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Chinese M&A Activity Plummets During COVID-19

Source: Rhodium Group

China’s outbound M&A activity contracted by two-thirds between January and May, 2020, according to a report from Rhodium Group, compared to the average monthly count between 2016 and 2018. For the first time in 10 years, foreign investment deals into Chinese firms are outpacing those coming out of China. 

Companies have braced for investment activity from China amid the economic recession, but “there are no signs of a Chinese outbound investment boom, like the one seen after the global financial crisis a decade ago,” the report notes. “Instead, takeovers are headed in the other direction: into China.” Foreign investors are pursuing Chinese assets as the country’s consumption has risen along with its middle class. Policies that previously limited foreign investment in the country have also been lifted, and Chinese firms are seeing increasing maturation. 

Although China is the second-largest economy in the world, its fate as a global investor is not certain. Moving forward, China will need to succeed in certain domestic policy reforms and gain the trust of foreign investors, the report says — neither of which is guaranteed.

Europeans Show Concern Over How “Free and Fair” the US Election Will Be

Source: YouGov

Only 11% of European adults expect the upcoming United States presidential election to be “completely free and fair.” Notably, citizens of Germany, France, the United Kingdom and Sweden are more inclined to question the accuracy in this election, according to a recent survey by YouGov. The survey polled over 9,000 adults from various western European nations between September and October. 

The U.S. election has already implemented alternatives to in-person voting in the hopes of preventing the spread of COVID-19, such as voting by mail and early voting. Yet many Americans are uncertain about how this could affect the accuracy of election results. About one-in-four Americans are concerned about voter fraud when voting by mail, according to a survey by Pew Research Center.

How Has COVID-19 Impacted Voter Turnout in Elections This Year?

Source: Council on Foreign Affairs

Around the world, countries are taking precautionary measures to make sure the COVID-19 pandemic does not affect voter turnout in elections. Earlier this year, the Dominican Republic and North Macedonia — each suffering from a high number of COVID-19 cases — both saw large drops in turnout from its previous election. In Burundi and South Korea, however, voter turnout increased, despite coronavirus-related concerns. 

To combat the spread of COVID-19, many countries required mask usage in polling stations, checked voters’ temperatures, enforced social distancing and eliminated sharing materials. Other measures included staggering voter hours, providing alternative options to in-person voting and implementing special procedures for COVID-19 patients. However, most of these precautionary measures are expensive to implement, and countries have concerns about how to communicate such changes to voters.

Currently, more than 40 million ballots have already been cast in the upcoming United States presidential election. While the Pew Research Center found that the majority of registered voters are “very or somewhat confident that in-person voting places will be run safely, without spreading the coronavirus,” most states are currently seeing a sharp increase in cases.

The Impact of Climate Change on US Voters

Source: Pew Research Center

About 2 in 5 Americans surveyed consider climate change a “very important” issue when deciding which presidential candidate to vote for in the upcoming U.S. election. However, the economy (which 79% of voters call “very important”), health care (68%) and the coronavirus pandemic (62%) all ranked as more pressing concerns for voters in this election, according to Pew Research Center.

Climate change ranked last in importance for supporters of President Donald Trump when compared with 12 other issues — only 11% of Trump supporters say climate change is “very important” when deciding who to vote for, as opposed to 68% of presidential candidate Joe Biden’s supporters. 

Despite the evident partisan divides on the issue, climate change has been a growing concern amongst the U.S. public, especially with the recent ongoing California wildfire and a record-breaking hurricane season. Today, six-in-ten adults view climate change as a major threat to the well-being of the country — an increase from 44% of respondents in a 2009 poll.

COVID-19 Vaccine Timeline Will Likely Extend to 2021 and Beyond

Source: Oliver Wyman; https://pandemicnavigator.oliverwyman.com/

Given the scale and impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, the typical vaccine development timeline of 8-15 years is unpalatable. It may be possible that a vaccine gets FDA approval by year-end, but operational challenges will extend the timeline for scaling the vaccine into 2021 and beyond. These challenges include high adoption and series completion, high volume production and equitable distribution, as well as Americans being less inclined to immediately take the vaccine.

Oliver Wyman modeling work suggests that vaccine uptake will need to be very high to suppress the pandemic — exceeding typical two-dose vaccination completion rates. Assuming two doses per patient, vaccinating 60% of just the adult population is about 6.5 billion doses. Production is further complicated by the range of vaccine platforms under development.

Lastly, vaccine production is centered in the U.S., China, and Western Europe, however people living in low- and middle-income countries account for 79% of the world population. Distribution logistics are also more complex than those of a typical vaccine. This week, the World Bank approved a $12 billion distribution strategy to help developing countries receive a future vaccine.

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