The Presidential Daily Brief


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    Senators Stuck Over Massive Stimulus

    This bill's past due. A partisan dispute in the upper chamber is holding up a $1.8 trillion rescue package that's aimed at saving the U.S. economy from coronavirus-related chaos. Democrats blocked the bill last night, arguing that it favors big business over workers, while both parties blamed one another for stalling. With five GOP senators quarantined, the vote was deadlocked at 47-47. "I think we’re very close," said Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, who served as the messenger between the two sides.

    What's next? The Senate will vote again this morning — but with stakes raised even higher, since U.S. markets will be open and awaiting the news.

  2. New York Is Now a Pandemic Epicenter

    "This state cannot manage it." So said Gov. Andrew Cuomo as the New York City area logged more than 10,700 COVID-19 cases and 99 deaths. It now accounts for around 5 percent of the world's infections. Cuomo, a Democrat who has criticized the federal government's response to the outbreak, argued that states shouldn't be forced to compete for resources like medical equipment and protective masks.

    What's happening elsewhere? Millions across India have been ordered to hunker down, while Italy — home to the world's highest number of coronavirus deaths, and where 5,500 people test positive daily — has banned all domestic travel.

    Catch all of OZY's coronavirus coverage right here.

  3. Can Pompeo Save the Afghan Peace Deal?

    With the peace process between the Taliban and Afghanistan's government appearing more fragile than ever, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo landed in Kabul today in a bid to salvage the deal. He'll meet with Afghanistan's feuding leaders, President Ashraf Ghani and his rival Abdullah Abdullah, and hopes to bring both to the table. A key point of contention is negotiating prisoner exchanges between the Taliban and the government.

    How critical is the situation? The fact that Pompeo rushed to Afghanistan after canceling at least two domestic trips suggests the State Department believes the deal's in serious danger.

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    Markets Face Another Bruising Week

    There's no time to take stock. Global shares, U.S. futures and oil prices all sank Monday, indicating more market pain in the week ahead. That signaled deep unease among investors over Washington's inability to push through the stimulus package, while one trader summed up the global turmoil by saying: "I have never seen anything like this."

    How quickly could the economy recover? Experts say much depends on how damaging the short-term shutdown will be on the long-term outlook for businesses, particularly closures and permanent layoffs.

    Read OZY's guide to investing in coronavirus, Warren Buffet-style.

  5. Also Important...

    Officials across Europe and the U.S. are continuing to scramble for ventilators and other key medical supplies. Hungary's Parliament will consider a bill that would allow Prime Minister Viktor Orbán to rule by decree. And 23 inmates of a Colombian prison were killed amid a riot over virus fears, though none had tested positive.

    Coronavirus Update: As of early Monday, 167 countries and regions have logged more than 341,700 cases of COVID-19.

    Speak up! What's become your favorite leisure activity while self-isolating? Let us know by replying to this email — and we’ll feature the most interesting answers right here later in the week.


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    The Olympics Are in Serious Trouble

    It's a balancing act. The International Olympic Committee will reportedly decide whether to call off the Summer Games in Tokyo by mid-April, but some countries aren't waiting: Yesterday Canada said it wouldn't participate if the games remain on track for July, while Australia told its athletes to assume they'll take place next year. That followed calls by Brazil and Norway to postpone the event. And for the first time ever, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe hinted that could happen.

    What exactly is the IOC considering? Apart from simply postponing the games, it's also thinking about "modifying existing operational plans."

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    WeWork Prepares for Battle With SoftBank

    Following recent reports that the Japanese conglomerate would back away from buying $3 billion in stock in the embattled co-working company, a WeWork committee said it's "committed to taking all necessary actions" to make sure that doesn't happen. The group said it would be "completely unethical" to renege on the agreement, though SoftBank says it's already doled out $5 billion in recent months.

    Can SoftBank really walk way? Legally, that would be fair game if government investigations into WeWork — whose initial public offering fell apart last year — result in serious financial damage.

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    The Next COVID-19 Victim: European Unity

    Are they friends indeed? As Italy suffers under the weight of its own coronavirus outbreak, it's gotten more help from countries like China and Cuba than from its European neighbors. That's sparking resentment in an Italian population desperate for support, OZY reports — with only 21 percent believing they benefit from EU membership, down from 37 percent in late 2018. "The sentiment is extremely negative," one expert says.

    What impact could this have? The longer help is delayed, the more the anti-EU feelings of Italian populist parties will spread to the mainstream.

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    Reports: Harvey Weinstein Has Coronavirus

    The disgraced Hollywood producer, who's just begun a 23-year sentence for sexual assault, has reportedly tested positive for COVID-19 and is in medical isolation. Prison officials said they couldn't comment, and Weinstein's PR rep claimed she hadn't "heard anything like that."

    What are Weinstein's whereabouts? Before being transferred to a prison in upstate New York, the 68-year-old was held at Rikers Island in New York City — where dozens of inmates have tested positive for coronavirus.

    Don't miss OZY's original series about the #MeToo movement going global.

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    Quarantined Croatia Rocked by Earthquake

    A 5.3 magnitude quake shook the Balkan nation of 4 million early Sunday, injuring 17 people and sparking further panic after the government ordered citizens to shield themselves from coronavirus. Images from the capital Zagreb showed cars crushed under rubble, while Prime Minister Andrej Plenković claimed the quake was the strongest in 140 years.

    How bad was the damage? It knocked off part of a spire from Zagreb Cathedral, which had been rebuilt after toppling in an 1880 earthquake.

    Read OZY's story about the earthquake that brought the world together.