May 21, 2020 - Economy & Business

Europe crafts a fiscal lifeline

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Europe came one step closer to the long-held dream of fiscal union this week, as both France and Germany signed on to the idea of the EU itself — rather than member states — raising money on the bond market that could then be spent on crisis relief.

Flashback: In April, I praised a Spanish proposal that the EU issue €1.5 trillion in perpetual bonds and then give the proceeds to the member states most hurt by the pandemic. The problem was that while Spain would be a net winner from the scheme, none of the net losers seemed inclined to sign on.

Driving the news: The proposal from France and Germany is similar, if smaller, at €500 billion ($550 billion). Still, it would constitute an unprecedented transfer from Europe's richest countries to those most in need.

  • Reality check: All 27 EU member states, including fiscally hawkish nations like the Netherlands and Austria, would need to agree in order for this to become a reality. But up until now, Angela Merkel's Germany would also have been considered to be in that group.

What they're saying: "Ms. Merkel, in the twilight of her long political career, has put the interests of the 27-nation union" before her domestic concerns, writes Steven Erlanger of the New York Times.

The bottom line: The U.S. monetary union only works because it allows and accepts massive one-way fiscal flows from the rich states to the poorer ones. (New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo has had some choice words on that subject of late.) If the European monetary union is to succeed, similar flows between states are likely to be necessary.

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Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 7 p.m. ET: 5,682,389 — Total deaths: 354,944 — Total recoveries — 2,337,385Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 7 p.m. ET: 1,697,459 — Total deaths: 100,271 — Total recoveries: 391,508 — Total tested: 15,192,481Map.
  3. Public health: Fauci says data is "really quite evident" against hydroxychloroquine — Nearly half of Americans say someone in their household has delayed medical care.
  4. Business: African American business owners have seen less relief from PPP, Goldman Sachs saysDisney plans phased reopening on July 11Author Ann Patchett says bookstores are innovating to stay connected with customers.
  5. Tech: AI will help in the pandemic — but it might not be in time for this one.
  6. 1 🎶 thing: Local music venues get rocked by coronavirus.
  7. 🎧 Podcast: Trump vs. Twitter ... vs. Trump.
  8. What should I do? When you can be around others after contracting the coronavirus — Traveling, asthma, dishes, disinfectants and being contagiousMasks, lending books and self-isolatingExercise, laundry, what counts as soap — Pets, moving and personal healthAnswers about the virus from Axios expertsWhat to know about social distancingHow to minimize your risk.
  9. Other resources: CDC on how to avoid the virus, what to do if you get it, the right mask to wear.

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Updated 54 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Top Senate Democrat says State Dept. is working on new Saudi arms deal

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo briefs reporters on May 20. Photo: Nicholas Kamm/pool/AFP via Getty Images

Senate Foreign Relations ranking member Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) wrote in a CNN op-ed on Wednesday that he learned that the State Department is currently working to sell thousands of additional precision-guided bombs to Saudi Arabia.

Why it matters: Democrats say that Steve Linick, the State Department inspector general who was ousted on Secretary of State Mike Pompeo's recommendation, was investigating the administration's previous effort to sell weapons to Saudi Arabia without congressional approval.

U.S. coronavirus death toll crosses 100,000

Data: Johns Hopkins University; Chart: Danielle Alberti/Axios

More than 100,000 Americans have died of the coronavirus, according to data from Johns Hopkins — a terrible milestone that puts the death toll far beyond some of the most tragic events in U.S. history.

By the numbers: The death toll from COVID-19 now stands at more than 34 times the number of people who died on 9/11.