This morning, stock trading was halted for 15 minutes for the third time. The Dow dropped as low as 2700 for a bit — nearly 12%. (The market is down around 1700-ish as I write this.) To keep that in perspective, the 1987 crash was about 22%. My mom was a cardiac nurse in 1987, and she told me her unit treated a lot of patients who had stock market-related heart incidents. On Black Friday in 1929, the market lost around 12% of value (on top of previous days of drops). Hooboy!
I’ll freely admit I don’t understand how any of this shit works. The losses in response to Trump’s disastrous Oval Office address made a sort of sense: a babbling moron in charge during a global health crisis is the worst kind of uncertainty. But why did stocks shoot up after the parade of CEOs on the White House lawn last week? Beats me. Trump lied about a lot of stuff, e.g., the Google testing website, the availability of testing, etc.
But Trump lies all the time, about everything. It can’t be a surprise anymore. Was it the Fed caving to Trump’s repeated demands to cut the rate to zero that pushed them over the edge? Again, I don’t know. But to the extent the economy rests on consumer demand, maybe the prospect of what shuttered stores and empty streets would mean is finally sinking in.
Anyhoo, Pence has a tall order today. He was scheduled to provide an update on the efforts to address the virus at 10:30 AM ET, but now his presser has been pushed back to 2:30 PM. Trump is probably screaming in Pence’s face right now, ejecting bits of masticated Egg McMuffin while underscoring the importance of calming the market, for the love of Christ, Mike!
One thing Pence, Secretary Azar, etc., could do right now to start clawing their way out of the credibility pits they’ve dug for themselves is to stop prefacing every goddamned update with slobbering praise for Trump’s leadership. But they won’t stop because they’d lose their jobs.
Each man — even the dullard Pence — is surely smart enough to know Trump is a blithering moron who has screwed the pooch here. But they’ve consciously traded dignity/credibility for power. In for a penny, in for a Pence, I guess.
Governor Cuomo of New York is doing a presser right now, saying that New York, New Jersey and Connecticut are coordinating their restrictions but that the whole country needs to get on the same page. He just announced that gatherings that exceed 50 people are now banned and gyms, casinos and theaters will close at 8 PM until further notice. Bars and restaurants too, but they can still do take-out. Park fees are waived, and at least 50% of local government workers need to stay home.
CNN says the White House might announce nationwide curfews. We’ll see what Pence has to say, if he ever shows up. Maybe curfews are a measure that would be useful in containing the spread — I don’t know — but it’ll be interesting and instructive to hear the reaction of the Rand Paul types to such an infringement on their personal liberty. I predict it’ll be about as popular in red states as vape bans.