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China's Covid lockdowns add to global economic instability

First Read is your briefing from "Meet the Press" and the NBC Political Unit on the day's most important political stories and why they matter.
Image: Shanghai Covid
An official wearing protective gear sits in front of a barrier blocking off a street after the detection of new cases of Covid-19 in Shanghai on March 15, 2022.Hector Retamal / AFP - Getty Images

WASHINGTON — If it’s Tuesday ... Russian strikes rock residential buildings in Kyiv. ... Ukraine President Zelenskyy urges Russian soldiers to surrender as he’s set to address U.S. Congress (virtually) on Wednesday. ... President Biden signs omnibus spending bill into law. ... It’s a time for choosing in the GOP Pennsylvania Senate primary. ... Stacey Abrams rolls out her first ad in the Georgia gubernatorial contest. ... And NBC News presents Plan Your Vote.

But first: Be prepared for more economic instability, especially given the Omicron lockdowns in China.

NBC’s Benjy Sarlin has the details: “The pandemic has already disrupted shipping and production in [China], contributing to supply chain snarls and higher prices around the world. Now, the government has placed manufacturing hub Shenzhen, population 17.5 million, under lockdown to get cases under control. Apple announced its supplier Foxconn was temporarily stopping operations as part of the move."

More: “Not every effect so far has necessarily been inflationary. On the other side of the ledger, the price of oil plummeted on Monday, which some market watchers attributed to fears that Chinese outbreaks and lockdowns will push down global demand as business shuts down and customers stay inside.”

But “a series of stop-and-start lockdowns could extend supply issues that many countries were hoping to move past in 2022. With the world economy already rattled by Russia's invasion in Ukraine and subsequent sanctions, China's Covid situation is one more source of potential upheaval.”

Translation: With this news — plus what’s taking place in Ukraine — don’t expect global economic stability in time for when the midterm environment gets locked in (traditionally around the summer).

Make no mistake, many indicators show a rosy American economy. Job creation is way up, unemployment is way down.

But it’s all of the instability — inflation, rising energy prices, supply-chain issues, Covid factors — that appears to be the reason why the Michigan Consumer Sentiment Index just hit its lowest level in a decade.

And it doesn’t appear that instability is going away anytime soon.

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Tweet of the day

Data Download: The number of the day is … 33

That’s the number of states that have instituted major rule changes to voting since 2020. Check out our website to help plan your vote and navigate any of these changes with an interactive tool to see state-by-state information on the primaries and midterm elections, including key dates.

Other numbers you need to know today:

35: The number of states — including DC — where you can vote by mail without an excuse, per NBC News. An additional two states allow vote by mail if the excuse is Covid-19, and 14 states require an excuse other than Covid-19 to vote by mail.

33: The number of states where you need an ID to vote on Election Day.

12: The number of states where you need a notary or witness to vote by mail.

35 percent: The share of Black, Hispanic, Asian and other registered voters who, in the new Wall Street Journal Poll, say the cost of living is rising and creating major financial strain — higher than the 28 percent of white voters who say this.

$14.4 million: How much the Democratic National Committee says it raised in February.

79,749,199: The number of confirmed cases of coronavirus in the United States, per the most recent data from NBC News and health officials.

973,606: The number of deaths in the United States from the virus so far.

Midterm roundup

It’s a time for choosing in the Pennsylvania Republican Senate primary, and some big-name Republicans are picking sides. Fox News host Sean Hannity has endorsed celebrity doctor Mehmet Oz, while former Senate hopeful Sean Parnell (who was endorsed by former President Donald Trump but dropped out after allegations of domestic violence, which he denies) is campaigning with former hedge fund manager Dave McCormick.

Elsewhere on the campaign trail:

Georgia Democratic gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams is going up on television for the first time this cycle with about $440,000, according to AdImpact. “I was raised that when you don't get what you want, you don't give up, you try again,” she says in her first TV ad, referencing her unsuccessful run for governor in 2018.

Ohio Democratic gubernatorial hopeful John Cranley is going up on TV for the first time, too, with a buy of just less than $260,000.

Iowa Republican Gov. Kim Reynolds is endorsing former Wisconsin Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch in her gubernatorial bid, where she’s running against veteran Kevin Nicholson and state Assemblyman Tim Ramthun in the GOP primary.

The Democratic Majority for Israel PAC is out with 20 new endorsements, including Democratic Senate hopefuls and Reps. Val Demings of Florida and Tim Ryan of Ohio, as well as a handful of incumbents in competitive races.

The trial against Nebraska GOP Rep. Jeff Fortenberry, who has been charged with lying to the FBI and accepting a foreign campaign contribution (which he denies), starts this Wednesday, as he faces a primary challenge later this year.

Texas Republican House nominee Wesley Hunt is starting a PAC to support his favored candidates ahead of November’s midterm elections, according to The Hill.

Montana Republican Sen. Steve Daines told Politico he wants to lead the National Republican Senatorial Committee next cycle.

Former President Donald Trump endorsed two Republicans last night — Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt (who has faced escalating attacks on the airwaves in recent weeks, see more below) and North Carolina’s Bo Hines, who is running in the state’s 13th District in a primary against former Rep. Rene Ellmers.

Ad watch: A gruesome crime

The group Sooner State Leadership is out with a new ad in Oklahoma highlighting a shocking incident to paint Gov. Stitt as soft on crime.

The ad, which started airing yesterday, highlights a gruesome murder in which a convicted felon recently released from prison murdered three people, carving one woman’s heart from her body after she died.

Another group, Conservative Voice of America, ran an ad targeting Stitt last week that focused on the same crime. Both groups say the felon was released by Governor Stitt’s “soft on crime” policies. Actually, the man was released after Stitt signed bipartisan legislation that was approved by voters and reclassified some low level drug and property crimes from felonies to misdemeanors.

So far in this race, Sooner State Leadership has spent over $540,000 on ads, while Conservative Voice of America has spent over $498,000, per AdImpact, an ad tracking firm. Meanwhile, Stitt has spent just over $77,000 on commercials in the state.

ICYMI: What else is happening in the world

Idaho legislators passed a ban on abortions after six weeks, sending the legislation to GOP Gov. Brad Little’s desk.

Mississippi GOP Gov. Tate Reeves signed a bill into law that limits how race can be discussed in schools.

Trump has teased another run for president in 2024, and a Democratic super PAC says he’s violating campaign finance laws by not officially declaring a run, per The New York Times.

Ginni Thomas, the wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, says she attended the Jan. 6 rally at the White House.

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