Happy July 1st, and what a half year we have had. 2020 needs no introduction, and although we are certain that you are aware of H1’s key events, we’d like to recap the highlight reel.
Let’s start from the beginning.
On January 1st, most of us weren’t acutely aware of Covid-19. We didn’t wear masks every time we stepped outside, #wfh was a benefit only freelancers enjoyed and airports were operating at full capacity at every hour of the day.
Six months on, the economy has been on pause, unemployment skyrocketed across countries and the issue of racial inequality re-ignited.
Let’s get through the big themes.
• Covid-19 has plagued the world:
As of today, there are over 10.45 million cases of Coronavirus across the world. Reported global deaths are at 510,632. What started in Wuhan, China spanned and spread rapidly within months.
Currently, the US has over 2.6 million cases, followed by Brazil at 1.4 million, then Russia and India. The fight against Covid-19 is far from over, sending ripples of disruption to big industries such as airlines, retail and hospitality.
The pandemic has changed the way we live, work, interact to even how we workout at the gym. This has transformed industries, shut down many businesses and essentially caused us to re-assess the state of the world. 2020 will be remembered by this for decades to come.
Just think about this, there were 300 million people using video conferencing platform Zoom in April, up from 10 million in December 2019.
• The economy took a hit:
There’s so many figures and data points that quantifies the extent of the pandemic. The IMF projected the global economy will shrink by 4.9% this year, what they call “a crisis like no other”. The US Congress has authorized a $3 trillion for coronavirus relief effort to combat millions of jobless claims and closed businesses. Last week, 1.5 million unemployment claims were filed, bringing the 13 week total to 46 million, but the numbers are declining steadily as states re-open.
In Thailand, the World Bank expects the economy to contract by 5% this year. An estimated 8.3 million workers will lose employment or income because of Covid-19.
Last week, the Bank of Thailand predicted that Thailand’s GDP will contract at 8.1%, due to a significant economic slowdown and lacklustre economic outlook. The BOT also ordered financial institutions to suspend share buybacks and dividends last months in order to help businesses weather the pandemic.
Thailand has been steadily inching towards an economical decline, and the pandemic has pretty much accelerated our position.
What else? Thai Airways has finally accepted its fate and headed to rehabilitate in bankruptcy court. The latest? AOT has removed 50% of the airlines’ check-in counters at Suvanabhumi airport.
• Calls for police reform and racial equality:
George Floyd, an unarmed black man was held down by policemen and killed in Minneapolis, Minnesota on 25th May. This event sparked a series of protests across the United States, even spanning to other parts of the world as the people stood up for the end of systemic racism and police brutality against so many innocent black citizens.
This time, corporate America also joined in and called for reform. Many companies saw management step down, pledged to hire and promote more black employees, to setting up funds, such as Apple’s $100 million racial equality fund. Companies such as Unilever even took the step to remove “Whitening” products, other brands like Aunt Jemima pledged to change its name.
Only time will tell whether the commitment will stick, once the buzz dies down.
• Backlash against social media giants:
President Trump attacked Twitter for moderating his tweet, and then this bicker war turned into a full scale war on content moderation and the role of social media in spreading hate and fake news. Facebook is currently under hot water for staying silent on the President’s rhetoric, and for the spread of misinformation.
Now, it’s facing backlash as brands like Coca-Cola and Unilever scale back on advertising. 2020 will also go down as the year the social media giants have to take a proper look at their role in spreading hate rhetoric.
• SpaceX went to space:
A big win for Elon Musk, but perhaps a blip for 2020. Space X sent 2 NASA astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley to the International Space Station on 30th May. The liftoff was the first orbital crewed launch to depart from American soil since NASA retired its space shuttle fleet in 2011.
What’s next for the world?
We can’t wait to bring out the PPE suits for Halloween, but until then, we’re going to remain cautious, wash our hands often and try not to make any hasty predictions. With how the first half of 2020 went, we think it’s even too ambitious to stick to new year resolutions.
Joking aside though, this year has really turned everybody upside down, but in a way, we also think it’s made us sharper, more resilient and served as a reminder that all businesses should be built on agility.
Ultimately, it is also your health that remains the most important thing.What about you? What are your predictions for the second half of this year?