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Keep your politics out of my vaccine shot

Bloomberg Opinion Today
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Today's Agenda

Pandemics and Politics Really Don't Mix

The New York Times has a cool tool that lets you plug in your age, location, occupation and underlying health conditions to find out where you stand in line for Covid vaccines. Turns out I've only got 268 million people ahead of me. Now I know how Beetlejuice felt. I'm looking forward to resuming normal life in, let's say, March 2022.

Then again, the line might be considerably shorter if too many people are afraid of getting vaccinated or think it's a plot by Bill Gates and George Soros to put mind-control chips in people. That wouldn't be good. Low vaccine uptake would make the pandemic drag on longer. That's why it's so important that President-elect Joe Biden try as hard as he can to depoliticize the whole issue, writes Jonathan Bernstein. This could include giving President Donald Trump credit for the vaccines, if that's what it takes to keep him from turning his followers against them — although calling it the "Trump vaccine" might go too far.

And while we're on the subject of vaccines and politics, Tyler Cowen points out women and immigrants played a key role in the rapid development of the many vaccines coming soon-ish to a pharmacy near you. Until recently both of these groups were underrepresented in vaccine development — a reminder of how greater inclusion benefits everybody.

Let's Not Repeat the Last Recession's Mistakes

The approach of Covid vaccines, along with improving data on incomes, spending, housing and more, have people and stocks jazzed about the economy's future. But it would be a huge mistake to assume it won't need more government help to return to full health, warn Tim O'Brien and Nir Kaissar. There's a risk we sound the all-clear too early, just as we did after the Great Recession, which led to sluggish growth that mainly benefited people at the top. The country really can't afford to go through that again.

At least the Federal Reserve will soon have another solid dove: The Senate today narrowly approved Christopher Wallace to join the Fed board. Wallace has been a vocal proponent of low rates since before it was cool, Brian Chappatta writes. And unlike Judy Shelton, the failed, controversial Trump pick Wallace replaced, he's no threat to change his tune under Biden.

A sudden surge in inflation might test that conviction. Nobody sees one coming anytime soon, but former New York Fed chief Bill Dudley warns there are at least five reasons rising inflation is a non-zero possibility. After years of undershooting, of course, the Fed might welcome it.

Biden's Diplomats Will Rack Up the Miles

High on Biden's long to-do list will be dealing with the threat of Iran's nuclear program. He may be tempted to simply reinstate the 2015 nuclear deal Trump scotched. But Bloomberg's editorial board points out there's no reason to hurry. It doesn't make much sense to strike a deal before Iranian elections next year, when leadership in Tehran could change dramatically. Biden can use the spare time to build an international and domestic consensus for a better deal. 

In the meantime, he can exercise his diplomatic muscles much closer to home. Latin America has suffered from four years of not-so-benign neglect from the White House, writes Shannon O'Neil, fueling economic and political crises throughout the region. Ending the pandemic is just the beginning of what needs to be done. 

Telltale Charts

Container shipping is booming again, but it's more a sign of pent-up demand than of a lasting revival in global trade, writes Justin Fox. For better or worse, globalization has stalled.

There's a reason electric-car makers are starting to dominate the auto industry, writes Matthew Winkler

Further Reading

To grow quickly enough to affect global warming, green hydrogen needs a lot of help from governments. — Clara Ferreira Marques 

The best thing about Boeing's first 737 Max order since the plane's grounding is that it didn't have to offer a huge discount. — Brooke Sutherland 

Letting strong European banks pay dividends again would boost confidence in the whole sector. — Elisa Martinuzzi 

Even as stocks soar, pensions are still deep underwater, as bond yields stay low and inflation rises. — John Authers 

The religious have strong arguments in favor of their convening in a pandemic. — Noah Feldman 

Bloomberg Opinion Conversations

Editor Sarah Green Carmichael is now hosting a weekly livestream Q&A showcasing the ideas of Bloomberg Opinion columnists and contributors. Today she sat down with London-based columnist Therese Raphael to discuss the perils of England's "Christmas bubble," a new policy that lets households mix from Dec. 23 to 27. They covered everything from the dangers of lockdown fatigue to the long-term societal implications of Covid-19. You can watch their entire conversation here and follow Bloomberg Opinion on Twitter and Facebook to be alerted about Sarah's future Q&As. — Jessica Karl

ICYMI

Republicans are warming to a stimulus compromise — except for Mitch McConnell.

Warner Bros. will release all of its 2021 movies on HBO Max and in theaters.

California is close to locking down its economy again.

Kickers

Astronomers are watching the birth of a comet just past Jupiter. (h/t Ellen Kominers)

Toxic, everlasting PFAS chemicals are all around us.

Colombian lawmakers want to legalize cocaine.

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