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Quick Takes

Environment Dominates the Risk Outlook of Younger Stakeholders

Economic, environmental and domestic political risks all dominate the short-term concerns of respondents to the Global Risks Perception Survey. Its results are presented in the 2020 Global Risks Report from the World Economic Forum, produced with support from Marsh & McLennan and other partners. 

The first column shows risks that are expected to increase by the WEF’s multistakeholder community, while the second column shows the concerns of WEF’s younger constituents. 

It illustrates the different priorities of each group, with the latter being much more focused on climate change and its impacts. 

Economic confrontations and their effects on trade — complicated by protectionism and the lack of a resolution to 2019’s trade war — mostly concern the group of WEF multistakeholders, along with the potential for a recession in a major economy.  

Economic inequality and social issues are another focal point: The domestic political fractures and protests seen in 2019 are expected to continue as people demand more from and remain critical of their governments. Without social stability, countries will find it more difficult to address key global issues, the report says. 

The interrelated nature of global risks complicates their potential solutions, for example, “a growth in nationalist policies risk[s] preventing meaningful action,” against climate change, the report notes. 

How Will the Recession Affect Holiday Spending?

Source: Consumer Confidence Survey, Nielsen

U.S. consumers plan to spend the same amount this year on holiday gifts as they did in 2019, despite the current economic recession, according to a survey by Nielsen for The Conference Board. Not surprisingly, respondents say they’ll spend more on toys and games, as they look for ways to stay entertained under stay-at-home orders

The retail industry is preparing for pandemic-related changes to shopping behaviors, such as a longer holiday shopping season, increased e-commerce and reliance on shipping, and a drop in in-store holiday traffic. In fact, predictions indicate that online shopping will grow by 25% to 35% this holiday season.

The holiday season could help boost the economy in the final months of 2020, as retail accounts for 68% of GDP. Even though the country is struggling with low consumer confidence and high unemployment rates, shoppers are expected to spend $673 — just under the $675 household spending average from 2019.

Teens’ Mental Health During COVID-19 Is Slightly Better Than in 2018

Source: Monitoring the Future; Teens in Quarantine; Institute for Family Studies/Wheatley Institute

Seventeen percent of teenagers in America felt depressed while they were in school during the COVID-19 pandemic, compared to 27% of teens in 2018. In contrast, “U.S. adults in spring 2020 were three times more likely to experience mental distress, anxiety or depression than adults in 2018 or 2019,” according to a report by the Wheatley Institute.

Depression and loneliness were lower among teens in 2020 than in 2018, yet unhappiness and dissatisfaction with life were slightly higher. During the pandemic, teens were sleeping more and spending more time with their families, which helped lower all-time-high depression rates. However, financial distress still weighed heavily on teens. Out of 1,523 U.S. teens surveyed, one in four were worried that their parents couldn’t provide enough food for the family this summer. 

Mental health was already affecting teens pre-pandemic at record-high rates. The potential for new lockdowns, continued remote learning and uncertainty about the pandemic’s impact will most likely increase teens’ risk of long-term mental health issues. The CDC released a parental resource kit to help support parents in recognizing these mental challenges and ensure their child’s well-being.

Executives Are Too Optimistic About a Return to Normal

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

Note: Each example represents only one of many possible pathways to the herd immunity threshold; pathways become more numerous and flexible the further out the target date.

Many executives are making planning decisions based on the notion that by the very beginning of 2021, things will get “back to normal.” However, according to recent Oliver Wyman analysis, the long haul will be longer than most expect with normalcy unlikely before Q3 2021.

Recent news on 90-95% vaccine efficacy and significantly higher daily case run rates than those examined above will also have an impact on timing to herd immunity. Taken together, an average new daily case rate of 120,000 and a 90% efficacy vaccine, can improve the timeline by over a month and a half. However, the impact of such a rapid daily case run rate is dramatic — it would result in an additional ~200,000 deaths as compared to a run rate of 70,000 new cases per day. 

Given the long haul in front of us, companies may need to consider if what has been working for the past seven months can be sustained for the next 9 to 12.

Coronavirus Pushes Millions of Children Further Into Extreme Poverty

Source: World Bank & UNICEF

Globally, one-in-six children lived in extreme poverty prior to coronavirus. A UN study released in September showed that an additional 150 million children were already pushed into poverty as a result of the pandemic. This number will likely continue to grow from COVID-19’s impact on income generation and food security, according to a report by UNICEF and the World Bank Group. 

Sub-Saharan Africa accounts for 65.8% of children living in extreme poverty, followed by South Asia. Nearly 20% of children under five-years-old in developing countries live in extremely poor households. These regions especially have limited access to resources, such as water, education, food and electricity. Studies show that children in poverty have a higher chance of developing long-term health complications. 

The UN Sustainable Development Goals aim to prioritize funding and international cooperation to help end extreme poverty by 2030. When the public and private sector work together with communities, “change happens: families move out of poverty, children are protected from diseases, girls become students, instead of brides, and much more,” according to the United Nations Foundation. 

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