Russia-Ukraine: Two years of war
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The new wave of innovation is cause for business optimism about 2021

The new wave of innovation is cause for business optimism about 2021

Kevin Sneader, Global Managing Partner at McKinsey & Company, provides perspective on what corporate business leaders are thinking during the global coronavirus crisis:

Should businesses be pessimistic or optimistic about 2021?

It's easy to be gloomy about the year ahead when faced with the realities of a cold, bleak winter in much of the world. Add to that lockdowns across Europe, surging case numbers and hospitalizations, and dreadful events in the Capitol in the US to name a few reasons for pessimism. But I think there is a case for optimism when it comes to this year. After all, it's true to say that it's always darkest before the dawn, and my conversations with business leaders suggest there are reasons to be positive by 2021.

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Ukraine is still standing two years after Russian invasion

Ukraine is still standing two years after Russian invasion

From Kyiv, Ukraine, Carl Bildt, former prime minister of Sweden and co-chair of the European Council on Foreign Relations, shares his perspective on the second anniversary of the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Europe in 60 Seconds. This is Carl Bildt in Kyiv, Ukraine. At this time, there's only one question here. This is two years after Mr. Putin unleashed the entire might, military might of Russia against Ukraine, trying to get rid of Mr. Zelensky, effectively get rid of Ukraine. He failed. Ukraine is still standing. Life in Kyiv goes on. But, of course, there's a horrible, brutal attrition war going on in the east and the south part of the country.

And the question is, what will happen?

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Why is Julian Assange in the news again?

Why is Julian Assange in the news again?

Ian Bremmer shares his insights on global politics this week on World In :60.

What's left to sanction with Russia and have existing sanctions been effective?

There's very little left to sanction with Russia that the Americans and their allies want to sanction. I mean, you could try to cut off Russian oil exports to, say, India, but no one wants to do that because that would cause a global recession. Food, fertilizer, same thing. At the end of the day, the sanctions that the West can put on Russia without a massive impact to themselves and the world they've already put. But because Biden said there'd be hell to pay if anything happened to Navalny in jail and he's dead now, and it's pretty clear the Russians, the Kremlin killed him. That means they have to sound tough. But ultimately, the only thing that is changing Russian behavior is the provision of significant military support to the Ukrainians, and that is determined by US Congress going forward.

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Alexei Navalny's death: A deep tragedy for Russia

Alexei Navalny's death: A deep tragedy for Russia

Carl Bildt, former prime minister of Sweden, shares his perspective on European politics from the Munich Security Conference:

The big news of the day is, of course, the death of Alexei Navalny. It's a deep tragedy primarily of course for his family. But I would argue even deeper for Russia because Alexei Navalny, he did represent the hope of very many Russians that there was something beyond this repressive, backward looking, imperial, nostalgic, aggressive regime that is now dragging Russia down.

I met him a number of times over the years. I was impressed by his bravery, how thoughtful he was, how determined he was in spite of the difficulties and the resistance that he was well aware of to pursue his vision. And he was firmly convinced that at some point in time, there will be another Russia, rule of the law, parliamentary, non-imperialistic.

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US aid for Israel & Ukraine hangs in the balance

US aid for Israel & Ukraine hangs in the balance

Ian Bremmer shares his insights on global politics this week on World In :60.

Will the House pass the Senate-approved aid package for Ukraine and Israel?

Well, certainly not if the Freedom Caucus and the Speaker of the House have anything to say about it. So, I mean, as of today, what the Senate has passed with a lot of Republicans on board looks dead in the House. But of course, the ability to jam the House and force them to accept something or there's no government funding, that is a game of chicken that we've seen before and the Senate may well continue to be ready to play. So it is not dead yet, but aid is looking challenging. And let's be clear, irrespective of what happens for 2024, it's going to be very hard to get any more aid for the Ukrainians going forward. And everybody is deeply aware of that reality.

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Trump's Jan. 6 trial could now hurt his re-election bid

Trump's Jan. 6 trial could now hurt his re-election bid

Ian Bremmer shares his insights on global politics this week on World In :60.

Will the US-proposed cease-fire plan for Israel and Hamas come to fruition amidst reports of hostage deaths?

It's not done until it's done. There are a lot of ways that it can blow up. And, you know, Netanyahu probably wants to take it to the Knesset and get, you know, support for it. And nonetheless, Hamas can always say no. But I would bet on it. I think we are going to see more hostages released. There's a lot of pressure on Israel to give away more to get that done in terms of a cease-fire. And there's a lot of pressure on Hamas to accept a longer cease-fire and see if they can keep it going. So I think we'll get at least four weeks in return for a significant number of hostages that are released. That doesn't mean that we get a peace plan. It doesn't mean we see a two-state solution. It certainly doesn't mean that the cease-fire is going to hold for longer than that period of time or even the entire period of time submitted to. There are plenty of actors that still want to see war continue on the ground.

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Why big business should help small business - and how
Kevin Sneader, Global Managing Partner at McKinsey & Company, provides perspective on what corporate business leaders are thinking during the global coronavirus crisis

Should big business care about small business in these times?

The answer is yes and for many reasons. First, small business is the lifeblood of our economies. 45% of employment in emerging countries and 70% in the OECD comes from small and medium enterprises. Moreover, these enterprises have been badly hit by the crisis. Surveys indicate as many as 50% of European small to medium enterprises feel they may not survive over 12 months. While SMEs are relying on government support, larger companies do have a role to play. After all, this includes prioritizing small business and procurement by locking in demand for multiple years, thus facilitating access to good credit, paying receivables to small business in time and where possible, ahead of schedule. Cash flow matters most when you're small. Looking out for small businesses that have lower resilience. For example, financial institutions can lend more and in doing so, ensure deeper customer relationships in the future.

Hurdles to bringing a COVID-19 vaccine to market

Kevin Sneader, Global Managing Partner of McKinsey, looks at the challenges around a COVID-19 vaccine from the corporate business leadership perspective on Business In 60 Seconds.

What will it take to bring a COVID-19 vaccine to market?

Now, there are reasons to believe that a COVID-19 vaccine can indeed be developed faster than any other in history. For a start, the characteristics of this virus, unlike some families of viruses, coronaviruses overall have been shown to mutate at relatively low to moderate rates. Moreover, the sheer number of development efforts mean that over 275 vaccine candidates in development, with over 45 already in clinical trials. This is coupled with unprecedented access to funding, given over $17 billion has been committed to vaccine development and supply. That said, there are multiple hurdles to overcome. They start with getting the science right, including validating the platform technologies and demonstrating both safety and efficacy. But let's not forget that we also need enough capacity to manufacture and supply in place to reach patient populations now, and over time. And last, but by no means least, people need to be willing to be vaccinated. In the US in May, 72% of Americans said they would get vaccinated. That number has fallen to 51% in September.

2021 opportunities & threats: inequality, mental health, environment

Kevin Sneader, Global Managing Partner at McKinsey & Company, provides perspective on what corporate business leaders are thinking during the global coronavirus crisis:

What are the opportunities and threats on the horizon for 2021?

Now, given the pandemic is still raging, it's hard to narrow the threats and opportunities down, but here are three threats and three opportunities. One, a growing likelihood of increased inequality on several fronts. Gender, since a quarter of women in work we recently did with LeanIn.org were either contemplating leaving or taking time out of the workforce. This reached 40% for those with young children. Race, since Black Americans have seen their jobs disappear at a far greater rate than their white counterparts. And income, since COVID deaths are 4 to 5 times higher among the unemployed and are concentrated in jobs that have been hardest hit. The second threat, mental health. The signs are increasing that this is the other side of the health threat that the virus poses. And three, the environment. They need to ensure a green rather than brown recovery at a time when money is tight.

On the opportunities, first off, flexibility in working through remote and other forms of working that are now happening. Secondly, innovation; we've seen more startups this year being started than in any year before. And lastly, the environment; for all that I said there is a risk of a brown recovery, policy makers and businesses alike in much of the world assuring they're prepared to invest behind the business case for a green recovery.

Balancing long-term business strategy with short-term needs

Kevin Sneader, global managing partner for McKinsey & Company, provides perspective on how corporate business leaders think in response to the coronavirus crisis:

Why is managing for the long term difficult?

Well, we know from earlier research that companies that are oriented towards long-term performance, rather than short-term targets, generate more shareholder value, create more jobs, and contribute more economic growth. But we are seeing short-term behaviors, like cutting costs to boost quarterly earnings, have become more common in the past few years. Executives say they face heavy pressure from investors, and even fellow directors, to meet quarterly targets. And recently, disruptions from COVID-19 give executives more short-term issues to deal with. Now let me be clear, short-term results do matter. They're needed to stay credible. However, trouble happens when short-termism ensures focus in quarterly earnings, which have little to do with long-term value creation. It's far more important to pursue steady improvements, and fundamentals like growth, and return on invested capital.

5 steps for planning 2021 budgets amid uncertainty

Kevin Sneader, global managing partner for McKinsey & Company, provides perspective on how corporate business leaders think in response to the coronavirus crisis:

How can business leaders approach budget planning for 2021 when the environment is so uncertain?

In short, I believe that the planning process for 2021 presents an opportunity to turn hard earned lessons from the COVID-19 pandemic. It's an enduring exercise that links strategy to value. Now, five steps are needed for this to happen.

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How has the pandemic influenced climate action?

Kevin Sneader, global managing partner for McKinsey & Company, provides perspective on how the pandemic has influenced climate action:

Has the pandemic helped or harmed efforts to tackle climate change?

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How COVID is changing consumer behavior

Kevin Sneader, global managing partner for McKinsey & Company, provides perspective on how corporate business leaders think in response to the coronavirus crisis:

What does the next normal consumer look like?

COVID-19 is changing how consumers behave across every aspect of their lives. A few examples. Overall, consumption is declining. 12% drop in private consumption is anticipated in the US over the next two years. 35% of Netflix subscribers now use Netflix for educational content. And over 40% of consumers are watching more TV, 40% more social media. But beneath these broad shifts, new behaviors are hiding significant variation. One example, for all the excitement around online shopping, not everyone liked the experience. 60% of Italian consumers shopped online during the crisis, a dramatic increase, but less than 10% said that they found the experience satisfying.

The result? Companies need to rethink their engagement with consumers and specifically reflect on the following, how consumers get their information, meet them where they are, not where they used to be, where consumers purchase, given a rebalancing of the channels that they use, and understand what they value in the shopping experience. Online shopping can certainly be efficient. And when there are no other alternatives, it can even be exciting. But it can also be deadly dull and often frustrating. Reengineering that experience is therefore key.

Three steps to get remote & hybrid learning right

Kevin Sneader, global managing partner for McKinsey & Company, provides perspective on how corporate business leaders think in response to the coronavirus crisis:

How do we get remote and hybrid learning right?

For many, this is the back to school season. But this year's preparations are fraught with added anxiety as educators, public health officials, and parents try to balance the need to reduce the spread of the virus with a desire to get students into more productive learning environments. For many students, a full time return to the classroom will not be safe for some time. It's important to understand three lessons in order to get remote and hybrid learning right.

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