Health in body and in mind

Written by Katie Stanton, Senior Associate

Edited by Adam Shaw, Associate Partner

Good morning, Reading of nothing but death statistics, a creaking health service and the threat of more stringent isolation takes an inevitable toll on the human spirit. Born of a generation of non-stop news consumers, even I’m becoming numb to the reporting, as another expert explains away the minutes on why we ought to worry, but not too much; to keep calm, but definitely not carry on. It’s exhausting.  What could have been a peaceful couple of weeks of seclusion is now overrun with keyboard warriors desperate to exchange scorn and luxuriate in fictitious Twitter doom. For every well-intentioned community group, there’s a troll spreading misinformation, an influencer normalising panic-buying. And that’s not to mention the dramatic newspaper headlines.  What I’m saying – in more words than clinically necessary – is that the nation’s mental health will suffer as a natural by-product of isolation and the constant negative drumbeat of news. Individuals may feel a loss of control and unable to tolerate the uncertainty of the crisis. Happily, just as governments and international organisations search to reduce the spread of the virus and find a vaccine, so too are they looking to safeguard mental health. Amongst other things, the World Health Organisation recommends distancing yourself from news and taking practical steps to protect yourself and loved ones. But responsibility shouldn’t just fall to the individual.  From the media, we now need straight reporting, free of click bait headlines or dramatic hot takes from non-experts. We also need some positivity, because there really is plenty to go around if you know where to find it. Just yesterday it was reported that an Italian town had cut its new coronavirus cases to zero with aggressive testing. Cases of Covid-19 have dropped sharply in South Korea following the implementation of an expansive, well-organised testing system. Heck, China reported just one new domestic case. The coronavirus pandemic is scary and we all should remain vigilant. But, for the sake of our minds, distance and perspective will also be key to navigating the weeks and months ahead.


The government is being urged to do more to help families and workers affected by the coronavirus crisis after it announced £350bn of support for companies. Ministers promised mortgage “holidays” for those in financial difficulty, as well as £330bn in loans and £20bn in other aid to protect businesses. But critics have said more support is needed sooner, particularly for renters and those working in the gig economy. Former vice president Joe Biden now has a near-insurmountable lead over opponent Bernie Sanders after sweeping Tuesday’s primaries in Arizona, Florida and Illinois in the race to secure the Democratic party’s presidential nomination. Biden appealed to Sanders supporters directly for support, as pressure mounted on the Vermont senator to exit the contest. The man found guilty of the murder of British backpacker Grace Millane will appeal his conviction and life sentence, according to his lawyers. The 28-year-old was jailed for at least 17 years for strangling Millane in a hotel in Auckland before hiding her body in a suitcase and burying it in bushland. He claims the 21-year-old died accidentally after the pair engaged in rough sex that went too far.

Business and economy

Eurozone member states are debating the highly sensitive question of when and how to action the region’s powerful economic rescue fund in the fight against coronavirus. Member states are divided over how soon to use the €500bn European Stability Mechanism, with Germany and the Netherlands arguing that it may send the wrong signal and further erode investor confidence if it deployed too early. (£) Dixons Carphone has said it will cut 2,900 jobs under plans to close all 531 of its standalone Carphone Warehouse stores. The retailer described the move as the “next step in its transformation” as it focuses on its 305 Currys PCWorld stores and online offering. The company said it would “go well beyond the legal obligations in financial and other support for all affected colleagues”. HSBC has confirmed that interim chief executive Noel Quinn will take up the post permanently with immediate effect, bringing an end to a six-month external search. In August last year, Mark Tucker, the chairman, ousted chief executive John Flint over an alleged argument about how fast the bank should have been hitting its targets.

Columns of note

According to Amy Feldman and Samantha Sharf of Forbes, coronavirus may kill WeWork. In the past week or two, working-from-home has become standard corporate policy for much of the western world. Naturally then, the idea of “shared office space” seems “akin to [a] 2008 subprime mortgage”. Add in its reputational issues – many see WeWork as a synonym for greed, dysfunction and hubris – and the news that SoftBank is now backing away from a $3 billion deal to buy out shareholders, and the workspace pioneer looks like it could be the latest coronavirus fatality. Joe Pinkser examines the people ignoring social distancing in The Atlantic this week. Coronavirus be damned, hordes of Americans continued to fill bars and restaurants over the weekend, against official advice. But why? According to human judgement and decision-making experts, the human brain can fail to keep pace with rapidly accelerating case numbers. People also fail to recognise where numbers may not be representative, and generally overestimate their own control over whether they get themselves and others sick. (£)

Source: Evening Standard


What happened yesterday?

Global stock markets rallied yesterday following moves on both sides of the Atlantic to shore up national economies in the face of the coronavirus pandemic. The UK’s FTSE 100 reversed a fall of more than three per cent during the day to close up 143.82 points, or 2.8%, at 5,294.90. Meanwhile, Wall Street also rebounded after a day of panic selling on Monday pushed US stocks to their heaviest one-day falls since 1987. The S&P 500 was up six per cent and the Dow Jones Industrial Average, which dipped below the 20,000 mark in early trading, advanced 5.2% to 21,237.38. These gains came as chancellor Rishi Sunak unveiled a rescue package for the UK economy and the US Federal Reserve opened a commercial paper funding facility for the first time since the financial crisis. In addition, the White House is contemplating a $1 trillion fiscal stimulus package which could see every American adult receive $1,000 in the next two weeks. On the currency markets, the pound was up 0.26% against the dollar at $1.21, and flat against the euro at €1.10.

What's happening today?


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International Economic Announcements

(07:00) Wholesale Price Index (GER) (10:00) Consumer Price Index (EU) (10:00) Balance of Trade (EU) (11:00) MBA Mortgage Applications (US) (12:30) Housing Starts (US) (12:30) Building Permits (US) (14:30) Crude Oil Inventories (US)

Source: Financial Times

Did you know?

A 2015 study determined that men who make sexist comments to women in online video games are also objectively worse at video games than less sexist men.

Parliamentary highlights

House of Commons Oral questions Northern Ireland Prime Minister’s Question Time Ten Minute Rule Motion Children (access to treatment) – Bambos Charalambous Opposition day debate Subject to be announced Adjournment Future of farming in Somerset – Mr Ian Liddell-Grainger House of Lords Oral questions Results of the Housing Delivery Test – Baroness Thornhill Shortage of supply of contraceptives and hormone replacement therapy drugs in the UK – Baroness Thornton Assisting universities and further education colleges to address issues with higher education provision in rural and coastal areas – Lord Bassam of Brighton Report concluding that the Metropolitan Police Service has made slow progress in learning the lessons that arose from Operation Midland – Lord Lexden Debate The economy in light of the Budget Statement – Lord Agnew of Oulton Scottish Parliament Ministerial statement Education – Covid-19 Economy – Covid-19 Portfolio questions Justice and the law officers Constitution, Europe and external affairs SPCB motion Reimbursement of members expenses scheme