Surrender is not a valid coronavirus plan

Bloomberg Opinion Today
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Today's Agenda

We're Surrendering to Covid Too Soon

If you want to know what "just giving up" looks like, check out this map from CovidExitStrategy.org:

First of all, it's time to look into relocating to Vermont or Maine. Second, even this map doesn't do the ugliness of the numbers justice. For that, you must go to the original source and mouse over each state to see the underlying data. North Dakota's cases per million are actually seven times higher than New Jersey's, for example. Wisconsin's are five times higher.

As President Donald Trump makes clear daily, his plan for the coronavirus is merely a white flag, waved vigorously. It doesn't have to be this way, writes Bloomberg's editorial board. It can't be, really, without once again swamping hospitals and inflating an already staggering death toll. Vaccines won't come nearly soon enough to prevent that. 

The white-flag crowd points to a lower rate of hospitalizations and deaths in this latest wave, despite the case count being the highest so far. But we're treating the disease differently than in the spring, writes Sam Fazeli, keeping more patients at home, giving them better drugs and mainly exposing younger people to the virus. Despite all this, letting Covid-19 run unchecked will eventually affect more vulnerable people and pack ICUs again.

More localized lockdowns (a slippery term that can mean all sorts of things) will probably be necessary at the rate we're going. They're already happening in Europe, though governments aren't exactly rushing into them, given their unpopularity, writes Ferdinando Giugliano. Officials have done a poor job of setting expectations throughout this crisis; they'll need to do much better if they want compliance with new rules.

Still, the West's failures are no reason to lose hope. Countries all across Asia are managing the pandemic relatively well, writes Lionel Laurent, demonstrating success is possible. And you can't just chalk that up to unbridgeable cultural differences; all it takes is everybody following a clear menu of remedies, from mask wearing to testing and tracing. If these seem difficult to you, just remember that giving up will be far more difficult for all of us.

A Nice Economy, If You Can Keep It

One big reason we keep not getting desperately needed economic stimulus is that so many economic numbers keep not being all that bad. One particularly strong spot throughout the pandemic has been the housing market. Sales, prices and homebuilder confidence have been raising, cough, the roof. Please, try the veal. But as with so much about the economy, these numbers have a shaky [loosens tie, looks around sweatily] foundation, warns Michael R. Strain. Tight supply, pent-up demand from the spring and criminally low mortgage rates are driving sales now. But without an extension of the Cares Act's foreclosure forbearance, we will see a wave of foreclosures in the spring. I don't have a dumb joke for that one.

Further Economic Reading:

China Would Like Its Own Big Tech Problem, Please

One of the few areas of political agreement in the U.S. and Europe is that Big Tech is unfair at best and destructive at worst. Regulatory crackdowns have begun in both places. China would love to have such problems. Central to the Chinese Communist Party's latest five-year plan is a homegrown crop of tech giants, writes Tim Culpan, adding to a stable that already includes such behemoths as Alibaba and Tencent. This is a threat to the many foreign tech companies doing business in China today, including some of that old-growth Big Tech.  

Further Reading

Covid, the election and technology are turning us all into dashboard addicts. — Ben Schott

Russia's right; we need to extend the New START nuclear agreement. — James Stavridis

European banks face a dilemma: Reward bankers and risk opprobrium or stiff them and lose talent. —  Marcus Ashworth and Elisa Martinuzzi 

How to know if it's OK to give money to your parents. — Teresa Ghilarducci 

ICYMI

Walmart took guns off shelves ahead of the election, then changed its mind.

More Texans have already voted than in the 2016 election.

Robot social media influencers make more money than you do.

Kickers

This rare-metal asteroid is worth approximately $10 trillion. (h/t Mike Smedley)

A famous black-hole paradox is nearing its end.

What Zoom calls are like for the deaf.

Here's a decent short list of classic horror movies to watch this weekend. Here's a long list.

Note: Please send asteroids and complaints to Mark Gongloff at mgongloff1@bloomberg.net.

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