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Trump’s stock market concern could make dealing with COVID-19 tough

Kai Ryssdal and Marketplace Staff Feb 26, 2020
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Johannes Eisele/AFP via Getty Images
COVID-19

Trump’s stock market concern could make dealing with COVID-19 tough

Kai Ryssdal and Marketplace Staff Feb 26, 2020
Johannes Eisele/AFP via Getty Images
HTML EMBED:
COPY

For a president that has touted the stock market’s highs as a sign of his own success, the selloff over fears of COVID-19, the disease caused by a member of the coronavirus family, may not be the greatest news.

“That leaves [President Donald Trump] more vulnerable than most presidents would be if we see a continued sell-off,” said Neil Irwin, a senior economics correspondent for the New York Times, in an interview with “Marketplace” host Kai Ryssdal.

In a recent column, Irwin noted that this focus on Wall Street could lead to issues with the president’s leadership when it comes to dealing with a possible pandemic. He compared the administration to a private company.

“Imagine a company. They have a product that gets people sick, and they have to recall it,” Irwin said. “The question is, what do you want the executive team to be spending their time doing? You don’t want them going on TV and yelling about the stock price. What you want is for them to deal with the problem. … That’s what you want with a private company. The same is true with the government.”

Click the audio player above to hear the full interview.

COVID-19 Economy FAQs

What’s the outlook for vaccine supply?

Chief executives of America’s COVID-19 vaccine makers promised in congressional testimony to deliver the doses promised to the U.S. government by summer. The projections of confidence come after months of supply chain challenges and companies falling short of year-end projections for 2020. What changed? In part, drugmakers that normally compete are now actually helping one another. This has helped solve several supply chain issues, but not all of them.

How has the pandemic changed scientific research?

Over the past year, while some scientists turned their attention to COVID-19 and creating vaccines to fight it, most others had to pause their research — and re-imagine how to do it. Social distancing, limited lab capacity — “It’s less fun, I have to say. Like, for me the big part of the science is discussing the science with other people, getting excited about projects,” said Isabella Rauch, an immunologist at Oregon Health & Science University in Portland. Funding is also a big question for many.

What happened to all of the hazard pay essential workers were getting at the beginning of the pandemic?

Almost a year ago, when the pandemic began, essential workers were hailed as heroes. Back then, many companies gave hazard pay, an extra $2 or so per hour, for coming in to work. That quietly went away for most of them last summer. Without federal action, it’s mostly been up to local governments to create programs and mandates. They’ve helped compensate front-line workers, but they haven’t been perfect. “The solutions are small. They’re piecemeal,” said Molly Kinder at the Brookings Institution’s Metropolitan Policy Program. “You’re seeing these innovative pop-ups because we have failed overall to do something systematically.”

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