Tags: Coronavirus | Financial Markets | bill gates | economy | bodies | corner

Bill Gates: Can't Restart Economy and 'Ignore Bodies in Corner'

By    |   Friday, 27 March 2020 08:42 AM

Microsoft Corp. co-founder Bill Gates has blasted any plans to reopen the global economy while the coronavirus outbreak continues to rage uncontrolled, saying that this strategy would be “very irresponsible.”

Gates did not mention Donald Trump by name, but the U.S. president has said that he may decide to relax some of the country’s “social distancing” in order to revive the country’s economy, Vox.com has reported.

Gates, the country’s leading philanthropist, has been among the most active tech leaders in using his resources to try and contain the virus.

“There really is no middle ground, and it’s very tough to say to people, ‘Hey, keep going to restaurants, go buy new houses, ignore that pile of bodies over in the corner. We want you to keep spending because there’s maybe a politician who thinks GDP growth is all that counts,’” Gates said in an interview with TED this week.

“It’s very irresponsible for somebody to suggest that we can have the best of both worlds,” Gates said.

The United States on Thursday surpassed China as the country with the most number of coronavirus cases and is expected to become the epicenter of the pandemic, Reuters reported. British Prime Minister Boris Johnson tested positive for the virus, he said on Friday.

A record 3 million surge in U.S. weekly jobless claims offered the first glimpse of the extent of the economic damage from the outbreak, which has forced several companies to shutter stores and announce layoffs.

In recent days, Gates had said that the coronavirus shutdown could last as long as 10 weeks -- if things go well.

“If a country does a good job with testing and ‘shut down’ then within 6-10 weeks they should see very few cases and be able to open back up,” Gates told Reddit users last week, Bloomberg reported.

Gates' foundation has committed up to $100 million to help with the global COVID-19 response.

“The economic effect of this is really dramatic. Nothing like this has ever happened to the economy in our lifetimes,” Gates said in the TED interview. “But bringing the economy back ... that’s more of a reversible thing than bringing people back to life. So we’re going to take the pain in the economic dimension — huge pain — in order to minimize the pain in the diseases-and-death dimension.”

Gates has said that the social distancing measures might need to last as little as six weeks, but said that “we have no choice,” despite the economic impacts.

“It’s disastrous for the economy,” Gates said. But “the sooner you do it in a tough way, the sooner you can undo it and go back to normal.”

To be sure, Newsmax Finance Insider Joel Naroff also urges caution when kicking open the economic doors of the entire nation.

"The failure to ramp up testing and increase availability of critical medical supplies, as we saw in other countries, have created significant issues going forward. Knowing who has the virus, who had the virus and who hasn’t had the virus is key if we are going to reopen the economy," Naroff wrote for Newsmax Finance.

"Otherwise, we don’t know the risk of potentially reopening early. There is a debate going on that asks the question “when should we start reopening businesses?” We all want the economy to reopen as soon as possible, but we also don’t want a relapse," Naroff warned.

"My view is that it is better to err on the side of safety than on the side of speed. We need to be as reasonably certain as possible that a relapse has a relatively low chance of occurring," Naroff said.

"We will not be able to know with certainty, but that means this decision has to be made by experts. The short-term economic costs of opening later may be greater but the longer-term economic and social costs are likely to be less. That is my view," he said.

"And going forward, the federal government cannot be caught flat-footed again."

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Microsoft Corp. co-founder Bill Gates has blasted any plans to reopen the global economy while the coronavirus outbreak continues to rage uncontrolled, saying that this strategy would be “very irresponsible.”
bill gates, economy, bodies, corner
Friday, 27 March 2020 08:42 AM
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