As we wrap up our first month of… all this, the calls to “reopen the economy” from Republicans and rabid MAGA-hats has reached a crescendo thanks in no small part to the pile of Big Macs calling itself the president declaring his “total authority” to overrule state governments if he so desires. There was even a Confederate-flag strewn protest in Michigan where hoopleheads basically pleaded to have a global pandemic squirted in their eyes because Fox News taught them that “job creators” are worthy of their sacrifice.
But while smarmy, bearded dongs like Matt Walsh and the moron who created Dilbert echo Republican talking points to start dropping bodies now so we don’t have to wait for gold coins later, Wall Street delivered a surprisingly different message when Trump tried to get them all on the line for a conference call this week. Turns out the greediest f*ckers amongst us are not seeing dollar signs in forcing America to reopen early. In fact, they’re seeing quite the opposite and would really like it if the president could get his shit together.
Beyond the haphazard nature of the call, senior bankers are getting increasingly frustrated with Trump’s approach to the crisis. They say pressure tactics to reopen the economy as fast as possible make no sense if the virus isn’t fully under control and consumers and businesses don’t feel safe to resume anything close to normal activities.
“I really don’t understand how they are communicating on this,” one CEO told POLITICO on condition that neither they nor their firm be named for fear of angering the White House. “He’s got to stop talking about turning the economy back on and start talking about making people feel safe, things that are happening around testing and the health care system. That’s the only way you will really get the economy reopened over a period of time.”
To the surprise of no one, the call was a disorganized mess that accomplished nothing. In Trump’s defense, even I would think that this would be the exact crowd who’d gleefully jump on board with feeding lives into the economy woodchipper. But when even these clowns are saying, “No, actually, that’s going to make things worse, you idiot,” Trump should probably listen. He won’t, of course, but it’s fun to pretend.
But the answer from much of corporate America — though perhaps not from some frontline businesses like restaurants and bars — is not to panic at these numbers and try and force a hard reboot of the economy on May 1, as Trump seems to want. That could lead to further shutdowns, more virus spread and more panic.
Instead, the preferred approach is take the big hits now, get the virus in check, and restore people’s sense of safety while providing them with as much financial support as possible. Only then can the economy truly start to crawl back toward anything resembling normal.
Look, I’m definitely not any sort of economic expert. One look at my finances, and you’d scream. But one of my theories, that could be wrong in every way, is that we’re going to find out down the road that a lot of these companies easily weathered this hit. Hell, we’re already learning what a joke office culture is by how quickly everyone’s position was moved to work-from-home. Would these places have preferred not to take a two-month bath? Sure. Will they be fine? Absolutely. Naturally, that won’t stop them from still cutting jobs to juice some numbers, which is a problem that isn’t at all exclusive to the current shutdown, but try and have that conversation with red-faced MAGA-hats calling their state governors “dictators” for doing the 100% right thing to save lives.
Also, when this is over, good luck in getting those same right-wing crowds to recognize the hypocrisy of screaming how abortion is murder when they’re out here demanding human sacrifice to bring Applebee’s back. It’ll be neat watching this nightmare go right down the memory-hole. Real neat.
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