2020 was a year defined by the coronavirus pandemic. In this holiday recap, we take a look back at some of the most prominent themes covered in our 'Nordea On Your Mind' reports this year, from refinancing risks and the case for a credit rating to the future of oil and Industry 4.0.
Coronavirus – From supply squeeze to economic meltdown
2020 has come to be defined by the global COVID-19 pandemic. Perceived at the start of the year as a regional problem in Asia, initial concerns were for supply shortages from collapsed imports, which we explored in our NOYM report ‘Coronavirus and supply chains‘. When the virus spread to the rest of the world, triggering further lockdowns and travel restrictions, the immediate blow to the world economy was twice as bad as during the global financial crisis of 2008-09.
Financial vigilance crucial, again
Recognising how badly economic output would suffer, we took inspiration from our 2019 NOYM report ‘The financial life jacket’, which described the shift from bank to bond funding, and in our report titled ‘Balance sheet ER’, looked both at refinancing risks for capital markets funding in a challenging market environment, and the potential need for new equity capital. With such a market being much more polarised for borrowers, we also in our NOYM report ‘The case for a credit rating‘ tried to analyse the value of being rated.
Party like it’s 2021?
After the summer, we took stock of how the economy and corporates had been affected by the pandemic. Unlike during the financial crisis, which hurt everyone, COVID-19 was a complete disaster for industries and companies dependent on consumer mobility and live social interaction. At the same time, it actually boosted enablers of alternative solutions, such as e-commerce, streamed entertainment and videoconferencing. Moreover, in our report ‘Coronavirus: Plan B‘, we noted that consensus forecasts expect listed companies to see higher profits in 2021 than they did in 2019, when there was no impact from COVID-19. This is hard to reconcile with the time and effort required for approval, production ramp-up, distribution and actual administration of vaccines needed to end the pandemic.
COVID-19 plus technology = even more structural change
We expect some changes forced upon us by the pandemic to be permanent. We will likely travel less and to different destinations, both professionally and privately. We will probably do more remote working. We may opt for a different mix of live and streamed entertainment.
Corporate supply chains could be re-evaluated, with more emphasis on security of supply. Many of these changes lead to lower demand for fossil fuels, which we explore in our NOYM ‘Oil: Black gold or black hole‘. Changing business models will require investments, which will be needed long-term, as described in our NOYM ‘Capex III – Less is more‘.
And a fourth industrial revolution enabled by internet connectivity is sorely needed for a revival from a decade of collapsed productivity growth in the G7 economies. In our report ‘Industry 4.0‘ we elaborate on how this should focus particularly on business model innovation.
Listen to the latest podcast episode, where Johan Trocmé and Viktor Sonebäck reflect back on the turbulent year of 2020, fundamentally defined by the COVID-19 pandemic and the topics covered in Nordea On Your Mind during the year.
If you are a corporate client and want to access the full Nordea On Your Mind report, please contact Viktor Sonebäck.
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