Adam Tooze, 16 April 2020
Once you lose control all the options are bad: shut down the economy for an unforeseeable duration, or hundreds of thousands die. Trump hasn’t mastered the challenge; instead, he expresses through his vacillations and erratic utterances the impossibility of doing so by any means that won’t cause a lot of pain. In the guise of Trump the economy appears not so much as a superego laying down the law, but as an irrepressible impulse that insists we satisfy its demands regardless of the cost, a symptom not of realism but of derangement. Trump thus personifies something that is in fact common to Europe and the US: a lack of leadership at the level appropriate to dealing with a pandemic. Instead, the job has devolved to regional governors in the US and national governments in Europe, to desperately overstretched medical services, on the one hand, and the technicians of economic policy and social relief, on the other. Meanwhile, hundreds of millions of individuals and their families cope as best they can. As with climate change, we are left praying for a deus ex machina in the form of a scientific breakthrough.