What Trump’s refusal to wear a mask says about masculinity in America

From the president to stay-at-home protesters, a mask-less face has become a stand-in for manliness.

When reporter BrieAnna Frank showed up to a Honeywell plant last week in Arizona to cover President Donald Trump’s visit, she was sure to wear a mask.

Masks were the reason the president was there: The former aerospace plant in Phoenix has pivoted to producing them in recent months amid a nationwide shortage of personal protective equipment (PPE).

But the dozen or so people who had gathered outside the facility to cheer on the president were not there to support masks. They had their faces uncovered, Frank told Vox.

As she approached members of the crowd to interview them, the conversation quickly got heated. “They started to yell that me and the other journalists there were trying to incite fear and panic and paranoia” by wearing masks, said Frank, who works for the Arizona Republic.

One man in particular seemed to take issue with the male journalists wearing masks, she recalled. “It’s submission, it’s muzzling yourself, it looks weak,” he said, “especially for men.”

“I felt that it was a statement that people should know about,” said Frank, whose tweets about the encounter went viral. To the crowd in front of the factory, she said, “Masks clearly symbolized something beyond, ‘I am trying to protect my health.’”

They’re not alone. Trump himself declined to wear a mask while being photographed at the plant, though he claims he wore one “backstage.” Vice President Mike Pence was criticized for failing to wear a mask during a tour of the Mayo Clinic in April. And when armed protesters showed up at the Michigan statehouse on April 30 to protest stay-at-home orders amid the coronavirus pandemic, many were mask-free. One shouting, bare-faced man who was photographed at the rally later said he was “not at all” worried about the virus and would never wear a mask — “ever.”

Since the pandemic began, the issue of wearing masks has further exposed America’s racial and gender prejudices. Earlier on, wearing masks was associated with Asian countries and often dismissed because of racist assumptions about those countries. Then, as many cities began to require residents to wear masks, police began targeting black men for covering their faces, profiling them as criminals rather than as people trying to abide by health guidelines. And for a certain subset of mostly white, conservative men, not wearing a mask seems to have become a hallmark of manliness.

For unmasked protesters like the ones in Michigan, “There’s an assumption of a kind of invincibility that is tied to this idea of white masculinity,” Jonathan Metzl, a professor of sociology and psychiatry at Vanderbilt University and the author of Dying of Whiteness: How the Politics of Racial Resentment Is Killing America’s Heartland, told Vox.

It’s not just men — Frank noticed many women among the unmasked Trump supporters gathered at the Honeywell plant. And, of course, many men are happy to follow the recommendation from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to cover their faces in public. Still, a narrative has emerged on the right that wearing a mask is weak and refusing to wear one is somehow strong. And that narrative could put everyone at risk.

One thing about [being] macho is being fearless,” Melanye Price, a political science professor at Prairie View A&M University, told Vox. “But that fearlessness comes at a cost for every single person around you.”

The CDC recommends masks. Not everyone is listening.

Long before the pandemic hit, masks were common in East Asian countries, where they’re seen as a simple way to protect yourself (and others) from disease, as Refinery29’s Connie Wang wrote in March. Wuhan, China, where the coronavirus outbreak began, started requiring them in January. The US was much slower to recommend masks for the general public, but in early April — with confirmed coronavirus cases jumping by the day — the CDC recommended that everyone wear a cloth mask in certain public settings. Some cities, like New York and Los Angeles, began mandating the wearing of masks in certain settings as well.

Like much about the coronavirus, the impact of wearing masks on transmission isn’t entirely clear. But many experts believe that even cloth masks can offer some degree of protection for wearers — and perhaps greater protection for the people around them. The virus seems to spread “when germ-containing droplets make it into a person’s mouth, nose, or eyes,” as Vox’s German Lopez previously reported, and it’s true that “masks stop people from spreading their own droplets.” If everyone wears a mask — including those who are asymptomatic but may still be carrying the virus — it could help halt the spread of Covid-19.

Most Americans appear to be on board with the CDC’s recommendation. In a Morning Consult poll (conducted from April 7 to 9), 72 percent of respondents said they planned to start wearing a face mask in public places over the next two weeks.

Others, however, have chafed at the CDC’s advice. As people around the country protest their state’s shelter-in-place orders, many have appeared in public without masks. One example is the protesters in Michigan, which has become a hotbed of resistance to social distancing restrictions — a defiance Trump has encouraged via his tweets about “liberating” Michigan and other states. And on April 30, hundreds of protesters gathered at the state capitol in Lansing, some of them armed and many of them eschewing masks and standing close together in violation of social distancing guidelines, according to Reuters.

One of the mask-less protesters was Brian Cash, who was photographed shouting during the event. He later told the Detroit Free Press he believes the coronavirus was “intentionally released” by the Chinese government and that the state’s stay-at-home order is useless because people still go to grocery stores and pharmacies. “So what is the point of staying at home?” he asked.

The resistance to masks has also found support within the Trump administration. Pence, the head of the federal government’s coronavirus response, said he did not wear a mask while touring the Mayo Clinic in April because he is tested for Covid-19 regularly. (He later backpedaled and said he “should have” worn one.) But a mask-less Pence attended two events in Iowa on May 8, the same day his press secretary tested positive for the virusaccording to the Intercept. At one of those events, CEOs were reportedly asked to remove their masks before joining Pence onstage.

Trump, meanwhile, has consistently appeared in public without a mask. After he was photographed without one at the Honeywell plant in Arizona, he said he had worn one “backstage,” outside the view of cameras.

“But they said you didn’t need it, so, I didn’t need it,” he went on. “And by the way, if you noticed, nobody else had it on that was in the group.”

Aides tested positive for the virus days later, and staffers have since been asked to wear masks on White House grounds, according to the Washington Post. Trump, however, is still unlikely to wear a mask himself, aides say.

For Trump, not wearing a mask may be a way to project masculinity

The Trump administration’s behavior around masks has gendered overtones. For Trump and Pence, not wearing a mask may be a way to project a macho image, Metzl said, playing into “tropes of indestructibility.”

Appearing to play it safe contradicts a core principle of masculinity: show no weakness,” wrote social sciences professor Peter Glick at Scientific American. “Defying experts’ warnings about personal danger signals ‘I’m a tough guy, bring it on.’”

Trump’s messaging has also helped promote the idea that ignoring the risks of coronavirus is the tough or strong thing to do. Despite warnings from public health experts about the dangers of reopening the country too early, he said at the Honeywell plant that “the people of our country should think of themselves as warriorsbecause “our country has to open.”

Trump’s militaristic, tough-guy messaging around wearing face masks may be encouraging people to minimize the risk of contracting and spreading coronavirus.
 Brendan Smialowski/AFP via Getty Images

Such militaristic, tough-guy messaging, along with Trump’s refusal to wear a mask, may encourage ordinary people — especially men — to minimize the risk of coronavirus for the sake of appearing manly.

While the refusal to wear masks isn’t an exclusively male phenomenon — a Michigan woman was arrested last month after police said she attacked a grocery store employee who told her to leave because she wasn’t wearing a mask — there is some evidence that men may view mask recommendations with more skepticism than women. In the April Morning Consult poll, 76 percent of women said they planned to wear a face mask in public over the next two weeks, compared with 67 percent of men.

Though Trump’s narrative around the virus may be reinforcing gender stereotypes, the issue of masks is revealing Americans’ racial biases as well. While white men have been able to appear in public without masks — and with guns — as part of a protest, black men have been targeted by police, both for wearing and for not wearing masks. In Philadelphia, officers were caught on video forcibly removing a black man from a bus for not covering his face, just one day after the city began requiring it, Fabiola Cineas reported for Vox in April. And a police officer in Miami handcuffed and arrested Armen Henderson, a black doctor who tests homeless people for Covid-19, as he loaded equipment into a van in front of his home — while wearing a mask.

Black Americans often have to engage in “social signaling” to make white people feel comfortable in public spaces, said Price, the political science professor. “You say good morning first, you smile first,” she said. “None of that can be done with masks.”

White people often already perceive black people as dangerous or not belonging in public places, Price said. “But a black body with a mask is something that somehow expresses even more danger.”

Meanwhile, for white protesters like those in Michigan, not wearing a mask may signal a kind of immunity from danger — or at least a perceived immunity. As white Americans, they’re unlikely to encounter the same kind of police brutality that black people face when they engage in protest. “Imagine 10 black men and rifles walking up to any state capitol in the United States,” Price said. “They would be shot before they ever made it up the steps.”

But congregating in crowds without masks is also a statement of perceived immunity from the virus, Metzl said. The unmasked protesters seemed to be sending the message that “nothing’s going to happen to me because of my whiteness,” he explained. “If you thought you were really going to get the coronavirus, you wouldn’t act like that.”

The fact that black and Latinx Americans in many communities are disproportionately likely to become infected and die of Covid-19 may be influencing such attitudes. “I think for a lot of the country, people feel like this is something that’s happening to someone else,” Metzl said.

But people who refuse to wear masks may be putting others, not just themselves, at risk

Obviously, the feeling of invincibility that leads protesters to avoid masks could backfire if they get sick. Pence and Trump may also find themselves rethinking their stance in the coming days since White House officials tested positive — Pence himself is reportedly keeping his distance from Trump and other staffers to avoid potentially exposing them.

But the especially disturbing thing about refusing to wear a mask is that, while it may seem like an expression of toughness, it actually increases the risk to others more than yourself, Metzl said. While some may feel that not wearing a mask expresses their own invincibility, “You could also think about this in terms of all the other people you’re putting at risk by not wearing a mask,” he added — your family, friends, colleagues, the rest of society. The failure to wear one is “symbolic of a kind of loss of a bigger common sense of responsibility to each other.”

People protest Gov. Jay Inslee’s stay-at-home order outside the capitol building in Olympia, Washington, on May 9, 2020.
 Jason Redmond/AFP via Getty Images

Remedying that loss is not going to be as simple as sending the message that “tough guys wear masks,” Metzl said. (Washington Post humor columnist Alexandra Petri has suggested a tagline for a potential “Masks For Him” line of accessories: “We put the ‘mask’ in ‘toxic maskulinity.’”) Rather, the country has to look at what the current mask debate says about racism and other prejudices. “What we need is a much more concerted effort to address the bigger issues that are represented by masks,” Metzl said.

For the Arizona Republic’s Frank, the confrontation over masks outside the Honeywell plant is part of a wider narrative around the virus. She recalled another incident in which a female reporter was accosted, this time by a woman, for wearing a mask. “I do think that what happened to all of us out there in the field on Tuesday is indicative of a larger issue” with how masks are viewed in the US, Frank said.

But for her, wearing a mask is about one thing: public health. Frank lives with her mother, a nurse who treats Covid-19 patients. “I try to be really careful,” she told the people gathered outside the plant. “I try to protect myself and those around me.”

Escape from Florida: My 2,400-km drive back to the sanity of Canada

Stephen Maher: In Florida, the beaches were open, people filled bars, and many just couldn’t seem to grasp ‘why everyone is panicking’

Two weeks ago I was fixing up an old sailboat on the Gulf Coast of Florida when I realized that the coronavirus might be bad enough that I would have to return to Canada.

I told the man I had hired to help me fix the troubled diesel engine of the old boat that I might go home because I was afraid the virus was going to get worse.

Ron (not his real name), a funny, hard-working, good-natured guy in his 60s, had let me know that he was a Donald Trump supporter. He suspected that, as a Canadian, I was not, and we had exchanged strained but polite comments about our political differences. As a visitor, I felt I shouldn’t express my opinion of the American president.

I slipped, though, when I let him know that I might be going home early.

“I am worried about the virus,” I said. “I know that Trump thinks it’s not a big thing, but it is.”

Well,” he said, pausing, likely biting his tongue. “We don’t see it that way.”

At the time, Trump was still minimizing the risk posed by the virus, and Fox News was broadcasting segments suggesting that criticism of the president over the issue was an attempt to impeach him. But it seemed obvious to me that the facts were bad and would get worse.

On March 12, a day after the World Health Organization declared a global pandemic, I texted Ron to ask about a family trip he had planned to Disney World in Orlando the next day.

“Are you still going to Disney?”


“Wash your hands a lot,” I texted. “Stay away from the buffets. Not that you asked my opinion. I am researching this virus for work and am getting freaked out.”

He didn’t reply, and, as it turned out, Disney decided to close its parks that day.

I was researching the virus for a Maclean’s article, and had become alarmed at a webinar with University of Toronto epidemiologist David Fisman, where he described the way that the virus could spread rapidly, undiscovered by medical officials, until there were deaths, at which point officials would learn there were hundreds of cases.

As the horrible news from Italy started to register in Canada, and authorities started to take action, I was disturbed by the inaction around me in Florida.

The Gulf Coast of Florida, where I had come to buy an old sailboat, is full of retired white people. God’s waiting room, they call it. The average age in Charlotte County is 2016 was 58, in comparison with 40 in Ottawa, where I live.

READ MORE: How Americans underestimate the threat of the coronavirus

White American seniors are strongly pro-Trump, and so Florida is Trump country. In 2015, Charlotte County voted 62.5 per cent for him, and only 34.7 per cent for Clinton. Many trucks, lawns and boats have Trump flags or bumper stickers. One day, a power boat went back and forth along the waterfront with a huge flag flying in the wind: Trump 2020: No More Bullshit.

Ron, and all the other Trump-supporting, Fox-watching Floridians had been told repeatedly that the virus was nothing to worry about. Bars and restaurants remained open. The Irish pub in Punta Gorda continued with St. Patricks Day celebrations. The beach at Clearwater was packed.

As I researched an article about problems with public-health information at Canadian airports, I was observing people around me act as if nothing had changed. In the bars on the waterfront at Punta Gorda, the party kept going. I could hear the Baby Boomer dad bands rocking past midnight as I lay on my boat, trying to sleep, fretting about the virus.

Alarmed, imagining the virus spreading undiscovered, I isolated myself, stopped going to restaurants or visiting the marina. I wore gloves when I went to a pharmacy to buy a thermometer, but otherwise hid on my boat. I didn’t get ice for my icebox, drank my beer warm, went so far as to do my laundry by hand instead of going to the laundry room.

I am not generally a fearful person. I have travelled to some of the most dangerous places in the world, because I thought it was worth the risk. But I saw no reason to risk getting sick if I might avoid it by sticking to myself.

I consulted with friends and relatives and reluctantly decided that I had to go home. I didn’t want to stop fixing up the old boat so soon, but I was afraid of getting infected in Florida, where I might run up huge debts if I needed to be hospitalized, and where I would have nobody to look after me. And I was worried about the state of the hospitals.

Florida was slow to react to the virus, and the population is old, so it was easy to imagine it turning into Lombardy, the region of northern Italy where the disease is so widespread that exhausted doctors have been forced to ration ventilators by age.

Governor Ron DeSantis, who owes his position to a key endorsement from Trump, has been reluctant to close beaches or order the kind of shutdown that other governors have ordered. Young people partied hard during spring break, leading to new infections. There is reason to worry that the virus may have already spread, undetected.

It is hard to know yet, because Florida has been slow to test its population. By 11 a.m. on March 23, Canada had run 102,803 tests. Florida, with about half of our population, had only run 11,063 tests.

READ: These charts show how our fight to ‘flatten the curve’ is going

When I decided to return to Canada, I called Ron to let him know I was putting the boat away.

“Our government is telling us to come home,” I said.

“And you do what your government tells you, not like us,” he joked.

It’s true. I noticed in my months in Florida this winter, that the level of trust, in government and media, is lower there than it is in Canada. There’s a kind of natural cynicism, a distrust of authority, in American civic culture. For Trump supporters, with this virus, that means there is a deep reluctance to accept the situation. Polling shows Americans are divided along partisan lines in their view of how serious it is.

I arranged for the boat to be stored in a boat yard until I can return, next year I hope, to finish fixing it up and get it out of Florida.

As I hurriedly cleaned and prepped the boat for a long layup, I stopped to chat with two grey-haired guys chatting in the yard about the virus. I told them I’d been researching it, talking to epidemiologists, and they asked me a few questions.

One of the guys—a trim, dapper man in his early 70s, wearing a checked shirt with a pack of Marlboros in the breast pocket—looked troubled. He kept turning to look away, shaking his head.

“How much worse is it than the flu?” he asked me.

I told him I’d read estimates that it killed 10 times as many people as the flu, and told him Florida risked becoming like Italy, where they had to tell old people they wouldn’t get ventilators.

He kept shaking his head.

“I don’t get it,” he said. “I don’t get why everyone is panicking.”

He said that twice, with the air of a man struggling to piece together facts that did not want to go together.

He was still shaking his head, staring in the distance, trying to work it out, when I bid him good day and went to finish wrapping up my boat.

I wanted to avoid airports, so I rented a car and stocked up on fruit and nuts and bottles of cola, so that I could avoid drive-throughs, and headed for the border. I listened to audiobooks as I drove — first The Plague, by Albert Camus, then The Stand, by Stephen King. Occasionally, I took breaks to listen to NPR newscasts, which were like chapters from the novels.

It was three days, 2,400 kilometres, from palm trees to snow, past many golden arches and Exxons, up Florida, through Georgia and the Carolinas, around Washington DC, then up through Pennsylvania and New York state.

I tried to be careful. I didn’t want to get infected at a gas station on my way home.

I wore disposable gloves when I filled the tank and discarded them before I got back in the car. I avoided restaurants and bathrooms. When it got cold, in upstate New York, I parked at the edge of a truck stop and changed my clothes in the darkness of the parking lot.

At first, there were a lot of RVs, trucks hauling boat trailers, snowbirds heading home. In Florida and the Carolinas, the parking lots in the malls and roadside barbecue joints were full. The further north I got, the more seriously people seemed to take the virus. In Pennsylvania and New York state, the digital highway signs—the kind that usually warn of congestion ahead—all had warnings about the virus.

A highway warning sign from somewhere near Syracuse, N.Y. (Stephen Maher)

A highway warning sign from somewhere near Syracuse, N.Y. (Stephen Maher)

At a pharmacy in Ogdensburg, where I stopped before crossing the border, the middle-aged cashier was plainly preoccupied with the news, speaking of how Governor Andrew Cuomo was going to order a lockdown, a dramatic contrast to carefree Florida.

Hertz wouldn’t let me drop off my car in Canada. “The system won’t let me do that,” said the woman I pleaded with at the Hertz call centre.

I had to get rid of the car in Ogdensburg and take an expensive cab drive across the border and up the highway to Ottawa.

The border agent was wearing a mask. She asked me where I had been, whether I had symptoms, which I didn’t. She didn’t bother asking about what I was bringing with me, as they always do in normal times. She told me I had to self-isolate for 14 days, and waited for me to confirm that I would. Then she told me that I could cross.

I was shocked, as we crossed, to find myself fighting the sudden urge to cry tears of relief.

I know it was easier than the journeys that many other Canadians made to get home in the past week, but it was stressful enough for me.

It was a reminder that my country is a relatively sane place, that I am at home here in a way I could never be in Florida. I am glad that, if worse comes to worse, I will get treated in a hospital, not because I can afford to, but because I am a resident of Ontario, and every resident of Ontario has the right to health care.

I am glad I live in a place where the beaches are closed, where there are no lineups at gun shops in troubled times.

We have a higher level of social trust in Canada—56 compared to 49 in the United States in one ranking—a quality that makes people more likely to observe quarantine advice, believe their media and public health officials during a crisis.

Canadians are divided, politically and geographically, but compared with our neighbours, our divisions are trifling. I have been impressed with the way governments of different political stripes have handled this crisis in this country. There are disagreements, as is proper in a democracy, about the best course to take, but the virus has not been turned into a political weapon, as it has in the United States, where attitudes about the illness sharply diverge on partisan lines.

I am afraid that partisan division, fuelled by a narcissistic, attention-seeking president, is going to cost the Americans dearly.

I suspect that when we have eventually run this virus into the ground, and we try to understand what worked and what didn’t, we will find that societies with high levels of social solidarity did better than societies where citizens mistrust one another.

Social solidarity—the sense that we are all in this together—is what makes retired nurses volunteer to go back to work in the frightening hospitals, and what makes healthy young people stay home to flatten the curve.

I think social solidarity is why the curve is so flat in traditionally collectivist East Asian societies, and rising so sharply in the United States.

In South Korea, Taiwan and Japan—modern, free-market democracies—governments and populations quickly pivoted to change behaviour. (Cultural norms around mask wearing and lower levels of obesity are likely also important factors in reducing infection and death rates in Asia.)

I think we can see the same thing in Canada. Quebec, which has a stronger sense of social solidarity than other provinces, has been quicker to act decisively, and thus may be spared the worst of this illness. But all of Canada has handled this well, at least in comparison with our neighbour.

Consider the contrast between Justin Trudeau, who self-isolated but didn’t get tested when he learned he might have been exposed to the virus, and Rand Paul, the libertarian U.S. senator who got tested but didn’t self-isolate, exposing countless others at the gym and the pool. Paul is a rugged individualist, an Ayn Rand enthusiast, an articulate advocate for small government, but not the kind of guy you want to see at the gym.

The United States ought to be able to beat this virus more easily than any other country. The U.S.A. is Number 1 in the Global Health Security Index, which measures “functional, tested, proven capabilities for stopping outbreaks at the source.” Canada measures Number 5. South Korea, which has beaten the virus back, is at 9. But the shifting case count does not reflect those rankings. The Americans are not flattening the curve, and already Trump is talking about getting everyone back to work, which is madness.

With catastrophic leadership and a lack of social solidarity, the United States looks like it is going to get hit hard, which is tragic, because it has the resources to stop the virus in its tracks. What it doesn’t have is the leadership, the will, the social solidarity, to get equipment to health-care workers and convince everyone to stay home for a few weeks.

Almost a million Canadians came home last week from around the world as the news about this nightmare pandemic reached the snowbirds and backpackers.

We face an uncertain future, locked down with no idea when we will be free to resume normal lives, awaiting grim news from our hospitals, but we are home, in a good, well-organized place, where we can be sure that however bad things get, we will do our best to get through it together, even as we keep our distance.

It is another reminder, for anyone who needs one, that we are lucky to call this country home, and that we ought to do what we can to make sure it remains the kind of place where people look out for one another.

The Coronavirus Calls for Wartime Economic Thinking

Despite an unprecedented intervention over the weekend from the Federal Reserve, which cut short-term interest rates to close to zero and introduced emergency lending measures, the U.S. stock market fell sharply again on Monday. By the close of trading, the Dow Jones Industrial Average had fallen almost three thousand points—the worst single-day points loss in history—or thirteen per cent. The market is now down by almost a third from its peak, in late February.

Clearly, investors are spooked by the widening coronavirus outbreak and the likely impact of the public-health measures that are being taken to deal with it. But what exactly is going on in the markets and the economy? In search of answers to this question, I spoke on Monday with Ian Shepherdson, the founder of Pantheon Macroeconomics, a firm that advises Wall Street firms, hedge funds, and institutional investors.

Shepherdson, who was formerly the chief U.S. economist at the international bank H.S.B.C., said that some investors were alarmed by the fact that the Fed felt obliged to act just a couple days before one of its regular policy meetings, and that they were also fretting about the delay in getting both chambers of Congress to pass an emergency spending bill. But Shepherdson also suggested that there were other factors at play, including some psychological ones. “To be brutally honest,” he said, “I think a lot of people on Wall Street didn’t take the virus seriously enough until it was their towns where cases were being discovered and their kids who were being sent home from school.”

Now the virus is impossible to ignore, and so are its economic consequences. “It’s going to be catastrophic,” Shepherdson said bluntly. “This is an economy built on discretionary consumption.” He was referring to all the nonessential purchases that people make in their daily lives, things ranging from new clothes and appliances to personal services such as spa sessions, meals in restaurants, and Uber rides. According to Shepherdson, all this nonessential stuff amounts to about forty per cent of the U.S.’s gross domestic product. In other words, it is enormous, in terms of both its dollar contribution to the economy and the number of people it employs.

As of yet, we don’t have any over-all figures for how shutdowns and curfews and self-isolation are impacting spending, but there are some preliminary indications. Over the weekend, movie-ticket sales fell forty-four per cent compared to the previous weekend. Shepherdson has been monitoring the number of people eating out through the booking site OpenTable. On Sunday night, the amount was down forty-eight per cent compared with the previous year. He read out some of the figures for individual states: “Alabama: down thirty-eight per cent. California: down fifty-five per cent. New York: down forty-seven per cent. New Jersey: down fifty-six per cent. This is just unbelievable.”

That was when most restaurants were still operating. Now that many states, including New York and New Jersey, have ordered them to close, apart from making deliveries, business is going to fall even more dramatically. The same is going to be the case for countless other enterprises, small and large. As they shut down, many of them are going to furlough their workers or let them go permanently.

This will result in a sharp rise in unemployment and in negative G.D.P. growth—in other words, a recession. “The U.S. economy is shrinking as we speak—I have no doubt at all about that,” Shepherdson said. On Monday, some Wall Street economists suggested that the G.D.P. could fall at an annualized rate of five per cent in the second quarter of this year. Shepherdson believes the downturn could be even more severe than that, with the G.D.P. contracting at a rate of about ten per cent. A collapse in discretionary consumer spending isn’t the only danger, he noted. As businesses react to the crisis, they will likely postpone a lot of capital spending, too. “We have no information about that yet,” he said. “But it is definitely going to get hit badly, as well.”

To alleviate some of this damage, economists of many different political persuasions agree that the Trump Administration and Congress need to introduce a substantial stimulus package on top of the coronavirus spending bill that the House of Representatives passed on Saturday. How big should these measures be? “I am in the one-trillion-to-two-trillion-dollar camp, preferably by dinner time,” Shepherdson said. “I think they should be just throwing money at people and businesses that are in the front line. Cash has to be given out to households. Cash has to be given out to small businesses. Cash has to be given out to gig workers. I don’t know what the figures are for Uber drivers, but they are probably catastrophic.”

It’s not just small businesses that are being affected, of course. Airlines, hotels chains, and other corporate entities are hemorrhaging money. Shepherdson said that some airlines could go bust “very quickly” if they don’t receive some sort of aid. “People say don’t bail them out—they’ve made billions of dollars in profits and paid their senior executives enormous sums,” he said. “I’m very sympathetic to that argument. But we are going to need an airline industry in September. So bail them out and sack the C.E.O.s. You can’t think in normal terms. This is more like a wartime crisis than a normal economic situation.”

Shepherdson isn’t the only economist making an allusion to the emergency measures that governments make in a war economy. “The world is de facto at war (against the virus, rather than against each other—this is the good news . . .),” Olivier Blanchard, the former chief economist at the International Monetary Fund, tweeted on Monday. He went on to point out that, during the Second World War, the federal deficit as a percentage of the G.D.P. rose to twenty-six per cent, as the Roosevelt Administration spent heavily on armaments and other programs. “Let’s not be squeamish,” Blanchard added.

Shepherdson agrees. “This is not a normal economic event in any way, shape, or form,” he said. “You have to be willing to think what previously would have been unthinkable.” If necessary, he said, the Federal Reserve could buy the bonds that the U.S. Treasury issues to finance a massive economic support package—a tactic known as “monetization,” which also was employed after the Second World War.

Why do we worry about monetization?” Shepherdson said. “Because we are concerned about hyperinflation, but that isn’t an issue now, and we have a much bigger problem in our faces.” If the economy slumps in the way he thinks it is about to, a lack of adequate financial support for people who are adversely affected could lead to social unrest. “The first job of the government is to prevent social breakdown,” Shepherdson said. “If ever there was a case when quick government action could do that, then this is it.”

Dave Ramsey Reacts To Potential Stock Market Crash!

Dave Ramsey Reacts To Potential Stock Market Crash!


for those of you that are as old as me
you remember this when we were kids we
used to have these things called service
stations they’re different than gas
stations because someone would actually
come out to your car and pump your gas
for you and I distinctly remember on
Nolensville Road the main drag right
down from our home that there was a
service station on three different
corners of a possible four corner
intersection three of them competing
with each other occasionally a sign
would go up that would say gas war if
you’re old you remember gas Wars your
local gas stations would compete with
each other and one of them would drop
the price and all that everybody would
go over there the other one will drop
the price more and everybody would go
over there and the other one drop the
price more and they’d all go over there
and these is competition in the
marketplace without government
intervention drove the prices down until
the guys got tired of it and then they
just kind of raised all the prices back
up but we’d go through a period of time
that this head-to-head competition
caused a gas war and it was competition
and it was turned out to be good for us
because we didn’t have a lot of money
and we could put gas in our tank because
it was cheaper well guess what Russia
and the Middle East have decided to have
an oil war not a war where they’re
shooting each other but where they’re
driving the price of oil down
dramatically it’s dropped 33% over the
weekend now you know those gas stations
I was talking about when they dropped
their prices everybody help me with this
do they make more money or less money
with lower prices they made less money
okay everybody knows this right their
profits went down didn’t it but they got
customers and they got to stay in
business by competing so guess what
happens when the price of oil goes down
two guys like Chevron and Exxon people
like that their profits go down because
the price of their barrel of oil went
down that they’re sucking out of the
you know that means you’re about to get
some cheap gas in the coming weeks for
your car right people if oil drops 33%
do you know I think it’s going to affect
your dadgum get price at the pump yes it
will okay because the gas war will are
the oil war which gas has made out of
oil will turn into a gas war at the pump
around here it won’t have a little sign
up that says gas war it’s probably
politically incorrect you probably get
put in jail but end of the day is you
guys are gonna get some cheap gas
because this is driven down now it’s is
it you think it’s gonna stay down no no
more than the gas war between the gas
stations continued forever it’s not
going to stay down and so Exxon is going
to survive and Chevron is going to
survive and BP is going to survive and
Halliburton is going to survive
everybody that all these oil stocks that
are driven by profit in the oil business
but guess what they’re part of the Dow
Jones Industrial Average and when their
profits go away to the tune of 33% over
the weekend guess what their stock price
does it goes down oh let’s mix that with
all of you people have completely lost
your mind
over the coronavirus and everybody’s
scared out of their brains and can’t
even think clearly now oh and now we
have a wonderful buying opportunity on
the stock market today the stock market
is tanked based on this oil war and the
coronavirus now let me help you with
this my friend art Laffer who is one of
the leading economists in the world
without a doubt has a great saying he
says people don’t make good decisions
when they’re drunk and they don’t make
good decisions when they’re panicked if
you’re thinking about pulling your money
on the stock market because you think
the coronavirus is going to destroy the
US economy you are a panicked fool
you’re a fool Southwest airs stock
prices down 30% do you think Southwest
air has lost 30% of its value because of
the coronavirus in reality I mean learn
to do a little basic math here that
means that throughout the next five
years there
on their planes would have to be down
30% for them to have permanently lost
30% of their value that’s asinine you’re
panicked or you’re drunk I don’t know
which it is or both
that’s ridiculous and so the stock
market going down is as artificial as it
can be it is based on drunk people panic
people in an oil war and that’s what
it’s based on this is the best buying
opportunity in 10 or 15 years on the
stock market today because these numbers
are down artificially these companies
have not lost all of this money they’ve
not lost all of this value do you think
Cruise Lines dropped 40% in value over
the last 16 days come on I’m dumb are
you okay listen here’s the deal
40,000 people will die of car wrecks
this year in the u.s. 14,000 people have
died of the flu so far in the US and
around 40,000 will die of the flu this
year in the US 22 people have died of
the corona virus and yet you cannot find
a bottle of that hand-washing stuff
anywhere in any store in America today
you would think the stuff was gold if
you got a case of it you ought to put it
on eBay overnight because some panicked
fool will pay you $8,000 an ounce for
that stuff in it people have lost their
minds if you lost their minds and I
don’t want the corona virus and I don’t
want you to die the corona virus and I
don’t want you to die the flu I don’t
want you to die in a car wreck I don’t
want anybody die I want everybody to
live have a good life I’m here for you
but you’re sacrificing your entire
freaking retirement because you’re
panicked because you watch too much news
you need to turn off the news you need
turn off let me tell you the level of
anxiety you have is directly tied to the
number of hours a day you spend watching
news if you just turn it off and open up
your Bible my friend Zig Ziglar
say I read the newspaper every morning
and I read the Bible every morning so I
can tell what both sides are doing and
you know I tell you what you’re just
gonna have to think people when you’re
drunk and when you’re panicked you don’t
make good decisions usually as soon as I
get really really scared right after
that I get really really desperate and I
get riot right after that really really
stupid and cashing out your retirement
account or stopping your investing or
bailing on your 401k because you’ve
watched too much news is absolutely
asinine do not do that as a matter of
fact if you’ve got some extra money it’s
a good week to put some money in I don’t
believe in market timing I don’t have a
single dollar allocated in my personal
budget for timing the market so all of
my purchases of mutual funds are on
autopilot they just go when they go but
I’m kind of regretting that right this
second because man I could turn a
million dollars into two million so fast
right now thank you to Russia and thank
you to the Middle East for driving the
oil prices down because I’m gonna get a
cheap tank of gas from my big butt
Raptor pretty soon out of you people and
I’m gonna grin all the way to the bank
when this stock market comes right
straight back up and the rest of your
standing on the sidelines going I lost
half my retirement because you panicked