Global Head, Citi Private Bank
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Slowly but surely, the skies are brightening.
Around the world, important progress in the face of COVID-19 continues to be made. In the ten most affected nations, the average number of new cases is trending downwards. This is enabling the first tentative steps towards normalization. Among those that have eased restrictions in recent days are India, Indonesia, Switzerland and various other European nations, as well as all 50 states of the US. While there is still far to go, we should take encouragement from the brightening skies.
Of course, we must accept the risk – and indeed the likelihood – of suffering setbacks along the way. Our responsibility is thus to ensure that we are prepared for them, both practically and psychologically. As well as near-term reversals, we must be ready for longer-term challenges that may follow the pandemic. We were fortunate to hear some excellent analysis of potential geopolitical developments on this week’s client call with former Danish Prime Minister and ex-Secretary General of NATO Anders Fogh Rasmussen. A further populist upsurge, a greater emphasis on national sovereignty, and perhaps a more managed style of capitalism are among the phenomena we might expect over the coming years. His commentary on what this could mean for institutions like the European Union and NATO – as well as for the global economy – is well worth hearing.
Despite the current moves to reopen economies, many investors remain skeptical. By some measures, they are as bearish as they have ever been, and have become more so as the markets have risen since March. However, David Bailin and Steven Wieting believe that the strength of the coming rebound in growth may take such investors by surprise. And while many broad market indices have already appreciated sharply, David and Steven see many assets worldwide that are still beaten down and offering value, as they set out in their latest report The Inevitable Rise.
I would like to leave you with another of our short Global Citizen films. Thanks to their ingenious approach to problem-solving, the Faizal family was able to rebuild an entire school in their native India within three months. Having transformed the lives of the school’s pupils, the family are now using their innovative construction technology to address the pressing need for housing across the world’s second most populous nation. Their philanthropy and entrepreneurship are the embodiment of global citizenship. As Shabana Faizal so succinctly puts it, “whatever we do, we believe we should have a positive impact on the people around us.” Amid today’s humanitarian crisis of COVID-19, such values resonate even more powerfully.