Even as tens of thousands of Americans are already diagnosed as having contracted coronavirus, and thousands (if not, millions) more are expected to get it in the weeks ahead, President Donald Trump wants to re-open up the economy. But why?
There’s no indication that things have improved, nor that the economy would do much better if we decided to end social distancing measures. We have to ask, then: is Trump motivated by the American people, or his own self-interests, when it comes to his recent statements and future intentions?
In spite of warnings, Trump wants to re-open the economy
Overtly, his motivations for re-opening businesses seem to be out of concern over the economy falling apart. “WE CANNOT LET THE CURE BE WORSE THAN THE PROBLEM ITSELF,” Trump tweeted in all caps on Sunday. He’s since reiterated the same sentiment on a number of occasions, on both Monday and Tuesday.
Health officials say that’s the wrong move to make — many are even saying that Trump needs to clamp down harder on the economy, shuttering more businesses for longer to ensure that COVID-19 doesn’t spread further across the general population.
But supposing Trump doesn’t listen to these experts’ advice, and chooses to put the almighty dollar ahead of the health and well-being of the typical American worker, would it work? Could the economy rebound from huge losses incurred over the past few weeks, due to the “coronavirus recession?”
Economists say, whether Americans go back to work or not, a recession is likely to happen either way
A number of economic experts say no. Speaking directly to HillReporter.com on the subject, Mark Hamrick, Washington Bureau Chief and Senior Economic Analyst at Bankrate.com, explained why, citing consumers as the main driver of the marketplace:
“If a large number of consumers lack a sense of confidence that it’s safe to go back into public, they’ll seek to shelter in place on their own,” Hamrick said. “The same goes for workers and managers. Many would opt to continue to shelter in place rather than risk putting their shared workspaces and themselves at risk.”
Trump’s demands for the economy to open back up would themselves be unheeded in a number of states anyway, whose governors may continue “stay in place” orders despite the president’s directives.
“If they believe the president has jumped the gun on calling a virtual all-clear, they’ll still have the option of doing what they believe is best for the welfare of their respective communities,” Hamrick said.
Economist Ryan McMaken, Senior Editor and Fellow at the Mises Institute, agrees. Speaking with International Business Times, he explained that avoiding a recession at this point would be difficult, whether Trump brings us back to work or not.
It’d also be a tall order for states to follow his lead, McMaken said — but even if they did, it wouldn’t do much good.
“Let’s say Trump had the power to unilaterally end all of the social distancing mandates,” McMaken supposed in his comments. “This would greatly lessen the economic toll the shutdown is taking, but it would not mean we’d avoid a recession.”
It’s important to point out that the marketplace was already fragile before social distancing directives were issued out. Long before the CDC issued out its guidance to avoid groups of people of 10 or larger (remember those days?), the economy had tanked due to fears of the disease itself and its effects on industries.
Indeed, from February 12 to the end of that month, the Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped by 14 percent, without much of any social distancing precautions having been issued out up to that point.
Trump benefits personally from the economy being re-opened
Trump wants to bring workers back to their workplaces, even though doing so will hurt thousands, possibly millions, of peoples’ health, while at the same time doing very little to help the economy. So the question is, why?
Washington Post reported David Fahrenthold may have the answers. Tweeting on Monday night, he shared a page from his notebook showing how the “coronavirus recession” was affecting Trump’s businesses.
I didn’t realize until today how corona closures have hit @realdonaldtrump’s biggest revenue generators. Six out of the top seven. (And the one that’s open is doing pretty bad, too). pic.twitter.com/9i6Sn97udm
— David Fahrenthold (@Fahrenthold) March 24, 2020
All but one of the seven properties Fahrenthold listed on that page had been closed — and the only one still open, his Washington D.C.-based hotel, was only functioning in a limited capacity.
Which begs the question: is Trump trying to get the economy jumpstarted again, in spite of dire health warnings, for the nation’s economic well-being, or for his own?
These types of questions are the kind Americans don’t want to have to ask — unfortunately, since Trump refused to put his businesses into a blind trust while serving as president, it’s a question that has to be considered. And knowing Trump, who has profited in big ways from his own properties already through being in the White House, it’s one that many Americans have serious qualms over.
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