Coronavirus, China’s Economy, Billie Eilish: Your Tuesday Briefing
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We’re covering a potential shutdown of nonessential travel to the E.U., the economic fallout in China from the coronavirus, and Billie Eilish’s rise to stardom.
Credit…Kenzo Tribouillard/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images
The ban, which would initially be for 30 days, would not restrict travel between E.U. member states, but 10 European countries have already introduced their own border controls.
France imposed a 15-day lockdown on its citizens, with President Emmanuel Macron saying in a speech on Monday: “We are at war.”
And it’s not just national borders. Europeans are erecting boundaries inside their cities and neighborhoods and around their homes. A life of “bumping shoulders on the street or in the cafe, greeting friends with kisses on the cheeks” is no more, writes our chief diplomatic correspondent in Europe.
Elsewhere around the world:
President President Trump and U.S. health officials advised against gatherings of more than 10 people and discouraged young people in particular from going to bars and restaurants. Millions of people in the San Francisco area were ordered to “shelter in place.”
Canada closed its borders to most foreign travelers.
In a reversal, British prime minister Boris Johnson said people should work at home and avoid unnecessary travel and contact with others, but stopped short of ordering schools or businesses closed.
President Trump told a group of governors they should not wait for the federal government to fill the growing demand for respirators for severe coronavirus cases.
Across the Middle East, schools, malls, restaurants and workplaces were shuttered and flights were suspended as countries like Saudi Arabia, Lebanon and Kuwait moved aggressively to deal with the outbreak.
Is China’s growth streak over?
The economic fallout from China’s fight against the coronavirus outbreak became much clearer this week: It’s very possible the economy contracted in the first quarter, for the first time since 1976.
The first official numbers since Beijing locked down parts of the country are out: Industrial production, retail sales and investment all posted record double-digit drops for the first two months of the year, compared with the same period in 2019.
Though government officials played down the news, saying it was too early to tell whether the economy contracted, the data released on Monday was even more dismal than many economists had anticipated.
Looking ahead: It could be months, if not longer, before the country is fully up and running again. Tens of millions of migrants who work in China’s factories are still stuck in quarantines or in their hometowns. And consumers are still not shopping.
Markets: Stocks plunged around the world, including a 12 percent drop in the S&P 500 — the worst day of trading since the beginning of the coronavirus crisis, and the steepest decline since 1987.
It came even after the U.S. Federal Reserve essentially unleashed all the aggressive and extraordinary policies it used to combat the global financial crisis from 2007 to 2009, but deployed them in a single weekend.
Here’s the latest on the markets.
If you have 20 minutes, this is worth it
Billie Eilish’s rise to stardom
The teen pop star has resuscitated the macabre and melancholy mood that has been mostly absent from the musical mainstream since the ’90s heyday of rock acts like Nine Inch Nails and Marilyn Manson. For its music issue, The New York Times Magazine looked at her rise.
“I love bugging people out,” Eilish told our writer. “Freaking people out. I like being looked at. I like being in people’s heads. I feed off it.”
Here’s what else is happening
Japan nursing-home murder: A 30-year-old man who said he was inspired by Hitler to kill 19 disabled people was sentenced to death by a Yokohama court.
Russia: The country’s highest court approved constitutional changes that opened the way for President Vladimir Putin to remain in power through 2036.
Snapshot: Above, Anza-Borrego Desert State Park in Southern California, is known for its stunning wildflower blooms.
What we’re reading: This New York Magazine article about the fatal stabbing of Tessa Majors in a Manhattan park. Jonathan Wolfe, a news producer on “The Daily” podcast, called it “a sharp look at how the communities that surround the park — and the city as a whole — have responded to the murder, and grappled with the policing and commentary that followed.”
Now, a break from the news
Cook from your pantry: Our food columnist Melissa Clark is offering weekly recipe tips for those of us who are making the most of our grocery stockpiles:
“For this first recipe, I chose a pumpkin bread because I had a can of pumpkin purée left in the back of the cupboard, left over from Thanksgiving, but you could use any fruit or vegetable you have around. Mashed ripe bananas or applesauce, very finely grated apple or pear, or even puréed frozen berries or peaches are also good candidates. Puréed roasted sweet potatoes or carrots would also work.
“To make it, whisk up 1¾ cups puréed or finely grated fruits or vegetables, 2 eggs and ½ cup oil or melted butter. Sweeten the mix with ½ to ¾ cup sugar, depending on how sweet you like your quick bread (white, brown, coconut sugar, what have you), then season it with ½ teaspoon salt and a teaspoon of whatever spices you’ve got. (I used a combination of ginger, cardamom and cinnamon.) When it’s smooth, whisk in 2 cups flour (use all-purpose or a combination of all-purpose and whole-wheat) and 1 teaspoon baking soda. Bake at 350 degrees in a greased 9-by-5-inch loaf pan for 45 minutes to an hour.”
Listen: Angélique Kidjo, one of Africa’s most respected vocalists, was born in 1960, the same year that her country, Benin, won its independence. She spoke to The Times about her musical and cultural upbringing.
Watch: “Never Rarely Sometimes Always,” by the director Eliza Hittman, tells a seldom-told story about abortion. It’s a Critic’s Pick.
Smarter Living: A professor at Brown University offers tips to hack our brains and break the anxiety cycle: “Overwhelmed by uncertainty and fear of the future, the rational parts of our brains go offline. Just by taking a moment to pause, we give our prefrontal cortex a chance to come back online and do what it does best: think.”
And now for the Back Story on …
Covering market chaos
It’s been a chaotic week on Wall Street. To break down the turmoil, Times Insider spoke to Matt Phillips, a markets reporter on the Business desk. Below is a condensed version of the conversation.
Walk us through last week. What happened?
Everyone knew the virus was spreading in China and compartmentalized it. But there was a psychological shift when the virus spread to Italy. As one of my sources said, a lot of Wall Street workers have been to Italy. This wasn’t as “foreign” as people thought.
Then there was growing concern about the response from our government. It seemed from talking to people that they were getting concerned there wasn’t a serious response. Wall Street isn’t warm and fuzzy. What they really want to see is numbers. And if there aren’t numbers to work with, then Wall Street doesn’t know what to do. The fact that there hasn’t been substantial testing in the United States drove the Street crazy.
Did the stock market events of last week surprise you?
I never would have predicted a collapse like we saw last week. This was the end of the bull market, in part because the Federal Reserve, which has been like a huge wind at the market’s back for a decade, can’t solve it: It can’t print enough money to ensure people don’t get infected by the virus.
How have your sources been reacting?
They’re saying it’s scary. People in the stock market typically talk in generalities because specifics are valuable. My job is like trying to take their temperature on what they think is driving the market, but no one really has any idea. It’s really the sum of millions of people with millions of motivations taking millions of positions, so there is never one answer.
That’s it for this briefing. See you next time.
To Mark Josephson and Eleanor Stanford for the break from the news. You can reach the team at email@example.com.
• We’re listening to “The Daily.” Our latest episode is about the economic threat of the coronavirus.
• Here’s our Mini Crossword, and a clue: Initialism for a remote employee (three letters). You can find all our puzzles here.
• Elaine Glusac, a longtime contributor to The New York Times Travel section, is our next Frugal Traveler columnist.