The Presidential Daily Brief


  1. Crude Oil Crashes — And Markets Follow

    After Saudi Arabia's weekend decision to boost production and cut prices, crude plummeted by around 27.5 percent Monday, sending markets into panic mode. Just minutes after the opening bell, the S&P 500 plunged 7 percent, triggering a 15-minute trading halt to prevent a deeper slide. Earlier in the day, Australia's S&P/ASX 200, Japan's Nikkei 225 and Hong Kong's benchmark dipped 7.3, 5.1 and 4 percent, respectively.

    What's next? The financial fallout of Riyadh's price war, launched after OPEC was unable to secure cooperation from nonmember Russia, could mean more companies default on their debts.

  2. US Mulls New Coronavirus Measures

    "Anything is possible." That's how one top U.S. health official characterized the country's outbreak, which has seen more than 500 cases and nearly two dozen deaths. Schools and businesses are closing their doors to contain the spread, offering remote classes and letting employees work from home, while public health authorities are urging more "social distancing" to minimize transmission.

    Are lockdowns coming? Despite the growing concern, officials say the U.S. hasn't yet reached the level of northern Italy, where 16 million citizens are under mandatory quarantine.

    Don't miss OZY's continuing coverage of coronavirus.

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    North Korea Fires Three More Projectiles

    They're having a blast. For the second time in two weeks, the Hermit Kingdom sent up short-range projectiles off its east coast Monday. The launch, detected by South Korea's military, comes just days after Pyongyang threatened a "momentous reaction" to global condemnation of its previous live-fire military drills.

    Why the escalation? Some say leader Kim Jong Un is demonstrating his strength at home in the face of external threats like coronavirus — but they note that he's also desperate for support as U.S. sanctions remain in place.

    Read OZY's op-ed about why North Korea's hanging on to its nukes.

  4. Questions Swirl Over Saudi Royals

    Several days after the arrest of two senior princes, including King Salman's younger brother, many are wondering what exactly happened inside the highly secretive kingdom. Some reports say the two men were implicated in a coup, while the Saudi government acted quickly to stifle speculation that the king's health was in jeopardy. "There’s no transition or any drama," one source told The Washington Post.

    What's the bigger picture? Whatever the truth, it's clear that de facto ruler Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman isn't one for transparency — prompting concerns that his apparent purge could seriously spook investors.

  5. Also Important...

    Sen. Ted Cruz and Rep. Paul Gosar are both self-quarantining after announcing they'd met a Conservative Political Action Conference attendee who later tested positive for coronavirus. Both Afghan President-elect Ashraf Ghani and his rival, Abdullah Abdullah, have postponed their competing swearing-in ceremonies. And authorities in Hong Kong say they've detained 17 people and seized "significant quantities of homemade explosives" during raids.

    #OZYFact: The first Collins cocktail can be traced back as early as 1814 to Limmer’s Old House in London. Read more on OZY.

    Coronavirus Update: While there are now more than 110,000 confirmed cases, according to Johns Hopkins University, some 62,000 people have recovered from the illness.


  1. MH17 Trial Kicks Off — Without Suspects

    Today a Dutch court began hearing the case against four Russian-backed militants accused of shooting down Malaysian Airlines Flight 17 over war-torn Ukraine in 2014. Some families of the 298 passengers and crew members were in attendance — unlike the suspects themselves, who are at large and likely shielded in Russia. Investigators say they've got plenty of evidence to show Moscow provided the anti-aircraft system that brought the plane down.

    Will this case make waves? While Russia blocked it from going to a U.N. tribunal, the European Court of Human Rights is hearing a separate suit seeking compensation from Moscow at around $7 million per passenger.

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    Twitter Tests Its New Warning Label

    They say it's fake views. A video retweeted by President Donald Trump became the platform's first content flagged as "manipulated media" since the policy was introduced last month. The clip, originally posted by White House social media director Dan Scavino, features Joe Biden telling supporters, "We can only re-elect Donald Trump." But it cuts off the rest of the sentence, in which he urges Democrats to avoid infighting.

    How damaging could such content be? In this case, Biden's perceived gaffes will likely be targets for supporters of both Trump and his challenger for the Democratic nomination, Sen. Bernie Sanders.

    Check out OZY's feature about the effect of Kashmir's social media ban.

  3. Nigeria Is Battling Another Viral Disease

    While the new coronavirus is beginning to test the country's public health system, Lassa fever may have beaten it to the punch. Nigeria's already gripped by an active outbreak of the severe viral hemorrhagic fever, recording around 774 cases and 132 deaths across 26 states since the beginning of the year. Lassa fever is also far deadlier than coronavirus, with experts estimating a 23 percent mortality rate.

    How bad is this epidemic? Statistics suggest it'll not only surpass last year's 810 cases, but will also last longer and cause more damage.

    Check out this OZY story about the app helping Nigeria's new moms.

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    Can Bernie Bet on Refugees?

    Long buoyed by people of color, particularly Latinos, Sen. Sanders could receive a boost from another often-ignored voting community to help reboot his campaign, OZY reports. After gaining support from Sudanese and Ethiopian immigrants in Iowa and Nepalese and Bhutanese transplants in New Hampshire, more refugee groups might help him edge out Joe Biden for the Democratic nod. While relatively small communities, they could be key to winning over states like Michigan and Washington this week.

    What's the bigger picture? Organizing refugees now won't just influence this election, but will impact their civic participation in the future.

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    Indian Wells Called Off Over Coronavirus

    Will this court controversy? Organizers nixed this week's BNP Paribas Open — one of the tennis world's biggest events — after authorities in Southern California's Coachella Valley confirmed a local coronavirus case. Playing without fans was an option, but officials weren't interested. The event, which usually attracts 450,000 spectators, might still be rescheduled.

    Why does it matter? Some believe canceling the so-called "fifth Grand Slam" could set a precedent for other high-profile U.S. sporting events with similarly huge financial stakes.

    Don't miss OZY's feature about a new wave of tennis greats.