turning to online education technology, but is it safe?
Here are four questions to ask, including: does the technology prioritize privacy?

With 1.5 billion children globally out of school due to COVID-19, many parents with access to technology and internet are increasingly turning to online education technology, smart toys, and video games to keep their kids learning at home. Kids are using Zoom for classes and video calls, YouTube for education and leisure, online EdTech to learn, and videogames for entertainment.

Yet little governance is in place to regulate these tools and services. When children begin to use an online learning tool or smart toy at home, their parent or guardian consents to the Terms of Service, but few parents read the Terms of Use in detail, and even fewer have the time and legal or technical knowledge required to understand the lengthy document.

With children and youth extremely vulnerable to risks posed by technology, ethics and governance are urgently required during and following the COVID-19 pandemic. When deciding whether technology is safe and educational for their children, parents and guardians should ask four questions about education, safety and privacy, responsible use, and inclusion and fairness.

1. Does the technology have a strong educational foundation and encourage creativity?

The technology should have a clear pedagogical foundation for teaching children and provide data to demonstrate its educational value and impact. Not every EdTech product like the app Bedtime Math will have a peer-reviewed study to support it, but they should provide quantitative analyses of their impact. Parents can also look for research-based evaluations from third parties, like Common Sense Media.

Simply teaching skills is not enough: The technology should also encourage creativity and independent thought. Technology can enhance and not hinder creativity, and students who have creativity incorporated into their curricula have better learning outcomes, according to a Gallup Education study. EdTech should leverage technology to promote creativity and critical thinking, and not limit children to think within the constraints of a program or game.

2. Does the technology protect the child, prioritize privacy, and safely store the child’s data?

The technology should have clear safety policies in place to protect children from potential bullying, harassment, exploitation or other security risks. If children can communicate with other users on the platform or within a game, they are extremely vulnerable, and parents might find it challenging to track their online activity and communications.

The technology should also have a well-defined privacy policy and allow parents and guardians to opt-in to data collection for children and youth - both younger and older than 13. The technology should exceed the requirements of the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA), which gives parents control over information collected about their children. COPPA requires websites to provide privacy and information policies to parents and receive their verifiable consent before collecting personal information about their children younger than 13. Common Sense Media provides privacy ratings for education apps and websites, and curates a list of resources with “solid privacy policies.”

If parents choose to allow the technology to gather data, it should have clear safeguards in place to protect the data and anonymize it for internal use and to prevent potential hackers from identifying children if the data is stolen. Parents should also check to ensure that the technology does not sell children’s data to third parties unless parents provide consent, which they should carefully consider with the understanding that personal data is sold widely within the private sector.

3. Is the technology designed for responsible use and to prevent addiction?

Many technologies are designed to maximize use, and many smart toys and games are inherently addictive. The technology should have limits in place to discourage children from overuse. Parents should encourage children to moderate their use of technology and should lead by example. Children ages 2 to 5 should spend no more than one hour of screen time per day and parents of children over 5 should have “consistent” limits on screen time, according to the Academy of American Pediatrics.

But COVID-19 makes these guidelines challenging—if not impossible—for many families. Even UNICEF is rethinking their screen time guidelines. Jenny Radesky, a professor of pediatrics at the University of Michigan and author of the AAP guidelines, tweeted AAP’s current advice during COVID, which included, “Challenge your children to practice ‘tech self-control’ and turn off tech themselves.” But as a mother herself, she admits that during COVID this advice is challenging and explains, “I’m making this up as I go, too!

4. Is the technology inclusive, fair and unbiased?

The technology should make clear that it is designed for a broad base of diverse children to use. Some technologies are designed for a specific child consumer in mind, but all technologies should be designed to promote accessibility for all potential users regardless of ability, language, or potential visual, auditory, or other impairments.

If the technology uses artificial intelligence (AI) or machine learning such as facial recognition, parents must also ensure that it is fair and unbiased. Many AI models struggle with bias against certain groups. The technology should make clear that it treats all children fairly and prevents bias or discrimination based on age, gender identity, ethnicity, or any other demographic characteristics.

Looking forward

Although some of these questions are challenging, they are worth asking. When parents do, they will find not all technologies or smart toys claiming to be educational actually teach their kids or encourage creativity. They’ll also find their children and their data are not always well protected and treated fairly.

Many excellent EdTech tools and smart toys exist that are both responsible and educational. Numerous organizations like Common Sense Media, YouTube’s Learn@Home, and the UK Department for Education have curated free online resources for families and children during the pandemic.

Yet it’s imperative that parents use these media and technologies to supplement their children’s education - not replace virtual learning from children’s schools nor to be used as a crutch to prevent boredom at home.

We need companies, non-profit organizations and governments to agree on principles for technology used by children that consider education, safety and privacy, responsible use, and inclusion and fairness. Only by doing so can we begin to ensure that technology designed for children is responsible, educational and protects them from harm.

COVID-19 presents an unprecedented challenge to parents, teachers and students around the world. Technology provides enormous promise for education, but only with a rigorous focus on responsibility and ethics can we ensure its long-term impact for children and future generations is positive.

Here’s what global travel could be like after COVID-19

• Airlines, travel companies and the tourism sector as a whole face an unprecedented challenge from the coronavirus pandemic.

• For the industry to recover, travellers will need to feel safe and confident that their health is protected.

• There will be a shift to touchless travel and a new health safety regime, supported by digital tools such as the Known Traveller Digital Identity initiative.

COVID-19 has upended global travel and brought the world to a standstill. For the first time in history, close to 90% of the world’s population now lives in countries with travel restrictions. Airlines, travel companies and the tourism sector as a whole are among the most affected businesses. An estimated 25 million aviation jobs and 100 million travel and tourism jobs are at risk. Between five and seven years’ worth of industry growth will potentially be lost.

Air passenger volume as measured in revenue passenger kilometres (RPKs). Passenger demand has fallen at an unprecedented rate.

Image: IATA

We will travel again, but it will not be the same. Even if borders reopen, travellers must trust that boarding a plane is safe and that they will be able to enter the destination country. New health safety protocols and systems will need to be in place, and these have yet to be defined. As governments and industry plan for recovery in this new context and adapt to changing traveller behaviour, the use of digital identity and biometrics technologies could restore trust while also ensuring a seamless journey. However, these tools will only be effective if users feel that their data is protected. Privacy, consent and transparent data governance must be at the heart of any technical solution.

Here are two key areas of transformation in which digital technologies will shape the future of travel.

Touchless travel

The most immediate and perhaps most visible change will be a shift to touchless travel from airport curbside to hotel check-in. Even with strict cleaning protocols in place, exchanging travel documents and touching surfaces through check-in, security, border control, and boarding still represent a significant risk of infection for both travellers and staff.

Automation across the entire sector will become the new norm. Biometrics are already a widely accepted solution for identity verification, and their use will become more widespread as physical fingerprint and hand scanners are phased out. More touchless options will come into play including contactless fingerprint, as well as iris and face recognition. Moreover, technology for touchless data-entry such as gesture control, touchless document scanning and voice commands are already being tested. Care must be taken to ensure these technologies are inclusive and to eliminate the risk of potential biases.

Digital health passports

From now on, health could be embedded in every aspect of travel. According to a survey by the International Air Transport Association (IATA), measures such as visible sanitizing, screening and masks all increase passengers' feelings of safety when thinking about travelling after COVID-19.

To date, there is no standard or agreement on the acceptable level of risk for reopening borders or allowing individuals to travel. Until a vaccine is developed, the focus is shifting to assessing the risk of individual passengers. With the passenger's consent, travel companies and airlines could use personal data such as their age, underlying health conditions and travel history to compile an individual risk profile.

Efforts to develop health protocols and standards using digital technology for the travel and tourism industry are still in their initial stages. In the meantime, airlines such as Emirates are conducting on-site COVID-19 testing for passengers. European airports have begun drawing up industry guidelines for passenger health screening. While not new, the use of thermal cameras at airports is becoming more widespread. A number of symptom-tracking and contact-tracing apps now exist in many countries. Apple and Google are close to finalizing a contact-tracing software scheme for developers to build compatible apps.

New health-screening and tracking tools offer hope of a return to relaxed and confident travel. However, they have also brought privacy and data issues to the forefront of the discussion. Any solutions need to be transparent and secure if travellers are to embrace them. Data should be shared on an ‘authorized to know’ and ‘need to know’ basis, with informed consent and in line with applicable regulations.

The digital traveller

Many organisations are already well advanced in their digital journey. This must be accelerated to enable the new normal, help businesses to adapt to changed consumer behaviour and rebuild trust. Integrated digital identity solutions are key to realising touchless travel. They also allow organizations to draw on multiple data points to efficiently assess a person’s risk profile, enabling them to manage risks in real time.

The World Economic Forum’s Known Traveller Digital Identity initiative is an example of such an approach. This initiative brings together a global consortium of individuals, governments, authorities and the travel industry to facilitate safe and seamless journeys. Consortium partners can access verifiable claims of a traveller’s identity data to improve passenger processing and reduce risk. Travellers can manage their own profile, collect digital ‘attestations’ of their identity data and decide which information to share.

In a COVID-19 context, a traveller would be able to securely obtain and store trusted, verifiable health credentials such as immunizations or their health status in their digital identity wallets. This would be combined with other trusted, verifiable identity data from public or private entities.

Testing and health screening at airports is difficult to achieve at scale. Under schemes like Known Traveller Digital Identity, travellers would be able to consent to sharing their identity and health data in advance of the journey, allowing border officials to conduct any required risk assessments in advance of the journey while avoiding queuing and bottlenecks at airports.

Collaboration is key

In this time of unprecedented change, governments and industry have a unique opportunity to redefine travel and build a more sustainable, agile, and resilient industry. This will not be possible without collaboration.

In the near term, stakeholders will need to cooperate to accelerate the use of digital technologies. Next, they will need to develop a cohesive policy and legal regime around the deployment of digital technologies that balance the protection of civil liberties and public health. The third challenge is to ensure that different digital identity solutions can operate together. The role of organizations such as the World Health Organization, the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) and the International Air Transport Association (IATA) will be critical to align health and aviation priorities, guidelines and policies.

Paper passports are still required as the main form of identity for travellers. In a contactless world, the adoption of standardized digital travel credentials and initiatives like IATA’s ONE ID concept, which promote the use of biometrics for a smoother journey, must be accelerated and adapted to this new context.

Ultimately, the pandemic is likely to speed up two trends that have been gathering steam for some time. One is seamless travel, where your face and body are your passport. The other is the idea of a decentralized identity. This means the individual is in possession of and controls their identity attributes, such as their date and place of birth and physical characteristics, but also travel history, health information and other data. Combined, these trends will ensure travel is enjoyable, efficient and safe.

Fewer now say media exaggerated COVID-19 risks, but partisan gaps remain

As Americans continue to give the news media a solid grade overall for coverage of the COVID-19 pandemic, the percentage who say journalists have exaggerated the risks of the outbreak has decreased notably in recent weeks, according to survey data
Among U.S. adults surveyed from April 20-26, 69% say the news media have covered the outbreak very well or somewhat well, a number that is virtually unchanged from the 70% of respondents who said the same thing in a survey conducted from March 10-16.

But as the toll from the coronavirus has grown dramatically over time, there has been movement in the share of Americans who say the news media have greatly or slightly exaggerated the risks it poses – with that percentage dropping from 62% in March to 48% in April. That includes a decline in the portion saying the media have greatly exaggerated the risks, from 37% to 24%. At the same time, the portion of respondents who say the media have gotten the COVID-19 risks about right grew by 9 percentage points – from 30% to 39%.

Want to see more data on these questions?

To analyze these survey questions by additional media habits and demographic characteristics, visit the interactive tool and access the dataset.

Underlying these overall numbers are deep partisan divisions about the media’s coronavirus coverage – divisions that were evident in March and remain so in April. Most recently, more than half of Republicans and independents who lean toward the Republican Party (54%) say the media have covered COVID-19 somewhat or very well in the April survey, a number that swells to about eight-in-ten among Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents (82%).

And, while about two-thirds of Republicans and Republican leaners (68%) in the April survey say the media slightly or greatly exaggerated COVID-19 risks, that is true of only three-in-ten Democrats and Democratic leaners.

The portion of those saying the media exaggerated the risks declined across both parties from March to April. But that decrease was considerably more pronounced for Democrats than Republicans – by a ratio of two-to-one.
Public overall says media have done well covering the crisis, but differences by party and ideology are pronounced

Americans’ generally positive view of the media’s coverage of the coronavirus outbreak has remained steady in recent weeks. In March, 70% of all adults said news organizations have done very well or somewhat well in that task, with nearly the exact same portion, 69%, saying this now. Within that total, there was also little change from March (30%) to April (27%) in the percentage who say the media have done very well.

What also remained consistent across both time periods is the significant partisan divergence on that question. As of late April, 54% of Republicans and Republican-leaning independents say the media have performed somewhat or very well, compared with a full 82% of Democrats and Democratic leaners – a gap of 28 percentage points, modestly larger than the 21-point gap in the earlier survey. (The portion of Republicans saying the media have done very well actually declined 10 points.) It is worth noting that the strong partisan divide exists alongside a consistent element of President Donald Trump’s frequent briefings on COVID-19: direct criticism of news organizations and journalists.

That partisan gap is even larger among ideological segments within each party. As of April, about half of conservative Republicans (48%) say the media have done very or somewhat well in covering COVID-19. That number grows to 62% among moderate and liberal Republicans, and it increases further to 81% among conservative and moderate Democrats and 84% among liberal Democrats.
Americans, particularly Democrats, now less inclined to think the news media have exaggerated the risks of COVID-19

In the period covered by the two surveys, the toll taken by the virus and the reaction to it changed dramatically. Public schools and nonessential businesses were shut down while America’s governors issued stay-at-home orders to residents in most states. On March 10, there were fewer than 1,500 reported cases in the U.S. By April 26, the nation was closing in on 1 million cases.

In the March survey, about six-in-ten Americans (62%) said that the media had exaggerated, either slightly or by a great deal, the risks of COVID-19. An additional 30% said they had gotten the risks about right, and 8% said they had not taken the risks seriously enough or not taken them seriously at all. In the April survey, about half (48%) of adults say the media have exaggerated the risks slightly or greatly, 39% say they have gotten it about right and 13% say they have not taken it seriously enough.

The partisan chasm on this question grew even larger from March to April. The percentage of both Republicans and Democrats saying the media have exaggerated the risks dropped, with the biggest decrease coming among Democrats.

Back in March, 76% of Republicans and Republican-leaning independents said the media had exaggerated COVID-19 risks compared with 49% of Democrats and Democratic leaners, a difference of 27 percentage points.

As of April, about two-thirds of Republicans (68%) say the media have exaggerated the risks. Fewer than half as many Democrats surveyed in April (30%) say the same, meaning the gap between Republicans and Democrats grew to 38 points.

At the same time, the percentage of Democrats who say the media have gotten the risks about right climbed from 41% in March to 55% in the April survey. Among Republicans, it moved up modestly from 17% to 20%.

Adding ideology onto political party identification shows particularly wide gaps between conservative Republicans and liberal Democrats. Almost three-quarters of conservative Republicans (73%) respond that the media have exaggerated the COVID-19 risks, compared with 60% of moderate to liberal Republicans. One-third of moderate and conservative Democrats also say journalists have exaggerated the risks, a number that is even lower, 26%, among liberal Democrats. Only 16% of conservative Republicans say the media have gotten the risks about right, compared with 57% of liberal Democrats.

As was the case with parties overall, the shares of conservative Republicans and liberal Democrats who say the media have exaggerated the risks decreased since March, but the drop was steeper among liberal Democrats. The percentage of conservative Republicans saying the media exaggerated risks fell from 80% in the March survey to 73% in April. But the percentage of liberal Democrats who gave that same response was cut nearly in half – from 50% to 26%.

The percentage of conservative Republicans who said the media have gotten the risks about right stayed about equal (14% in March and 16% in April). For liberal Democrats, that figure jumped from 39% to 57%.

domingo, 26 de abril de 2020

Her greatest strength was toughness without anger

What Phyllis Schlafly’s Heirs Could Learn From Her

“Mrs. America,” in its fourth episode, re-creates a vivid example: a 1973 debate between Schlafly and feminist leader Betty Friedan at Illinois State University, when Friedan called Schlafly a witch and spat, “I’d like to burn you at the stake.” (In real life, at that same debate, Friedan also called Schlafly an “Aunt Tom.”) In the arc of an hour of TV drama, it was presented as a turning-point moment: Schlafly had been losing, but her serenity, in the face of Friedan’s rage, suddenly gave her the upper hand.

This is where Schlafly’s successors often seem a far cry from the original. Yes, they share her fearless posturing and relish for picking fights. But they’re much more likely to succumb to the rage that Schlafly studiously avoided, even when they’re talking to a like-minded audience. And much of their posturing isn’t pitched to the opposing side at all. Rather than projecting calm against someone else’s fury, today’s conservative stars are largely railing against an absent enemy, in front of an audience of people nodding in agreement. It’s enough to make them look, well, a bit like snowflakes by comparison.


The parallels between Schlafly and today’s female conservative firebrands aren’t exact. According to Critchlow, Schlafly would never have been spotted in anything less than the primmest of necklines, let alone the slinky cocktail dresses that are today’s cable TV uniform. And unlike most of her successors, from Coulter to Laura Ingraham to Michelle Malkin to Jeanine Pirro, Schlafly was more than just a provocateur. She was a skilled and savvy organizer whose goal wasn’t just to build an audience, but to sway state legislators into voting against a constitutional amendment they had previously supported—which required a certain politeness that can be hard to find in today’s scorched-Earth media climate.

“She knew that to win people over, she needed to show some respect to her opponents,” says Critchlow, whose book, Phyllis Schlafly and Grassroots Conservatism, was published in 2005. “And if she came across as dismissing them, or looking like their arguments were just completely foolish and that they were idiots, she wouldn’t win people over.”

Still, like many female conservative media personalities today, Schlafly was able to parlay attractiveness, wit and ideological orthodoxy into a successful personal brand. And she had a keen instinct for visual media, which she displayed from the earliest days of her political career; in 1952, as a candidate for Congress, she arranged a photo of herself in the kitchen, the ultimate housewife. On national TV shows during the ERA fight, she wore prim skirts and high-necked sweaters, with her hair pinned up in a trademark bouffant.

By the time Coulter emerged as a rising star of the 1990s, the costume for conservative women had changed considerably, as had the personal-life requirements. Being overtly feminine was still a prerequisite—and being blonde didn’t hurt—but many right-wing media stars weren’t housewives, or wives at all. (Elisabeth Hasselbeck was an exception as she played up her motherhood on “The View” in the early 2000s. But she also wasn’t a Coulter-style provocateur.) Still, a conservative audience expected, from its heroines, an overt brand of femininity: put-together-enough to be aspirational to women; coquettish enough to match a certain fantasy for men. Think: Ingraham’s v-necked, jewel-toned dress as she preached American exceptionalism at the Republican National Convention in 2016; Michelle Malkin’s coiffed curls as she rails against immigration; Lahren’s trendy athleisure designed to hold a Second Amendment-protected weapon of your choice.

The female-conservative archetype has become so deeply embedded in U.S. media culture that producers use it as a go-to slot in political punditry. Susie Meister, co-host of the “Brain Candy” podcast, learned this when she tried to parlay reality-TV fame into a broadcast media career. A fresh-faced blonde from a religious, working-class household in Pittsburgh, Meister sent her first audition tape to an MTV reality show in 1998, at age 18. Producers swiftly typecast her as the small-town conservative girl, a role that fit well enough that she could credibly play it over and over for nearly a decade, on such shows as “The Road Rules: Down Under,” “The Gauntlet 2,” and “The Inferno 3.”

But by 2014, after getting a PhD in religious studies from the University of Pittsburgh—her dissertation was on the marketing of prosperity gospel by preachers like Joel Osteen—Meister found that her political views had shifted. And when she decided to pursue a career in TV commentary, and met with talent agents who could pitch her to news and cable networks, they uniformly told her that her only path forward was to pitch herself as a firebrand conservative.

“The only advice they gave was that if this is something you’re interested in, you just would have to take the ideology on as if it were yours and become a persona, and play up the things about your look that fit with the brand of the network,” Meister says. No one gave her direct advice about clothes or styling, she says; “it was more about hair color and sort of a va-va-voom type of look in general.”

The stereotype cuts both ways, Meister says: mainstream and left-leaning networks also weren’t interested in bringing her on as a measured liberal voice. “‘Maybe they also don’t want people that look incongruent with the worldview,” she says. “With bleached hair and fake boobs, when I go into a normal, non-leaning-conservative network, it doesn’t match that worldview, either.”

The Schlafly model doesn’t rely on Barbie-doll looks alone. Like many of today’s successful female conservative stars, she also had a fondness for arguing and an ability to marshal quick retorts—even if it meant twisting the facts to suit her purposes, or ignoring fact-checking entirely. On April 15, 1973, on William F. Buckley’s public affairs show “Firing Line,” Schlafly debated a “libber” opponent, National Organization for Women vice president Ann Scott, who was armed with a torrent of logic and a list of legal decisions that summarized the state of women’s rights. Schlafly didn’t have a law degree at the time (though she would return to school and get one five years later). Still, she projected erudition, balancing a big stack of papers on her lap and holding up a legal encyclopedia called American Jurisprudence. “American Jurisprudence is a discredited source. It is one which lawyers do not cite in their briefs,” Scott scoffed. Schlafly ignored the comment and kept referring to the book anyway. She wound up holding her own.

“Firing Line” was mostly friendly territory for a conservative woman like Schlafly; at one point, Buckley literally licked his lips as he bore into one of Scott’s arguments. Schlafly’s solo appearance on “Donahue” on May 1, 1974 was another story. Phil Donahue, the pre-Oprah king of women’s daytime TV, hadn’t yet married the feminist actress and producer Marlo Thomas, but his skepticism of Schlafly was clear—and his audience, a mixed political crowd, sometimes rumbled with hostility. Donahue nearly broke a sweat trying to be fair-minded to Schlafly and her allies in the studio audience, while still challenging some of their most outrageous arguments. At one point he apologized profusely for backing a nervous ERA opponent into a logical corner.

Schlafly, on the other hand, was unflappable. Perched daintily on the edge of the stage, she projected an air of superiority—a sense that, however earnest her foes were, she believed herself better, smarter, more logical, more sensible, more attractive. When a pro-ERA woman called into the show, viscerally angry, Schlafly’s serenity felt like its own rebuke. “They don’t want to listen to the facts. They just want to talk,” she said, as if she were admonishing toddlers at home.

Shouting wasn’t all Schlafly and her allies faced in those days, especially as their anti-ERA crusade began to succeed. Once, when researching papers archived at her organization’s Missouri headquarters, Critchlow came across a big, sealed plastic bag of hate mail that had been sent to an anti-ERA legislator in Florida—who passed it along to Schlafly so she’d know what he was facing. Inside the bag were pornographic pictures, used tampons, and dirty sanitary napkins.

Schlafly herself faced death threats; her family urged her to hire a security guard, but she refused. She understood the power of never looking frazzled or showing a kink in your armor. A more effective weapon, it turned out, was condescension. At the start of her turn on “Donahue,” she calmly took down the feminists at Ms., saying the magazine was aptly named because “its motivating, unifying force is the old adage “Misery loves company.’”

“Ms. is for ‘misery’?” Donahue repeated, incredulous. But Schlafly was on a roll. “Ms. is for ‘Misery loves company,’ yes,” she said in a lilting voice, as the audience audibly groaned. “It’s a lot of unhappy complaints about unhappy women with problems.”

Put-downs are a standard tool for today’s conservative stars. But Critchlow delivered hers with a different tone, Critchlow says, disparaging but playful, wrapped in a smile and the guarded language of the ’70s. “She could be quite abrupt and quite acerbic with a cutting line,” he says. “But it was more rapier-like than trying to bludgeon the other side.”

One of the key pieces of advice she gave her followers, Critchlow said, was to avoid looking confrontational, especially when lobbying politicians directly. As “Mrs. America” shows, she played on gender stereotypes but used them as a weapon: persuasion wrapped in deference that appealed to male legislators’ egos and made them imagine they weren’t being manipulated. Her followers spoke in a unified voice that she herself defined—and that stood out against a pro-ERA movement that was divided over tactics. ERA America, an umbrella organization based in Washington, favored traditional lobbying activities, Critchlow says. But NOW was “much more confrontational, and they tried to pursue what might be called a civil rights strategy of protests and threats to state legislators. And I think it really backfired on them.”

Schlafly’s heirs today share her take-no-prisoners drive, but they show less appetite for engaging with opponents—and, when they do, they sometimes have trouble matching Schlafly’s restraint. Even their book titles evoke a kind of shouting in the schoolyard; Coulter’s bestsellers include Godless, Treason, Guilty, Mugged and If Democrats Had Any Brains, They’d Be Republicans. Jeanine Pirro’s forthcoming book is titled Are You Stupid? Or Were You Just Born a Democrat? These books aren’t attempts at persuasion; they’re firebombs, calculated to rile up the base and excite the already-converted. They’re echoes of the strategy Donald Trump has used leading into the 2020 election—even now, as he foments anti-government protests, rather than deferring to the scientists on his staff.

In video appearances, conservative stars can be equally inflamed. Take Kayleigh McEnany, Trump’s new press secretary, who has repeatedly laid her emotions bare in tense CNN exchanges, shouting over hosts and other guests. Or take Lahren, another telegenic blonde who, at age 22, was handed her own news show on OAN—the conservative news network that drew a stir at President Trump’s press briefings this spring, when a correspondent asked questions so friendly to Trump that they sounded like parody, and was later removed for violating social distancing rules.

Lahren’s breakthrough moment came in 2015 when, at the end her OAN show, she drilled into the Obama administration for what she called a sluggish response to the murder of four Marines in Tennessee by a Muslim gunman. “I’ve had it with this failed strategy, this halfway, half-baked, tiptoe, be-friendly-to-jihadis mentality pushed by this administration,” she intoned in what would become her trademark: a rapid-fire machine-gun barrage of insults and invective, pointed at an outside enemy. The diatribe lacked Schlafly’s slyness, her restraint, her equanimity. Still, the clip went viral on YouTube, and Lahren’s star continued to rise.

Even Lahren has turned out to be capable of a Schlafly-level moment—to some degree—when presented with the right opportunity. In December 2016, when she had moved to the conservative platform The Blaze, she scored a crossover appearance on “The Daily Show with Trevor Noah.” Lahren bounded onto the Comedy Central set in a little black dress, eager to face the fire. “I’m in the Lion’s Den, Trevor!” she said cheerfully.

Throughout the interview, Noah was friendly but relentless, grilling Lahren on her apparent racism, her outrageous equation of Black Lives Matter with the Ku Klux Klan, her lack of internal logic. At one point, when she declared, “I’m a millennial, so I don’t really like labels,” he nearly blew a gasket: “I’m sorry, my brain—you just gave a label to say you don’t like labels,” he said, as the audience howled. Lahren acted as if the moment had never happened. For 14 minutes of bombardment, she was Schlafly-level unperturbable; no matter how smart Noah’s rejoinders were, he couldn’t get under her skin.

But Noah did manage to scratch at something new about Lahren’s public persona: the apparent gap behind the figure she projects to exclusively right-wing audiences and the one she was willing to show in a neutral setting. In her solo-TV screeds to a faceless audience, Noah told her, “you are angry about everything, it seems.” Her response, when she was sitting four feet away, was matter-of-fact and uncharacteristically cheerful: “Sometimes people just need to be called on their s--t.”

It was enough to make you wonder what a Lahren or a Coulter or a McEnany would look like in a media landscape that wasn’t quite so polarized—or what Schlafly’s activism would have looked like if she were a young conservative coming up today. Over time, as her personal profile waned, Schlafly’s own book titles evoked a growing sense of rage against the wind: The Supremacists: The Tyranny of Judges and How to Stop It; Who Killed the American Family? (Her last book, published at the time of her death in 2016, was titled The Conservative Case for Trump.) Her cunning brand of equanimity was easier to build in the 1970s—long before shoutfests and “gotcha” moments became the cable-news norm, or media offered a 24-hour open mic for preaching to a fired-up choir. Betty Friedan might have worked herself into a lather in Schlafly’s presence, but TV anchors and reporters of the time had different standards of conduct. “Although she was attacked by her opponents on various grounds,” Critchlow says, “the media in general, even while not liking her, didn’t deride her or go after her in a way that was trying to trip her up.”

Today, every cable-news appearance is fraught with traps. There are fewer chances for a lightning rod like Lahren to appear on a friendly crossover stage (and Noah took plenty of hits for inviting her on his own show that one time). So it’s little surprise that Schlafly’s successors learned to lean into the anger that their audience wants and expects. It’s a strategy that will sell books and get attention. But with fury as their guide, conservative media stars today will fall short of Schlafly’s success in one key way: They’re unlikely to change anybody’s mind.

sábado, 11 de abril de 2020

In the United States public holds broadly favorable views of many federal agencies, including CDC and HHS

Republicans’ ratings of several agencies rise

How we did this

As the United States confronts the coronavirus outbreak, Americans continue to rate a wide range of federal agencies favorably, including two at the forefront of dealing with COVID-19: the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Department of Health and Human Services. Other federal agencies, including the Postal Service, the Census Bureau and the Department of Homeland Security, also receive broadly favorable ratings from the public.

The public has long viewed the CDC positively. Currently, 79% of U.S. adults express a favorable opinion of the CDC, including large majorities of Republicans and Republican-leaning independents (84%) and Democrats and Democratic leaners (77%).

Views of the CDC among Republicans have grown more positive in recent years. Democrats’ views have shown less change; the share of Democrats with a positive view of the agency has ticked down slightly since last September, from 82%.

Republicans feel far more favorably toward the Department of Health and Human Services than they did during Barack Obama’s presidency – and substantially more positively than they did seven months ago. Currently, 80% view HHS favorably, up 17 percentage points since last fall. In 2013 and 2015, fewer than half of Republicans viewed this agency favorably. Majorities of Democrats have consistently expressed positive views of HHS (70% currently).

The national survey by Pew Research Center, conducted March 24-29 among 1,013 U.S. adults, finds that more than three years into the Trump administration, larger shares of Republicans than Democrats express favorable opinions of eight of 10 government agencies included in the survey. And for the other two agencies, the Postal Service and the IRS, nearly identical majorities in both parties have favorable opinions.

Republicans’ views of the Justice Department improved after Donald Trump’s election, while Democrats turned more negative. Even so, favorable views of the DOJ have increased sharply since September; currently, 76% of Republicans view the DOJ favorably, up from 61% last fall and the highest positive rating for the department in polling going back a decade. By comparison, 50% of Democrats feel favorably toward the Justice Department, little changed from the fall and among the lowest ratings in a decade.

Views of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) remain even more polarized: 77% of Republicans and Republican leaners view the agency favorably, compared with only 28% of Democrats and Democratic leaners.

With the decennial census underway – and most Americans saying they plan to participate – 77% of Americans overall view the Census Bureau favorably, compared with just 12% who hold an unfavorable view. And while the public holds positive views of several federal agencies, ratings of the Postal Service continue to stand out: An overwhelming 91% say they have a favorable view of the mail delivery service.
Many agencies, including the IRS, are viewed favorably by majorities in both parties

Of the 10 agencies included in the survey, nine are viewed more favorably than unfavorably by the public. ICE is the only agency for which about equal shares express an unfavorable (45%) as favorable (46%) view.

Among the agencies viewed in positive light, the majorities viewing each favorably range from 91% for the Postal Service to 60% for the Justice Department.

About two-thirds view Veterans Affairs and the IRS favorably (both 65%). Slightly more hold favorable views of the Federal Reserve (69%) and the Department of Homeland Security (71%).

For many federal agencies, there are only modest differences in ratings between Republicans and Democrats.

For instance, large majorities of Republicans and Democrats have favorable views of the Postal Service, Census Bureau, CDC and HHS.

A broader majority of Republicans (86%) than of Democrats (60%) view the Department of Homeland Security favorably. The partisan gap is similar in views of the DOJ.

The widest partisan divide in the survey by far is in assessments of ICE: Republicans and Republican leaners are 49 points more likely than Democrats and Democratic leaners to hold a favorable view of the agency (77% vs. 28%).

The share of Republicans with a favorable view of ICE has increased 7 points since September 2019.

Among Democrats, ratings of ICE remain overwhelmingly negative (64% view the agency unfavorably), though the share with a favorable view has increased since last fall (up 9 points).

The overall gap in ratings of ICE between Republicans and Democrats remains about the same as it has been over the last few years.

As the Census Bureau launches its decennial census, majorities of both Republicans and Democrats hold positive views of the agency.

Republicans’ views of the Census Bureau have grown considerably more positive over the last two years. Today, 83% of Republicans view the Census Bureau favorably, compared with 66% who held a favorable view of the agency in 2018.

Among Democrats, views of the Census Bureau have remained relatively stable. About three-quarters of Democrats (76%) say they hold favorable views of the agency today; views were similar in 2019 and 2018.
There are good reasons to think that the world we live in might feel different in 18 months, but the economy will be roughly intact.

Any look at the news suggests that we’re in the early stages of a society-changing response to an unpredictable virus that will have vastly negative consequences for the economy, not just in the U.S., but around the world. Dr. Anthony Fauci, the face of the American response, said yesterday that we may never be “the same” again. Entire industries could collapse. Six million people filed for unemployment last week, and most estimates, including from the Fed, suggest that the May employment report will show unemployment rates north of 15 percent—with some estimates as high as 30 percent unemployment and tens of millions out of work—and economic growth for the second quarter in the United States contracting more than 30 percent. Those are depression-level numbers. In an interview this week, former Fed chair Janet Yellen said bluntly, “This is a huge, unprecedented, devastating hit.”

As the world digests just what this might mean, there’s one sector of society that seems to be taking a brighter view: Wall Street.

Stocks are surging. After crashing more than 30 percent as the reality of Covid-19 sank in, stocks have in the past few weeks staged a dramatic turnaround and risen more than 25 percent as of this writing. On Monday, 7 percent up. Tuesday, another tick up; Wednesday, a further 3 percent. On Thursday, the market climbed again, even as the Labor Department announced 6.6. million Americans submitted unemployment claims last week.

Markets aren’t infallible, and sometimes their read on the situation is wrong. But often when they’re wrong, they skew toward pessimism, reacting quickly and aggressively to negative news or even the hint of it. At the end of 2018, for instance, stocks plummeted 20 percent or more based on the fear, unfounded, that rising interest rates would cripple activity. It’s often been said, derisively, that Wall Street has correctly predicted nine of the past five recessions.

In the past few weeks, however, finance-land has flipped that script and is reflecting substantial optimism. What’s going on?

Usually market moves are at least partly in sync with real-world problems. When global markets teetered in the fall of 2011, it was because of legitimate concerns that Greece was about to leave or be forced out of the European Union, and that doing so would create a negative cascade that could damage the global financial system. When markets plunged in early March as the coronavirus crisis hit the West, that was fully in sync with the imminent shutdown of the real-world economy.

No longer. Just as nearly every state in the U.S. has shut down and ramped up the urgency of its coronavirus response, as the president flips from floating an Easter reopening to talk of a long war to get back to normal, and as countries ranging from India to Japan institute their own draconian lockdowns to halt the spread, financial markets have sharply recovered from their low point on March 23.

This volatility could, of course, simply mean investors and the computer programs that trigger a considerable portion of trading activity are flailing wildly, buffeted by the news du jour and grasping for certainty about the economic and epidemiological future that simply doesn’t exist right now. But even here, volatility in stocks as measured by the VIX index is down nearly 50 percent since its mid-March spike, and credit markets have been downright placid.

You’d think, given the real-world news, that the Wall Street consensus would be pretty dire. For the next three months at least, and likely the next six, very few companies will see anything approaching the level of earnings that they had last year. Publicly traded casino companies like Wynn resorts? Cruise lines like Carnival? Airlines like Jetblue and United? Auto companies like Ford? Retailers like Gap? Restaurant chains? All of those have seen massive stock declines for sure; but if you consider the collapse in their predicted revenue, combined with zero clarity about how and when that will rebound, arguably stocks should fall much further.

The same could be said of municipal and state bonds. With the economy nearly frozen, local and state governments have the prospects of seeing their tax receipts slashed in half for a period of the year, and unlike the federal government, their capacity to borrow is much more constrained. Yet none of the municipal bond markets have collapsed.

So, are markets living in some fantasyland? Possibly. But there’s another way to look at it that gives us all cause for some optimism. Financial markets aren’t reflecting what’s happening now, or even “pricing in” the next three months. Quite the opposite. They are looking beyond the economic damage of the next three to six months, and seeing a brighter future.

When you consider what the Federal Reserve and Congress are doing, as well as what’s happening right now in China, Wall Street might not be so crazy after all. There are good reasons to think that the world we live in might feel different in 18 months, but the economy will be roughly intact—or, at least 80 percent intact, which is where the Dow is now relative to the beginning of year.

In part, this is because of the huge backstop the U.S. government and central banks are providing. The Federal Reserve and other global central banks have committed to buying just about everything short of stocks in order to bolster financial markets and stave off collapse. That is allowing markets to trade as if everything were bad but not catastrophic.

Then there are actions taken by Congress in the United States and by every sovereign government in the developed world to replace a significant portion of lost business and wages. In Europe, governments are committed to directly paying wages for months. In the United States, assuming Congress acts again this week, the government will provide more than $600 billion in small business loans to cover payroll for the next three months, loans that will then be forgiven if businesses keep workers on payroll. That is on top of $500 billion to be distributed to larger companies, plus direct checks to individuals. In essence, governments are acting as if there could be zero economic activity in the next three months and are instead footing the bill for the entire economy. Government spending won’t prevent a recession; but it could be prevent a long, protracted one that would feel like a depression.

But there is something else going on as well, which is that markets in the past week are reflecting a sentiment that the worst-case scenarios predicted by public-health officials may not come to pass. Already, because of aggressive social distancing and stay-at-home orders, the models of last week are being revised downward. Fauci on Wednesday expressed strong conviction that schools will indeed reopen in August, which itself would augur for much broader resumptions of activity. Gov. Andrew Cuomo has already begun planning for the restart of the hard hit New York-New Jersey region.

There is, as well, one real world case that points in a different direction than “everything will be changed forever”: China. After months of lockdown, China is reopening; restaurants are serving customers; schools are admitting or about to admit students; factories and stores are open. Not everything is normal; movie theaters remain closed, large gatherings untenable. While the death toll may have been higher in China than reported, the resumption of activity cannot be so easily faked.

Should we end up following that path, and this week there have been multiple indications of flattening curves in New York and perhaps Washington and California, as well as Spain and Italy, then markets that are down but haven’t cratered are reflecting a reality that the majority of us appear to be heavily discounting right now.

It is, of course, possible that short-term market euphoria is misplaced and will prove fleeting. On Wall Street, bear markets are full of “traps,” where short-term rallies lull people into believing, falsely, that the worst has passed. But it may be that markets are digesting information about probable futures more rationally than humans are just now. If that is the case, the sum of our fears, fears that seem more justified than at any point in our lived past, will once again not come to pass. We will look back at these months as a tragedy but not as a new normal.

martes, 7 de abril de 2020

Why does Spain have the world’s highest coronavirus mortality rate?

Experts attribute the problem to a range of factors, including an aging population and slow early detection effort.

Spain entered its fourth week of confinement on Monday as the country with the highest number of coronavirus deaths relative to its population.

With 13,055 confirmed coronavirus fatalities, or 28 for every 100,000 inhabitants, Spain has already surpassed Italy in terms of the number of deaths compared to the population (not to the number of confirmed cases, which is the more common metric).

Authorities are now placing their hopes on the improving indicators coming out of the emergency rooms, where there has been a drop in the number of admitted patients. This is relieving the pressure on hospitals’ intensive care units, which have been overwhelmed with critical cases in recent weeks.
The way that you determine the cause of death, whether from the virus or from underlying diseases the patient may have had, also plays a role
Pere Godoy, Spanish Epidemiology Society

The downward trend is supported by the overnight death toll, which was 637 on Monday, the lowest figure for a 24-hour period since March 24 (although Monday figures can be lower due to under-reporting during weekends). In any event, it was the fifth day of dwindling fatalities after the peak of April 2, when there were 950 deaths in a 24-hour period. Health Minister Salvador Illa has already described the pandemic as the worst health crisis of the past century.

So why are so many people in Spain dying from coronavirus complications compared with other countries?

An aging population with a high rate of underlying health issues, as well as the impact that the virus has had on senior homes, are some of the reasons, according to Pere Godoy, president of the Spanish Epidemiology Society.

“The way that you determine the cause of death, whether from the virus or from underlying diseases the patient may have had, also plays a role. This is not being done the same way across different countries, and it makes comparisons less reliable,” notes Godoy.
It is possible that our early detection effort has lagged behind that of other countries like Germany or South Korea
José María Martín Moreno, Valencia University

José María Martín Moreno, a professor of medicine and public health at Valencia University, adds another factor to the combination of demographics and counting methodology.

“It is possible that our early detection effort has lagged behind that of other countries like Germany or South Korea, which conducted mass testing that enabled them to isolate infected people and stop the transmission chains,” he says. This early detection may have prevented the virus from reaching particularly vulnerable groups such as the elderly.

Adding to the problem is the fact that “not enough investment has been made” in public healthcare in recent years, adds this expert.
Densely populated areas

Jesús Rodríguez Baño, head of the infectious disease department at Virgen Macarena Hospital in Seville, underscores two other issues.

“Studies still need to be done, but probably it also has something to do with the way we interact socially, with greater physical proximity,” he says. “And the fact that the worst-hit areas are Madrid and Catalonia shares something with northern Italy: these are all densely populated areas.”

“It is true that more tests and greater isolation could have stopped the chain of transmission before reaching the more vulnerable groups. But I want to be very humble here, because in a way, we all got it wrong during the first stages,” he adds. “It’s easy to see things clearly in hindsight, but this should teach us to learn and analyze what happened.”
Tests and gear

Minister Illa has stated that the government allocated “€845 million” in the space of three weeks to purchase testing kits, ventilators and masks. “We have achieved a regular and permanent supply [...] as a complement to regional governments’ own purchases,” he said.

According to the health minister, the one million rapid tests that are being distributed by his department among regional authorities will “serve to conduct quick screenings” that can later be backed up by the slower but more reliable PCR tests inside labs.

As for the recommendation that everyone use a face mask, Illa said that “this is a measure that is currently being analyzed, but no decision has been made.” In any case, “national production is being activated.”

viernes, 3 de abril de 2020

Jobs Destroyed Worldwide as Coronavirus Sparks Recession

World job losses could reach total of 25 million, ILO warns

Unprecedented since Great Depression, Deutsche’s Hooper says

Storefronts are seen closed as streets stand unusually empty in the Fashion District of Los Angeles, California, on April 1.
The world’s workers are reeling from the initial shock of the coronavirus recession, with job losses and welfare claims around the globe already running into the millions this week.

As the International Labour Organization warns of almost 25 million layoffsif the virus isn’t controlled, the cuts from Austria to the U.S. reflect the deepest peacetime recession since the 1930s as economies are frozen to beat the pandemic.

“We see unemployment rates in the U.S. and Europe getting up well up into the teens,” Peter Hooper, global head of economic research at Deutsche Bank AG, told Bloomberg Television. “Given the pain that we see near-term in the U.S. and Europe, this is unprecedented since the Great Depression, in terms of magnitudes.”

Rising unemployment will intensify pressure on governments and central banks to speed delivery of programs to either compensate workers who are made redundant, or try to persuade employers to hoard staff until the virus fades.

Failure would risk an even deeper recession or weak recovery that would require policy makers to consider yet more stimulus on top of that already deployed.

At JPMorgan Chase & Co., economists predict their measure of unemployment in developed markets will jump by 2.7 percentage points by the middle of this year, having started this year around its lowest in four decades. While there will be some healing as economies recover, they still predict elevated unemployment of 4.6% in the U.S. and 8.3% in the euro area by the end of 2021.
Stress Test

The shock to labor markets also marks a stress test for different social models. The U.S.’s more flexible culture means more will lose their jobs than in the euro area or Japan, where there is a greater onus on retaining staff during a shock.

A first glimpse of the U.S. devastation was apparent in its monthly labor report on Friday, showing employment fell last month for the first time in a decade. Payrolls slumped by more than 700,000, seven times as much as economists had forecast. Those figures are all the more worrying because they cover only the start of the labor-market damage in early March, prior to the biggest rounds of layoffs and closures.

A greater hit is coming therefore, not least since the number of Americans applying for unemployment benefits soared to a record 6.65 million last week, more than twice the record set in the prior week. The 9.96 million combined claims of those two weeks is equivalent to the total in the first 6 1/2 months of the 2007-2009 recession.

Goldman Sachs Group Inc. this week predicted unemployment there will soon spike to a record 15%.

In Europe, a report showed almost one million Britons applied for welfare payments in the space of two weeks, 10 times the normal amount. The country’s statistics office released a survey of businesses where 27% of them are reducing staff levels in the short term.

There was also a record jobless-claims surge in Spain, whose nearly 14% unemployment rate is already among the highest in the developed world. Austria’s rate jumped to 12%, the highest since the aftermath of World War II.

While German unemployment barely rose in March, like the U.S. report, that data was based on a cut-off date before most shutdown measures took effect. But Detlef Scheele, who runs the country’s labor agency, said next month’s data will show increasing joblessness.
Hours Cut

A record 470,000 companies applied for German state wage support in March -- a number that is likely to continue rising -- suggesting that so far around a fifth of the workforce could have working hours reduced.

French businesses have also rushed to benefit from government aid to keep workers on their payroll, while getting paid 84% of their salary by the state. As of Thursday, 400,000 companies applied for 4 million workers -- around 20% of the private sector labor force.

Nordic data already shows the region is suffering a major employment shock, with more than 800,000 people out of work there, including in excess of 620,000 on temporary furloughs in Finland and Norway, according to calculations by Bloomberg.

Jobless Spike

Unemployment forecast to surge from low base in U.S., tick higher in EU

Source: Estimates by JPMorgan economists as of March 27

In Asia, Japanese unemployment held at 2.4% in February, but there’s been a sharp drop in the ratio of available positions to the lowest level in three years. More recent developments showed a rapid taking up of emergency loans via a government program for people who have lost their jobs or face wage cuts.

Almost 23 million, or a third of Thailand’s population, registered for the government’s cash handout since it was made available on March 28. The grants are intended to cover only 9 million people, and will pay out 15,000 baht ($455) to each individual over three months.

Much focus will fall on China, whose economy is returning toward full capacity. Its rate of surveyed urban unemployment jumped to a record 6.2% in February as business shut down. Those interruptions threw an estimated 8 million people out of work, according to economists at Australia & New Zealand Banking Group.

As eye-watering as this phase of the global economic crisis may already be, Peter Hooper at Deutsche Bank says the outlook won’t seem as bleak when the virus outbreak ceases and demand rebounds.

“You should see a fairly quick drop from these very lofty levels of unemployment,” he said.