Capitalism doubts

According to this exercise, the current levels of disaffection with capitalism, contrary to our tendency to view the present as an exceptional time, are not extraordinary, since its support declines in every major crisis. This was the case in the Great Depression of the 1930s, in which 38% of respondents claimed to have positions with anti-capitalist elements; in 1975, in the midst of the «oil crisis», when this percentage was 34%, and in 2010, following the Great Recession, when 40% of those interviewed stated that they had a negative view of capitalism. In boom periods, by contrast, the portion of critics of the system stood at around 20%.

Of the eight activities in the index, three were subject to legal orders that ground them to a halt last March: cinemas, sporting events and flights. All three remain 70-85% below the pre-covid baseline today.

Although many cinemas are now open, studios have begun selling content directly to streaming services (see International). Save for a film-going boom in China during New Year festivities in February—when week-on-week revenues rose by 3,600%—the industry has languished between 20% and 40% of its takings from 2019.

The picture for sport and air travel is a bit rosier. At sporting events, capacity limits have kept crowds at around 20% of their pre-covid baseline. Similarly, there are just 30% as many planes in the sky today as in 2019, owing largely to travel bans and quarantine rules. However, America is an encouraging exception. With robust demand for domestic flights and mass vaccination making attendance limits unnecessary, air travel and baseball stadiums there are at 70% and 90% of their levels from 2019.

Nobody is safe until everyone is safe

The great truth that has emerged from the coronavirus pandemic is that no one, anywhere, is safe from COVID-19 until everyone, everywhere, is safe. The first step, which will pay for itself many times over, is to ensure mass vaccination in every affected country. Support from the G7 and G20 that will make vaccines readily accessible to low- and middle-income countries is not an act of charity; it is in every country’s strategic interest. Indeed, the International Monetary Fund believes that such supportwould be the best public investment ever made.

Automation and COVID-19

The same is true of the rise of automation during the pandemic. As companies looked for ways to reduce the number of people in an office, hotel or factory, they turned to robots and telework. They invested heavily in technology, which economists predict could result in one of the biggest boosts to worker productivity in years. This higher productivity forecast is one of the reasons the McKinsey Global Institute says the United States could see an economy that’s $3,500 per person bigger by 2024. But those gains are unlikely to be evenly distributed. Automation also has downsides, especially layoffs for workers without college degrees.

The global carbon incentive idea

The economic solution is simple: a global carbon incentive (GCI). Every country that emits more than the global average of around five tons per capita would pay annually into a global incentive fund, with the amount calculated by multiplying the excess emissions per capita by the population and the GCI. If the GCI started at $10 per ton, the US would pay around $36 billion, and Saudi Arabia would pay $4.6 billion.

Gerd Leonhard  (personal)  (business)
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Humans and machines

Trying to automate a process from soup to nuts, it's just a lot harder than dividing the labor and finding places where the humans can play to their strengths, and the machines play to their strengths,” says Erik Brynjolfsson, director of the Digital Economy Lab at Stanford University. (For robots, that’s literal strength, plus their ability to handle repetitive tasks with extreme consistency. Humans are better at virtually everything else.) “If you have that kind of division of labor,” Brynjolfsson continues, “you're probably going to have a more nimble assembly line, more overall productivity, and more ability to be flexible.”

Managing extreme risks

  • A global treaty on risks to the future of humanity, modeled on earlier efforts around nuclear weapons and climate change, could at least raise the international profile of extreme risks.
  • Most importantly, the report calls for the creation of "chief risk officers" — officials empowered to examine government policy with an eye toward what could go very wrong.

Gerd Leonhard 

‘Change is Coming.’ Activists Just Scored Big Wins Against ExxonMobil, Chevron and Shell

“And while many energy companies have been willing to reduce emissions in their own operations, they have avoided committing to reducing Scope 3 emissions because it could one day ultimately meaning selling less of their core product rather than just producing it more efficiently.”

‘Change is Coming.’ Activists Just Scored Big Wins Against ExxonMobil, Chevron and Shell
via Instapaper