Event Highlights – Session One – Leadership in a Post-Pandemic World
Session One: Leadership in a Post-Pandemic World
Every economic shock leaves a legacy. The Covid-19 pandemic is no different. It has roiled financial markets, dampened global growth, upended traditional models and threatened the future of globalization. The scars will be felt for generations. However, the chaos has also given birth to an uneasy optimism about the future. The world may never be the same again. In that, lies a historic opportunity.
- Noubar Afeyan, Founder and CEO, Flagship Pioneering
- Mukesh Ambani, Chairman and Managing Director, Reliance Industries
- Michael R. Bloomberg, Founder of Bloomberg L.P. & Bloomberg Philanthropies and Three-term Mayor of New York City
- Ray Dalio, Founder, Co-Chairman and Co-Chief Investment Officer, Bridgewater
- Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director General, World Health Organization
- H.E. Paul Kagame, President of the Republic of Rwanda
- Steven T. Mnuchin, 77th Secretary of the Treasury, The United States of America
- Dr. John Nkengasong, Director, Africa CDC
- H.E. Cyril Ramaphosa, President of the Republic of South Africa
- Reeta Roy, President and CEO, Mastercard Foundation
- H.E. Armen Sarkissian, President of the Republic of Armenia
- Lawrence Summers, Charles W. Eliot University Professor and President Emeritus, Harvard University, 71st Secretary of the Treasury, The United States of America
- His Highness Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, Amir of the State of Qatar
The Bloomberg team:
- Shery Ahn, Anchor, Bloomberg Television
- Haslinda Amin, Anchor, Bloomberg Television
- Stephanie Flanders, Senior Executive Editor for Economics, Bloomberg
- Simone Foxman, Middle East Correspondent, Bloomberg Television
- Zain Verjee, Host and Executive Producer, Qatar Economic Forum
- David Westin, Anchor, Bloomberg Television
Below are some highlights from the session. To get access to the full interviews on demand, register for the Qatar Economic Forum here.
In his opening address, His Highness Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, Amir of the State of Qatar said the Covid-19 pandemic has reposed major questions concerning the relation of modern societies to nature and society’s expectations of government regarding public health policies.
He cautioned against countries competing with each other on vaccine access. “Racing and competition by some countries to obtain quantities that exceed their needs will cripple international efforts to control the pandemic globally in addition to obstructing the development process in the developing and poor countries,” he said.
H.E. Cyril Ramaphosa, President of the Republic of South Africa on the estimated $400 billion needed for the economic recovery in African countries. “Some debt needs to be canceled that countries have. And more support should be given for debt payment delays. There should also be support for infrastructure projects. There should be support for health programs that we have. And if we can do that we can get closer to that $400 billion. But without that support, Africa will forever be left behind,“ he cautioned. “We can get up and going with our own bootstraps but we need that lift.” Read more Bloomberg coverage of Ramaphosa’s remarks here.
H.E. Paul Kagame, President of the Republic of Rwanda on how the African Continental Free Trade Area Agreement can attract investments to the continent. “In the background there is always going to be the immense resources on our continent that the world actually needs. So we just have to make these loose ends meet so that capital, different funds, resources, can really be invested in and with Africa,” he said. Read more Bloomberg coverage of Kagame’s remarks here.
H.E. Armen Sarkissian, President of the Republic of Armenia on boosting economic output in Armenia. “There are people that have huge power but no responsibility. We have to go back to presidential, start doing the reforms and the reforms focusing to the future, bringing new technology, artificial intelligence, biotechnology, using — opening the doors for our huge diaspora and using those who have been educated and are doing research worldwide, bringing and contributing to Armenia. Both in science, technology, business but also in politics as well. So I am very optimistic for the future,” he said.
Mukesh Ambani, Chairman and Managing Director, Reliance Industries Ltd, who is Asia’s richest man, said he plans to transform each of the units under his refining-to-retail conglomerate as Reliance Industries Ltd aims for net-zero carbon emissions by 2035. “We have no option as a society, as a business but to really adopt a sustainable business model,” Ambani said, adding, “I think that’s a prerequisite for every business to survive as we go forward.”
When asked if this green push will require dialing back on some of Reliance’s businesses, Ambani said “it means transforming our businesses and integrating that with the future,” without sharing more details. Read more Bloomberg coverage of the Ambani interview here.
Former Treasury Secretary Lawrence Summers and Ray Dalio, Founder, Co-Chairman and Co-Chief Investment Officer, Bridgewater Associates said the U.S. is headed for a period of overheating and inflation that could threaten the economic recovery.
“It’s easy to say that the Fed should tighten, and I think that they should,” said Dalio,“but I think you’ll see a very sensitive market, and a very sensitive economy because the duration of assets has gone very, very long. Just the slightest touching on those brakes has the effect of hurting markets because of where they’re priced, and also passing through to the economy.”
“I welcome the Fed’s limited efforts to mark its views toward reality and a growing awareness that this overheating is likely to necessitate a monetary policy response,” Summers said. “People should not just modify their forecasts but should think about what their errors of thinking were that led them to be so far off in their forecasts.” Read more Bloomberg coverage of the interview here and here.
Steven Mnuchin, the 77th Secretary of the Treasury, United States of America said he believes inflation will force the Federal Reserve to tighten monetary policy in the coming months and years, a scenario investors may not be prepared for.
“There’s no question the Fed needs to go into a period of normalizing rates and normalizing the portfolio” of bond holdings, Mnuchin said.
He said he worried that the recent spike in inflation would persist. He suggested the Fed was reacting cautiously in part because it relies on economic models that are struggling to incorporate massive amounts of fiscal and monetary policy stimulus that are feeding into price movements. “I think this is something that needs to be watched very carefully and I do think the markets are underestimating this risk,” he said. Read more Bloomberg coverage of the Mnuchin interview here.
Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director General, World Health Organization on ramping up production of vaccines to address the surge of Covid-19 in Africa. To end the pandemic, the World Health Organization set a target of at least 70% of the population being vaccinated by June 2022. “W.H.O. and our partners are working day and night to secure access to more doses and to scale up production to meet these targets,” he said.
Dr. Ghebreyesus discussed the importance of building a vaccine infrastructure in Africa. “It’s clear that in a crisis Africa cannot rely solely on imports of vaccines from the rest of the world. We must build the capacity, not only for Covid-19 vaccines, but for other vaccines and medical products,” he urged.
Reeta Roy, President and CEO, Mastercard Foundation spoke about a recent decision to donate $1.3 billion to advance vaccine equity and strengthen the health system of Africa. “Largely, it was inspired by the great inequities we see between Africa and the rest of the world. As you know, less than 2 percent of the African population has been vaccinated in comparison to more than 50 percent in other parts of the world,” Roy said. This is one of the largest private sector donations of its kind.
Responding to a question about what needs to be done to successfully manufacture vaccines on the African continent, John Nkengasong, Director, Africa CDC said we need to go beyond human capital. He said we need appropriate technology. “Some countries in Africa already have some of this capacity and technologies like Senegal, South Africa, Egypt, Morocco, Tunisia,” he said. “But we need to scale that up and build trust and partnership with the developed world so that they can transfer this technology easily into growth facilities that already have and at least get them to speed so that we can start producing the vaccines that we need now and then prepare for the future.” Nkengasong said we need to be forward looking. “We know we are fighting this pandemic but there will be another pandemic in the future. So we should transfer the technology not just for Covid-19 vaccine development but for other threats we face almost on a daily basis on the continent,” he said.
Noubar Afeyan, Founder and CEO, Flagship Pioneering on the competition between nations to acquire the vaccine. “It took a virus to actually bring people together in a somewhat slow, clumsy way I would say. But certainly a year into it there’s a lot more country collaboration which we very much appreciate. When we started this, countries, continents thought this was their problem to solve on their own. We interacted with many of them and we could see the very different mindsets. Some wanted proof that the vaccine could work let alone what they thought was an untested vaccine and they waited for that proof. And by the time the proof came they realized they were quite late in the lineup,” he explained.
The Forum closed with a segment to spotlight local Qatar culture. Akoya brings the heritage of Qatari folk music to life in an original piece by Qatari composer, songwriter, singer, and symphonic artist Dana al-Fardan and performed by the Qatar Philharmonic Orchestra.
The piece celebrates Qatar’s original genre of music: Fjiri, music of the sea. In addition to its role as a major pillar of Qatar’s economy, the pearl trade developed a new style of music, providing motivation and entertainment for the pearl divers as they worked. Fjiri’s distinct percussion patterns represent the stories of pearl diving and accompany the traditional chanting of the Naham, a designated singer on each ship.