The upheaval spawned by COVID-19 has forced governments’ hands to wield counter-offensive measures, and one popular weapon has been fiscal stimulus. Although not everyone supports massive government spending as a tool for protecting and reviving economies hard hit by crisis, history confirms its successes and provides hope for recovery.
President Joseph Biden
Emerging markets appeal to investors because of their unrealized potential. As a group, they have performed well, even during crises. The pandemic has influenced this investment opportunity by rendering some EM countries more promising than others. Careful examination and cautious selection of the likely best performers are recommended.
Infrastructure is the skeleton that holds an economy together, but in many regions of the world, it has much room for improvement. Investors seeking growth sectors should consider infrastructure investment, which not only improves infrastructure but also stimulates economic recovery and is increasingly gaining government financial support.
The concept of universal basic income has received support from many proponents over the years, who argue that it will pay for itself in the long run through a happy, stress-free and productive population able to achieve employment goals while liberated from the constant worries of meeting day-to-day-bills obligations. Trial runs have bolstered this argument, and support is growing—but UBI is a long way off from being unanimously accepted.
The on-again, off-again trade relationship between the world’s two economic powerhouses isn’t a marriage made in heaven. Incoming US President Joe Biden recognizes the urgency of reaching consensus with his country’s most powerful commercial rival, despite his list of thorny issues to address with China. How successfully Biden handles this hot potato is yet to be seen, but US-China relations are too important to be put on the back burner.
For the world’s economy, 2021 hasn’t yet brought a break from 2020; COVID-19 remains dominant. Although all banking systems are vulnerable to upheaval, the situations for those in emerging markets are more tenuous for several reasons. S&P Global Ratings examined the three major risks facing a sample of 15 EM countries, including likely deterioration in asset quality, geopolitical and domestic policy uncertainty and vulnerability to abrupt changes in investor sentiment.
As calamitous as the pandemic’s effect has been on economies worldwide, in many cases, it has only fueled concerning issues that pre-dated it. COVID-19 will eventually be consigned to our past, but its effects will linger on for decades. What are the four questions we need to ask ourselves now to shape the best plan of action toward economic healing, sustained recovery, innovation, cooperation and prosperity while avoiding potential landmines?
2021 brings a new administration to the White House and, with it, a more favorable outlook toward sustainability, especially climate change. How much this shift in policy will influence financial regulations and ultimately banks, especially in the US, is not yet certain. But banks should prepare for stronger pressure on the financial industry to contribute to the effort to foster sustainable development through stricter disclosure requirements and redirected investment goals.