No, Team Trump, the Coronavirus Isn’t Good for America

The commerce secretary just flunked microbe economics.

Comments: 233

  1. Sec. Ross' comments, on how China's epidemiological misfortune is to America's economic advantage, is just as remarkably tone-deaf as Trump's first public response to 9-11, where he stated Trump Tower is now the "tallest building in Lower Manhattan" thanks to the nearby collapse of the WTC just hours earlier, killing over 3,000 people in the process. These people might belong to each other, but not in charge of American government.

  2. @Citixen When these bumbling grifters are caught off-guard their true opinions occasionally slip out before someone can get them back in line.

  3. @Citixen Every time Trump opens his mouth he either lies or says something totally hateful. It's tragic that we ended with him as president and it may truly be the last time because he's already named himself as king.

  4. @Citixen If he actually said that, he was more than tone-deaf. Trump Tower is not in lower Manhattan, or if it is, (if lower Manhattan goes up to Central Park, say) so is the Empire State Building. The man was seriously detached from reality, and remains so.

  5. I don't know the full context of Wilbur Ross's comment, but it seems to be not only remarkably misguided but also stunningly insensitive. You called it boneheaded. I call it despicable, and I think he owes the people of China an apology. But I'm not expecting to hear that, because nobody in the Trump administration ever apologizes for anything. They all take their cues from their ethically and emotionally challenged boss.

  6. @Dan Ross's associations with the big money this Super Bowl weekend should be telling. Should be reported. In fact, an expose piece about that extravaganza and a Venn diagram of contacts would be revealing of America's corruption.

  7. So far, Trump hasn't hurt the Stock Market, although the virus may do so. Think he'll still try to take credit for the Market on the down side? Don't think so!

  8. The president* will blame Obama, of course.

  9. @George Tafelski Yes, and not without "honorary mention" for Hillary, although the odds of his blaming Dems currently running for office are rapidly increasing.

  10. Can we add the 50 soldiers suffering traumatic brain injuries that the occupant of the White House misdiagnosed as a headache. Just fiddling as we burn

  11. @Sick Of Lies I wish the military that worked in the white house who have kept their mouths shut, open it wide like in a horror movie and start screaming because I am screaming for their pain. This pain has to end we will bring our country of character back, however we will not forget who were traitors to the people. So don't brother to write any books no one wants to read them. John Bolton better find a TV show and start talking otherwise he wont be in the company of his own war mongers. this is his time to be an American not a coward hiding behind his book

  12. @Sick Of Lies There is an economic aspect to the remark but I feel that it wouldn't have been made and the death of many people wouldn't have been characterized as an economic opportunity if the people weren't Asian. It' us against them. The racism in this administration can't be ignored, they are ripping this country apart.

  13. It is a mistake to continuously peg them all as failures. Trump and his team have had the wildest success at fleecing the American public at the expense of its health, environment, wealth, even its misery. No stone has been left unturned in the oligarchy and the Republican parties quest to cash out every last bit this nation is worth. No lie is too big to tail. No danger is to grave to put us all asunder. These people will stop at nothing.

  14. @Rima Regas Exactly correct. The Trump regime has been very successful as you describe, which is why they are fighting tooth and claw to defend him in the Senate. Their patrons have spent a lot of money to get on this gravy train, and by God it won't be derailed that easily.

  15. @Rima Regas And, in Trump's second term and with Rs dominant in both the House and Senate, get ready for handing the federal lands to the states. Even Romney was in favor of that (recall something like " I don't understand why the government has all this land.") In Montana, those federal lands will begin with those administered by the Bureau of Land Management. Forest Service comes next.

  16. @LynnBob They started looking into and leasing lands from day one. Politico used to do a weekly piece called Things Trump Did While You Weren't Looking. I curated those posts and others during the first two years. It's too bad they discontinued it. If people knew the extent of the ravage, they'd be a whole lot angrier than they are now.

  17. That the Goodfeathers administration views every economic phenomenon as a zero-sum game and every national border as a twenty foot high wall in varying stages of construction is to be expected. That they still say these things out loud during an impeachment hearing and election year, even while this disease outbreak is sickening and killing Americans, shows that the recent dismissing of soldiers' brain injuries as "headaches" was not the peak of official sadism.

  18. Despite a late start, China has been working to quarantine affected areas within its borders, to restrict travel (at the busiest time of year), and to provide medical assistance to those who have fallen ill as well as salient epidemiological and virus-sequencing data to the world health community. At this point, I have more faith in the Chinese government than I do in my own here in the United States. It's tough to get where you need to go, much less in a calm and rational manner, when a fool is behind the wheel of your car driving you over a cliff. I want my car keys back. We Americans need our country back, before it's too late.

  19. @Blue Moon Any idea when the "too late" deadline may come? Or have we passed it? I think maybe we have.

  20. @Blue Moon So you say you have more faith in Xi Jinping driving over the Grand Canyon like Thelma and Louise, than Trump driving on a flat North Dakota freeway. Me too.

  21. It’s too late.

  22. China is now the manufacturing hub and the final assembly place for many goods in the world. If it wasn't, it won't be running such a large international trade even though it does not make the most of money (profit went to Nike, Apple, Walmart, etc). so anytime when China is stopped working, we all are going to face shortage and higher prices. I don't know anyone in America who would love to pay more and have shortage for their daily goods especially from Walmart and Costco... Donald, the Horrible, and his "great cabinet members" like the famous not-to-smart Wilbur Ross, are billionaires, and they don't ever shop at Walmart, not like you and me...

  23. @paul In the grand scheme of things, it would be better for the environment -- and probably people's overall health and wellness -- if things at Walmart (especially) cost more and were not imported from China.

  24. @paul I don't think either Trump or Ross is a net billionaire. That's just one of their con jobs.

  25. @Io Lightning I doubt the consumers out there shopping at Walmart would agree with you and they don't care if the goods were from China, they just can not afford them at higher prices

  26. No question that the Trump administration is remarkably incapable thinking about any economic health or political issue. On the other hand, this is a tough issue and most politicians around the world are resisting the urge to rely on the counsel of thoughtful public health experts and are making policy decisions that are half baked. We all know Trumps level of understanding of epidemics from his comments on Ebola. If coronavirus turns out to be the challenge it is beginning to look like, we can count on him to do everything wrong.

  27. Also, the 2009 swine flu started in North America and was way more severe than SARS or this virus, killing hundreds of thousands around the world including tens of thousands in the US. Viruses can start anywhere; China might be riskier because its government is more likely to overreact (there was no mass quarantine of swine flu), but everyone doing business in China already knows that, so it would be foolish to change supply chain decisions based on virus risk. Credit where credit is due though, the Trump administration is actually handling this okay, letting the CDC do most of the talking and not feeding panic or conspiracy theories (in line with the World Health Organization, which currently recommends no travel restrictions).

  28. @HO I missed it what exactly is the CDC doing. I get my medical announcements from the dr. on CNN and they have yet to announce a CDC announcement

  29. @HO : You're confusing luck with skill. Trump has worked to gut all the scientific and technical expertise from the government, so if it hits more directly in the US expect a panicked response from the White House. Probably a military response.

  30. @HO China is riskier because of higher human population density and livestock handling practices that make the U.S.'s dismally threadbare regulations look like they were approved by PETA.

  31. The Republican Senate is very optimistic today that they can avoid witnesses in the impeachment trial, shred the Constitution, destroy the government, and further enable Trump in his dream to destroy the rule of law and replace it with Trump’s law - “I can do anything I want”. This is unbelievable. After Reagan started us down this road, I guess it was inevitable that we would get here at some point.

  32. @Grove Precisely. This is the denouement of the Reagan Restoration - Trump is just the cruder version of Reagan, with similar racist demagoguery, crony corruption, catering to the plutocracy, and con job. Reagan just had better handlers and PR.

  33. Imagine a Roman so entranced by the sound of his own fiddle that he fails to notice the flames. Now imagine a whole senate of them.

  34. Even if it were true and there were a legitimate discussion of the economic aspects to be had, it would be a jerky thing to say that way--with a sorry not sorry intro and barely disguised satisfaction with the situation.

  35. I'm a biologist, so I'll leave the politics aside. Thanks to fossil fuels, homo sapiens has severely over-extended its reach. Nature WILL fight back. While we most often focus on storms, floods and wildfires, the two most dangerous likelihoods IMO are die-offs of ecosystems on which we rely for food (resulting in mass starvation) and super-bugs like flu, corona-virus and many others. It is quite possible that humanity is due for a serious reduction in population. I'm not wishing it, but you should expect it.

  36. @Kenneth Brady Mr. Brady, presumably you are a citizen of the United States. It behooves you, and the rest of us, to leave the politics in, rather than aside. Politics is not just a "what", it is a "how". It is "how" an informed citizenry governs itself. Otherwise, we will fall victim, as we have in the last three years, to the best and brightest demagogue, the one who knows nothing but has an advanced degree in demagogy. Never, ever, leave the politics aside by arguing that you´re a biologist, or a farmer, or a bus driver, or anything else, because what´s left when politics are set aside is lawlessness.

  37. @Kenneth Brady Yes Kenneth Brady, you are right, I have been thinking this all my life. Overpopulation? Climate change caused by it? Not a problem! Because a virus will sweep through. We see this in almost every overcrowded animal population already.

  38. @Kenneth Brady - You note that human beings have over-extended their reach and that humanity is due for a serious reduction in population. Like you, I don't wish it. But if and when it does come, I will know that we thoroughly deserve it--partly because of our greed, stupidity, and short-sightedness, and partly because of our cruelty: This virus was apparently transmitted from animals to humans as a result of illegal Chinese trade in wildlife. Our factory farming systems--in China and in the US--are not only horrifically cruel, they are also perfectly conditioned for the creation of new and potentially deadly viruses. China has an appalling record with regard to its treatment of animals in general, and we in the US are not much better. When the virus does come that will wipe us out or massively reduce our numbers, it will come as a result of the obscene acts we are committing every second against animals and against Mother Nature in general. And no one will be able to say we didn't have it coming. Meanwhile, enjoy your daily, dirt-cheap meat, folks, won't you.

  39. Professor Krugman ends this piece summarizing how Trump has been lucky, with no major crises during his term other than those of his own making. I used to think that, eventually, laws of political gravity would catch up to him, as they have to most presidents in my lifetime. But I now realize that only applies to Democrats, given the new reality of the FOX News gaslighting era. There have indeed been things that should've weighed on this president, like unexpected consequences of trade wars described here. But when FOX and Limbaugh, et al., unfailingly blame others and laud Trump, no matter what happens, I'm not sure luck and normal political consequences matter anymore. Wilbur Ross's comments are probably a preview of the upcoming 2020 flick, and about 40% of America will be happily applauding the event.

  40. @original Let's hope we don't have a repeat of 2016 and all of the 60% show-up to vote.

  41. @original " I used to think that, eventually, laws of political gravity would catch up to him, as they have to most presidents in my lifetime." It didn't with George W. Bush. By all rights W should have been thrown out on his ear in 2004. The disastrous war in Iraq alone should have been enough. But, he got a popular vote majority and we got the "Doing a great job Brownie" response to Katrina.

  42. @Thucydides The really scary thing is that any extreme disaster you could conjure up will not break the hold Trump has on his supporters. Forget about shooting someone on Fifth Avenue. If a terrorist detonated a nuclear bomb on American soil while Trump was president you can be sure that Trump and Fox would blame Obama, Hillary and the Democrats. And the Trump supporters would buy it. Ponder that.

  43. It’s all about the sort term with these people. Mostly opportunistic short term profits. I suspect that the Trump sees an economic boon for the rich in a Trump dictatorship. No regulations. Predatory economic policies unleashed. No pesky laws to stand in their way.

  44. @Grove , yes, the same sort of thing as after the fall of the Soviet Union. Oligarchs split up the public good, liquidated it, and what equity (and inequities) they have enjoyed. For the nation? Not so good, stripped and left behind. The life span average for men fell to 52, for example— and now though there’s been progress, it is a grim place to live for most.

  45. @Grove That's exactly his viewpoint. The marvel as that so many of his followers either can't see it or somehow believe it's worth their own deepening suffering.

  46. Nothing you can say will ever convince Trump’s base of the truth about the economy. He tweets that his economy is the best since Genghis Khan and they believe him.

  47. @Grey Gheghis was actually an outstanding administrator. But point taken.

  48. @Grey Somebody should tell them their hero failed in the gambling casino business, which was thought to be impossible until he did it.

  49. @Grey Genghis Khan invented Airports. Not many People know that. Also, HE was my Fathers descendant. That’s why I know more than my Generals. #Trump Facts.

  50. The policies of the Trump administration have never been about thoughtful consideration of events and concepts at work in the real world. Every one of their policies can be traced to an agenda of a GOP friendly donor or interest group. Ross' economic views are informed by his (and many Trump supporting businesspeople) that their wealth and success means that they are qualified to pronounce policy on issues they imagine they are qualified in. "I am wealthy thus I am smart" is scarcely the credential Americans want or need. This is, of course, not limited to economic and fiscal policy but extends to immigration, climate change, health, tax policy, the environment, free speech and so on. In short, the policies of this administration are driven by fantasy, superstition, bigotry and greed promoted by tireless media blitzes promoting their untruths.

  51. Trump, Ross, and their like-thinking stable geniuses don't seem to understand global supply chain-based manufacturing, as Dr. Krugman points out, a willful blindspot very similar to the idea of banning all foreigners from immigrating or even visiting. In their xenophobic eyes, it seems, America should be isolated from all other countries in manufacturing, trade, research, and every other endeavor. They don't seem to understand that an isolated America would fall behind the rest of the world, which would happily be enjoying progress through collaboration. America would become like the Soviet Union in the 1980s. And given Putin's influence over Trump, maybe that is precisely the program.

  52. @Wayne Cunningham I don't think it's irrelevant to note that both Ross and Trump are old guys who don't listen to other people. (I'm no spring chicken, but I do try to keep up.) And their worldviews often seem stuck in the 1970s, and not just on trade. Trump, for example, is sure that we have an epidemic of urban violence perpetrated by you-know-who even when the reality is that crime is at historic lows and the most conspicuous cases of social collapse now involve rural whites.

  53. @Paul Krugman Do the socially collapsed rural whites support Trump? Are THEY the problem? I see Trump's voters as the long term cancer eating American democracy and prosperity. Who are they?

  54. @BSmith I think it's a mistake to look at Trump as a separate problem distinct from the rest of the GOP. Think of the dominant Republican messaging on any important issue and it's likely to be a blatant lie. That relentless disinformation is the terminal cancer afflicting our body politic IMO.

  55. I admit to knowing little about economics as a field of study. That said, it seems to me that any economic effects of such an epidemic would be fairly time limited, at least compared to time frames needed to switch supply chains, change manufacturing sites etc. It is also evident by the behavior of businesses in the environment created by "tariff man" that the response was to switch to suppliers in other Asian countries, not to begin manufacturing the item here at home.

  56. Here is a question for Krugman. If we are hit with the virus which is a potential reality if it spreads like the flu but far more deadly. How will we pay for medical costs? Do you believe they medical industry will socialize the costs or deny coverage as an act of god? Just something I’m concerned about because I may need my medical soon.

  57. @Mathias The Trumpies are already saying the virus is a result of socialism.

  58. @Mathias - This is slightly off topic but I was struck by the irony of you words “deny (medical) coverage as an act of god”. What sort of god, at least the god as portrayed in Christianity as all powerful but compassionate, and in Islam as “the merciful”, what sort of god would deny medical coverage to someone who is sick?

  59. Is Ross even qualified to make an opinion? He has a very simplistic way of thinking this pandemic, if it becomes serious, will benefit the US. Couldn't be farther from the truth. We will see disastrous affects hurting our economy in the worse way.

  60. @Gretchen Well, if T and his admin get it, we might see some benefits...

  61. I'm afraid the trumpadope virus has spread further previously predicted. Trump's isolationism will only cause more problems as it's allowed to progress unchecked. I'm sure that Trump and his staff have no idea how many vendors and separate companies are involved in assembling the everyday devices we all take for granted. Simply claiming he will bring EVERY manuafacturing job "back" to America is unrealistic because so many of the component parts of everyday devices have NEVER been made in USA, and never will be. Trump has been happy to take credit for "great economy" when EVERY growth chart showed the economy has, so far, continued to grow in a straight line since 2010. The economy is GOOD in spite of Trump, not because of Trump. I'm can't say I expect that trend to continue though because he and his henchmen are so bent on wrecking it at every turn simply to make a quick buck, on the backs of the American people.

  62. And it’s not good for everybody. Just those who already have money.

  63. At some point, consumer will have to recognize that a tariff is a tax on the good that they are buying. I do not know why that is such a hard lesson to learn, but many of the Trump voters I talk to just don't get it. I am hoping for a miraculous understanding before the next election.

  64. If this Corona virus outbreak should really become a pandemic and China’s economy slows drastically, who is going to provide America with all the prescription drugs manufactured in China ? Most drug manufacturing has been outsourced for profit .

  65. Now we hear that the US economy grew 2.3 percent in 2019, the slowest growth of trump’s presidency. It wouldn’t take much for growth to slow even more in 2020. But, hey, candidate trump promised us growth of 5-6 percent every year if he became president. So now the administration thinks N-CoV just might be the magic bullet? Am I the only one who has a problem with thinking that the suffering and death of people on another continent could be key to a financial windfall for America?

  66. @Drusilla Hawke You mean the massive tax giveaway and artificially low interest rates haven't insured 4, 5% growth until infinity? I'm shocked, shocked. But actually, most people with a bit of economics training knew there would be a temporary sugar high.

  67. The WHO and CDC have some of the best infectious disease doctors in the world and they're telling people not to panic. So the "Be afraid" line doesn't seem to be helpful. Even if a vaccine takes years to create, immediate treatment might be effective too. Trump will mismanage it, to be sure––he caused panic in 2014 about Ebola. But it is really not a political issue unless it becomes one. It is a scientific challenge. The market seems not to have overreacted after initial fear. I don't think fear will help with the scientific challenge.

  68. As Dr. Krugman so skillfully points out, Secretary Ross has the economics of this all wrong. It's appalling that he's the Commerce Secretary for the most advanced economy in human history. But speaking of appalling, there’s an issue here that is much bigger than economics. This virus has already killed hundreds of people, and it will probably kill thousands more before it's contained. Yet we don't even know for sure if we CAN contain it, and the death toll could be much worse. And even if you believe the deaths of Chinese people somehow aren't important, at some point it will also kill some Americans, and maybe many. Our skilled scientists and health official are working hard to help contain the virus. Yet all one of our top government officials can do is breathlessly speculate on how these deaths can help us make a few bucks by manufacturing a few more widgets. The impeachment hearings in the Senate are helping us see how evil the Trump administration is, but Secretary Ross is just pouring gasoline on that fire. How could our once-great nation have sunk so low? (The right answer to the discussion on Fox News was, of course, “Hey, our fellow human beings are dying; it’s hardly the time to discuss how this could in any way now or in the future help us to make money. Our government is doing all we can to help contain the virus, but we have to figure out how we can do even more. Next question.”)

  69. Economic effects of pandemic's are severely underestimated by many as long as they aren't personally effected. I lost 2 uncles to the 1918 flu who were integral to the family farm business. The business went into the depression severely weakened and never recovered. All due to the flu. I'm sure something similar will happen to businesses in China.

  70. There’s lethal flu every year and a little less often there’s a really scary variant like Wuhan virus. So many unknowns. Just the same, if it comes down to taking sides, I bet on the virus. A lot of people will get sick and some will die, but the economic impact will be worse as commerce grinds to a halt in some areas. And recovery will take time. Airlines. Cruise ships. Things that have a time value and can’t be resold will suffer. And when insurance rates go up, we will all pay, regardless of whether we were directly impacted or not v

  71. Secretary Ross is a capitalist in the old mold (think Vanderbilt, Rockafeller, or Carnegie): anything that might enhance the bottom line is welcome, including (or perhaps most especially) someone else's suffering. The fact that he is badly deluded about the effect in this particular instance is what qualifies him so particularly to be a member or Trump's cabinet.

  72. @richard 'Mold' a frame to construct something or a fungus?

  73. I wouldn't be surprised if the ultra-warped Donald Trump or any of his cabinet were to feel that dozens of deaths deaths and the disruption of millions of lives was cause for a "victory lap," but I'm least surprised that it was Ross who said it.

  74. This isn’t theoretical it is already happening. Just today one of my company’s major suppliers said they have shut down production until at least Feb 10th due to the virus. If all is good by then, things will be fine but what if it is not? I have a suggestion for everyone here. Rather than just complain about Trump, if you are not already doing so, get out of your comfort zone and work to change who is leading our government at both the state and federal level. This means door to door canvassing, making phone calls and talking to friends as if your life depends on it - - because it may. If not for you, for future generations. Don’t ignore state government. State house and senate races are often a good place to start if you have never worked on a campaign before. You might like it and even make a few new friends. We are already canvassing in Kansas despite snow and low temperatures. If you live in a blue state and have no one to work against, consider helping out good candidates in red states by sending a small donation. For example, the Democrats in Kansas have a great candidate in Barbara Bollier for US Senate. We have no choice, we must take the Senate back to stop the damage on the Supreme Court. We must use this anger in a productive way to get things done.

  75. @Lori BRAVO! And yes, yes, yes!!!!

  76. The apparent fact of Trump's acquittal may be a blessing for our economy and our country. If Trump thought there was chance, however small, of losing, what actions would he take to influence the outcome in his favor? He has already, in his 'bull in the china shop'approach ,brought down a passenger plane and caused concussions, or headaches as he likes to call them, in fifty or so soldiers subjected to the completely expected Iranian retaliation for the murder of their general. The frightening question is : What would't he do? And there is no limit to the possibilities.

  77. Could the Coronavirus be the straw that breaks the backs of the overstretched markets? A lot of reputable economist recon we're due for a "correction", especially with the US running up a massive debt. If the Coronavirus causes a sustained downturn in the markets could that instability trigger a run and then the house of cards tumbles? And if not, what would cause the next recession and what are the likely outcomes: 1. If accepted practices are carried out by a sane and sober President looking out for the good of society. 2. If Trump is still in power… … Look on the bright side, a economic downturn would be good for reducing CO2. emissions

  78. This administration has flunked common decency and kindness...an especially galling reality when juxtaposed against their claims of Christian morality. Whether this, caging children, decreasing SNAP benefits, expressions of “good people on both sides” in Charlottesville to name just a few of many, this administration cares not for compassion or kindness but rather lining their own filthy pockets, and all too often at the expense of those least amongst us.

  79. the virus has significantly hurt the sale of Corona beer.

  80. Every now and again, it’s important to remember that almost everyone who works for this administration is an utter ghoul. For example, here’s Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross, upright and awake for a change, talking about the economic upside of the unfortunate possibility of a worldwide pandemic. "I think it will help to accelerate the return of jobs to North America.” “Ah,” says Maria Bartiromo in reply, “that’s a good point.” No, in fact, it’s not. It’s an astonishingly wrong-headed take that is barely human. I’ve long believed that the basic business philosophy of the American corporate class is fraud. (And Ross has his own problems there, too.) Now, I’m coming to believe that sociopathy is part of the business plan, too.

  81. But Dr. Krugman, after the Black Death decimated Europe in the 14th century, wages went up for those peasants who managed to survive, so maybe there is an upside!

  82. As shameful and absurd as Wilbur Ross' comments were, you haven't heard anything yet. The science deniers in this administration aided by their orwellian named "Think Tanks" will soon be trotting out all sorts of doozies. We'll be given good reason's to blame the poor, blame the sick, blame the Democrats, blame any non-white group who comes to mind. The american right is nothing if not consistent and thus predictable in their rationalizing why we can't have nice things in this country like health care, infrastructure or an urban policy Don't expect the "God's Will" brigade to be silent either. Cue an Evangelical Leader to say what they always say when an earthquake, hurricane or virus afflicts us in 3, 2, 1 ...

  83. The Trump team has sunk to a new low in moral depravity for suggesting that a looming global pandemic, one that has already paralyzed China, would benefit the American economy by bringing more jobs here. Profiting by the spread of massive human suffering erases any claim America might make of moral leadership, and invites the scorn of countless other countries. We have reason to be ashamed of our government.

  84. Humanity is standing on the tracks and there's a big train coming.

  85. China has come down hard on religion, maybe too hard. Trump is helping the zealots create an un-American theocracy. China is moving forward, and we're going backwards. Coronavirus or not, China will be the world leader looked up to in the future.

  86. "In such a world, anything that disrupts imports — whether it’s tariffs or a virus — raises production costs, and as a result if anything hurts manufacturing." Maybe it's just me, but I'm having trouble parsing this sentence. No, it's not just me. It's the significant lowering of standards by this newspaper in the past six years.

  87. While everything you write is correct Dr. Krugman, I must say I have lost faith in a sizeable chunk of the U.S. population to care about, or even be able to discern truth from fallacy or genius from idiocy. Otherwise the current "stable genius" in the White House would never have gotten there, nor would we be losing sleep at night wondering if he'll be re-elected. So for all of the people who are reading your op-ed and nodding their heads in agreement, it is unfortunately preaching to the choir. For the rest, Fox News and Wilbur Ross unfortunately seem to make sense.

  88. Leave it to a Trump cabinet member for finding something positive (return of jobs to US), if not self-serving in human misery.

  89. I think that we should all be getting over the notion that there is intent and agency behind what comes out of the Whitehouse. The elderly and startlingly ignorant man who currently occupies the presidency gives vent to some prejudice or other and his coterie of inept sycophants starts a chorus of acclamation. Thus is policy made! And we all, including a Nobel Prize winning economist, are compelled to trot along behind and try and find some significance in all this.

  90. Wilbur like Trump and the entire administration suffer from truly a lack of knowledge or interest about the world. It is amazing how these old men went to school and didn't learn anything. Don't get me wrong seniors are the smartest people in this country, we have many seniors running for office however they are well rounded professional individuals who love this country. The Trump administration will have to work overtime when the virus hits our shores and we have nothing in place to address and save the lives of people. No hate speech is going to matter from Trump. Reminds me of Ronald Regan thinking that AIDS would just go away and not make it to the shores of America. How many people suffered and died, Trumps great economy is getting ready to come crashing down around us all, if we don't get some administrators who actually think and know what they are doing,

  91. If the virus only targeted political leaders in Congress and the executive branch I think it would be the greatest pandemic ever

  92. Prof, maybe you need one of those translating apps, because when a Trump official speaks, what comes out of the official’s mouth in words is not what the person means. For example, when Wilbur Ross says a circumstance will be economically favorable, it doesn’t mean it will benefit the economy, nor any sector of it. He means it offers an opportunity for some elderly and obscenely wealthy industrialists and financiers to make a killing on investments of a type ordinary working Americans cannot even understand. Think of the secondary market ripples for futures contracts on your oil depletion allowances you get for indirectly owning a string of obsolete Texas oil refineries, for example. Just imagine what a word salad Betsy deVos could make of something that benefits the owners of private, religious-affiliated schools if they can get their hands on more of the money that’s supposed to fund public schools, for example. Or the many ways to sing the advantages of increasing the rate of despoilage of our water resources or the air we breathe, in comparison to something you can really sink your teeth into like the overnight rate banks charge each other on short term loans and how much you can skim off before you brush your teeth tomorrow. Ask an average American, a Trump supporter hanging onto a mediocre job in a dying rust belt industry for example, to explain how he will benefit from a shift in the way we tax income from subordinated debentures. I double dog dare you.

  93. He probably has money in one of those companies that make the masks.

  94. There must be a rigorous screening process for Trump appointees that requires a complete absence of empathy for a candidate to be considered. I wonder whether Ross owns stock in funeral homes and casket makers. He certainly seems upbeat enough.

  95. Can't wait until Fox News -- and its wholly owned subsidiary, the White House -- start sneering about "government health" the way they now sneer about "government schools." And if scientists do develop a vaccine for coronavirus, expect relentless GOP disinformation about how the vaccine causes autism, indigestion, acne, etc.

  96. @Fred No, they won't. There is way too much money to be made if there are mass innoculations.

  97. @Fred Yes. All while demanding that they and their families are first in line for the shot.

  98. I'm no billionaire Cabinet Secretary, but I did stay in a motel once... it seems to me that, while a shutdown of China's manufacturing due to an epidemic might be an aid to 'bringing manufacturing jobs back to the US' in the sense that somebody might flip a switch and start up their factory again (as if manufacturing were like a light bulb, easy to 'turn on' again... sheesh) there might also be a whole lot of existing US jobs affected when raw materials and sub-assemblies 'Made in China' become hard to get. So what the net on jobs might be I don't know enough to guess. But I suppose if I were a Cabinet Secretary and ignorant enough to think manufacturing jobs could be 'turned on' like a light switch, then I might not be aware of the downside risks of shutting down a key part of so many global supply chains. I guess I need to go sleep in a motel again, so I can be as smart as Wilbur. Sheesh, where do these people come from?!

  99. Tempted to utter a variant of the plague quote from Romeo and Juliet. The variant being that only one house is visited by said plague. Purely for educational purposes, naturally.

  100. Dr. Krugman, Love your columns, including this one. My take? "And the two things we know about the trade war are that it has been an economic bust and that Trump’s officials still appear clueless about why it has been a bust." They 'appear clueless' because they know they cannot appear smarter than Trump. Those who appear to be smarter than Trump (Flynn, Kelly, Comey, Bolton, Manigault, and so many more) all get shoved out the door, sometimes via Tweet. And about: "... severe doubts about how well he would handle a crisis that he didn’t create himself." The 15,000+ lies and misleading statements catalogued by the WA Post are also -- each one of them! -- what we might call unforced errors. So, yeah, real crisis = uncharted territory.

  101. Because Trump sees trade as a zero sum game, and life as a zero sum game, and revels in cruelty, of course the epidemic in China gives the admin a warm feeling. As with the tariffs, the point is that it hurts China. That it doesn’t help Americans is irrelevant. That it might also hurt Americans is inconceivable to them.

  102. Why don't we send Mr. Ross to the outbreak source and update all of us? I'm sure that at one point, Mr. Ross was a lucid man. NO more. How one could possibly make this tie to economics as a positive is beyond ludicrous.

  103. Paul continues to believe that “thought” is a word operative in the GOP and the Trump Administration. I’d suggest he sift through the actions and pronouncements of these folks to find a “thought”. Absent “thought”, what do you suppose causes these folks to do things? There are a few choices, and all of them are unsettling.

  104. It seems that Trump and the gang have a philosophy (I'm using the word loosely) that the way for the U.S. to prosper is to hurt everyone else. And laugh and shout while they're doing it. But I'm struck by the shear meanness and cruelty implicit in Ross's remarks. Then again, for the Trumpers apparently that's not a bug, it's a feature.

  105. Wilbur Ross doesn't have any understanding of the implications of this. But that's to be expected from people who work willingly with Trump. Chronic insensitivity to any but their own needs. What will Trump say or do if China and Asia in general winds up needing help from us to control the virus? Given this administration's woeful lack of compassion and comprehension of the world as it is now, I fear that their only response will be to ignore the problem until it's too late. We're all connected whether we like it or not. We don't have be friendly with a nation to assist them in a time of great need. Our common humanity suggests that we will. Of course the way Chris Christie behaved about Ebola gives me second thoughts but I think that it's time we got over our ignorance about how disease is spread and stopped destroying our environment. A great many of the newer diseases that are dangerous to us are zoonotic. They've jumped from an animal like a bat or a mouse to us. We are invading their space. After this, if there is an after, it's time for us to look at the world we are creating and decide if we want a disease ridden existence or one where the animals carrying those diseases can remain within their ecosystems. But that's another editorial/story. I would vote for reaching out to China to help them. 1/30/2020 8:15pm first submit

  106. @hen3ry He wasn't hired for his intellectual acumen, vast stores of technical or scientific knowledge, or even his business acumen. He, Ryan Zinke, Scott Pruitt, and everyone else who isn't an oligarch was hired for their industry contacts and allegiances and their propensity to follow orders to the letter - no matter how unethical. This isn't about right and wrong or good and bad. This is about corporate America's ability to grab as much loot from all of us as they can get away with and ensure we are never again able to wrest power from them. This is what they've been angling for since FDR. This may well be the last election for a very long time in which the people may have a say. Even then, it is going to take a sure-handed, principled to the point of being dogmatic - Democrat to unravel this mess and insist on fixes to House, Senate rules as well as constitutional changes that will prevent another power grab of this magnitude. That's if voters finally understand that the lab cage is about to be permanently shut behind all of us.

  107. @Rima Regas the voters who should understand it don't. And of the voters/people who do understand it, some will vote for Trump because they truly like what he's done.

  108. Manufacturing in the west is largely kaput and unlikely to return whatever governments attempt. In theory a vaccine for the virus is about 3 months away and fairly simple procedures can limit its spread. 9000 cases, most in China, in a world of 7.5B is hardly something to panic about, certainly at the moment.

  109. @Paul Disease spreads exponentially. It starts with one case (5 weeks ago?) And now there are 9000. It's like the penny on the chessboard. If you put one penny on the first square and double the amount on each square. By the 13th square you have 8191 pennies and you have 59 squa rex to go.

  110. @Paul "Fairly simple procedures"? A vaccine, "in theory"? Didn't take much public health micro, did you?

  111. @Paul With an Ro of 2.5 and fairly long incubation time and relatively low mortality rate, the number of infections by next Saturday (Feb 8) will surpass 1 million with approximately 22k deaths and will reach 26 million infections and 500k dead by Valentine's day. No one would think less of you if you started panicking right now.

  112. Right on cue Trump wants to cut the CDC budget this is quite insane

  113. Mother nature is over due on applying a "correction" (to borrow a market term) to the population explosion (over 7.7 billion, increasing 80 million annually, tripled in my life time). "They were given power over a fourth of the earth to kill by sword, famine, plague, and by the wild beasts of the earth." (Revelation 6:7–8 NASB). I'm not too concerned about the wild beasts as we are at the leading edge of the sixth mass extinction. But the sword, famine, plague appear to be correct. This 'sentient' species is far too stupid to save itself.

  114. @oldBassGuy You are misinterpreting Revelations. Revelations refers to the "wild beasts of the Earth" that make up the 0.1% and the current US Administration. Read Thomas Piketty Capitalism in the Twenty-First Century" and subsequent analyses.

  115. @Rob "... wild beasts […] the 0.1% …" Thanks, I take your point. Thomas Piketty Capitalism in the Twenty-First Century book is already on my reading list. There is just only so many hours in a day, and so many things to read (ie. IPCC reports)

  116. Share your pain but recent events turned my customary sunny outlook to gray. President above the law; attorney general roaming the globe panhandling for grains of support for conspiracy theories born by Trump; Pompeo, Mulvaney and long with the three amigos and Rudy complicit in a scheme to coerce Ukrainian officials into announcing an investigation into the Bidens and debunked 2016 election hoax. The capstone the GOP Senators masquerading as vexed by a moral dilemma about additional documents or witnesses. Let this sink in their response to Bolton and Mulvaney; the best they can do for exculpatory evidence calling Hunter Biden or Joe. Why not Pompeo someone with knowledge of relevant facts at issue or Rudy the wizard or savant? If an additional document or witness existed exonerating the president their collective unease melts away like ice in the hot sun. Acquitting Trump without hearing testimony or considering the damning documents he fights to keep secret a pledge of allegiance; loyalty vote that does not exonerate Trump. Suppressing evidence turns us into a banana republic politically not economically yet.

  117. Even among the exceptionally Lucky, the luck will run out. Ask any Gambler, or Bookie. Unfortunately, the Teflon Don will take the restaurant of us down WITH him. And Wilbur Ross, the Gollum like “ Secretary of Commerce “. Said Commerce between His Money, and Trumps Campaign Accounts. Why ? The Prestige ? The Travel ? The Honor ? The Excitement ? The Women ? Dude, you’ve been Scammed.

  118. Why don't you reveal the quote in context? You are deliberately leading you readers to a conclusion that they may not arrive at if you had. If they want to agree with you with after they have seen all of his response in its entirity- I don't have a problem with that. Just be thorough...

  119. Trump knows pandemics better than anybody. Only the best pandemics.

  120. @Kristen And only he can save us from them, right?

  121. Good luck Farmer Brown if you need a tractor part. If production slows down in China then getting a doodad to fix something will cost more. The doodad may have to be back ordered.Corporate American isn’t going to retool to sell you stuff in the hardware or mercantile. As a farmer you are already paying for the Trumponmic weirdness coming from the White House. And no you cannot catch this disease from a Chinese car part.

  122. wait wait wait...... What about the extortionist pricing and obscene profits that a vaccine can garner?

  123. Thank you, Mr. Krugman. I feel that Wilbur Ross needed to have retired two decades ago. The fact he thinks the current epidemic is good for the American economy just shows how little he deserves to wear the mantle of commerce secretary. I hope his remarks don't come back to bite HIM personally.

  124. @Maridee And I, who feel quite vindictive toward Trump and his henchmen, DO hope that Ross's remarks come back to bite him personally...just not the rest of us.

  125. Whose idea was it to construct a hyper-globalized economic system that is so incredibly and dangerously fragile that something that happens at a wet market on the other side of the world can potentially bring the global economy to its knees?

  126. @TB I confess, it was I. Sorry. It seemed like a good idea at the time. Or maybe it was caused by billions of people interacting with each over the last few centuries. And was nobody's idea.

  127. 'talking nonsense' seems to be a specialty with this administration. I this the new term for lies? If so,I prefer the truth. How any educated person could ponder the possibility that this virus will benefit the nation is beyond me. A lot of people are going die. Your time would be better served looking for a cure.

  128. "The gang who couldn't think straight"--thanks for the smile in a grim time, Paul Krugman. I'm a former long-time New Yorker and enjoyed this updating/Trumpshifting of Jimmy Breslin's novel of farce, loosely based on a local clueless and hapless criminal gang. Unfortunately, the link with our own day is all too apt.

  129. It's the same virus as the common cold but with attitude. Mr Krugman is probably right that it will be more disruptive. One woman testing positive on an Italian cruise ship just emptied a vessel of 7,000. And she could still have only the common cold strain and not the new strain.

  130. @gluebottle Attitude indeed. Between 2-3% dying. Thats about 30x worse than average flu and only immunocompromised die from common cold.

  131. @gluebottle "The common cold" typically doesn't kill people. This does. See the difference?

  132. Arriving as a young immigrant from Germany in 1956, I studied economics under a wonderful teacher, Prof. Roger C. Van Tassel, at Clark U. in Worcester, MA. His courses left a deep and permanent imprint on my thinking and even my personality. Your columns remind me of those courses. Keep up the good work and don't get discouraged by the incomprehension of " those who will not see. "

  133. Secretary Ross's entire career has been getting rich turning around fallen or bankrupt businesses. He got rich on the financial pain and human suffering of other stakeholders. Of course he sees a pandemic as an opportunity for our nation to get rich.

  134. @Mhm-Ross was also in charge of deciding which U.S. businesses got tariff waivers and which didn't. Wonder if he took his insider's knowledge and applied it to the stock market?

  135. It is breathtaking that Mr. Ross said such a stupid thing. Obviously he does not understand the problems of secondary and tertiary effects from a massive health emergency.

  136. Funny time to pick to binge watch "Twelve Monkeys", but it does put me in the mood...

  137. Goodness, how about at least acknowledging the dire threat China is to America and how urgently we need to divest from their totalitarian and utterly inhumane government whose reckless secrecy has caused yet another possible pandemic!

  138. None of which will do anything to help with the current crisis. Everyone in the U. S. already views China as a threat. Is it really more important to remind people of that yet again than to focus attention on an immanent global pandemic? What are your priorities?

  139. @American Abroad: Yes, absolutely, just look at how quickly our democratic and open government responded to the AIDS epidemic, or the poisoning of Flint's water supply, or the opiate crisis. People are dying in China, but an American Abroad thinks it's just one more perfect opportunity for China-bashing.

  140. @ShenBowen As Bernie likes to say, never mind I don't like him, we can chew bubblegum and walk at the same time. Even if our walk is more often a limp at least we can walk and talk freely have a free press to help!

  141. NY Times Aug. 29, 2018 "With Ships and Missiles, China Is Ready to Challenge U.S. Navy in Pacific" NY Times 2019/12/17/ "China Commissions 2nd Aircraft Carrier, Challenging U.S. Dominance" DW 1/7/2020 "China is now world's 2nd-biggest weapons producer — SIPRI report" Krugman still does not get it What is bad for China is good for the US

  142. @LArs Did you read the article? What is bad for China is bad for everybody both in terms of health and in terms of production. All those parts that US companies depend on won't be arriving when they are needed. As for the health aspect, I sincerely hope you have good health insurance as you may need it if the Wuhan strain turns out to be as bad as SARS. The world is shrinking LArs, everything is connected in one way or another.

  143. @LArs "What is bad for China is good for the US" Mr Krugman has just explained why this isn't necessarily so. Perhaps you should read the article again.

  144. This is a contagious disease. Contagious diseases have a funny way of spreading beyond borders. It’s not going to be good for anyone.

  145. Not to mention that only a ghoul wishes for a deadly epidemic in a foreign country to help us...um, I mean him...make money. Not understanding that the economics don't work that way does not reduce the degree to which he is a ghoul.

  146. Wilbur Ross has already (and repeatedly) shown himself to be woefully out of touch with most day-to-day occurrences, and not just about jobs returning to America because of the Coronavirus. But like every other tragedy or natural catastrophe, it's actually "good" for Team Trump because it serves as yet another distraction from the impeachment trial which will probably vote to acquit him. And in spite of the galloping death toll and no known cure in sight, it's just business as usual for a president who has mastered the ability of self-preservation.

  147. Trump's cabinet continues to demonstrate not only that he and they are incompetent but incredibly dangerous. Their undermining of science and journalism for political purposes puts us at increased risk when real crises like these come up. Their is lack of critical and especially of honest thinking among all of them. they make decisions for personal gain, personal biases rather than for the benefit of the American or World community. Hopefully, the children and grandchildren of his supporters will not suffer the consequences of their actions but I fear, it may be too late.

  148. May I ask how those who do not have health insurance will fare if the coronavirus or something else similar, or worse, is not contained? From what I understand China has more accessible health care than the USA. It means possibly that many more Americans could die and how is that good for any economy?

  149. @KA You have a very good point. What will happen when hospitals will have to treat those with no insurance?

  150. @KA You can bet on one thing for sure, nobody in China will lose their home because they can't pay medical bills because the bills are looked after by the state.

  151. Actually that is not true. People in china pay for their own medical and education. Remember the recent story about the man who had a tapeworm in his brain. He had to fund raise for the removal. You are mixing China with MODERN COUNTRIES LIKE CANADA. IT may be Communist but it is not socialist. What they have is STATE CAPITALISM.

  152. As usual, outstanding analysis from Mr. Krugman, not to mention excellent prose. Does his wife edit his commentary perchance? In any case the animal to human transmission of viruses that have the potential for world-wide death in the millions is one of the many downsides of Chinese culture, in this case the existence of so-called "wet markets", i.e. outdoor markets where animals are slaughtered on demand from buyers. Chinese culture ancient of course and admirable, but the existence of "wet markets" disastrous for the overall Chinese population, not to mention derivatively when viruses therefrom spring, for the Chinese government.

  153. @Wendell Murray Live animal markets were great when viral vectors were camel and horseback speed. They just don't go with bullet trains and airplanes and almost supersonic viral vectors so much. Its as if all of humanity is in a few small villages all over again, with a few people going from village to village regularly.

  154. @Wendell Murray Why the gratuitous slam about Dr Krugman's writing?

  155. I write again for the umpteenth time: Today's Republican businessmen seem to know NOTHING about business. They don't seem to understand that wealth does not come from being the King of the Hill and stuffing all the money in your mattress. Wealth comes from the FLOW of money, from the cash to cash cycle, from Cash > Materials > Inventory > Sales > Cash. And note: Everyone is involved in that cycle. It is not a cycle of businessmen bouncing up and down on their pile of cash. It is a cycle of investors putting their cash to work, employing workers to mine/produce materials, which are transported by transport companies to workers who produce the inventory, which is transported to sales people who sell the goods to consumers who put more cash into the cycle. Wilbuurrrrrrr isn't the worst businessman in the world.....unfortunately, he's just a representative businessman.

  156. "These days we live in a world of global value chains, in which much of what any given nation imports consists not of consumer goods but of “intermediate” goods that it uses as part of its own production process." Great article. As usual, Wilbur "Cyprus" Ross earns his vacant look by his comments, as if manufacturing were still like it was in the 50s when countries specialized in making things from A to Z. Clearly the world deals in suppy chains and just in time sourcing and inventory in order to reduce overhead. But Ross whose true experise isn't in global economics but in shorting storks based on Trumpian tweets about how quickly China is going to "come around," is going to be left holding the bag when China grinds to a halt. Flights to China are stopping, and I"m sure that incudes freight transport flights. That will disrupt other countries economies, dragging the whole global economy down. Kind of tough to short stocks on that news, right Mr. Ross?

  157. @ChristineMcM The problem is precisely that they're not "global value chains" but disproportionate and unbalanced value chains to/from one country. If there was actual free market capitalism and fairness in the global trade business, China would not be the global behemoth that it is. It only gained that position because it created artificially cheap prices by manipulating its currency and having lax environmental and labor standards.

  158. @Viv: the phrase "global value chains" was written by Dr. Krugman, I just quoted it. China may have a disparate amount of the "initial" or "intermediate" (assembly)" manufacturing processes because of their cheap labor, but it's still true that these processes are critical for countries round the globe to finish and market their products.

  159. @ChristineMcM Why is their labor cheap, versus say, those of India and most of the African continent countries? Because unlike China, none of those countries engaged in the same level of craven manipulation. India has 1.3 billion people. The African continent has 1.2 billion people, and a demographically is much younger than China. So what makes China so special and worthy of ignoring the public health threat and environmental threats they pose? Sorry, but it IS good for America to realize that over-reliance on a single dictatorship has economic and health consequences. How many more health outbreaks do there need to be before diversity in supply chains is a strategic priority?

  160. Wilber Ross can put his money, or our money as it is, to ramping up mass production of supplies that would be needed if we do have an epidemic. I would brainstorm with the known established manufacturers to lead the effort to buy factory space and equipment and get going. If the Chinese can erect a couple of hospitals in Wuhan in just two weeks, we can certainly compete in that regard. Roll up your sleeves and get to it, please.

  161. @PATRICK Why would he do that? The US government isn't even interested in assisting in bringing new antibiotics onto the market, and they have already been developed. Health isn't on their agenda.

  162. @PATRICK The people likely to suffer the most, as a group, from a coronovirus "epidemic" (if it reaches that state) are primarily the poor without health insurance and/or access to medical care. Also known as trumps base. About whom no one in the GOP cares until it's time to for them to pull the lever straight ticket for the government that hurts them the most.

  163. These companies have far more than two countries to choose from. Some economic questions might be a 2- or a 3-way race. Others are countless choices for a given company (like Amazon's corporate welfare auction last year). According to Forbes & WSJ - 3 months ago - tariffs had caused companies to relocate to Vietnam more than anyplace else. At last count, Vietnam had fewer virus cases than the U.S. Why Ross imagines this might go differently, I don't know. Or maybe just to remind us how they perceive a global pandemic simply as a chance to get ahead.

  164. Paul, I was with you - until your last two words: “Be afraid.” Ok, I’m afraid. But I’m not sure what to fear. Unless it’s the sheer incompetence of the current “administration” (put in quotes because it’s a word that seems to be the exact opposite - for the Trump regime - of what it usually means). So now I’m afraid. I’m anxious. And could you be more specific about what exactly I should fear? Or is our broken Republic and Constitution on life-support exactly the answer?

  165. @TheraP I guess you need a list. 1) This gang of crooked knuckleheads won't be able to effectively stop an epidemic or, worse, a pandemic. A coronavirus doesn't believe Presidential lies, nor does it listen or pay attention to Fox News. It's a brainless but dangerous chunk of mutating RNA. 2) The promised boom in manufacturing hasn't happened prior to this outbreak, and the supply of intermediate products is likely to drop even more. It may WELL kick off a recession here. 3) I cannot think of one policy that Trump has gotten right. 4) Trump is working HARD at killing the pre-existing condition protection for ordinary folks. If he succeeds, millions will lose their health coverage JUST as the coronavirus is likely to go big here. 5) Not directly connected, Trump is working hard to destroy our Constitution, your rights, and the separation of powers, making himself into a dictator. Five reasons should be enough for now.

  166. @Dadof2 I would add one more to your list: Be very afraid of the coming upheaval that Mother Nature is sending our way. It’s coming even sooner than predicted and our current leaders are doing everything in their power to ignore it.

  167. @Patti W Shouldn't that read " It’s coming even sooner than predicted and our current leaders are doing everything in their power to accelerate it."?

  168. Correct that in the world of supply chains we live in China’s disruptive virus is not a blessing likewise a curtailment of China’s potentially massive consumption, first being notice in tourism, is likewise no blessing for America unless pursued. Unmentioned of course is when did previous administrations reasonably deal with the lingering effects of China’s rise as, now according to the world bank, the world largest economy? Time for a new generation of policy makers to bring us in line with the world as it is come 2021.

  169. 45 decriminalizes accidentally killing birds. He has thrown out the landmine protections. And there are mostly climate deniers in the WH. 45 is unfettered from any boundaries and his cabinet and Congress do not care. These two I mentioned do not represent any agenda ad much as someone or some persons who work with him find these items and push a paper in fromt of him and he signs. The leap from landmines to birds is too odd. He does not read or have interest in regulations except to undo them, and he is not that into research, so who are these people? I think 45 does not like himself and he is insecure about himself. Doing what other people say has gotten him far. Any body feel some concern?

  170. @Jenny Concern? How about incredulity followed by terror since 2016. If you lived in New York City in the 80's, you saw the man for what he was.

  171. @Jenny I lot, lot more than "some concern."

  172. There's another economic vulnerability and another reason (as if life and death of Americans weren't enough) Team Trump and should worry about when leaving the country's doors relatively open to the coronavirus, one with a lot of political traction to come this year: the inadequacy, complexity and un-affordability of our healthcare system. Already, there are those who won't go to a doctor until an illness has become life-threatening, revealing that private health insurance is not a good way to prevent epidemics as it is. Plus, illegal immigrants may hesitate to register themselves at a hospital. Then, there are the gaps in Medicare and Medicaid. Then see what happens if, as a result of the spread of the virus, there are more patients than hospital beds and waiting rooms, not to mention more than our ER's can handle. And then look at the red ink on the balance sheets of medical providers, and the personal bankruptcies of patients who literally could not afford to get sick. Could someone (please) points out to "Team Trump" that this is no game, and there's no victory lap in it for anyone. It's is one hot potato of a calamity in the making, and accounting for it will come home to roost in November at the expense of the party whose leaders failed to prevent it. If you think you can shoot someone on 5th Avenue, think twice about effectively shooting thousands.

  173. I am in Beijing. I am beginning to get more afraid of the fear in the United States than of getting coronavirus in China, which at the moment is .0000005 of the population infected, and a much smaller number of deaths. Some perspective please?

  174. @Bob Fonow But, Bob, you know money in the US is made by instilling fear and hysteria in the masses.

  175. Wilbur Ross was the guy who said steel and aluminum tariffs didn't matter because aluminum was such a small part of the value of a can of beer. But it turned out (surprise, Wilbur!) that steel and aluminum are much bigger components of farm equipment, cars, trucks, oil and gas pipelines and other stuff. How is a Commerce Secretary supposed to know stuff like that? OK, he did have some experience selling a US steel company off to a foreign steelmaker, while foisting their pension obligations off on the US government. But steel price increases over 30% led to US manufacturing slowdowns and quiet tariff rollbacks to the biggest importers to the US, South Korea, Mexico and Canada. But Wilbur has earned permanent immunity by bailing out Trump in his casino fiasco and allowing him to retain control. That is how the Big Money Club works.

  176. @Look Ahead I'd agree with you except that I don't think Trump knows that his trade policies have failed.

  177. @Look Ahead Actually the opposite is the case. The aluminum is much more valuable than the beverage it holds.

  178. @Paul Krugman Trump has actual trade policies? From here, it looks like his only policy is tariff and bully.

  179. It’s good for the mega-wealthy, who will get top care and survive. Those are the only folks Team Trump has ever cared about.

  180. There's another part to the economic impact - the threat of a global pandemic is ever present and real. It probably won't be coronavirus but new bugs will keep popping up, eventually we will be faced with a new Spanish flu. Meanwhile we're cutting CDC funding and weakening our public health capacity. It's sad that our leaders don't care about safeguarding American's safety and economic well-being from a potential catastrophe, but only how to line their own pockets if it occurs.

  181. @Haiku R The Spanish flu occurred 110 years ago. Statistic epidemiology tells us that based on the genetics from the last epidemic, Donald Trump may die from the influenza virus this year. What do you think? Will you celebrate his demise?

  182. We can only hope that a real epidemic breaks out in the halls of governance.

  183. Virus evolve in order to survive. They have billions of potential host in the human population alone. Include the animal kingdom in the equation and the odds of having to confront a virus we can't ward off becomes highly probable. The climate crisis is bond to make matters worse. The fact that the Trump Administration is in the process of rolling back environmental protections, while preventing proper medical care for residents , citizen and non-citizen alike means that we are not prepared to deal with eventual pandemic when it does arrive. Believe a pandemic can not happen here, read about the Spanish Flu of 1918. This is no time for apathy.

  184. Corona virus is potentially 'a BLACK SWAN' event. Think of derivatives tied to YUAN, YEN, DOLLAR, further tied to interest rates, mortgages of intl real estate, industrial metals, oil, and the reduction of velocity of circulation, coming from international financial paralysis . And it cannot get any more ironic that 20% of the world pharmaceuticals are produced in China. It is time for 'the junk bond nation to FACE THE NATION.

  185. There are other aspects of economic impact that are not quantifiable and thereby outside the realm of Wilbur Ross and Paul Krugman---that is the impending loss of intellectual capital for China. Educated Chinese professionals and students who were the backbone of China's economic miracle will emigrate, and further the ones in US schools will be less likely to go back, making it difficult for China to compete in the long run.

  186. @AKA China will hopefully crack down on the live animal markets that spawn these viruses. China has 4 people for every one of us, they graduate 60,000 + engineers every year, they have more capacity to train and educate people by far than the US, so no, this won't set them back much and there won't be mass migrations from China.

  187. @AKA wishful thinking. China will continue to evolve technically as it improves its infrastructure much faster than we are. They will climb out of this virus and keep all those brilliant students.

  188. At the risk of repeating myself: "If Trump said the virus is under total control in our country, I'd be very, very concerned since he is ordinarily under-informed and generally dishonest. Only someone who routinely neglects details communicates judgements of that type. He's exactly the type of leader one does not want in a real crisis."

  189. Hard to fathom how news media and governments are crying wolf over a virus that's a blip on the mortality radar but continue business-as-usual with the climate crisis, which is already upon us and wreaking havoc that will eventually disrupt all life as know it. Colossal devastation will follow a small rise in global temperature, with frightening preview trailers already playing across the globe, including the bush conflagration in Australia, which is in the death grip of the fossil fuel mafia and their bought and paid for political apologists. While the bush fires rage close to Australia's Capitol city, corrupt politicians yawn in response while dramatically dispatching jumbo 747s to fetch a few Australians from a viral panic to be quarantined on an island like the non-white refugees sequestered until some other country takes them. Forget "roos" and koalas, Australia's future icon is an ostrich, a creature not known for its intelligence but so far has proved smarter than Aussies and their preferred leaders. The UN health agency, WHO, today declared a global health emergency, which sounds significant but only if we ignore the fact that the UN declared a similar global emergency over climate change years ago. Wilbur Ross, a multi-millionaire notorious for fleecing tens of millions from his employees, is America's answer to Scott Morrison, the Aussie dunce of a prime minister. When the world needs smart, all we get is stupid while a tiny few get very rich.

  190. Paul reports: "Last week the White House basically admitted that tariffs on steel and aluminum have done more harm than good, ... the administration’s answer isn’t a reconsideration of its policies — it is to impose more tariffs, on a wider range of products." Your Administration is saying: "The whippings will continue until morale improves." Both thoughts come from the same kind of unilluminated mind.

  191. If you are an entrepreneur to ponder on building a new factory here in the USA or in China, you might be a little more biased to the USA after this unfortunate outbreak to everyone in the world, and especially to Chinese. Wilbur Ross is the chief sales officer in the USA and he might want to sell more products and services made in America at all costs. It surely is not a good timing to show such desire, but we can regard this as his focus and passion for his job at least. Now, I can see he is working for the country as much as he did for his own fortune without doubt.

  192. @Young - "...ponder on building a new factory here in the USA or in China,..." Except as someone noted as i was going down the line before reaching yours, there are other countries in the world. How much American business moved from china not to the US but to other low cost producers during the trade war, and had been planning for that eventuality while tpp was still in the running? Need to broaden your horizon some.

  193. The week in Summary: The President of the United States may use operatives of a foreign sovereign nation, friend or foe, to obtain possibly indictable material on a possible political adversary to weaponize his reelection IF said reelection is for the good of the country. The U.S. Department of Commerce declares that the outbreak of a plague causing mass casualties is a new form of stimulus for the U.S. economy. Finally, probably no witnesses in the Senate Trial of Donald John Trump, President of the United States, even those who could say “…he didn’t do it!” As one famous TV journalist said; “Goodnight, and good luck.”

  194. @HANK - "...IF said reelection is for the good of the country." Nahh, if i recall correctly doesn't even have to IF it was good for us, just IF he believed it would be good for us. I think it's time for dershowitz to absent himself to some tibetan retreat before he completely destroys his i'm not sure earned good reputation.

  195. @HANK haven't heard that 4eva. Edward r. murrow. best journalist ever.

  196. @rivvir Thx, for the correction. Good recall of his basically nonsensical presentation.

  197. Reality always wins. God forbid we have an actual serious crisis, like a pandemic, while this band of aggressively ignorant incompetents has its hands on the wheel.

  198. There is one thing we know: Trump can always make it worse, no matter how bad it is.

  199. Total agreement with Mr. Krugman... but boneheadedness isn't limited to Trump's cabinet. We got an example today from the pages of the NYTimes: https://www.nytimes.com/2020/01/29/opinion/coronavirus-china-government.html Nicholas Kristof blames the virus outbreak on the authoritarian nature of the Chinese government. Yes, China has an authoritarian government, but, NO, having an authoritarian government was not the cause of the outbreak. WHO, and others have praised China's response. Our own democratic government was monumentally slow to respond to the AIDS epidemic.

  200. @ShenBowen The Chinese suppressed disclosure and reporting of the outbreak for over a month. Punished and jailed doctors and writers reporting on the outbreak. Thereby worsening outcomes and allowing millions of potentially exposed individuals to travel with impunity. I suggest reading the story before commenting.

  201. @macdray Lancet and New England Journal of Medicine have articles from the Chinese researchers. They did amazing work. To figure out this was a new virus, sequence it, and treat patients with ECMO and aggressive therapies was impressive. They are running controlled drug trials now. The front line workers deserve our respect.

  202. @ShenBowen Sorry, no. China's authoritarian government was responsible for hiding the virus for so long and aiding in the spread. No worries, we are headed in that direction, with Trump's one-man rule. We the people will never how we stand, until smacked in the face.

  203. This is why we need to wrap up impeachment ASAP. Republicans will never remove him and we need to spend every moment before Election Day showing America that The Trump Presidency is a failure on the merits.

  204. Either he is the most cold-hearted capitalist around . And/or he thinks something akin to a biological nuclear armagedon is somehow good for one side. Of course he made his mark in business by being a Vulture Investor in bankruptcies. Guess he likes picking thru the aftermath of catastrophes.

  205. @Mr T DJT may very well believe an epidemic is good for his side, just as he thinks chaos is an opportunity to pick up some cheap real estate and make a few billions.

  206. @Mr T ... yes, vultures do pick through the aftermath of catastrophes.

  207. Secretary Ross probably thinks that the destruction of Europe and Asia in World War II was the greatest thing that every happened for the American economy.

  208. @John Graybeard - Unfortunately it's likely he'd be right. Finally got us out of the 1930's malaise.

  209. @John Graybeard It sure helped as an unintended consequence

  210. The commerce secretary did not just fail microbiology; he failed decency. But we shouldn't worry about Donald Trump failing at anything. His base is secure in the knowledge that he's a genius. And that means that if the bug really became a problem here no one wearing a MAGA hat would get it.

  211. @Maria Rodriguez Dershowitz will crawl out to make the argument that the coronavirus is Obama's fault.

  212. Forget about economics. What kind of a inhumane jerk talks about an outbreak of a deadly disease in terms of how favorably it will impact job growth here? But in fairness to Ross, at least he didn't gleefully design policy to maximize separation of families and put children in cages, like Stephen Miller. Is there even a shred of empathy or decency in the entire Trump administration?

  213. @Jack Sonville no but Wilbur ross is the one that tried to sneak in that question on the census about citizenship. so he is no better. they say he is worse on bankruptcies than trump. he is the one of the people that formed ALEC. that is why so many local, city and statehouses run by GOP .

  214. @Jack Sonville No.

  215. @Jack Sonville - No.

  216. trumpists, especially their Savior, have a bizarre fantasy that there are two places to do business - China and the US. If they aren't in China, then they must go to the US. Wrong. There are in fact other places: India, Pakistan, Indonesia, Vietnam, Thailand, Philippines, Bangladesh, even European places like Bulgaria, Poland, and Romania. So trumpists, if you were a business owner with a plant in China, assuming you want to move, what would you do? Move from China, a low cost location, to the US with among the highest costs in the world? If so, why weren't you there in the first place?

  217. Honestly didn't know who the Acting Surgeon General was until today. Maybe she could introduce herself to the country by explaining to Mr. Ross and the Trump administration that diseases in general, and this coronavirus specifically, is BAD. As an important aside, influenza is killing a lot of Americans every year.

  218. @Doober yes there have been eight thousand deaths this yr in the u.s. that is wayyyyyyy more than normal. mostly kids and elderly. also, the acting surgeon general is one of at least 25 positions that are acting. they are supposed to be only acting in that position for no more than 120. trump has acting directors in at least 25 positions. wonder how come congress hasn't brought that up. well the senate anyway. and USDA fired close to 200 scientists since they didn't want to relocate (all of them)to k.c. mo and had only 30 days notice. some of them study world agriculture to see how climate change affects world agriculture. science well GOP doesn't believe in that anyway unless it is to save their life.

  219. @Doober She may be too busy taking healthcare away from poor people to worry about a pandemic.

  220. The good news is that President Trump thinks outside the box. The bad news is that the box is where human sanity resides.

  221. DJT doesn’t so much as think outside of the box as he acts outside of the box without thinking first.

  222. This callous administration is more worried about the economy than they are about the vast number of people who have already and still might contract this virus. Unfortunately China kept this virus a tight secret before they finally realized just how hard it would hit. Also unfortunate is that we might have to do without a few things that come from China. Small sacrifice considering the alternative.

  223. Maybe the newly minted Space Force can be deployed to battle the evil coronavirus? With that new extra bloated Military budget surely there's a few bucks left over for fighting a viral invasion?

  224. @crystal Those few extra bucks have already been stolen to build a wall.

  225. If this proves to be the much feared global pandemic, how will the USA cope with millions of your citizens with no medical coverage. To my reading there are vast areas of your country with no hospitals or doctors. I envision the scenes in the Monty Python movie dealing with the Black Death and bodies being thrown on carts. The mega rich will retreat to.their holes in New Zealand. Will New Zealand let trump in?

  226. @bcer Under the current government, the answer to that would be a resounding no. It's a coalition of PM Jacinda Ardern's Labour, NZ First (an anti-immigration party) and the Greens. The Peter Thiel case did not go unnoticed and there's been a tightening up of a lot of regulations. There is an election in September and a good chance the National Party will be re-elected so things may change though they are aware where public sentiment is on this issue. Trump did visit once looking at casino licenses and was roundly rejected. He has spoken highly of NZ especially the golf courses. Please don't tell him about our anti-nuclear status!

  227. My fears grow exponentially each day. The ill treatment of our country, its people, its environment, its laws and policies, its federal employees as well as the heinous treatment of the military and the legislative branches. America has been in this high alert crisis during the entire presidency of this odious man Trump. Lord help the United States as we don't seem to be able ourselves to protect her.

  228. I was horrified to see the "committee" of people in Washington gathered over the virus. Many were smiling and it seemed more like a photo op than a serious consideration of how this virus could impact our citizens. American Airlines still runs a plane back and forth to China. Really? That is just crazy. Someone who is an informed health official needs to take charge of monitoring this epidemic and keeping people safe. Republicans can get this deadly virus as much as Democrats. Plus, Trump does these huge rallies, and who knows if someone will be carrying the Corona virus.

  229. @K.M I am sure if I said what I was really thinking, in response to your last sentence, my remark wouldn't get past the NYT comment editors.

  230. Some day in the future historians will write about this administration and how detached they are from reality. Donald J Trump has a way of underestimating a crisis. The only thing that he seems to care about is using a crisis to attempt to further his hollow political ambition.

  231. @Sean And his bank account lest we forget!!

  232. Paul. Baby. Sweetheart. There are two versions of unintended consequences. Good and bad. Both, as in this case, can in fact be in play.