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Covid-19 will change the global economy forever: Mubadala, Bridgewater CEOs

Wam/Washington
Filed on July 1, 2020

(AFP)

CEOs of two leading global investment firms, Mubadala's Khaldoon Al Mubarak and Bridgewater Associates' David McCormick, said that the pre and post Covid-19 worlds will look radically different with some industries struggling to survive, while technology sector companies in particular will likely emerge stronger from this challenging period.

Both executives noted that remarkable interventionist government policies, especially in the United States, prevented the emergence of an even deeper economic crisis. The CEOs also warned against a resurgence of protectionist and anti-globalisation policies by governments worldwide.

These insights were shared on the second episode of Podbridge, a new podcast series launched by the UAE Embassy and hosted by UAE Ambassador to the US Yousef Al Otaiba.

During the podcast, the two CEOs emphasised that Covid-19 is a more unique and complex crisis than any challenge these leaders have previously confronted, including the 2008 Recession, periodic oil and gas sector corrections, and geopolitical crises.

"Covid has unquestionably changed the world and the challenges before us are all-encompassing," said Khaldoon Al Mubarak, Managing Director and Group CEO of Mubadala Investment Company. "No textbook exists to manage the economic fallout from this pandemic, yet despite these obstacles, we live in a world powered by innovation, technology, and ingenuity. Progress is no longer measured in months, but rather in days and hours. In a short span, we are making advancements in the study of vaccines, treatments, and testing. At Mubadala, Covid has taught us to keep moving forward, evolve, modernise, and never remain stagnant."

For David McCormick, CEO of Bridgewater Associates, the experience of serving as US Treasury Undersecretary for International Affairs during the 2008 financial crisis is informing his decision making as he leads Bridgewater through the current challenge.

"During that time, I learned from Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson that in a crisis, you must iterate, experiment, make decisions, and then adjust," said McCormick. "The US government response to the coronavirus is enormous, and many orders of magnitude larger and more rapid than what transpired in 2008. Mistakes will be made, but policymakers deserve credit in the way they were able to quickly avert a more severe crisis. They must also evolve these policies to remedy any shortcomings of this unparalleled intervention."

Both Khaldoon Al Mubarak and David McCormick agree that a fundamental economic paradigm shift is now accelerated due to Covid-19. Certain sectors, notably technology, are quickly evolving and will play a significant role in the worldwide economic recovery. Al Mubarak in particular emphasised medical technology, Artificial Intelligence, Life Sciences, pharmaceuticals, and E-Commerce as positive economic drivers.

In commenting on the future of the global economic landscape, both executives emphasised the importance of promoting cooperation and dialogue to manage the increasingly competitive US-China relationship. "Global economic growth is dependent on a certain level of stability between the two largest economies in the world," Khaldoon Al Mubarak said. "When the United States and China maintain a stable trade and political relationship, it enables growth to continue and allows the whole world to benefit."

David McCormick added: "The US-China relationship is the defining global relationship of our lifetimes. It is evolving in ways that create real risk, both for investors and for the world economy as a whole. The relationship has to be managed with great care and sophistication, even as we recognise that it's moved to a new stage of competition."

For Al Mubarak, Covid-19 reinforced the concept that nations must develop a domestic production capacity, especially for critical medical supplies. As an example, he referenced the recently announced partnership between Mubadala subsidiary Strata Manufacturing, a maker of composite aero-structures, and Honeywell, a manufacturer of N95 masks. Strata adapted to the coronavirus by transforming itself to produce masks at their UAE facility for export to countries with significant need.

"Our world has forever changed, but deep thinkers with incredible business acumen like Khaldoon Al Mubarak and David McCormick will play pivotal roles as we transition from economic standstill to recovery," said Ambassador Yousef Al Otaiba. "As Khaldoon and David shared on Podbridge, we must remain committed to globalisation and trade, and leverage our technological knowhow, ingenuity, and creativity to sustain a meaningful economic rebound."

Mubadala is a sovereign investor managing a global portfolio of assets aimed at generating sustainable financial returns for its shareholder, the Government of Abu Dhabi. Mubadala's $232 billion portfolio spans five continents with interests in multiple sectors and across all asset classes.

Bridgewater Associates, a premier asset management firm focused on delivering unique insight and partnership for the most sophisticated global institutional investors. Before joining Bridgewater, McCormick was the US Treasury Undersecretary for International Affairs in the George W. Bush Administration, and prior to that served in senior posts on the National Security Council and in the Department of Commerce.

- Wam



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