April 20, 2020 infosol

Undercurrent 10: The Wild Cards & Potential Nightmare Scenarios

19 Undercurrents with Ramifications That Go Beyond Twenty20

The Intersection of Major Crises

  • Between now and 2026 IOT (Internet of Things) will play a bigger role in our lives
  • Calls for “on-shoring” are on the rise as an answer to the disruptions caused to global supply chains
  • Yet the global risk matrix is more complex than ever before, intimately intertwined and real
  • Just imagine you wake up one morning in Dec 2026 and three challenges meet us all at once:
    1. A new pandemic (a new COVID family member but this time coming from Latin America)
    2. A natural disaster (a tsunami has hit & affected Northwest Atlantic Ocean US, UK & Europe)
    3. Resulting in the cut off of the fibre optic cable across the Atlantic Ocean connecting UE & US
  • I would not believe anyone in 2015 telling me “the world will be locked down for 6-8 wks. in 2020”
  • Circumstances matter – crises should teach: “This Can Never Happen” rings hollow in future

 Keep an Eye On

 The world we live in is on the cusp of major shifts and changes. Many of them are tangible, present and visible to our eyes, many are lurking and hidden and out of our sights.

As global citizens we primarily react and respond to what affects us directly. If COVID-19 was only a regional Asian viral outbreak the world would still be chugging along with what Kim Kardashian is wearing, where Harry and Megan will decide to live, and the doctors’ pension tax rules in U.K would have still been a sound bite on a late night program after yet another episode of Love Island. In other words, we all live on our own islands! Global tragedies bring us close and ground us for a while.

Governments equally have their own share of shortcomings in this pandemic drama. The scorecard of this crisis resembles 50 shades of Grey. From Beijing to Washington the contrast is as diverse and inhomogeneous as one could imagine. One thing we have learned is that the crisis we face, and the challenges we share are far bigger than what any nation, any government or even one continent can overcome, deal with and manage single-handedly. COVID-19 was a stark reminder of our unreadiness.

If one’s dietary habits or food market can have a universal impact, if one’s military and geopolitical adventures have clear adverse impact on climate change, or if fiscal and technological prosperities of a few come at the expense of greater good, the net global balance sheet remains in red.

The world could benefit a great deal to learn, mobilise and to rally around COVID-19 as a trigger for bold multilateralism. We need a multilateral body for Global Centres for Disease Control & Prevention, a Global Climate Disaster Response Team and growingly a Global Technology Crisis Org.

The funding for such bodies could come from nation states and also a fixed percentage point from major global Asset Managers, Big Tech Companies and defence budgets. Total AUM (assets under management) of the top 10 firms in US and Europe easily add up to a good US$15tn. On that AUM they charge a good 2% in annual management fees. A 0.25% of that fee for one year alone would translate to a good US$ 37.5bn. WHO’s annual budget: US$4.4 just to contextualise! So money is not the issue.

We should humanise capitalism. We cannot match the nature’s might. Humility should be the common currency after these crises. Shorting or hedging it is not a strategy. We need to man up. The future challenges and crises are bound to be bigger and more daunting.

“Herd Immunity” did not work in tackling the COVID-19; perhaps “Herd Humility” would be a good outcome and antidote in bringing us together rather than separating us.

Ali Borhani is the Managing Director of 3Sixty Strategic Advisors Ltd. It is the readers’ responsibility to verify their own
facts. The views and opinions expressed in this article/commentary are those of the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of any other individual, agency, organization, employer or company.