The Global Economy on BRINK in 2020
Photo: Romeo Gacad/AFP via Getty Images
A couple wearing protective face masks walk past an electronic quotation board displaying share prices in Bangkok. One of the most important themes of 2020 was the response of governments and global financial systems to the COVID-19 crisis.
2020 was obviously an epoch-making year for economies everywhere and these historic shifts are fully reflected in the web pages of BRINK.
In all, BRINK published 130 articles on the status of the economy in 2020 — some on global tectonic shifts, but many pieces looking at what was going on in individual countries, as varied as Chile, Vietnam, India, Saudi Africa, Japan and Germany.
Optimism at the Beginning
The year began with a sense of confidence about the general direction of things. On January 28, we ran a piece by CEO Jim Kaitz of Association for Financial Professionals, called “Finance Executives Are Optimistic About 2020”, which was followed by a Quick Take entitled, “People Skills a Priority Even As Tech Drives Jobs Growth in Major Economies.” However, on that same day as the Quick Take (January 30), we also ran our first piece on COVID-19 entitled “Coronavirus: One Step Back for the Global Economy.”
At that time, it seemed like coronavirus might turn out to be similar to SARS in terms of its economic impact. But that quickly changed, as the signs became more ominous. The following week brought the first indications of its huge impact on individual industry sectors, with the publication of “The Novel Coronavirus May Damage Aviation More Than SARS.” Over the coming weeks, this was followed by examinations of COVID’s impact on supply chains, the EU financial system, the automotive sector, African economies and others.
By May 1, we were publishing stunning illustrations of COVID-19’s impact on certain sectors, such as this one on the collapse in the demand for oil after only 3 months.
In mid-September we revealed the extraordinary drop off in oil and gas exploration that followed the fall in demand:
The Insights of Economic Advisors
Throughout the year, BRINK benefited from the insights of a number of influential economic commentators and thinkers. In mid-May, Moises Naim, the best-selling author of The End of Power, floated this possibility: “Is This Year One of an Economic ‘Lost Decade’?” Naim reflected on how Netflix has a larger valuation than Exxon as a sign of the times:
“This crisis generates situations in which what we thought was permanent — institutions, ideologies, political and economic arrangements, business models, habits — ended up being transitional. And what we thought was temporary became permanent.
A good example, an iconic example, of this in this current crisis, is with teleworking. Of course, people working from home had already become a trend before COVID-19 but not in significant ways. Now, most companies and governments will have work from home programs even if the pandemic recedes.”
This was followed by Mohamed El-Erian, the well-known chief economic advisor at Allianz, and his predictions for the global economy.
“There’s going to be a pendulum swing in corporate America and, also, around the world, from efficiency to resilience. So, the romance of just-in-time inventory management is going to give way to increasing resilience, and when you rewire the corporate sector, it takes time for productivity to go back up.
Secondly, we’re going to end up with much more involvement from government. And we’re not doing it in a principled manner; it’s being done in response to this crisis, So, you’re going to end up with a spaghetti bowl of the public and the private sector. Historically, those are very hard to untangle.
Thirdly, you’re going to have a significant era of de-globalization, because this is the third shock to globalization in 10 years, and this one has all sectors of society looking to de-globalize. So, that de-globalization process is going to also accelerate the decline in productivity.”
Given its ubiquitous impact, it’s no surprise that COVID-19 features heavily in our top five most popular economy pieces of 2020:
The Impact of Central Banks
One of the most important features of the year was the response of governments and global financial systems to the crisis. In August, we asked Pulitzer Prize-winning Author and Economist Liaquat Ahamed about central banks: “How Well Have Central Banks Performed in This Crisis?”
“One of the things that has made this crisis very different is there’s much less finger-pointing. In the 2008 crisis, it was hard to persuade the rich countries to bail out the poor countries because they were seen as having created the mess they were in.
This time, everyone agreed that the pandemic was no one’s fault. As a consequence, there was much less political debate about what to do. For example, the U.S. government managed to do a $2 trillion stimulus within 10 days of the crisis. Whereas last time, it was pulling teeth to get even less than a trillion. And the U.S. government has done another trillion since then. And the same is true in Europe.
The problem is that central banks are reaching the limits of what they’re capable of doing. We may be creating more problems for the future if central banks become the primary instrument for dealing with the downturn. Because they can only lend money, and it’s probably not a good idea for corporations that already have too much debt to borrow even more money.”
One of the more intriguing pieces we published was by Stephan Zheng, the lead research scientist at Salesforce Research, on whether AI could design a better tax system — one that is more equitable and efficient. The answer appears to be a qualified yes. Shortly before the U.S. election, we invited Eric Toder, the co-director at Urban-Brookings Tax Policy Center, to pick over Joe Biden’s tax policies, and particularly his focus on increasing corporate taxes.
“All countries are worried about the race to the bottom in corporate taxation that’s been going on, so there’ll have to be discussions around what the international tax architecture looks like if Biden wins.”
All in all, it was a remarkable year for the global economy. If you would like to read more of BRINK’s economic coverage in 2020, including topics like whether or not direct cash transfers work and what is happening to debt in Africa, you can find them all here.
Happy Holidays from the BRINK News staff!
Executive Editor of BRINK News
Thomas Carver is the executive editor of BRINK News. Carver was vice president for communications and strategy at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, and a journalist for the BBC from 1984 to 2004.
The original article can be read at the Brinks’ website HERE
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CACCI Women Entrepreneurs Newsletter available
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Cambodia CC President Kith Meng helps in fight against Covid-19
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BRINK Explores the Technology Sector in 2020
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“New Pension Funding Regime” webinar on 24 February 2021
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UNCTAD report on COVID-19’s global impact
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Study says Taiwan Disproves Idea that Either Health or the Economy Must Suffer
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CACCI members invited to Financial Times (FT) Global Boardroom
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John Milford thanked for service to Wellington CC
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The Race to Save the World Trade Organization
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5th ASEAN Young Entrepreneurs Carnival ONLINE – 30 November 2020
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Financial Times Global Boardroom set for November 11-13
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CACCI, TaiwanICDF paper highlighted in CoNGO contribution to HLPF 2020
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Does the world need its own risk management system?
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Three key considerations for post-pandemic site relocation
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New CACCI Vice President from MNCCI
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ICC webinar: Ethical marketing during COVID-19
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Predictions for the Global Economy, Mohamed el-Erian
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ASEAN Policy Brief on COVID-19
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Reducing Supply Chain on China Won’t Be Easy
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Special Issue of UNCTAD’s Investment Policy Monitor during COVID-19
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Is This Year One of an Economic ‘Lost Decade’?
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ICC survey for Asian Chambers of Commerce
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COVID-19 exposed weakness in Risk Management
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Oliver Wyman’s New Covid-19 Website
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The China-Japan Economic Relationship Is Getting Stronger
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Confrontations and Threats: The Prospects for 2020 and Beyond
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Global challenges to prepare for in 2020
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“Regional Conference on Preventing and Combating Corruption in Infrastructure in Asia-Pacific,” on December 3, 2019 in Hanoi
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“2020 Smart City Summit & Expo” on March 24-27, 2020 in Taipei
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“Asia-Pacific Agribusiness Development and Matching Forum,” October 24, 2019, New Taipei City, Taiwan
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What’s the right balance of energy, security and sustainability?
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Is 5G technology bad for your health?
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ASEAN Young Entrepreneurs conclude energetic Summit in Bangkok
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2019 Taiwan Business Alliance Conference on October 7, 2019 in Taipei
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Greetings from the 11th World Chambers Congress
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Nepal Investment Summit – March 29-30 in Kathmandu
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HKCBMIA newsletter – January edition available
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ASEAN Investment Report 2018 published
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“Strengthening Global Trade Through Reform”
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MNCCI CEO becomes 1st Mongolian to receive Golden Camel Award
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Importers and Exporters Association of Taipei (IEAT) – New CACCI Affiliate Member
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ASEAN launches Mentorship for Entrepreneurs Network (AMEN)
Singapore – ASEAN Business Advisory Council Philippines (ASEAN BAC PH) Chairman and ASEAN Mentorship for Entrepreneurs Network (AMEN) Founding Chair Joey Concepcion officially launched AMEN in Singapore last August 27, 2018. ASEAN BAC PH Chair Concepcion was joined by ASEAN BAC 2018 Chair Robert Yap together with ASEAN CSR Network CEO Thomas Thomas and ASEAN […]
HKCBMIA – New CACCI affiliate member
Hong Kong – The newest CACCI Affiliate Member is the Hong Kong Children, Babies, Maternity Industries Association Ltd. (HKCBMIA). Established in September 2016, the HKCBMIA aims to: (a) build up the data base of the industry to promote and enhance information exchange among its members; (b) organize business teams in Hong Kong and abroad to […]
FICCI to hold 15th edition of CAPAM
Mumbai – The 15th edition of the Annual Capital Markets Conference – ‘CAPAM 2018’ – is being organized by the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) on 11 September, 2018 at Hotel Trident, Nariman Point, Mumbai. CAPAM is recognized as the leading and most sought-after capital markets event in India and it […]