DealBook: ‘Don’t Be Afraid of It’?

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Trump sends a message

President Trump has returned to the White House after a three-day stay at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center for treatment of his Covid-19 infection. But speculation that he might adopt a more cautious attitude toward the disease was quickly erased.

“Don’t let it dominate your lives,” Mr. Trump said of the coronavirus in a video recorded at the White House last night. “Don’t be afraid of it. You’re going to beat it.” Meanwhile, his administration is blocking proposed federal guidelines requiring strict scrutiny of potential Covid-19 vaccines, which he described in the video as coming “momentarily.”

His words may pose problems for business reopenings. They could make some people more cavalier about coronavirus protection measures, including at the office, said Robert Rabin of Stanford Law School. (“We’re going back to work,” Mr. Trump said. “Get out there.”) This raises questions about employers’ and business venues’ liability for infections, as Republicans continue to advocate a legal liability shield for companies as part of any stimulus deal.

• The purpose of liability law is to incentivize responsible behavior by making irresponsibility costly, said Justin Wolfers, a professor of economics and public policy at the University of Michigan. “We’d expect to see many more irresponsible choices being made” by those taking the president’s comments to heart, he said.

What happens next? Mr. Trump said he would return to the campaign trail “soon,” with polls taken after his diagnosis showing no sympathy bounce. The stock market is up from its level before the president’s test was announced, which many take as a sign that investors are pricing in odds of a more decisive victory by Joe Biden, reducing fears of a contested result.

• A “blue wave” result, in which the Democrats control all arms of government, would result in higher corporate taxes and special levies on foreign income, which would hit high-flying tech firms the hardest. At the same time, unified control would make a big stimulus bill more likely, which would “at least match the likely longer-term tax increases on corporations and upper-income earners,” Jan Hatzius, Goldman Sachs’ chief economist, wrote in a new research note.

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Today’s DealBook Briefing was written by Andrew Ross Sorkin and Lauren Hirsch in New York, Ephrat Livni in Washington and Michael J. de la Merced and Jason Karaian in London.

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Here’s what’s happening

Gov. Andrew Cuomo blocks neighborhood lockdowns in New York City. The New York governor said Mayor Bill de Blasio’s plan to shut nonessential businesses where infection rates were rising would have been ineffective. It’s the latest conflict between the governor and the mayor, adding to the angst and uncertainty around New York’s economy.

The I.R.S. is reportedly investigating the National Rifle Association’s chief for criminal fraud. At issue is whether Wayne LaPierre underreported his income by not declaring benefits like yacht trips and safaris, according to The Wall Street Journal.

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