Trump gambled with coronavirus for too long

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Today's Agenda

Trump's Coronavirus Gamble Goes Bust

The president of the United States has Covid-19.

It is the most 2020 thing to happen yet in this terrible year, but don't dare say anything dumb like, "Welp, it sure can't get any wilder than this." Because the lesson of this year is yes, it can. It can always get wilder. 

Several people around the president, including the first lady and top aide Hope Hicks, also have the coronavirus. It's still not clear how or when any of them caught it. Several people at last Saturday's ceremony nominating Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court, held outdoors but without social distancing or masks, have since tested positive, including Notre Dame's president and Senator Mike Lee. (Barrett reportedly had Covid-19 a while back but has recovered.)

But then Trump has been recklessly gambling with the virus for months now, Tim O'Brien notes, putting not just himself and his staff and family members (some of whom caught the disease earlier) at risk, but also the entire country, leading to widespread misery and 208,000 deaths so far. Unrepentant, Trump at Tuesday's debate mocked Joe Biden for wearing a mask, and his entourage declined to protect themselves and others in the enclosed venue. As a result of such hubris, Tim writes, "the man who most embodies the conflicts and otherworldliness of 2020 now watches his political future, his personal well-being and his monarchical sense of entitlement circumscribed by a virus wearing a crown."

It's to Trump's credit that he promptly announced his coronavirus infection, writes Jonathan Bernstein. Less exemplary is the fact that it took Bloomberg News to first uncover Hicks's diagnosis and that Trump and his staffers carried on with events even after she got sick. A White House woefully short on trust will need more transparency if it's to maintain relative calm at a time of such weirdness.

And the weirdness may not nearly be over. Trump reportedly has mild symptoms so far. But if his condition worsens, then he may need to transfer power to Vice President Mike Pence (who has tested negative so far, as has Biden), in a process explained by Cass Sunstein. He had a front-row seat when President Ronald Reagan was temporarily incapacitated by a would-be assassin. That was a deeply weird moment. But it's got nothing on 2020. And it's only Oct. 2.

Further Coronavirus Reading: Europe shouldn't be thinking about letting fans into sporting events right now. — Ferdinando Giugliano 

Once More With Feeling: The Economy Needs Help

In what would have been the day's biggest news in a normal universe, we got the September jobs report today. It was not great. The labor market is no longer hemorrhaging jobs as it was six months ago, but the recovery has slowed. Temporary job losses are turning permanent, and mass layoffs are being announced by Disney, airlines and more. Clearly, suffering workers need more government assistance ASAP. Tim O'Brien and Nir Kaissar propose a federal jobs plan, paying unemployed workers a living wage. It won't be cheap, but letting millions sink into despair would be even more costly.

Nancy Pelosi and a rattled White House are still talking about a new stimulus bill, though Democrats and Republicans still seem far apart. Karl Smith suggests Biden could step in and broker a deal, just as candidate Barack Obama did in 2008. Boosting the economy just ahead of the election might benefit Republican incumbents, but voters might also realize they had Biden to thank.

Bonus Economic-Policy Reading: Central bankers are risking financial upheaval to fight a deflation that's often actually good. — Richard Cookson 

Not Everybody Flees High Taxes

Bond-market guru Jeff Gundlach recently got a lot of attention when he threatened to leave high-tax California for a low-tax state. Such threats always get a lot of attention, maybe because people always daydream about paying less in taxes. And yet very few people actually do anything about it, writes Stephen Mihm. Numerous studies have shown people angry about taxes are far more likely to get into local politics than to flee. And other life events — new jobs, new spouses, threats from drug cartels — are far more likely to motivate people to pull up stakes than taxes.

Telltale Charts

China handled the virus better than much of the rest of the world, and its economy is benefiting accordingly, writes Matthew Winkler.

Etsy's flexibility helped make it the biggest winner in the S&P 500 this year, writes Sarah Halzack

Further Reading

Remote learning could be vastly better for many kids. Here's what needs to change. — Bloomberg's editorial board 

Trump's Covid-19 immigration ban goes too far, and even the Supreme Court may agree. — Noah Feldman 

The Bank of Japan's policy has stagnated. It's time for bold thinking. — Dan Moss

Iraq's prime minister could work with the October Revolution to push reforms. — Bobby Ghosh 

Here's how women can avoid financial ruin in a divorce. — Kimberly Seals Allers 


How one piece of hardware took down a $6 trillion stock market.

What nobody wants to admit about investing in art.

Japan's lost generation is still living with its parents.


Why some people are still getting sick, but not with Covid.

Tree-killing epidemics are on the rise.

Successful people say no to almost everything.

Why the brain has an elastic sense of time.

Note: Please send art and complaints to Mark Gongloff at

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