When I said weeks ago that I was relaxed about all this because Trump would obviously push for stimulus and strong controls, I had absolutely not anticipated that state and local governments would choose to nuke literally all commerce in their jurisdictions.
It is abundantly clear the chair of the Federal Reserve is an absolute jackass, and he is pushing a 2008-playbook in response to the crisis as well. He waited until blood was on the streets to drop rates to zero because he fancied himself to be in a dick-measuring contest with Trump. He was wrong, Trump was right. He needed to act sooner and bigger and he didn’t.
We do not need a 2008 response to this. We need stimulus that puts a lot of money into every single household in America – give it to the people directly, not major corporations – and we need it immediately. State and local governments just put potentially millions of people out of work overnight. Quantitative easing did not do much last go around except prop up paper markets, which as we saw, did not translate into helping the “real” economy. There is no logical reason to believe it will help here.
This has never happened before in this country, because we have never had a generation of politicians this poorly raised and innumerate. (Yes, you can go to Harvard Law School and still understand approximately nothing about how the real world operates. Credentials are not an education, as we have daily proof.) Politicians used to have to have day jobs themselves, they could not live off of taxpayers while their constituents suffered.
The opportunities to help people erode once the economy is destroyed at the level of firms and businesses, not just lower wages. You destroy business and businesses can no longer be vehicles to provide economic relief. This is now an event for which I can’t think of a precedent. At least with the financial panic of 2008 and the Great Depression, there was a natural purge that took time to play out. Yesterday was millions of people learning overnight that their businesses are effectively closed for a month.
Economists and historians for centuries will be studying that time that Americans decided arbitrarily to kill their entire fucking economy over a virus that had obviously been over-hyped by a chattering class with zero credibility or sense of responsibility. This policy response at the local level is totally unnecessary and cruel to millions of Americans. And its impacts will eventually be felt by the professional class, who think this is all one Netflix binge at the moment, because they are as innumerate as the people they elect.
To everyone pushing the “close everything” mentality on social media and elsewhere, go to the bathroom and look in the mirror. Understand that you and your ignorant, stupid panic personally had a role in people losing their financial lives this week. You and your goddamn lifetime supply of toilet paper.
I keep trying to remind myself of my own manta: Don’t bet against America. But this really could be bad, guys. You don’t shut down commerce at this level without serious pain, and the people who are doing it seem to have very little appreciation for what they’ve done. I’m praying for a miracle.
Quite appropriate that these governments announced policies betraying their own people on the Ides of March though.