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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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US-Iran World Cup sportsmanship amid political tensions

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

How did Iran's attention in the World Cup impact protests at home?

Well, I mean, it certainly didn't slow them down any. When you see the Iranian national team first refusing to sing the national anthem and then singing it as woodenly and non-passionately as humanly possible because they've been threatened, and threatened about their families at home if they aren't singing it, that's a hell of a message to send to the Iranian people. And the fact that this country does not reflect its regime, a team does not reflect its regime, it's just extraordinary. And also, I just have to say that all of the pictures and the videos we've seen of the Iranian team and the American team actually coming together, the Americans consoling the Iranians, who have been under such massive stress and crying, and I mean, you can't even imagine performing at that level on the global stage, given the level of additional political pressure and danger that they're actually under. My heart goes out to those guys, and of course to the Americans for doing such a great job representing our country.

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Inflation, war, climate headline at UN General Assembly

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

As high-level week at UNGA gets underway, that's United Nations General Assembly, what is top of mind for visiting world leaders?

I don't know. How about war on the ground in Europe? How about massive inflation happening in food prices and energy prices around the world? How about how the Europeans get through a very cold winter and what happens as a consequence of that when they don't have enough energy, and prices are like two, three, four, five times what they were last year? How about climate change ongoing and still becoming a bigger and bigger problem every year? Lots to talk about at UNGA, depends on who you talk to though. Depends on who you talk to.

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Belarus foreign minister's "sudden" death drives speculation

Carl Bildt, former prime minister of Sweden, shares his perspective on European politics.

What's really happening in Belarus?

Well, a mysterious thing happened. I mean, the foreign minister, Mr. Makei, who's been healthy and no problem whatsoever, died very, very suddenly the other day. He's been a loyal lieutenant of Lukashenko, no question about that. Also, during the sort of, the crackdown time over the last few years, but he has been under the cover, he has sort of been maneuvering. And he's been, in private conversation with me and others, very, very explicit on Moscow's imperial designs. So, there's a lot of speculation what really happened. And according to rumors, these are rumors, Mr. Lukashenko has changed all of his kitchen staff lately.

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US Dems and GOP can be thankful this Thanksgiving

Jon Lieber, head of Eurasia Group's coverage of political and policy developments in Washington, DC shares his perspective on US politics in a Thanksgiving edition.


What are Republicans and Democrats thankful for this holiday season?

Democrats are thankful for three Republicans named Mehmet Oz, Don Bolduc and Blake Masters, who lost three winnable Senate seats in Arizona, New Hampshire, and Pennsylvania, allowing Democrats to keep their majority. Democrats keep the majority; it means they can continue to confirm judges and confirm any executive branch nominees that President Biden puts forward should there be any openings. These were clearly winnable seats for the Republicans in this cycle that should have strongly favored them, but we saw Trump aligned nominees like these three give up winnable seats.

Republicans are thankful that there are alternatives emerging to President Donald Trump in the Republican primary in 2024. President Trump has declared his intention to run. However, three Republican governors, Brian Kemp, Ron DeSantis, and Greg Abbott had very strong showings in their reelection cycles this year and that's going to embolden challengers to Trump in the primary, and this could be a very competitive primary, giving them some alternatives to Trump, given that there's a growing number of Republicans who think he can't win a general election. Now, of course, the challenge will be, can these guys win if Trump decides that he's not going to support them should he lose the primary? But that's a question for another day.

Now, Republicans and Democrats are thankful that they're not going to be spending their holiday seasons relitigating false claims of election fraud the way they did in 2020. President Trump in 2020 claimed that the election was rigged and stolen from him. He refused to concede, and that really dominated the news cycle from Thanksgiving all the way through the January six riots, which were a terrible day for most lawmakers that were present. That's not going to happen this cycle. No one's really questioning the results of these elections. There were some questions about some voting machines malfunctioning in Arizona, but for the most part, this is a pretty clean election, and everyone understands that the legitimate ballots that were cast led to a legitimate outcome, a good day for American democracy. It's something that we should all be thankful for.

Iran nuclear deal is dead

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

Iran has announced it will enrich more uranium. Is the nuclear deal dead?

Yeah, it is pretty dead at this point. It is inconceivable to me that the Americans or allies would be prepared to cut a nuclear deal for an Iranian regime that is under this much domestic pressure and repressing its civilian population to this degree. Not to mention the fact that there's been attacks into Kurdish territories in Iraq over the last several days. There's been enormous amounts of state police repression with lots of instability. It's only growing, frankly. I can't imagine a nuclear deal getting cut here.

And that leads to the question of what the Israelis are going to do in response? What the Americans are going to do? What the Gulf States going to do in response? Because of course, none of these countries want the Iranians to go nuclear. There're nuclear breakout capabilities if they want to go that direction is a matter of weeks. So it's something we're going to watch carefully.

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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.

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.

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.

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.

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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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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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.

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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