Post-pandemic world order

Written by  //  June 9, 2020  //  Government & Governance, Rights & Social justice  //  Comments Off on Post-pandemic world order

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The Office is Over
how the pandemic has changed the view of the office.

What If Working From Home Goes on … Forever?
Miserable as it can often be, remote work is surprisingly productive — leading many employers to wonder if they’ll ever go back to the office.
(NYT) The coronavirus crisis is forcing white-collar America to reconsider nearly every aspect of office life. Some practices now seem to be wastes of time, happily discarded; others seem to be unexpectedly crucial, and impossible to replicate online. For workers wondering right now if they’re ever going back to the office, the most honest answer is this: Even if they do, the office might never be the same.

5 June
It’s Time to Do Away With Rush Hour
The pandemic has temporarily freed us from rush hour. One way to keep the city healthy and make it more equitable would be to abolish it for good.
(New York) Rush hour is not a policy or a law; it’s a tangled mass of habits. But the government does have leverage. During the 1918 flu pandemic, New York’s Board of Health mandated that schools and businesses stagger their hours to dilute rush-hour crowding. As we emerge from the worst of the COVID crisis, the mayor and City Council could experiment with similar measures, using a newly broad range of tools. The technology of congestion pricing can be used as a spigot to control the flow of traffic into Manhattan. Trucks could be allotted entry times by reservation, with greater availability and steep discounts for nighttime hours. Delivery services, too, can be more efficiently regulated so that UPS, Amazon, the Postal Service, and grocery services aren’t all pulling up to the same address at the same time, jockeying for precious curb space. Every parking spot in the five boroughs could be metered, paid, permitted, or eliminated, giving the city far more control over how the streets are used.

29 May
Getting Ahead of the Curve: Exploring post-COVID-19 Trends and their impact on anti-corruption, governance and development
(Transparency International) There will be intense political, economic and social changes in the coming months and years. Our new report, Getting Ahead of the Curve, aims to help prepare for these. It looks at likely changes in ten key areas of social, political and economic life – from state capacity to the role of big tech companies in our societies – and their implications for anti-corruption, governance and development.
Brookings: Reopening America: How to save lives and livelihoods
The first volume focuses on the American experience while the second one examines the experiences of other nations and lessons for the United States.
In [the first volume], we analyze the U.S. domestic situation and discuss how to reopen America in ways that address fundamental problems. For the good of the United States and the safety of the global community, we present a number of ideas for protecting public health, restarting the overall economy, and promoting social well-being. Our scholars discuss how to preserve jobs, improve the social safety net, provide equitable healthcare, address the needs of vulnerable populations, reopen schools, deploy technology, and improve institutional capacity

30 May
In the new downtown future, devoid of office workers, every day could be Sunday
The crisis may provide a short window for our unaffordable, hypergentrified cities to reset
The old landmarks of city life are newly diminished, squares empty, shops closed. Some have even predicted the death of the department store, the original anchor tenant for landmark city intersections, noting the bankruptcy of Neiman Marcus, and the 125,000 U.S. workers furloughed by Macy’s.
It might not apply to everyone, certainly not the service industry, but also some financial services workers who need a level of high-speed data capability that they do not have at home. Some kinds of work in advertising and media similarly cannot be done over domestic internet access. …

21 May
During a Pandemic, Big Tech Will Only Get Bigger
Taylor Owen
Joseph Stiglitz on Post-Covid-19 Economy
(CIGI) Last week, Goldman Sachs predicted that unemployment in the United States will hit a shocking 25 percent by the end of the year. That’s the rate it was at the height of the Great Depression. Even right now, the number of unemployed Americans is nearly equal to the entire population of Canada, with more than 36.5 million jobless claims filed in the past two months alone.
Around the world, countless businesses are being decimated by emergency orders related to COVID-19, including many companies in the tech sector — yet some of that industry’s biggest players are actually benefiting. People are shopping on Amazon and meeting via video conference. Kids are going to school online and using social platforms more than ever. Many financial analysts predicted that a recession would curb the growth — and the soaring stock processes — of the tech sector. But the industry seems to be remarkably resistant to recession. This has meant that while small businesses struggle to stay afloat, Big Tech’s market cap is only getting bigger. Together, Apple, Amazon, Microsoft, Alphabet and Facebook now account for one-fifth of the Standard and Poor’s 500 Index.
Yes, Big Tech is undeniably getting bigger, both in economic size and political power. At the same time, the United States is moving closer to filing antitrust suits against Google, many are renewing calls for stricter acquisition restrictions on deals such as Facebook’s purchase of Giphy, and Amazon continues to flaunt regulators with its control of a massive digital market in which it also sells products. Ironically, it could just be that the growth Big Tech is experiencing as a result of our pandemic-forced digital lives may be the final straw that triggers serious antitrust policy.

16 May
Renouveler la coopération internationale, selon Louise Arbour
(Le Devoir) La pandémie expose au grand jour l’interconnectivité de la planète et elle ne souligne évidemment que ses aspects négatifs et terrifiants. Inévitablement donc, la réponse à cette menace nous mène à construire les barrières les plus étanches possible entre les personnes, les groupes, les régions et les pays. Mais, autant nous sommes conscients que la distanciation entre les personnes n’est pas viable à long terme, autant la distanciation entre les pays est peu souhaitable. L’interconnectivité comprend l’interdépendance. …
le Canada devrait mettre sur pied une Commission multipartite destinée à redéfinir et à promouvoir un multilatéralisme ambitieux et réaliste. Cette commission devrait avant tout avoir l’appui des partis politiques et des forces vives de la société canadienne de façon à tracer les lignes directrices de la politique étrangère du Canada, tout au moins au niveau multilatéral, pour plusieurs années à venir. Cet exercice contribuerait également à la réflexion plus large qui va inévitablement émerger partout sur la planète post-pandémie.
Il nous faut aujourd’hui exiger et soutenir un leadership avant-gardiste, informé par la science, dans toutes ses incertitudes, par la transparence, fondement de la crédibilité, et par l’empathie, condition prérequise à la gestion des êtres humains.
How will COVID-19 change our lives, our country, our cities and our world?
In Canada, masks will be ubiquitous, health care will go virtual and old, unhealthy habits will die – but around the world, we could be in for a coronavirus-created Cold War. Here are some of the ways experts and observers predict our lives will change
(Globe & Mail) … As the world starts to ease lockdowns, different versions of the expanded social bubble are emerging. New Brunswick, Newfoundland and Labrador are allowing “double bubbles,” where members of two households can socialize. In Europe, several jurisdictions are floating a hypothetical number of 10 people. Choosing who’s in your bubble is complicated enough when it comes to family, but what if you’re choosing among your friends? The clique, in other words, is back

13 May

Martin Wolf: after the coronavirus pandemic
The FT’s Martin Wolf explains what the world could look like when the epidemic is over
How might the world be different after the pandemic? The most important answer is, we really don’t know. This is a completely novel experience. In terms of what’s causing this economic and social crisis, a pandemic, and the nature of the response by governments, to close down economies, the combination is unprecedented.
The thing we most definitely know is that we will emerge from this crisis with much more debt in the public sector, very large fiscal deficits, a lot more debt in the private sector as well, and almost certainly we will already have experienced a great many defaults, particularly in the private sector, and particularly in emerging economies. …
Now think about the things that are possible, but not certain. The most likely change in the world is in the international context. The virus and the response to it is dividing the world, even though it’s a common experience. Relations within the European Union and still more between the US and China are terrible, and getting worse.
There’s serious discussion of ending the World Trade Organization, or ending trade globalisation, more broadly. There’s strong resurgence of nationalism and protectionism across the world in many different ways. You can see it very, very clearly.
It’s a pretty good guess, not absolutely certain, so this comes into the likely category, that the globalisation story, which was already not really working after the financial crisis, trade growth and stock, will now go into reverse. I think it will be very bad for the world economy, but it will impose massive shifts in the nature of business and the way business works.
A third factor here is technology. And here I think the story is more complex, but it seems almost certain that pattern of work we’ve now experienced, this transformation into distance working, the move away from the office, the use of modern technology for running businesses, most people didn’t know they could do this, is permanent. It’s a permanent shift.
Coronavirus Will Change the World Permanently. Here’s How.
(Politico) A crisis on this scale can reorder society in dramatic ways, for better or worse. Here are 34 big thinkers’ predictions for what’s to come. 19 March 2020

The Economist Intelligence Unit: Covid-19 and the regionalisation of global supply chains
The coronavirus pandemic will fundamentally reshape trade, accelerating the trend towards shortening supply chains. For many multinationals, regional supply chains offer resilience and the flexibility to shift production of key components from one location to another, making it a trend that is likely to endure post-pandemic.
In a world of increasing uncertainty the pandemic also raises questions around the storage of final goods and critical components. For example, the current crisis has seen a number of businesses rely on strategic stockpiling to nurse them through issues around transportation.
Will cruise ships survive and what will be left of them?
(Financial Times)  The viral outbreak has become an existential crisis for the industry. Carnival’s competitors have fared even worse so far this year, with Wall Street-listed Norwegian Cruise Line and Royal Caribbean each down about 80 per cent. Cruises have been targeted because no sector looks as poorly positioned to cope. The disease has spread through the winter “wave season”, the industry’s key quarter when ship owners race for early bookings so they can at least break even for their year’s scheduled sailings. Demand and capacity are often hard to match as ships are typically delivered up to five years after ordering and have price tags with nine figures. Then there is the much-discussed problem of demographics. About one in seven cruise ship passengers is over 70, putting them in the highest risk category for Covid-19. After decades of stories about outbreaks of norovirus, the operators already had a poor reputation for keeping them healthy.
What to believe?
What pandemic? Carnival Cruise bookings soar 600% for August trips
(Fast Company) So why the surge in bookings? The Cruise Planners representative said those making bookings were generally younger and healthy and thus “not a bit concerned about traveling at this time.” The rep also said a pent-up desire for traveling after being cooped up in lockdown for so long has played a part in the surge of bookings. Of course, the fact that you can also book a Carnival Cruise for as low as $28 a night might have something to do with the high number of August bookings, too.

12 May
Lawrence Haas and Jeremy Kinsman on Diplomacy in a post-pandemic world (video)

Dani Rodrik: Making the Best of a Post-Pandemic World
Insofar as the world economy was already on a fragile, unsustainable path, COVID-19 clarifies the challenges we face and the decisions we must make. The fate of the world economy hinges not on what the virus does, but on how we choose to respond.
(Project Syndicate) The global economy will be shaped in the years ahead by three trends. The relationship between markets and the state will be rebalanced, in favor of the latter. This will be accompanied by a rebalancing between hyper-globalization and national autonomy, also in favor of the latter. And our ambitions for economic growth will need to be scaled down.
The COVID-19 crisis has raised the volume on calls for universal health insurance, stronger labor-market protections (including of gig workers), and protection of domestic supply chains for critical medical equipment. It has led countries to prioritize resilience and dependability in production over cost savings and efficiency through global outsourcing. And the economic costs of lockdowns will grow over time, as the massive supply shock caused by the disruption of domestic production and global value chains produces a downward shift in aggregate demand as well.But while COVID-19 reinforces and entrenches these trends, it is not the primary force driving them. All three – greater government action, retreat from hyper-globalism, and lower growth rates – predate the pandemic. And while they could be viewed as posing significant dangers to human prosperity, it is also possible that they are harbingers of a more sustainable, more inclusive global economy.

A green recovery: the post-pandemic economy and a just transition
(Holyrood) Setting out its recently published Global Climate Report, which found that carbon dioxide levels were up 26 per cent since 1970 and the global temperature was an average of 0.86C higher, the WMO Secretary-General Petteri Taalas said: “COVID-19 may result in a temporary reduction in greenhouse gas emissions, but it is not a substitute for sustained climate action.”
Indeed, the coronavirus pandemic has in some respects knocked climate change down the agenda.

Manhattan Faces a Reckoning if Working From Home Becomes the Norm
Even after the crisis eases, companies may let workers stay home. That would affect an entire ecosystem, from transit to restaurants to shops. Not to mention the tax base.
(NYT) Manhattan has the largest business district in the country, and its office towers have long been a symbol of the city’s global dominance. With hundreds of thousands of office workers, the commercial tenants have given rise to a vast ecosystem, from public transit to restaurants to shops. They have also funneled huge amounts of taxes into state and city coffers.
But now, as the pandemic eases its grip, companies are considering not just how to safely bring back employees, but whether all of them need to come back at all. They were forced by the crisis to figure out how to function productively with workers operating from home — and realized unexpectedly that it was not all bad.
If that’s the case, they are now wondering whether it’s worth continuing to spend as much money on Manhattan’s exorbitant commercial rents. They are also mindful that public health considerations might make the packed workplaces of the recent past less viable.

11 May
Workplaces will not be the same again when employees return from coronavirus lockdowns
(CNBC) “There will be a long-term adjustment in how we think about our location strategy … the notion of putting 7,000 people in a building may be a thing of the past,” Barclays CEO, Jes Staley, told reporters after the bank reported a fall in first-quarter profits.
His sentiments were echoed by Mondelez CEO, Dirk Van de Put. “We are looking for efficiencies as it relates to our ways of working since the crisis has showed that we can work in different ways and maybe we don’t need all the offices that we currently have around the world,” Van de Put said at a recent earnings call.

James Fallows: Air Travel Is Going to Be Very Bad, for a Very Long Time
Flying used to be unpleasant. But scarcity, low demand, and public-health risks could make it unbearable
(The Atlantic) Of all the industries devastated by the coronavirus pandemic and the lockdown—restaurants and bars, hotels and convention centers, movie theaters and shopping malls—the airlines’ situation is in a sense the worst. Most of the other businesses are suffering because they have been told to close. The airlines are suffering in part because they have been told to stay open. As a condition of the recent bailout packages, and in order to retain long-term rights to their routes, airlines need to keep flying ghost routes: planes with almost no passengers but a full flight crew and cabin staff.

9 May
Margaret MacMillan on covid-19 as a turning point in history
Editor’s note: The Economist is making some of its most important coverage of the covid-19 pandemic freely available to readers of The Economist Today, our daily newsletter. To receive it, register here. For our coronavirus tracker and more coverage, see our hub
(The Economist) France in 1789. Russia in 1917. The Europe of the 1930s. The pandemic of 2020. They are all junctures where the river of history changes direction. The covid-19 crisis may be a pivotal rather than a revolutionary moment but it, too, is challenging the old order. Like France’s cahiers, the coronavirus forces questions about what sort of future we want, what the proper role of government is and what makes a healthy society. We face a choice: to build better ways of dealing domestically and internationally with this challenge (and prepare for inevitable future ones) or let our world become meaner and more selfish, divided and suspicious.
Long before covid-19, popular thinkers like Thomas Piketty, the late Tony Judt and Paul Krugman were warning about deep social inequalities and the shortcomings of globalisation. There were sporadic protests like Occupy Wall Street or France’s gilets jaunes. Most of us (such is human nature) carried on living. We worried from time to time about climate change, that our children couldn’t afford houses and that there seemed to be more obscenely rich people along with more homeless ones. Covid-19 has turned a spotlight on the dark sides of our world. We have become aware of the fragility of international supply lines, the disadvantages of offshore sources for critical goods and the limits of international bodies. The chaotic responses and blame games of certain governments have exacerbated divisions in and among societies, perhaps permanently. America has withdrawn from moral and material leadership of the world. It and China have grown more hostile to one another, not less. Rogue states such as Russia gleefully make more trouble and the UN is increasingly marginalised.
When you name things—grievances, say, as the French did—you give them form and make it harder to ignore them. We are doing that now with the flaws in our world and spelling out our hopes for something better. As the French looked at Britain and America as models, we can see that South Korea, Denmark and New Zealand have controlled the pandemic more effectively than other countries, in part because their peoples have faith in the authorities and each other. Without trust—that the water is clean, medicines are safe, or thugs won’t get away with it—societies are vulnerable. Covid-19 has caused fewer deaths proportionately in Germany than elsewhere because of the country’s well-funded health system and its competent state and federal governments. As history shows, those societies that survive and adapt best to catastrophes are already strong. Britain rose to the challenge of the Nazis because it was united; France was not and did not.
Much also depended then, and depends now, on leaders. As weaknesses are exposed, do leaders fix or exploit them? While Franklin Roosevelt was promising Americans a better tomorrow in the 1930s, Adolf Hitler was destroying the Weimar Republic and intoxicating Germans with promises of revenge for the Treaty of Versailles. As we know, that ended in a world war.
For every Jacinda Ardern or Angela Merkel, the leaders of New Zealand and Germany who are talking to their citizens about the difficult road ahead, there is an illiberal, populist demagogue playing to baser fears and fantasies. In Brazil President Jair Bolsonaro dismisses covid-19 as “the sniffles”; in India the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party blames it on the Muslims. President Donald Trump claimed he had “total” authority, demonstrating something about his instincts if not his knowledge of the American constitution.
Wise leaders in the past have been able to steer away from danger. In 1830 Britain was coping with unrest in Ireland, violent strikes at home and demands for more power from the growing commercial and industrial middle classes. The enlightened aristocrats of the new Whig government believed that they had a choice between revolution and reform, even if the latter was at the expense of their own power and privilege. In 1832 their Great Reform Act widened the franchise for Parliament. The Whigs did not remove all grievances, but they muted them. A century later another child of privilege, Roosevelt, brought in the New Deal which helped to save American society and capitalism.
The present crisis could be the opportunity for strategies to produce essential public goods and ensure that citizens have safe, decent and fulfilled lives. People coming out of a calamity are open to sweeping changes. Governments will find it hard to resist demands for improved social programmes now that they are spending as though John Maynard Keynes were in the room. Will the British again accept an underfunded National Health Service? And countries could invest in key organisations like the World Health Organisation and give it greater power to protect the world from disease. Perhaps, just perhaps, bodies such as the G7 and G20 could become forums for unity and not dissent.
Future historians, if there are any who can still research and speak freely, will analyse the choices that individual countries and the world made. Let us hope the story shows the better angels of our nature, in Abraham Lincoln’s words: enlightened leaders and publics creating together sane and inclusive policies, and strengthening our vital institutions at home and abroad. The alternative story will not have a happy ending.
Margaret MacMillan is a historian at the University of Toronto. This article is part of a series on the world after covid-19. For more coverage of the pandemic visit

6 May
Tony Blair calls for stronger WHO and more global cooperation to fight coronavirus
(Politico) The United Nations Security Council is “not really representative of the world today,” said Blair, who now leads the nonprofit Institute for Global Change, which he founded in 2016.
He acknowledged the World Health Organization (WHO) — which Trump has accused of being complicit with China in covering up the virus — needs to streamline its bureaucracy. But Blair said member countries should agree to give the organization “much greater heft and weight.” Otherwise, it’s “unfair to criticize them” for following the limited mission set out for them by national governments.
According to Blair, the G20, an economic forum for 19 nations, the European Union and their central bankers, is ”the only short-term practical way” to achieve global cooperation.

4 May
Julius Grey: Civil Liberties and COVID-19
The assault on the world by COVID-19 has led all countries to impose draconian limits on fundamental civil liberties, such as the freedom to circulate, to travel, to associate with other people, to pray in groups and to work at many tasks. These measures necessarily had to be enforced by intrusive means such as heavy fines and tracing people through their telephones. Predictably and justifiably, civil liberties defenders protested and expressed both their opposition to some of the measures taken and their deep anxiety over the entire situation. Yet the measures are not necessarily either wrong or illegal. MORE

3 May
‘We can’t go back to normal’: how will coronavirus change the world?
Times of upheaval are always times of radical change. Some believe the pandemic is a once-in-a-generation chance to remake society and build a better future. Others fear it may only make existing injustices worse.
By Peter C Baker
(The Guardian)  Because crises shape history, there are hundreds of thinkers who have devoted their lives to studying how they unfold. This work – what we might call the field of “crisis studies” – charts how, whenever crisis visits a given community, the fundamental reality of that community is laid bare. Who has more and who has less. Where the power lies. What people treasure and what they fear.
In such moments, whatever is broken in society gets revealed for just how broken it is, often in the form of haunting little images or stories. In recent weeks, the news has furnished us with countless examples. Airlines are flying large numbers of empty or near-empty flights for the sole purpose of protecting their slots on prime sky routes. There have been reports of French police fining homeless people for being outside during the lockdown. Prisoners in New York state are getting paid less than a dollar per hour to bottle hand sanitiser that they themselves are not allowed to use (because it contains alcohol), in a prison where they are not given free soap, but must buy it in an on-site shop.
But disasters and emergencies do not just throw light on the world as it is. They also rip open the fabric of normality. Through the hole that opens up, we glimpse possibilities of other worlds. Some thinkers who study disasters focus more on all that might go wrong. Others are more optimistic, framing crises not just in terms of what is lost but also what might be gained. Every disaster is different, of course, and it’s never just one or the other: loss and gain always coexist. Only in hindsight will the contours of the new world we’re entering become clear.

2 May
Time for an Indo-Pacific New World Order
by Rishabh Gulati, Managing Editor of NewsX
(The Sunday Guardian) The UNSC system is broken. It has been prevented from evolving to embrace the new reality of India and a rising Africa. Stuck in 1945. Whether Nehru missed the opportunity by showing exceeding generosity in declining an offer to take China’s seat on the UNSC after the communist revolution, is another wistful and woeful debate, but as reality stands, China has no memory of the grace. It is and will keep the door on India firmly shut. China’s mission is clear. It is building a new world order centred on itself. A new “silk route”, recentring the trade maps with OBOR, building islands where none existed to dominate sea lanes. It’s dumping its reserve dollars and conning the world into handing over ports and territories. It eyes making its currency the Renminbi as the new global foreign exchange reserve. It seeks to dismantle the US weighted Bretton Woods system with its own Asian Infrastructure Bank and more.
… The next world order needs to be defined through an Indo-Pacific charter. It has to be put into place by an Indian Prime Minister and a US President, ideally on board INS Vikrant, at anchor in Pearl Harbour, the home of the US Indo-Pacific Command. Other “Quad” powers like Japan and Australia are sure to adopt it and rope in other Asian countries.
The Indo-Pacific Charter should refurbish and reform the 8-points of the Atlantic Charter;

1 May
I Have Seen the Future—And It’s Not the Life We Knew
Cities around the world might slowly be coming back to life, but there’s no going back to “normal.”
Uri Friedman
As the United States engages in its own agonizing debate about how far to go in easing lockdown measures, I’ve spoken with people in China, South Korea, Austria, and Denmark to get a sense of what they’re witnessing as their countries’ respective coronavirus curves flatten, their social-distancing restrictions abate, and they venture out into life again. And although that life doesn’t look like the present nightmare those still locked in coronavirus limbo are experiencing, it doesn’t look like the pre-COVID-19 past either.

20 April
A science journalist explains how the Spanish flu changed the world
Science journalist Laura Spinney studied the pandemic for her 2018 book Pale Rider: The Spanish Flu of 1918 and How It Changed the World.
Here, she explains the impact the disease had on 20th-Century society – and talks about the lessons for the COVID-19 pandemic today.

(WEF) Will COVID-19 be remembered in history?
It’s too early to know if we’ll remember this one, but the precedents suggest we won’t. There were two other flu pandemics in the 20th Century: the 1957 Asian flu and the 1968 Hong Kong flu. They killed about 2 million and 4 million people, respectively. We are nowhere near those numbers yet and yet we don’t compare this pandemic to them. We immediately head for the enormous one in 1918, which is strange in itself. But they were much worse than this one to date, and we don’t remember them.

29 April
A humble opinion on a successful post-pandemic world
The COVID-19 pandemic has taught us the value of recalibrating our expectations and retraining our minds. Author Kelly Corrigan relies on a familiar mental exercise when the reality of the crisis feels like too much to handle. She shares her humble opinion on imagining a world after the pandemic — and how the experience might change us.
(PBS Newshour) … Everyone planted things they could eat. We played cards with our families. We had long conversations.
We identified what kind of learning can be delivered online. We discovered that teaching is the most complex, high-impact profession known to man, and we started compensating our teachers fairly for their irreplaceable work.
Everyone voted after coronavirus. Kids who lived through the virus valued science above all. They became researchers and doctors, kicking off the greatest period of world positive discovery and innovation the planet has ever seen.
We came, finally and forever, to appreciate the profound fact of our shared humanity and relish the full force of our love for one another.

24 April
Roger Cohen: Despotism and Democracy in the Age of the Virus
The battle for humanity and solidarity in the post-American world.
Trump embodies the personal and societal collapse he is so skilled in exploiting. … Europe is a different story. Its division between the prosperous north and the poorer south sharpened by the pandemic, and its fracture line between the democracies of Western Europe and the illiberal or authoritarian systems of Poland and Hungary further exposed, the continent faces a severe test of its capacity for unity and solidarity. It has underperformed, but I would not write it off.
Certainly, the underpaid first responders, garbage collectors, farm workers, truckers, supermarket cashiers, delivery people and the rest who have kept people alive and fed while the affluent took to the hills or the beaches have delivered a powerful lesson in the need for greater equity and a different form of globalization. People suffocate from Covid-19. They may also suffocate one day, as Macron pointed out, from an overheated, overexploited planet. Whether the lesson will be heeded through a radical rebalancing, both personal and corporate, is another story.
What is clear is that if the European Union does not stand up for liberal democratic values, those values will be orphaned in the menacing world of Trump, Putin and Xi Jinping.

22 April
New report due out Thursday and previewed by POLITICO. The authors, former intelligence official Mat Burrows and Peter Engelke of the Atlantic Council, lay out three scenarios — from worst to best. And they are some doozies:
SCENARIO 1: THE GREAT DECELERATION — Everyone loses. “The United States, Europe and China all struggle to recover despite major fiscal and monetary efforts. The recovery stretches well into the 2020s, aggravated by the fact that it takes much longer for a vaccine to be developed than hoped for.” The West flails as President Donald Trump wins reelection and the EU becomes paralyzed. Inside China, discontent grows as Communist Party leaders struggle to revive the economy. Yikes: “By the mid-2020s, deglobalization is speeding up, yielding slow economic growth everywhere. Poverty levels are rising in the developing world and there is the potential for open conflict between the United States and a China-Russia alliance.”
SCENARIO 2: CHINA FIRST — Beijing wins. China capitalizes on the crisis to build ties across Asia, undermine democracy worldwide and ruthlessly suppress dissent at home. In the U.S., the country lurches leftward even as Trump wins reelection — leading him to enact Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s wealth tax during his second term. Food riots break out across the Middle East and North Africa, while collapsing oil prices force Saudi Arabia into the Chinese orbit.
SCENARIO 3: NEW RENAISSANCE — The rosiest option imagines a “V-shaped recovery” and a reinvigoration of U.S. global leadership. Wealthy countries band together to vaccinate everyone around the world, free of charge. Under pressure, China closes its wild animal markets, and Western countries propose a “superagency” to prevent the next worldwide crisis. China and the U.S. set aside many of their differences and get to work on a “Marshall Plan” for developing countries ravaged by the disease.
In any scenario, things could go badly wrong.
Coronavirus and “green” shock
(Reuters) Will it be back to business as normal – or a new normal? On the 50th anniversary of Earth Day celebrating the environment, some politicians, investors and companies are calling for post-pandemic recovery plans to be green.
“There’s a lot of pressure for those fiscal stimulus packages, when they come, to be low-carbon, climate-smart,” Peter Betts, a former lead climate negotiator for Britain and the European Union, told Reuters Television.
So far, the United States, China, Japan, India and European governments have focused on simply staunching the damage to industry, preserving jobs or trying to avoid corporate failures.
While some acknowledge that such schemes should be tied to respect for climate change goals, others see it differently – notably Donald Trump who has been tweeting his support for rescue packages for the U.S. oil sector.
One behavioural change could already be taking place: Demand for plant-based protein foods is surging in Asia, suppliers say, as suspicion over possible links between wild animal meat and the new coronavirus drives some consumers to rethink diets.
Though still a tiny business compared to Asia’s giant meat supply chain, vegetarian alternatives to meat, dairy and seafood are gaining growing custom, particularly in Hong Kong and mainland China.
The British government is facing mounting questions over its handling of the coronavirus crisis – and on Wednesday it will face them in an unprecedented “hybrid” session of parliament held partly via the Zoom videoconferencing system.

21 April
Max Fisher: What Will Our New Normal Feel Like? Hints Are Beginning to Emerge
Fear of others may linger long after the pandemic is over. But so may a new sense of community.
(NYT) For all the attention to the science and politics of the coronavirus, another factor may be just as important in shaping life under the pandemic: the ways that people will change in response to it.
Changes in how we think, behave and relate to one another — some deliberate but many made unconsciously, some temporary but others potentially permanent — are already coming to define our new normal.
This crisis may have little precedent, but there are certain patterns in how people and communities behave when thrust into long periods of isolation and danger.

20 April
Igor Ivanov: Rethinking International Security for a Post-Pandemic World
For the first time in living memory, humanity is confronting a common threat that it must defeat collectively. It is time to start planning for when the eventual victory comes.
(Carnegie Endowment for International Peace) The virus teaches us that the hierarchy of global security threats is changing rapidly, and we are dealing with radically new enemies. That calls for a fundamental change in our security priorities. National security should no longer be defined solely by a country’s military capabilities. Nuclear arms and other modern weapons are unable to combat pandemics, climate change, uncontrollable migration, and other challenges faced both by humanity as a whole and each country individually. Now we see clearly that many of the old instruments we inherited from previous times for ensuring security are all but useless, merely consuming huge resources that could be redirected into developing science, education, and medicine.

17 April
Covid-19 exposes instabilities and weaknesses in an open international system
(FIIA) Covid-19 is the latest blow to the ailing liberal international order (LIO). More clearly than the succession of trials the LIO has faced in the post-war era, the pandemic exposes inherent instabilities and enduring weaknesses with open societies connected through an open international system. First, the open nature of the LIO provides favourable conditions for the proliferation of infectious diseases. The health crisis presents a second test for the LIO insofar as it undermines political freedoms. Third, both coordinated and uncoordinated actions to cope with Covid-19 put economic freedoms at risk.
The latest FIIA Comment discusses the challenges that the Covid-19 crisis poses to the liberal international order.
By Visiting Research Professor Carla Norrlof from the Finnish Institute of International Affairs.

10 April
How coronavirus will change the world for ever
From the rise of surveillance to the retreat of globalism and death of cash, the pandemic’s impact may be felt for decades, Catherine Philp writes
(The Times) The early signs point to changes that may have already been under way, a retreat from globalisation and a resurrection of the nation state as governments scramble, like hoarders in a global supermarket, to make sure that their own households are stocked.
Frontiers effectively erased in Europe have once again slammed shut, even as the southern countries worst affected cry out for a Marshall Plan from the northern industrial giants with whom they share a market and a currency. The leaders of Israel and Hungary have seized for themselves powers almost unthinkable in a democracy, sweeping aside the authority of parliament, the courts and elections. Will they ever give them back?
Last week the official American death toll passed that of China, a landmark humiliation whatever the reliability of Beijing’s figures. Autocratic China, having incubated the virus, is now in recovery and stepping into the global leadership vacuum, sending medical supplies and workers around the world to help countries newly crippled by the crisis, recasting Beijing from Grim Reaper to global saviour.
Emergencies “fast-forward historical processes”, says the historian and philosopher Yuval Noah Harari. “Decisions that in normal times could take years of deliberation are passed in a matter of hours.”
The former foreign secretary, Lord Hague of Richmond, predicted that China would emerge from the crisis ever more powerful, with a swiftly rebounding economy. He…added, chillingly, that Beijing would “gain from the new age of the surveillance state that will be summoned into existence in the coming months”.
David Miliband, president of the International Rescue Committee, fears that “the wrong lessons are learnt” in the pandemic, that isolationism and authoritarianism triumph in the belief that they are the only way out of “the ultimate disease” of the connected world.”

13 April
If Biden Wins, He’ll Have to Put the World Back Together
His post-pandemic agenda will have to be a master class in redesign.
Thomas Wright, Senior fellow at the Brookings Institution and
Kurt M. Campbell, Former Assistant Secretary of State for Asia and the Pacific

5 April
A Historian Looks Ahead At A Transformed Post-Pandemic World
It’s changing the way we work, we live, we communicate, what we expect from our governments. NPR’s Lulu Garcia-Navarro talks with Yuval Noah Harari about what happens once COVID-19 is beaten.
…this crisis can result in the destruction of organized labor completely. Or we can just reverse the trend and people realizing the importance of having a social safety net, of having a government-sponsored health care system. It can go either way. This is the most important thing people need to realize is that we have a lot of choices. And very important decisions are going to be taken in the next month or two. It’s a short window of opportunity …history is moving into – in fast forward. It’s accelerating. Governments are willing to experiment to try ideas which previously would have sounded crazy. And once this is over, the order will solidify again.
… One concern is the rise of authoritarian regimes and dictatorships. Emergencies are notorious for that. People are afraid for their lives. The economy is collapsing, so people are – wish that there would be some strong leader who knows everything and can take care of us. And we see it happening in some places around the world, like Hungary, to some extent in my home country of Israel. So we could go in an authoritarian direction, even in a totalitarian direction because there is now this need, this cry to monitor everything, to surveil everything. And we could see the introduction of new surveillance systems even in democracies which will not go away once the emergency is over.
… I’m very worried about the situation when the government starts collecting enormous amounts of private information while its own decision-making process remains opaque. I mean, it’s very important that the governments also in such a time would be closely monitored by parliament, by citizens, by the media. And it’s not like they can just issue whatever emergency decrees they want.
… So this is one big worry on the level of individual countries and then even bigger worries what’s happening on the international level because so far, … There is no global plan of how to tackle the health emergency or the economic crisis.

31 March
‘We can’t go back to normal’: how will coronavirus change the world?
Times of upheaval are always times of radical change. Some believe the pandemic is a once-in-a-generation chance to remake society and build a better future. Others fear it may only make existing injustices worse. By Peter C Baker
(The Guardian) Because crises shape history, there are hundreds of thinkers who have devoted their lives to studying how they unfold. This work – what we might call the field of “crisis studies” – charts how, whenever crisis visits a given community, the fundamental reality of that community is laid bare. Who has more and who has less. Where the power lies. What people treasure and what they fear.
In such moments, whatever is broken in society gets revealed for just how broken it is, often in the form of haunting little images or stories. In recent weeks, the news has furnished us with countless examples. Airlines are flying large numbers of empty or near-empty flights for the sole purpose of protecting their slots on prime sky routes. There have been reports of French police fining homeless people for being outside during the lockdown. Prisoners in New York state are getting paid less than a dollar per hour to bottle hand sanitiser that they themselves are not allowed to use (because it contains alcohol), in a prison where they are not given free soap, but must buy it in an on-site shop.

20 March
Yuval Noah Harari: the world after coronavirus | Free to read
(FT) Yes, the storm will pass, humankind will survive, most of us will still be alive — but we will inhabit a different world.
Many short-term emergency measures will become a fixture of life. That is the nature of emergencies. They fast-forward historical processes. Decisions that in normal times could take years of deliberation are passed in a matter of hours. Immature and even dangerous technologies are pressed into service, because the risks of doing nothing are bigger. Entire countries serve as guinea-pigs in large-scale social experiments. What happens when everybody works from home and communicates only at a distance? What happens when entire schools and universities go online? In normal times, governments, businesses and educational boards would never agree to conduct such experiments. But these aren’t normal times.
In this time of crisis, we face two particularly important choices. The first is between totalitarian surveillance and citizen empowerment. The second is between nationalist isolation and global solidarity.

18 March
The Covid-19 crisis is a chance to do capitalism differently
Mariana Mazzucato
(The Guardian) Since the 1980s, governments have been told to take a back seat and let business steer and create wealth, intervening only for the purpose of fixing problems when they arise. The result is that governments are not always properly prepared and equipped to deal with crises such as Covid-19 or the climate emergency. By assuming that governments have to wait until the occurrence of a huge systemic shock before they resolve to take action, insufficient preparations are made along the way.  … we now have an opportunity to use this crisis as a way to understand how to do capitalism differently. This requires a rethink of what governments are for: rather than simply fixing market failures when they arise, they should move towards actively shaping and creating markets that deliver sustainable and inclusive growth. They should also ensure that partnerships with business involving government funds are driven by public interest, not profit.
First of all, governments must invest in, and in some cases create, institutions that help to prevent crises, and make us more capable to handle them when they arise.
Second, governments need to better coordinate research and development activities, steering them towards public health goals. Discovery of vaccines will necessitate international coordination on a herculean scale, exemplified by the extraordinary work of the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI). …
Third, governments need to structure public-private partnerships to make sure both citizens and the economy benefit. …
Fourth, it is time to finally learn the hard lessons of the 2008 global financial crisis. As companies, from airlines to retail, come asking for bailouts and other types of assistance, it is important to resist simply handing out money. Conditions can be attached to make sure that bailouts are structured in ways that transform the sectors they’re saving so that they become part of a new economy – one that is focused on the green new deal strategy of lowering carbon emissions while also investing in workers, and making sure they can adapt to new technologies. It must be done now, while government has the upper hand.

Long read – New Yorker profile
Yuval Noah Harari’s History of Everyone, Ever
His blockbuster “Sapiens” predicted the possible end of humankind. Now what?
By Ian Parker
February 10, 2020

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