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Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

A crisis is a terrible thing to waste. The coronavirus crisis is a dress rehearsal for the climate crisis: It will help show us not only what is possible, but also, crucially, whether or not those actions work.

Why it matters: There has never been a better time for big financial ideas to become reality.

  • The natural conservatism of rich governments has evaporated in the face of the global pandemic. They've already implemented more than $8 trillion in fiscal action, and many more policies are being proposed.
  • The biggest fiscal idea of them all, the Green New Deal, will have to wait at least until after the pandemic has been brought under control. But the main opposition to the GND is centered on its cost, and the potential negative consequences of enormous government borrowing and spending.
  • We're about to find out, in countries around the world, whether massive government deficits prove to be inflationary. If they do, that's bad news for the GND. But if they don't, many of the arguments against it are effectively defanged.

The big picture: "For everything except the financial markets, time has stopped," Nobel economics laureate Joe Stiglitz tells Axios. But capitalism is based on the flow of money. Now that many of those flows have stopped, governments are attempting to magic replacement flows out of thin air.

  • In a normally functioning economy, Stiglitz says, "I’m supposed to be able to pay you because I’ve earned money, not because I've received a gift from the government. We’re suspending the system of accountability, which is money."

The bottom line: Addressing the current economic crisis means finding innovative ways to create new flows of money, fast. The good news is that there are almost no technical obstacles to doing that. Money is invisible and electronic; it can be created at the press of a button.

  • There's still one taboo: Central banks have shied away from simply printing money, as opposed to lending it to banks, governments and others and expecting repayment in the future. They'll do most anything else, however.

Go deeper

29 mins ago - World

Hong Kong media tycoon Jimmy Lai detained on fraud charge

An activist holds a placard highlighting China's Tiananmen Square massacre as pro-democracy media tycoon Jimmy Lai arrives at West Kowloon Magistrates' Court in Hong Kong in November. Photo: Isaac Wong/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Hong Kong media tycoon Jimmy Lai is being detained until an April court hearing after the pro-democracy supporter was charged Thursday with fraud, per his Apple Daily news outlet.

Why it matters: His arrest and denial of bail is another blow for the pro-democracy movement in the former British colony amid concerns about a fresh crackdown on activists.

4 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Inhofe loudly sets Trump straight on defense bill

Sen. Jim Inhofe speaks with reporters in the Capitol last month. Photo: Samuel Corum/Getty Images

Senator Jim Inhofe told President Trump today he'll likely fail to get two big wishes in pending defense spending legislation, bellowing into his cellphone: "This is the only chance to get our bill passed," a source who overheard part of their conversation tells Axios.

Why it matters: Republicans are ready to test whether Trump's threats of vetoing the bill, which has passed every year for more than half a century, are empty.

Conspiracy theories blow back on Trump's White House

Sidney Powell. Photo: Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images

President Trump has rarely met a conspiracy theory he doesn't like, but he and other Republicans now worry the wild tales told by lawyers Sidney Powell and Lin Wood may cost them in Georgia's Senate special elections.

Why it matters: The two are telling Georgians not to vote for Republicans David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler because of a bizarre, baseless and potentially self-defeating theory: It's not worth voting because the Chinese Communist Party has rigged the voting machines.