Corona Capital is a column updated throughout the day by Breakingviews columnists around the world with short, sharp pandemic-related insights.
– Trump finally signs
– Suga asks for silence
The Art of Saving Face. Donald Trump has signed the latest Covid-19 aid package after all. Congress passed $2.3 trillion-worth of measures with rare bipartisan support, but the U.S. president initially refused to add his imprint, calling it a “disgrace” and demanding bigger one-off checks for individuals along with other changes.
Amid widespread frustration – not to mention the real-world expiry on Saturday of some unemployment benefits and, because of the bill’s broad spending scope, the possibility of an impending government shutdown – the outgoing commander-in-chief relented on Sunday evening. Though he issued a face-saving statement insisting Congress pursue various changes, he signed the bill into law at his Mar-a-Lago complex in Florida.
For the author of “The Art of the Deal” it’s a climbdown. For those whose jobs and businesses are still at the mercy of the coronavirus, it’s a relief. (By Richard Beales)
Less bubbly. Japan will have to prepare for a less dazzling New Year’s celebration. Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga on Friday implored citizens to spend a “silent” New Year to curb the spread of Covid-19. After a new infectious strain of the virus was found, Japan on Saturday also said it would temporarily ban non-resident foreign nationals from coming into the country through January.
Though prudent, it’s more bad news for the country’s tourism and retail spending sectors. The government’s stay-home requests have hammered household spending. Weak consumption, coupled with production and export headwinds, suggests the Japanese economy will not recover to pre-pandemic levels of output until 2023, reckon analysts at Oxford Economics – a year behind most other advanced economies. Another $708 billion in stimulus unveiled in December might help alleviate some pain, but if the Tokyo Olympics, currently postponed until summer 2021, get cancelled, the Japanese mood will only get darker. (By Sharon Lam)