Global Head, Citi Private Bank
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The greatest successes in life are almost inevitably preceded by multiple setbacks. Indeed, it is by overcoming these setbacks that we often enable the ultimate resolution.
First of all, I would like to wish all of our US clients around the world a very Happy Fourth of July. Naturally, this year’s festivities will not be quite the same. There is something paradoxical about this magnificent celebration of liberty taking place under so many restrictions. Of course, the freedom that the Founding Fathers secured was only gained through enormous sacrifice under extreme conditions. Amid the current crisis, the words of Thomas Paine resonate as strongly as they did in 1776:
“These are the times that try men’s souls. The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of their country; but he that stands by it now, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman.”
The Founding Fathers’ heroic struggle to create a “more perfect Union” involved overcoming many enormous setbacks. Their contribution to the enduring values of freedom and democracy globally is truly deserving of everyone’s love and thanks as the US marks her 244th birthday.
Recent days have provided a stark reminder of the ongoing challenge we face in defeating the pandemic. The global death toll has now breached half a million. COVID-19’s continued spread in Mexico and Brazil, as well as upsurges in infections in parts of the US, the UK, and Australia highlight the extent and unpredictability of the virus. However, we must not become disheartened. The greatest successes in life are almost inevitably preceded by multiple setbacks. Indeed, it is by overcoming these setbacks that we often enable the ultimate resolution.
We had a further glimpse this week of how our eventual victory against the pandemic might be achieved. A German-US vaccine trial showed that healthy participants receiving two injections within four weeks developed higher antibody levels than the average person who actually contracts COVID-19. These antibodies are believed to be necessary for building immunity to the virus. Some eighteen further potential vaccines have entered human trials around the world, with dozens more in the earlier stages of development. Clinical progress such as this should reinforce our morale as we seek to overcome setbacks in containing the virus.
The likelihood of worsening news about infections and hospitalizations is something that David Bailin and Steven Wieting acknowledge in their latest analysis. Importantly, however, they do not expect this to lead to further massive economic shutdowns across the US. What they do believe, though, is that an upsurge in cases will raise the likelihood of a further fiscal support package. In the meantime, they caution that uncertainty could cause more market volatility. Their report is titled Please Keep Your Seatbelts Fastened and Your Masks On – sound advice in relation to portfolios as well as to everyday life in today’s pandemic.
The commitment that many of you are showing to helping others continues to inspire us at the Private Bank every day. This week, I have the privilege of sharing with you a film that celebrate an outstanding case of selfless dedication to the greater good. Andrew Tan and his son Kevin have mobilized the resources of their conglomerate, Alliance Global, to provide life-saving assistance to their fellow Filipinos amid one of the world’s longest and strictest lockdowns. This includes switching their iconic spirits production facilities to make alcohol for disinfectants, feeding and transporting healthcare workers in Manila, and assisting in the creation of viral testing centers across the archipelago nation. As Kevin Tan so eloquently puts it:
“We all have a responsibility to uphold the intrinsic values that are essential to humanity and to our future. These include integrity, diversity, sustainability, and unity…We have to act as one global community and fight this common enemy, which has affected everyone in so many different ways. If we all regard ourselves as global citizens, we can surely conquer the crisis.”
Philanthropy and sustainability are the themes of the last two sessions of our Family Office Leadership Program Virtual Summit next week. David Rubenstein, Co-Founder and Co-Executive Chairman, Carlyle, will be sharing his insights into the future of giving with Citi’s Chief Executive Officer Mike Corbat. I will then be interviewing Larry Fink, Founder & Chief Executive Officer of BlackRock, on the equally vital topic of investing for a sustainable future.
It gives me great pleasure to present the next in our series of concert segments that showcase Carnegie Hall’s national youth ensembles. This episode features NYO2, which focuses on recruiting musicians from communities underrepresented in classical music. This performance is from Giménez’s La boda de Luis Alonso (The Wedding of Luis Alonso). Whirling flamenco rhythms and spectacular orchestral colors make this intermezzo a showstopper. Lively percussion and effervescent wind, brass, and string writing propel the thrilling piece to its exuberant finale.