The Presidential Daily Brief


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    Virus Leaves America's Economy in Tatters

    For the third straight week, unemployment claims soared to unprecedented heights, with nearly 17 million Americans newly out of work. It's posing a serious challenge to a federal bureaucracy many experts say is incapable of moving massive amounts of cash fast enough to douse the financial fire. That's fueling a debate both inside the White House and far beyond over when it's safe enough to restart the economy.

    What are other countries doing? While U.S. lawmakers battle over new stimulus measures for small businesses, hard-hit countries like France and Germany are directly paying furloughed workers to limit long-term layoffs.

  2. Why Easter Weekend Is a Major Test

    As Easter weekend approaches, many Christians will be marking the holiday in isolation. But religion aside, the coming days could be a crucial test of whether populations around the world will be able to stem the coronavirus outbreak in places where it's reaching its peak, like the U.K., or threatening a second wave of infections, as in China.

    How's the Middle Kingdom recovering? With original epicenter Wuhan back in action — and closely watched by the rest of the world — local authorities are implementing regular temperature checks while train stations are still being rigorously disinfected.

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

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    Biden Mulls New Policies, Running Mates

    Following Sen. Bernie Sanders' withdrawal from the presidential contest, presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden is considering ways to court new voters. Yesterday he unveiled markedly progressive plans to boost access to health care and cut student debt. Next week, he'll reportedly start vetting potential running mates — a decision strategists say is "much more important ... than usual," given both his age and the devastating pandemic.

    Who might be under consideration? Sen. Kamala Harris is believed to be somewhere near the top of a list that's likely full of female candidates.

  4. Saudi Arabia and Russia Seal Oil Deal

    It's a slick move. The two sides announced they're ready to end a weekslong price war by cutting production by 5 million barrels per day through June. Other nations in OPEC+ — which includes the traditional cartel plus other oil-producing countries like Bahrain and Mexico — would match that amount, for a total reduction of around 10 percent of the world's supply. Further details are expected after today's G-20 meeting.

    Is it a done deal? Not exactly: Mexico still needs to sign on, a prospect that seems uncertain since officials there balked at making cuts.

    Read this OZY column about why Russia's coming for U.S. shale.

  5. Also Important...

    British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has emerged from intensive care and is currently recovering from coronavirus. A massive new wave of billions of locusts is threatening Africa. And security forces in the Gaza Strip have arrested local activists for organizing a Zoom chat with their Israeli counterparts.

    Try This: Feeling presidential after a week of briefings? Prove it with the PDB Quiz.

    Speak up! Are you confident about your community's social distancing efforts? Why or why not? Let us know by replying to this email — and we’ll feature the most interesting answer right here next week.


  1. Could Coronavirus Sink the U.S. Navy?

    All hands aren't on deck. In the wake of the USS Theodore Roosevelt's coronavirus SOS, the Navy is finding its military readiness in question. Its only other carrier in the western Pacific, the Japan-docked USS Ronald Reagan, reportedly has its own COVID-19 cases, while a 14-day quarantine has delayed another carrier's Pacific deployment. In Guam, 416 of the Roosevelt's 4,865 crew have tested positive, with one in intensive care.

    What's the Pentagon saying? Gen. John Hyten, vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said Thursday he'd hoped it wouldn't reach this point — but that more outbreaks should be expected.

  2. South Africa's Leaders Take Massive Pay Cut

    President Cyril Ramaphosa and his government — one of the world's largest Cabinets, with 28 ministers and 34 deputies — say they'll slash their salaries by 33 percent over the next three months. That cash will go to South Africa's $122 million Solidarity Fund, aimed at mitigating the effects of an outbreak authorities expect will hit the vulnerable population particularly hard. Ramaphosa also extended the local lockdown through the end of April.

    How badly could South Africa suffer? Already gripped by a dire economic situation heading into the COVID-19 crisis, it's also home to the world's highest HIV infection rate.

  3. How Bay Area Brains Are Fighting COVID-19

    Call it tech support. Entrepreneurs and engineers in Silicon Valley are putting their resources to work against coronavirus. From repurposing sleep apnea devices into life-saving ventilators to 3D-printing face shields, local research teams are innovating their way toward defeating the deadly pandemic. "Necessity is the mother of invention," noted one CEO.

    What are the limitations? Some experts say supply shortages and shipping problems could pose serious challenges — but that the Bay Area's "can-do attitude" is a big advantage.

    Don't miss OZY's profile of the family ventilator firm helping save Italy.

  4. Don't Expect a Coronavirus Baby Boom

    With more than 1.5 billion people across the globe in lockdown, it's easy to imagine everyone's spending significant time getting busy. But a recent British survey found a paltry 3 percent of the population says sex is at the top of their to-do list during quarantine, OZY reports. For potential parents, widespread global uncertainty isn't exactly reassuring — while kids being home 24/7 reduces the time and energy to make little siblings.

    What does history say? Hurricane Katrina depressed Louisiana's birthrate by 30 percent the next year, while research into the 1965 New York City blackout shows it didn't actually lead to a spike in newborns.

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    UFC Finally Forced to Postpone Event

    "We'll be the first ones back." That's what Dana White promised yesterday after ESPN and parent company Disney forced the hard-charging UFC chief to cancel a highly anticipated April 18 fight. White had attracted criticism for pushing forward with UFC 249, skirting a California event ban by scheduling it at a casino on tribal lands. Sen. Dianne Feinstein was the latest to weigh in, saying it was anything but "essential."

    Could future fights still take place? White has claimed he's close to booking a private island where foreign fighters could travel restriction-free — but officially all UFC events have been postponed indefinitely.