Global Head, Citi Private Bank
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In just a few short months, the world has made tremendous advances against COVID-19.
Above all, many lives have been saved. Officially, some 3 million people globally have recovered from the virus. However, the true figure – incorporating the vast majority of cases that go unreported – is almost certainly a large multiple of this. At the same time, numerous countries have achieved notable successes in their suppression and containment efforts. Greece, Germany, Japan, New Zealand, Taiwan, and Australia are just some of those whose achievements stand out. Their actions and experiences may provide valuable guidance for others as they battle the pandemic, particularly in Latin America, now sadly the epicenter of the outbreak. Our thoughts at this time are especially with all of our friends across that region.
Ultimately, of course, defeating COVID-19 will require more than just national successes. Thus far, it is fair to say that international coordination has not been everything that it might have been. However, this week’s Gavi global vaccine summit – hosted virtually by the UK from London – gave cause for hope. The event saw the announcement of a new $2bn procurement fund to give poorer countries access to a future coronavirus vaccine. Encouragingly, a separate $8.8bn was also pledged to provide vaccination against other diseases. Such initiatives – which also stress large-scale private sector involvement – are vital to strengthening the global alliance against COVID-19.
Against this backdrop, we have just released our Mid-Year Outlook 2020 report, entitled “From Fear to Prosperity: Investing in a New Economic Cycle.” While we believe the global economy can rebound faster than many others believe, we are also stressing that this is no ordinary recovery. In Mid-Year Outlook 2020, David Bailin, Steven Wieting, and the rest of our Investments team set out our key expectations for growth and returns. Both for the coming year and for the longer term, we advocate significant changes to most portfolios. David’s video provides a very convenient overview of some of our most important messages, including positive actions for you to consider taking.
Promisingly, the very latest economic data endorses our view that the COVID collapse may prove to have been a short, sharp shock. In the US, consensus expectations were for a further 7.5 million job losses in May, following April’s decline of 20.7 million jobs. Instead, though, non-farm employment actually rose by 2.5 million. Of course, it is still early days. As Steven Wieting points out, data going forward is likely to be volatile, and negative surprises are still possible. However, we believe that April marked the lows for the world’s largest economy and that years of growth lie ahead.
On behalf of us all at the Private Bank, I would like to extend our deepest sympathies to the family of the legendary artist Christo, who sadly passed away this week at the age of 84. His lifelong dedication to bringing art to the people of the world through monumental outdoor projects was a magnificent example of global citizenship. While the best-known works of Christo and his wife Jeanne-Claude were temporary by their very nature, the joy that they brought to others is timeless. Only last year, we were fortunate enough to feature Christo’s life and works in our Beyond Borders publication, an updated digital version of which we have just released, alongside this brief tribute to Christo.
In just over a week’s time, we will be beginning our first-ever Family Office Leadership Program Virtual Summit. Consisting of eight one-hour sessions held over four weeks, the line-up is world class. I warmly invite all clients to register for these and other unique sessions.
In the meantime, please stay safe, be well, and remain positive!