House of Commons
No business scheduled
What comes after?
Written by Andrew Wilson, founding partner
News round-up by Li-Ann Chin, associate
5 January 2021
“You write your five-year plan and I’ll write ‘unforeseen circumstances’ on the back of a napkin. We’ll see which is more accurate”
Howard Stringer CBS
Unfortunately, he was right. After almost a year of disruption, people in England and Scotland must now stay at home under lockdown once again. Schools have closed to most pupils and rules are set to be in place until at least mid-February in England, while Scotland’s will be reviewed by the end of January.
The prime minister Boris Johnson has warned that the coming weeks will be “the hardest yet”.
Yes, we have lost a lot. Though we may have gained more than we know. Amidst the uncertainty, there are now some circumstances we clearly can foresee. The next six months and the inevitable role out of Covid-19 vaccine will be critical as to whether we drift on in uncertainty or leap forward with confidence. Let it be the latter.
The last year has been much more than simply a hiatus; it’s been a hothouse. As our political and economic leaders continue to plot a route to recovery, people across the world are angry, insecure and confused. Systemic racism, government corruption, climate change, the politicisation of the pandemic, misinformation, disinformation and culture wars have all flared up in the heat of Covid-19. Old dichotomies have come to the fore, perhaps not all of them false: the economy vs public health, business vs people, work vs real life, they have all been in the glare as our society adjusts.
Certainly, we are now operating in a completely new context. Necessity has indeed been the mother of invention as organisations of all kinds have had to adapt to new practices considered unthinkable only months before. Maybe you feel that the change that is now in play is the change that was always ‘gonna come’. Or maybe you think the next normal will eventually be the same as the old normal; but as we move towards this uncertain future, it’s not at all clear that the new boss should be the same as the old boss.
Business leaders have never faced a bigger challenge. A broader range of skills and sensitivities will be called for. The sphere of operation is broader, the terms of reference are tougher, and the context is significantly more complex. Reputations will be made and broken now – no matter what came before.
So, what can and should businesses, organisations and leaders do now to face 2021 with confidence?
We believe that now is the time to take advantage of all this enforced change to achieve real progress. It’s time to make choices; to act, to pivot, to tell a new story, to tell the same story differently, to build new relationships and redraw existing ones, to prioritise people, leverage resilience and secure longevity.
Charlotte Street Partners is a strategic consultancy from a different place. We always try to look at a problem from different perspectives, and we place a huge premium on understanding the context for any activity. We have invested in a skilled, talented and diverse team of people to provide our clients with the deepest possible contextual understanding of the place where markets, investors, politics, public policy, data, health, geopolitics, economics and media collide.
In the past few months, we have been refocusing our offer and designing a unique programme of services and products that we think will help clients take stock, make sense and move forward in this critical period of transition. All of these have been designed to be simple to buy and easy to execute.
Please do get in touch for a consultation with our senior team or browse our refreshed offer at www.charlottestpartners.co.uk.
On Monday, the UK became the first country to administer the Oxford/AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine. New restrictions have been unveiled in Scotland and England, with people living in mainland Scotland being asked to stay and work from home where possible and England entering its toughest nationwide lockdown since March.
In a recording released by the Washington Post, US president Donald Trump can be heard telling Georgia secretary of state, Brad Raffensperger to “find” enough votes to overturn the election result in the state. Vice-president-elect Kamala Harris has called Trump’s comments “a bold abuse of power.”
Commissioned by the Institute for Fiscal Studies, the Deaton review of Inequalities reveals that ethnic minority and poorer communities have been the most likely to die of coronavirus across the country. The report asserts that the UK has a “once-in-a-generation opportunity” to tackle racial, educational and health inequalities exposed by the Covid-19 outbreak.
Business and economy
According to latest figures by Springboard, footfall across Britain’s high streets in the seven days after Christmas fell by more than 23%, while non-essential shops allowed to stay open in Tier 3 areas saw a 34% year-on-year decline. The diminishing numbers were attributed to tougher restrictions announced on 30 December by health secretary Matt Hancock.
The full effects of Brexit were felt by London’s financial sector on the first trading day of 2021, as nearly €6bn of EU share dealing shifted away from the City to facilities in European capitals. According to data from Refinitiv, trading in equities such as with Santander, Deutsche Bank and Total were moved to EU marketplaces or back to primary exchanges such as the Madrid, Frankfurt and Paris bourses. (£)
The joint venture of Amazon.com Inc, Berkshire Hathaway Inc and JPMorgan Chase & Co will cease to exist at the end of February, three years after the companies came together hoping to clamp down on escalating healthcare costs. The three companies are expected to collaborate informally in the future to design programs tailored to address the specific needs of their own employees.
Figures from the Bank of England on Monday have indicated that the number of UK mortgage approvals in November increased to 105,000 from 98,300 in October, the highest number since August 2007, while the growth in manufacturing activity has also increased – signalling areas of economic strength as businesses face further Covid restrictions and Brexit uncertainty in the new year. (£)
Columns of note
No field of policy is more important than state education. And yet, throughout the pandemic, schools have inadvertently morphed into a battleground between parents and teachers, unions and politicians. Zoe Williams highlights in The Guardian that the lack of clarity and leadership over school closures in England has left parents, teachers and children suspended in limbo, with waning levels of faith in the government.
While positive vaccine news has offered hope that some level of normality is on the horizon, an almost vertical Covid curve makes it apparent that the UK still has a long way to go. Writing in The Times, Libby Purves calls for further clarity on vaccination levels and a detailed plan for the months ahead.
What happened yesterday?
olatility gripped global markets, spurring a stock selloff amid concern that a surge in coronavirus cases could crimp the economic recovery. The S&P 500 sank 2.1% as of 12:24pm New York time, led by real-state, technology and industrial companies. Nasdaq fell by 2.44% to 12,574.99. The FTSE 100, however, surged 1.72%, as Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine rollout began.
The Pound put in a mixed performance, falling against the Euro but notching up fresh multi-month highs against an all-round weaker U.S. Dollar. Gold strengthened 2.1% to $1,938.46 an ounce and Bitcoin’s rally fizzled out as the famously volatile cryptocurrency sank as much as 17%.
In company news:
Entain, the UK gambling group behind Ladbrokes and Coral rejected an £8bn takeover proposal from US casino operator MGM Resorts, citing significant undervaluation of the company.
Aldi reported record Christmas sales, with sales in the four weeks before Christmas increasing 10.6% compared with the same period a year ago.
PSA, owner of Vauxhall, Peugeot and Citroen merged with Fiat Chrysler Automobiles to form world’s fourth-biggest car maker.
What’s happening today?
Int. economic announcements
(07:00) Retail Sales (GER)
(08:55) Unemployment Rate (GER)
(09:00) M3 Money Supply (EU)
(15:00) ISM Manufacturing (US)
(15:00) ISM Services (US)
(20:30) Auto Sales (US)
Until 1972, the national anthem of the Maldives was sung to the tune of ‘Auld Lang Syne’.
House of Commons
No business scheduled
House of Lords
Discussions with P&O Ferries about proposals to discontinue the Hull- Zeebrugge passenger ferry – Lord Newby
Report by the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Obesity ‘The Future of Obesity Services’ – Baroness Walmsley
Plans to implement recommendations in the report by the Law Commission ‘Leasehold home ownership: buying your freehold or extending your lease’ – Lord Truscott
Domestic Abuse Bill – second reading – Baroness Williams of Trafford
No business scheduled
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