Disease, recession and outrage

Evening Briefing

In the three months since isolation measures were first imposed in a belated effort to slow the spread of Covid-19, the world's largest economy has become a basket case. One quarter of small businesses and two-fifths of restaurants have closed. Some 1 in 4 American workers is out of a job. At least 40 million people have filed for unemployment. And while the virus has devastated almost every economy it's touched, individual Americans entered the crisis in an especially vulnerable position. The planet's wealthiest country is renowned for having one of the weakest social safety nets among developed nations. It is home to more than two-fifths of all millionaires but has the highest poverty rate and the widest wealth gap among its peers. Despite a booming stock market (increasingly disconnected from the reality of everyday people) and robust job growth (largely low-paying service jobs) in recent years, more than 38 million Americans scrape by. The causes of U.S. inequality are well known, but they have jumped to the fore now that the nation is transfixed by disease, recession and outrage.Josh Petri

Bloomberg is mapping the pandemic globally and across America. For the latest news, sign up for our Covid-19 podcast and daily newsletter.

Here are today's top stories

Racial repression is built into the American economy, Peter Coy writes in Bloomberg Businessweek. Almost two centuries after the U.S. defeated the slave states, the color of money is still white.

Over the past four decades, the cost of policing in the U.S. has almost tripled, from $42.3 billion in 1977 to $114.5 billion in 2017, according to an analysis of U.S. Census Bureau data conducted by the Urban Institute on behalf of Bloomberg Businessweek. That budget is 10 times greater than the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (which led the Trump administration's botched response to the pandemic) and 12 times greater than the Environmental Protection Agency (which has been dismantling environmental protections). Crime, however, has been trending downward since the early 1990s. As protests over police killings of unarmed black people continue, this disconnect is leading to calls to defund law enforcement agencies and instead fund mental health and social services.

President Donald Trump faced a direct challenge to his leadership from current and former defense secretaries, who issued a pair of rare public dissents questioning the Republican's threat to use military force against Americans. The statement issued by James Mattis, a retired Marine Corps general, was a big deal, Jonathan Bernstein wrote in Bloomberg Opinion. Mattis said Trump's recent actions made a "mockery of our Constitution."

Trump's performance during national upheaval and the pandemic appears to be having a disastrous effect on his reelection bid. Polls show him performing poorly in 2020 battleground states, and one of his campaign's most recent ads, entitled "Make Space Great Again" violates NASA guidelines.

His attorney general, William Barr, said he was the architect of Trump's violent dispersal of peaceful protesters near the White House before he headed for a photo-op in front of St. John's Episcopal Church. Senator Kamala Harris, a California Democrat and potential running mate for former Vice President Joe Biden, invited Barr to make the same statement under oath. Here's the latest on the demonstrations.

Americans filed almost 2 million applications for unemployment benefits last week, reflecting a slowing of the torrent of job losses. Trump administration officials say they expect to spend up to $1 trillion in the next round of economic stimulus, though of course that's up to Congress. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who has said Democratic-leaning states crushed by the virus shouldn't get financial help (despite being the biggest source of those federal dollars), said any new bailout wouldn't occur until after July 20.

The U.S. is developing a test that can simultaneously check for seasonal influenza and Covid-19, according to CDC Director Robert Redfield. More than 1.8 million Americans have had confirmed cases and at least 108,000 have died. Here's the latest.

What you'll need to know tomorrow

What you'll want to read tonight in Bloomberg Green

Inside Microsoft's Push to Go Carbon Negative

 In January, Microsoft pledged to be carbon negative (removing more carbon from the atmosphere than it emits) by 2030 and to spend $1 billion on a climate investment fund, much of it aimed at bolstering carbon-removal tech, a nascent field with lots of big ideas but only a handful of companies that are trying it. It was a statement of intent more than a concrete plan. Right now none of this technology exists at scale. Lucas Joppa, the company's chief environmental officer, is the man in charge of making the impossible possible.

Lucas Joppa, Chief Environmental Officer of Microsoft, poses for a portrait on a trail he recently built to mountain bike on with his children outside his home in North Bend, Washington. April, 2020.

Photographer: Grant Hindsley for Bloomberg Green

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