Secretary Wilbur Ross is seeing the silver lining in the coronavirus outbreak: more North American jobs.
Yet, he wastes no time in pointing out that it could be a boon for U.S. businesses.
Secretary Wilbur Ross says coronavirus will be good for [checks notes] American jobs: "I think it will help to accelerate the return of jobs to North America." pic.twitter.com/Y4SbDIcTi4
— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) January 30, 2020
Twitter users were quick to compare Ross to a villain after this exchange:
— The Volatile Mermaid (@OhNoSheTwitnt) January 30, 2020
International pandemic, but its good economics. #evil
— Fred Kesselman (@fkess23) January 30, 2020
What a sick, sick man.
— Minuteman (@tonydicenzo) January 30, 2020
Ross is wrong
Evilness aside, Ross’s rosy outlook on a possible global pandemic is also wrong according to Fed Chairman Jerome H. Powell.
After a two-day meeting, Powell told reporters that coronavirus was a “significant thing” with possible repercussions on a global scale.
“The Chinese economy is very important in the global economy now and, you know, when China’s economy slows down, we do feel that.”
While China was enacting a quarantine in the Hubei province, many American businesses were busy shutting up shop in the Asian country. Facebook and Microsoft have been banning travel to China and pulling out employees already there. Starbucks, H&M, and McDonald’s have closed stores in China.
And U.S. businesses aren’t the only ones pulling out. Honda is halting work in China during the health crisis. Plus, European airlines such as British Airways have suspended flights to the country.
Worse than SARS
Back in the early 2000s when the SARS virus resulted in over 700 deaths, the outbreak lasted roughly six months. Most of the economic impact was felt in China itself and neighboring Asian countries.
Back then, however, China’s slice of the global economy was only about 8% of the whole pie. Now, it is closer to 20% and the dependence on Chinese supply chains stretches across the world.
Christopher Rupkey, managing director and chief financial economist at MUFG Union Bank in New York, calls it the “800-pound gorilla”:
“The China virus is the 800-pound gorilla in the room when it comes to the risks that the global economy faces. If U.S. exports continue to fade in response to slowing world growth and trade, the U.S. manufacturing recession could cause a real recession and bring the Federal Reserve back into the picture with rate cuts in a hurry.”
Ross may need to rethink his stance.