The COVID-19 Economy
Global Leaders on Post-COVID-19 Futures

Published on April 8, 2020 by Wojciech Gryc

Rather than focus on today’s short-term developments and news, I wanted to share passages from global leaders thinking about our long-term post-COVID-19 futures. These all focus on globalism, being intentional in our policy-making, and having a long-term view on things... All themes that I believe we're lacking in our daily discourse.

Henry Kissinger on the changing geopolitical power balance...

The pandemic has prompted an anachronism, a revival of the walled city in an age when prosperity depends on global trade and movement of people.
The world’s democracies need to defend and sustain their Enlightenment values. A global retreat from balancing power with legitimacy will cause the social contract to disintegrate both domestically and internationally.

Madeleine Albright on our leadership deficit...

There is something childish about the belief that, in our era, one can be safe behind a wall, a moat or even an ocean. The principal threats we face, even beyond pandemic disease, do not respect boundaries.
... There is a real danger that, pushed by jingoist politicians and their too-eager followers, our future will be defined by clashes that could have been avoided and problems that might have been remedied through cooperative action. Look around: where are the leaders who will remind us of our mutual obligations and shared fate?

Ai Weiwei on Chinese and American visions for the world...

China’s constitution and the charter of the Chinese Communist Party, however, both cite communism as the glorious endpoint of political “struggle.” Also by contrast, the Western capitalist world prioritizes commercial competition while taking democracy and human rights as its ethical base. With such divergent expressions of ideals in the world, how can we talk about a “community of shared destiny”?
... The actual fate of the world today is a freakish amalgam of different systems.

Susan Rice on nationalism...

Last, the United States can’t defeat any pandemic alone. Even for the most nationalistic, this crisis should explode the myth of “America First.” So long as the virus is prevalent anywhere, it is a threat everywhere. That is why we must cooperate with partners globally and invest in helping other countries to contain this and future pandemics.
Viruses are equal-opportunity killers.

Arundhati Roy on being intentional as a society...

What is this thing that has happened to us? It’s a virus, yes. In and of itself it holds no moral brief. But it is definitely more than a virus.
... Historically, pandemics have forced humans to break with the past and imagine their world anew. This one is no different. It is a portal, a gateway between one world and the next.
We can choose to walk through it, dragging the carcasses of our prejudice and hatred, our avarice, our data banks and dead ideas, our dead rivers and smoky skies behind us. Or we can walk through lightly, with little luggage, ready to imagine another world. And ready to fight for it.

Martin Wolf on economic tradeoffs (or lack thereof)...

The costs are not evenly shared globally, either. Many emerging and developing countries are being hit by collapsing external demand, falling commodity prices and unprecedented capital flight, while also having to manage the pandemic with highly inadequate health systems.
... It is right to ask whether such economic carnage can be justified.
... How one responds is a measure of our ethical standards. It is essential to ensure basic economic security for everybody if they are unable to work.

Bill Gates on the role of governments...

If we do everything right, we could have [a vaccine] in less than 18 months — about the fastest a vaccine has ever been developed. But creating a vaccine is only half the battle. To protect Americans and people around the world, we’ll need to manufacture billions of doses.
We can start now by building the facilities where these vaccines will be made. Because many of the top candidates are made using unique equipment, we’ll have to build facilities for each of them, knowing that some won’t get used. Private companies can’t take that kind of risk, but the federal government can.

Yuval Noah Harari on short-term decisions taking a life of their own...

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.
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.

We'd love to hear what quotes, trends, and ideas resonate with you. Feel free to let us know if you come across pieces like the above.

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