It’s here, and it’s worse than we could have imagined.
Experts and laypeople alike have been speculating for years about when America’s spectacular bull run would end, and the reckoning has now arrived with a global pandemic sending the stock market and broader economy into a tailspin.
It was last August when OZY first explored the surprising consequences to expect out of the next recession — including a prediction about remote work that’s already come true in the era of social distancing. In light of the coronavirus crisis, we’ve added fresh reporting and commentary to tell the tale of where we’re headed in the coming months and years. Read on.
This week, the Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped 17 percent, its worst single week since October 2008. The moves have been swift and ferocious, leaving many Americans in a state of real pain and anxiety that comes with job loss or the threat of it. And then there are the mostly better-off but still anxious investors, perhaps fretting about a depleted retirement fund and wondering: What should I do? OZY columnist Alonso Garza gives the answers.
As Congress and the Trump administration push forward on an economic rescue package that would involve direct cash payments to American families, there remain huge questions about how to pay for it and whether it will be enough. It might be time for central banks to load up their metaphorical helicopters. Helicopter money is a consumer-focused alternative to quantitative easing (QE) by purchasing government or other financial securities. In the context of the outbreak, it would allow Americans to continue to pay rent and utilities and to keep food on the table — a bailout for the people. This could come directly from the Federal Reserve, acting independently from elected officials.
Nine out of 10 Americans and the majority worldwide rely on generic drugs. Yet the generic pharma industry is in the middle of a crisis. While the Trump administration expedites FDA approvals, boosting competition in the sector and bringing down prices, stores are banding together to buy in bulk blocks, also pushing down prices. Both of these are bad news for generic drugs — so much so that some experts fear we’re seeing the demise of the generic drug industry. But an economic downturn could be the unlikely savior of generic pharma.
Wondering how the federal government is likely to respond to the next big recession? According to OZY columnist Grover Norquist … not well! Since 1929, he says, the government reaction has been to “make it worse, deeper, longer.” But that wasn’t always the case, he points out, noting how Republican leaders managed to pull America out of the Great Recession of 1921 by not throwing money at the problem or raising taxes. President Warren G. Harding balanced the budget, unleashed no “stimulus spending” and kept interest rates at 5 percent from 1920 to 1921. The result: a turnaround within just 18 months.
Do you snub your nose when Nana suggests a trip to the dollar store? Well, you may want to adjust your thinking. Dollar stores aren’t just for lower-income neighborhoods anymore. In fact, today there are more of these just-a-buck shops in “middle-income” ZIP codes than in low- and high-income ZIP codes combined. Dollar Tree and Dollar General are opening in places where they can cater to those making between $50,000 and $75,000 per year, in addition to low-income communities that historically have comprised their consumer bedrock. With more than 30,000 locations of Dollar Tree and Dollar General, there are more dollar stores in the U.S. than the next six biggest retailers — Walmart, Kroger, Costco, Home Depot, CVS and Walgreens — combined. In the next recession, it’s not hard to guess where shoppers will flock first.
In 1991, relatively unknown restaurant owner Nui Onoue was arrested and charged in what would become the single largest investment fraud case in Japanese history. Her story is one that encapsulated the absurdity of Japan’s 1980s bubble period, when the economy boomed and money was everywhere. Through means that even today remain mysterious, Onoue rose from a lowly hostess to become a powerful figure among investors and many far less savory characters. She was known as the Dark Lady of Osaka, a stock and investment savant who, at one time, was the single largest private investor in the entire country, worth an astounding $4.4 billion. Her rise and fall carry powerful lessons for today.
The data is clear: Hiring finance talent is more difficult than ever before. A study of leaders in the industry found that most teams are 13 percent below their desired staffing level. This study also shows that it takes 75 days to fill empty roles, and that number can be closer to 150 if it’s for an executive position. Teams struggle to keep up with hiring as millennials replace boomers in the workforce. Why? Millennials crave flexible work styles, and while other industries have embraced this need, the finance industry simply hasn’t needed to. But a coming recession could shake up an industry built around money in unexpected ways and push it to finally embrace a culture of working remotely. Social distancing has already mandated that most businesses go remote — so look for this to become a permanent trend.
This is the latest edition of OZY’s Huddle newsletter, which brings you a smart, flavorful conversation-starter for your next game watch party. No stale takes allowed. Add The Huddle to your OZY email subscriptions here.
The NBA and China are at the point in a relationship when the texts feel more distant and plans start to slip. Is it time for a breakup? Maybe just some straight talk.
China’s Communist government has gone full hissy fit after Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey tweeted support of pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong and NBA commissioner Adam Silver gave a tepid backing of Morey.
Thursday’s Brooklyn Nets-Los Angeles Lakers preseason game in Shanghai went off as scheduled, but the participants were off-limits to the media as China canceled charity and fan events, removed NBA advertising and banned broadcasts. Chinese shoe company Anta, which endorses Klay Thompson and Rajon Rondo, ended its NBA relationship. It raises the question of why in Mao’s name Silver doesn’t just pack up and leave.
Contrary to what some may think, LeBron James’ thoughts on international diplomacy don’t matter here. The typically outspoken Steve Kerr and Gregg Popovich have already pleaded the Fifth. Anyone who’s watched The Shop knows we should expect James to do the same, especially with his Nike and NBA endorsement dollars on the line. That’s OK.
But Silver has built the NBA into a perceived “woke” vanguard of global citizenry. With a heavy Chinese presence made heavier by newly minted Nets majority owner Joe Tsai, can that continue? Not unless we’re honest.
Like many of the league’s players who have mastered the “hold me back” on-court altercation, the NBA currently looks fake-tough here. It’s time for it to either own up to its rational capitalist motivations or find noncommunist regions of the world in which to invest.
What to watch and Pick ’em
No. 6 Oklahoma at No. 11 Texas (Saturday at noon ET on Fox)
In a game that could very well decide the College Football Playoff fate of the Big 12, can Sam Ehlinger and Texas finally regain bragging rights in the Red River Rivalry?
- Texas (+10.5)
- Oklahoma (-10.5)
Houston Texans at Kansas City Chiefs (Sunday at 1 pm ET on CBS)
Pat Mahomes and Deshaun Watson have become appointment television every time they take the field. So, mano a mano? Yeah, we’re watching.
- Houston (+4.5)
- Kansas City (-4.5)
Ones to Watch
Jonathan Greenard, Florida outside linebacker. Come Saturday, when No. 7 Florida visits No. 5 LSU in an SEC clash with playoff ramifications, much will be made of LSU’s Heisman candidate quarterback, Joe Burrow, and the revamped offense in Baton Rouge. Can the Gators offense keep up? Spoiler alert: They can’t. Thus, a Florida victory comes down to a standout defensive unit powered by Greenard, a graduate transfer from Louisville who ranks second in the SEC in tackles for loss (6½) and sacks (4). He’ll face his toughest test yet against LSU’s revamped spread offense. Greenard will have to set the edge and defend LSU’s endless stream of versatile receivers while, most importantly, pressuring Burrow into turnover situations. It ain’t easy, but somebody’s gotta do it.
Danielle Kang, LPGA golfer. The NBA’s not the only pro league currently competing in China. At the Buick LPGA Shanghai Open next week, all eyes will turn toward last year’s champion, Kang. A 26-year-old San Francisco native currently ranked No. 16 in the world, Kang has notched 30 top 10s (eight this season) since turning pro out of Pepperdine University in 2012. After finishing minus-13 for the two-stroke victory in Shanghai last October, Kang looks poised to defend her title — and she’s welcoming the target on her back. At the Solheim Cup in Scotland last month, Kang suggested, unprompted, that Scottish fans were going to boo her. The ensuing criticism only emboldened Kang, who has taken to putting one hand to her ear after sinking a putt — a bold move that strays far from the typical golf etiquette.
A surprise NLCS. With the Nationals and Cardinals advancing, the best-of-seven National League Championship Series looks due to deliver 99 mph heat on the black. And no one saw this coming. St. Louis dropped a first-inning 10-spot like a guillotine on Atlanta to advance Wednesday. With former Cy Young winner Adam Wainwright, Miles Mikolas and breakout star Jack Flaherty, the Cardinals have long been known to have the pitching juice to challenge anyone, but their ability to outslug the Braves bodes well as they turn to a Nationals team that most prognosticators wrote off weeks ago. Instead, the Nats shocked a Dodgers club that had attended the past two World Series, shedding their first-round playoff curse and leaving the nation’s capital shouting, “Bryce who?” Washington ranks sixth in runs scored and 13th in homers this season — better than St. Louis (19th and 24th, respectively) — but the National League pennant will be decided by pitching, small ball and timely hitting. As it should be. You’ll undoubtedly hear about how neither of these teams can keep up with the American League’s power-slugging behemoths. Don’t believe it.
The death of the running back. Yes, it’s no longer advised to pay running backs in gold. Regardless of talent, the quarterback is the most valuable player on every team. Except for one: the Carolina Panthers. The last non-quarterback to win the MVP award was Adrian Peterson in 2012, and only four non-QBs (running backs Peterson, LaDainian Tomlinson in 2006, Shaun Alexander in 2005 and Marshall Faulk in 2000) have won the award this century. Swiss Army knife tailback Christian McCaffrey looks like the next. The Giants’ Saquon Barkley was the most common No. 1 fantasy football pick entering the year, but McCaffrey has emerged as the most dynamic offensive athlete in the league. As likely to flip over a defender as bulldoze him, he exploded for 176 yards and two touchdowns while adding six catches for 61 yards and another score against the Jaguars last weekend. This week, against a porous Tampa Bay defense, he looks poised for another 200-plus-yard game, and he’s on pace to smash Darren Sproles’ record of 2,696 all-purpose yards. His could be a historic running back season.
Look Closer at Kyler Murray and You Might See Charlie Ward, by Mark W. Wright on OZY
When Charlie Ward watches Kyler Murray dance in the pocket and create distance between himself and a streaking defender, he’s reminded of another quarterback who was known for making something out of nothing: himself, a quarter-century earlier.
When Biking and Bears Don’t Mix, by Jim Robbins in The New York Times
In 2016, ranger Brad Treat, an avid mountain biker, was zipping along at about 25 miles an hour through dense forest near Glacier National Park in the middle of a summer afternoon when he collided with a large male grizzly bear.
Florida Man 2.0: Behind Minshew’s Mustache Lie ‘Genius Tendencies’, by Sam Borden in ESPN
Jaguars QB Gardner Minshew took up the guitar about a month ago, he says, which makes sense because that is also when the speed of his life suddenly went from a syrup drip to a freight train.
The Cheating Scandal Rocking the Poker World, by David Hill in The Ringer
How a Twitch-streamed no-limit hold’em player found himself at the heart of one of the most fascinating gambling controversies in years.
This is the latest edition of OZY’s Huddle newsletter, which brings you a smart, flavorful conversation-starter for your next game watch party. No stale takes allowed. Add The Huddle to your OZY email subscriptions here.
Facts: If Serena Williams walked away from the game today, she’d be the GOAT — rackets down. The 23-time Grand Slam winner who once held the No. 1 ranking for 186 consecutive weeks should feel secure. But truth be told, Williams, 37, is not coping well with being an aging legend whose skills are declining. Exhibit A was last year’s U.S. Open final, when Williams had that much-publicized shouting match with chair umpire Carlos Ramos — she accused the chair umpire of sexism — that led to a stunning game penalty that helped 20-year-old Naomi Osaka pull out a massive upset, sending Serena to her second straight loss in a Grand Slam final. Sure, Williams stood up for herself, but the behavior was unbecoming of a legend; she stole the headlines away from Osaka, who dominated Williams in her first career Grand Slam. It was Osaka who showed grace and reverence toward the player she idolized.
Exhibit B happened last weekend when Williams was forced to retire four games into the final of the Rogers Cup against Bianca Andreescu (the veteran was trailing 3-1 at the time). Williams, who had to retire due to back pain, again became the story, telling the crowd: “I’m sorry I couldn’t do it today; I tried. It’s been a tough year, but we’ll keep going.” Andreescu, 19, became the first Canadian to claim the cup in 50 years. Playing in front of a hometown crowd, she should have been the headline, and the tearful Williams might’ve peeped that. But Andreescu rightfully gave Williams her props: “I’ve watched you your whole career. You’re a f–king beast.”
Yes, Ms. Williams, you are.
What to Watch & Pick ’Em
NFL: Chicago Bears at New York Giants (Friday at 7:30 pm ET on NFL Network)
After a brief show of perfection from rookie QB Daniel Jones (5-5, 67 yards, 1 TD) in Preseason Week 1, Giants fans are eager to see how Eli Manning’s heir apparent fares against the league’s top defense.
EPL: Tottenham Hotspur at Manchester City (Saturday at 12:30 pm ET on NBC Sports)
After a 5-0 Opening Day dismantling of West Ham, defending champion City hosts a Tottenham club that added French midfielder Tanguy Ndombele in hopes of capturing its first Premier League trophy.
Manchester City (-290)
Ones to Watch
Aristides Aquino. No rookie has ever hit home runs like Aquino. Simple, perhaps a bit misleading, but true. Called up to Cincinnati from the Triple-A Louisville Bats on Aug. 1, Aquino, 25, has taken pitchers deep at will, becoming the first MLB player in history to hit eight homers in his first 12 career games. Aquino launched three solo shots in a 10-1 win over the NL Central-leading Chicago Cubs on Saturday. Nicknamed “The Punisher” by his brother when he was growing up in the Dominican Republic, the 6-foot-4, 220-pound slugger — who appeared in one game last season — is batting .385 with eight home runs and 16 RBIs as of Wednesday. Seven of his eight home runs have come in Cincinnati’s last nine games, a hot streak that earned him National League Player of the Week honors last week. Prior to being called up, Aquino was hitting .299 with 28 homers and 53 RBIs in 78 games with Triple-A Louisville. Solid production, for sure, but Aquino was not a highly regarded prospect. Now he looks like the future in the Queen City.
Kate Markgraf. For the first time in the program’s history, the U.S. Women’s National Team has a general manager. Weeks after the wildly successful USWNT head coach Jill Ellis announced that she was stepping down, U.S. Soccer has appointed this 1999 World Cup team member and two-time Olympic gold medal winner as GM. Markgraf, 42, graduated from the University of Notre Dame with a BA in business administration while helping the Fighting Irish win an NCAA title, then began a 12-year pro career that saw her earn 201 international caps as a standout defender for America. Markgraf was a volunteer assistant coach with four NCAA Division I programs (Notre Dame, Harvard, Marquette and Texas) and coached club soccer in Wisconsin. On her first day as head of USWNT, Markgraf emphasized a need for the U.S. to continue to set the global standard in player development. The search for Ellis’ successor is priority No. 1. Some of the candidates include Reign FC coach Vlatko Andonovski, Utah Royals coach Laura Harvey and Portland Thorns coach Mark Parsons.
QB Battles. Get ready to Google the quarterback on Saturdays. With an increasing number of transfers and skilled young’uns showing up on campus ready to play, the college football scene is rife with unknown signal callers. After appearing in 12 games as a true freshman for Georgia last season, sophomore transfer Justin Fields – a highly recruited dual-threat athlete – looks to be the next great Ohio State QB. True freshmen look like they will run the show at Arizona State (Jayden Daniels) and Auburn (Bo Nix). Meanwhile, redshirt senior transfer Brandon Wimbush – who started for Notre Dame in 2017 and parts of 2018 – will look to resurrect his career for a UCF team that is coming off of back-to-back undefeated regular seasons. But the biggest quarterback story of this preseason comes via Miami, where redshirt freshman Jarren Williams will start over Tate Martell. The sophomore Martell transferred from Ohio State when Fields arrived and has become a polarizing character on social media. He did not attend practice on Monday, after the announcement that Williams will start, and now may look to transfer again if he wishes to actually play football. Unsurprisingly, the social media trolls and bloggers have been shameless in their relentless response to news that likely devastated an amateur athlete.
The “Rich Paul Rule.” Well, this one wasn’t much fun while it lasted. Days after issuing a memo to agents outlining new certification requirements for aspiring representatives that included a bachelor’s degree, National Basketball Player’s Association (NBPA) certification for three consecutive years, liability insurance and completion of an in-person exam, the NCAA walked back its requirements amid heavy blowback. Nicknamed the “Rich Paul Rule,” it was seen by critics as a move to block young agents from nontraditional, typically urban, backgrounds. Paul, of course, is one of the NBA’s most high-profile agents, representing the likes of LeBron James, Paul George, Anthony Davis, Ben Simmons and Draymond Green, among others. His Klutch Sports Group recently merged with United Talent Agency. And, no, he did not go to college. On Monday, Paul penned an op-ed for The Athletic saying the rule will only accomplish the “systematic exclusion of people who come from a world where college is unrealistic.” Later that day, the NCAA reversed course on the degree requirement. With his first foray into writing, Paul enacted more change than most crusty sportswriters have while shaking their fists at the NCAA for decades.
The Unlikely Trainer Behind Steph Curry’s Jump Shot, by Mark W. Wright in OZY
Brandon Payne is haunted by his past, and Stephen Curry is paying for it.
While the six-time NBA All-Star makes splashing buckets look easy, it’s Curry’s longtime trainer — and his unwavering attention to detail — who’s shaping a generation of transcendent guards.
The Unlimited Greatness of Simone Biles, by Louisa Thomas in The New Yorker
Serena Williams does not win every tournament; Michael Phelps sometimes lost a race. Biles has not lost an all-around title in six years. In that time, she has won twenty-five medals at the Olympics and at world championships. She has been competing against only herself for a long time.”
Soccer Is Getting Slower and More Fair — and That’s a Problem, by Eric Niiler in Wired
With the introduction of VAR (video assisted referee) in the Premier League, officials no longer hold the distinction of all-seeing, all-knowing gods of the pitch. Depending on whom you ask, that’s a problem.
To Break the Monotony of Rehab, This MLB Pitcher Set Out to Save the Planet, by Dave Sheinin in The Washington Post
After breakfast, after the stretching, after the throwing program and the strengthening exercises, after the cardio work and the mobility drills and the weightlifting, after the recovery period and the shower and lunch, most days it would still only be 1:30 p.m. The entire afternoon and evening, for better or worse, awaited Brent Suter.
In 2018, Scott Harrington put his dream of making the PGA Tour on hold to care for his wife, Jenn, who was battling cancer. Back after an extended leave of absence, Harrington, 38, finally realized that dream last weekend … with a cancer-free Jenn there to congratulate the newest Tour member.
The culmination of an emotional rollercoaster for @ScottyGlf and his family.
— Korn Ferry Tour (@KornFerryTour) August 12, 2019
What to know
Eight blasts ripped through churches and high-end hotels on Easter Sunday in Sri Lanka’s capital Colombo, its suburb Negombo and the eastern city of Batticaloa, leaving at least 290 people dead and more than 500 injured. The dead include at least 35 foreigners. This was the worst terrorist attack the island nation has suffered since the 2009 end of a brutal three-decade-long civil war against Tamil rebels.
Why Does It Matter?
Sunday’s Sri Lankan blasts were the latest in a spurt of attacks against places of worship around the world. In January, Open Doors, a Christian advocacy group, revealed a 14 percent increase in persecution of Christians worldwide between 2017 and 2018, impacting a whopping 245 million people. Just last month, a man with links to white supremacist groups shot dead 50 people at two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand. In recent weeks, three African American churches in Louisiana were set on fire, and a suspect has been charged with hate crimes. While the cause of last week’s Notre Dame Cathedral disaster was likely accidental, France alone has seen an uptick of vandalization and arson against Christian churches and symbols in recent years. Between 2017 and 2018, there was a 17 percent increase in such attacks in France. Following the bomb attacks, Sri Lankan authorities had by Monday evening arrested 24. No group has so far claimed responsibility but one Sri Lankan government minister said authorities suspected the National Thowheeth Jama’ath (NTJ), a local Islamist group previously known only for defacing Buddhist shrines.
Politically speaking, Sunday’s violence will likely have a knock-on effect. Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena sacked Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe late last year. Sirisena named his predecessor, Mahinda Rajapaksa — known for crushing the Tamil insurgency in 2009 — as Wickremesinghe’s replacement, but critics decried the move as unconstitutional. A standoff ensued, resulting in Wickremesinghe’s reappointment in December, much to Sirisena’s chagrin. Today’s attacks are likely to bolster Rajapaksa’s standing, thanks to his tough-on-terror reputation, and some predict that today’s attacks will lead to opposition calls for a more autocratic style of governance. Any such move will rile up both China and India, who support opposing sides in Sri Lankan politics; Beijing sides with Rajapaksa while India is closer to Wickremesinghe.
How to Think About It
A New War? At the height of Sri Lanka’s civil war, the rebel Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam — fighting for a separate Tamil homeland — controlled a third of the country’s territory. But that war largely avoided religious divisions in Sri Lanka’s multi-faith society, where 7 percent of the population is Christian, 10 percent Muslim, 12 percent Hindu and 71 percent Buddhist. The country has witnessed smaller attacks by militant Buddhist groups against religious minorities. But Sri Lanka has never before seen targeted strikes against places of religious worship on this scale.
Missing the Signals The bombings raise fresh questions about whether security agencies around the world, for many years focused on the ISIS threat, are missing red flags emerging from other sources that could help them stop attacks against places of religious worship. News agency AFP reported that it had seen an intelligence report issued by Sri Lanka’s police chief Pujuth Jayasundara on April 11 that warned that the NTJ was planning to attack churches and the Indian High Commission. This inability to protect churches even after a warning follows New Zealand’s failure to recognize the threat posed by the Christchurch attack suspect, who had posted threats against Muslims online. A man who shot 11 worshippers dead at a Pittsburgh synagogue last October had also posted vitriolic anti-Semitic messages online before his attack.
Setback for Tourist Paradise Since the end of the war a decade ago, Sri Lanka’s economy has doubled in size, from $42 billion to $87 billion, and the country’s pristine beaches, tea plantations and rich culture have drawn millions of visitors. The average number of foreign tourists visiting Sri Lanka per month has increased five-fold, from 50,000 in 2009 to 250,000 in 2018. The country has South Asia’s highest per capita income, and tourism contributes more than 11 percent of Sri Lanka’s annual GDP. Following Sunday’s terror attacks — especially because the bombs targeted popular hotels and left many foreigners dead — the country’s tourism sector is expected to take a hit. That, in turn, threatens to stall Sri Lanka’s efforts to move beyond the violence of its past.
What To Read
Pope: “I entrust to the Lord those who have tragically died and pray for the wounded and all those who suffer as a result of this dramatic event.”
Hundreds Dead in Multiple Blasts in Sri Lanka: What We Know So Far in Times of India
Sri Lanka’s police chief had made a nationwide alert 10 days ago that suicide bombers planned to hit “prominent churches” and the “Indian High Commission in Colombo.”
What To Watch
Sri Lanka Blasts: More Than 200 dead in Bombings Across Country CNN via YouTube
“This is a tough time for Christians, and a tough time, this week, for the [Catholic] church.”
Sri Lanka Police Arrest Suspects in Easter Bomb Attacks DW News via YouTube
Sri Lankan Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe: “I see this as a major crisis that will lead the country and its economy towards instability.”
What to Say at the Watercooler
Network Down Sri Lankan authorities blocked social media networks in the wake of Sunday’s attacks — including Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp, YouTube, Snapchat and Viber, according to web monitoring services. Government officials said they feared that hate speech and misinformation about the attacks could spark more violence. Sri Lanka’s government shut down social networks last year during a spate of anti-Muslim riots and lynchings. India blocked Facebook when riots broke out in 2012. Leaders in Iran and Turkey have shut down social networks in recent years as well, but in the face of political demonstrations and unrest. Given broad “fake news” concerns and increasing skepticism of the services, blocking social networks will likely become more common in response to future violence.