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Home Depot co-founder: States should decide when to reopen economy after worst of coronavirus

The Home Depot co-founder Bernie Marcus believes the decision to reopen the U.S. economy after the worst of the coronavirus pandemic should fall on the states.

“Treating everything with one brush doesn’t work,” Marcus, who also founded small business lobbyist Job Creators Network, said on Yahoo Finances The First Trade. “I will give you the perfect example. A town in Nebraska compared to New York City, it just doesn’t work and the same dynamics and metrics don’t work for either of them. So you have to leave it up to the governors and the mayors to make the decision. But I think everybody has to understand that the safety of the employees and the safety of customers are critically important.”

As of right now, how and when the U.S. economy reopens for business is anyone’s guess.

President Trump has backpedaled on his initial view the administration has the ultimate authority to say when businesses reopen. The administration has recently released a plan outlining a three-tiered approach to easing social distancing measures.

Most governors across the U.S. — notably in the hard hit coronavirus areas such as New York and New Jersey — remain wary of moving too quickly on any form of economic re-openings. But almost everyone agrees opening the economy before the summer —provided the coronavirus curve continues to flatten — is a more desired plan given the economic toll of quarantines.

Bernie Marcus headshot, Home Depot co-founder and former chairman and CEO, photo
Bernie Marcus headshot, Home Depot co-founder and former chairman and CEO, photo

“If we wait until June or July, you can write off not just 2020, but the first half of 2021. You’re talking about real devastation,” economic adviser to president Trump Stephen Moore told Yahoo Finance. Moore believes the U.S. economy should have already been reopened.

Marcus is more cautious on a reopening. He thinks it’s better government and businesspeople get it right instead of simply reopening and creating renewed health risks.

“So there has got to be some common sense involved here and government can just do so much. Then the burden comes on the businesspeople. It’s where hey, if you want to survive you better figure out a way to it intelligently. Think it through very carefully because if you have one or two instances where people are not safe, where your employees develop the virus, you’re going to be out of business permanently. That’s the end of you,” said Marcus. “So everybody has to be cautious all the way down the line and you have to keep selling it and pounding it into people’s heads. Not all people are bright out there, by the way.”

Brian Sozzi is an editor-at-large and co-anchor of The First Trade at Yahoo Finance. Follow Sozzi on Twitter @BrianSozzi and on LinkedIn.

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