James Manyika: Towards a 21st Century Social Contract


James Manyika, Chairman of the McKinsey Global Institute, talks to Rob Johnson about the merits of protecting people, not jobs, in the face of the pandemic and automation

Transcript

Rob Johnson:

I’m here today with James Manyika, the chairman of the McKinsey Global Institute, and a member, a commissioner on the Commission on Global Economic Transformation that is supported by INET. James thanks for joining me today.

James Manyika:

Thank you Rob. Hope you’re well wherever you are.

Rob Johnson:

Certainly in New York city where… How would I say population density is much greater than I wish it were at the moment, though I enjoy living here normally. And you’re in San Francisco?

James Manyika:

I’m in San Francisco. I’ve been sheltered in place for the last two and a half months.

Rob Johnson:

I see. Well, we have here on the 14th of May, been exploring, changing our living conditions, changing how we see the world in what’s been unmasked. What’s changing in the world I have ideas. McKinsey Global Institute it’s done an awful lot of interesting work related to automation, machine learning, technological change, and recent work I remember you did with our co-chairman and mutual friend, Mike Spence related to the change of the social contract. How is it that the pandemic illuminates the kind of challenges that you’ve been exploring and in what ways does it change things?

James Manyika:

Well, I think we find ourselves at an extraordinary moment, Rob, and some of the work we’ve done on the social contract is brought into even sharper relief in this moment. Maybe I can describe what we’ve been looking at in the sense of, as we’ve looked at the social contract. We were quite intrigued to see how the social contract has changed in the 20 years since the start of the 21st century. And in this case, we’re focused primarily on the impact on individuals, and individuals in the sense of how they involve themselves and participate in the economy. So think of this as individuals as workers, individuals as consumers and households, and individuals as savers. And we’re trying to chart the course as to how that has evolved over the last 20 years and that has been quite striking because for the most part while a lot of wonderful things have happened such as growth, and employment, and so forth, they’ve also been some real challenges and changes in the way the social contract works. And those are all topics we can go into.

But many of the challenges that we’ve seen now have been brought into very sharp relief, because a lot of the challenges for individuals have had to deal with the fragility of work, and incomes, and inequality. They’ve had to deal with the fact that the cost of basics such as how education and healthcare have become. They’ve skyrocketed in terms of their costs and accessibility. And they’ve also been challenging from the point of view of individuals as savers. Now if you think about all those challenges that I just described there’ve been brought into very sharp relief in this moment where we’re facing both a public health crisis and in many cases, economies that are very challenged in some cases in almost near depression like collapse, depending on how things go.

So this has put even greater stresses on individuals in the 21st century and the nature of the social contract has actually been changed quite significantly. And perhaps to go deeper into exactly what is it about the social contract that’s changed in the last 20 years. So take the case of individuals as workers, for example. This is a story of some enormous gains and some real challenges. So in the 22 countries that we looked at, mostly in the advanced economies, something like we’ve expanded the employment dramatically, something like 45 million more working age people gained employment by… they gained employment by 2018 versus 2000. So the growth of jobs was actually quite astounding despite the fact that there was a big recession in the middle of that period and of those roughly 45 million additional jobs close to 30 million of them were actually for women.

So these are enormous gains, but the challenges for individuals as workers have had to do with the fact that work feels as a lot more fragile. Most of those job gains that have occurred have actually been in either part time, or independent work, or even so-called gig economy. Income fragility’s actually gone up, as well as worker safety nets have also been decreased. So this is a case of gains in terms of employment, but also more fragile employment. If you take the case of individuals as consumers this is also a tale of two halves. So when individuals have been consuming products like white good products, electronics, automobiles, a lot of these discretionary spent categories. Those of us who become much, much, much cheaper, thanks mostly to globalization, global competition and instances when those products are competed for globally.

However, even as those things have come down in cost quite dramatically, a few other categories have gone up in costs astronomically, and these include the cost of education, the cost of housing, and the cost of healthcare. And the degree to which these have gone up depends on which of the 22 advanced economies we’re talking about. But some of the largest increases in costs for those basics like healthcare, and education, and housing have actually being in some of the most advanced economies like the United States and the United Kingdom for example. So this is a case where in one sense globalization delivered but in another sense, some of these other categories went up astronomically. That’s been the tale of individuals as consumers and households.

And then when you look at individuals as savers, well many more saving vehicles and categorization have come available, most people have not been able to participate in those. So if you step back and look across what has happened to individuals in the 21st century is regards to social contract, they’ve been some gains, but also enormous challenges. Now you fast forward that to this COVID moment we find ourselves in at a time when many more workers have become vulnerable because of either they’ve been furloughed, laid off, or experiencing reduced working hours partly because of the public health crisis, but also partly because they work in sectors that have been adversely impacted by the virus, whether it’s… We’re talking about retail workers or workers in hospitality and workers who are involved in many small businesses that we’ve had to shut down.

And we estimate for example, that in the U.S. for example, as many as a third of the workers in the United States, which is about 57 million workers are actually vulnerable where vulnerability here refers to either being laid off, furloughed, or experiencing reduced hours. So this puts the kind of the social contract, and these challenges in very sharp relief and it’s an interesting moment that we find ourselves in, and that which may cause us to actually rethink how the system works in terms of either safety nets or the kind of way in which our modern capitalism works and how far institutions, and including the government support individuals and workers in moments like this.

Rob Johnson:

Yeah, I’ve seen even people like Mark Cuban on LinkedIn, I think it was yesterday, talking about we’ve got to change the model now of what comes first in terms of priorities and protections. And he was going on with an interviewer and kind of alluded to the notion that the stock market is doing better than well over half the economy and the Washington based bail out plans, and this is my term, not his, they’re kind of the mother of all moral hazards, where they’re taking care of big, strong, politically powerful firms where an awful lot of people who are very vulnerable are fending for themselves. And the equity markets reflect that support. I guess it’s an open question, whether it will diffuse into the kind of channels and into the structures that you’ve been… Ho

Your recent paper on lives and livelihoods assessing the near term impact of COVID-19 is something I’ll put on the website as a link in conjunction with this podcast. But I found it quite striking. And I guess James Cerner kind of do over fantasy experiment. If you were appointed at the White House to structure the bailout of the assistance, would you have done things markedly different than what you’ve seen unfold in Washington?

James Manyika:

I don’t know if that would be markedly different different because in some ways this is complicated all the way around Rob, in the following sense. I mean I think, stimulus and bailouts are collective experience with those have been in… So if you take 2008 as kind of a comparative point. At that time stimulus and bailouts were effective, but they didn’t… partly because we didn’t face a situation where we all said the public health crisis at the same time.

Rob Johnson:

Right.

James Manyika:

Because the complication of a economic economy collapse and a public health crisis is a new experience for us in the following way. Stimulus works when you can put money in people’s hands and bail out companies, but on the presumption that people can still go to work and people can still go out and consume things and so therefore the economy comes back. We know that with this current circumstance workers can’t just go back to work, partly because of the public health crisis. Because they’re shut downs and lockdowns and appropriately so in many cases to protect the health of workers. And at the same time, even if we put money in the hands of consumers and households, well, that’ll obviously help a lot for people who’ve lost their jobs, but it still doesn’t make it possible for people to more fully go out and participate in the economy.

So stimulus is always going to have a mixed effectiveness in this current environment because of the public health crisis. At the same time we still do need stimulus because a lot of those businesses and companies are unable to continue providing products and services. I think it would have been wonderful to perhaps encourage more of the stimulus to have gone to individuals, low income individuals, and also to small and medium sized businesses, even more than it did perhaps, partly because those are some of the most challenged groups both as individuals and as businesses in our economy.

I’m struck by the fact that, Rob, as I said earlier, after roughly a third of the workers who are vulnerable because of shutdowns and other things, as many as 80% of them are low income workers, meaning they earn less than $40,000 a year. So the disproportionate impact on low income workers will tend to be the most vulnerable in our system is very, very high. Many of them tend to be workers who don’t have bachelor’s degrees, who work in very exposed environments who cannot afford to, or are not able to work remotely, like perhaps some of us can. So I would have tried to support those individuals and the businesses and companies where they participate in work even more perhaps.

Rob Johnson:

You’ve talked about in earlier work that, when I’ve been in your office and work with the OECD and others, the notion of superstar firms, and I guess most of what I see in the press has to do with inequality of individuals relative to wealthy individuals are well relative to large corporations. But it seems to me that the relationship between the superstar firm and every other is another form of inequality. And how has that manifest? How is that playing out as the pandemic, as you said, moves through society affecting both supply and demand?

James Manyika:

Yeah, we’ve been quite fascinated by this idea of the superstar effect. And by the way, the superstar effect, we think actually operates at multiple levels. So it operates at the level of individuals, which we typically see as inequality. But we see it also for firms, for sectors and even cities. But let me talk about for firms and companies. A couple of years ago, we started this project where we actually tried to look at all the large… all the companies in the world that have more than a billion dollars in revenue, and there’s quite a lot of them. And what’s striking is that if you compare how those companies have done, and you compare today versus say, 20 years ago, we found that the top 10% you can call those the superstar firms in that set were now capturing close to 80% of the profits available to all those firms. That’s actually quite a lot of concentration.

If you look at the top 1% of those funds, they were now capturing about 38% of all the profits available to those firms, and which is quite striking, as you said, in terms of the concentration of that. But the other things that were also interesting about that group, the superstar group, is that first of all, they come actually from a diverse set of sectors. They’re not all just technology companies, although many of them are. Some of them are pharmaceutical companies, some of them are banks, but it’s a relatively diverse group. In the last 20 years, the group has changed from being predominantly American and European to now being dominated by American and Chinese firms. What’s also interesting about the superstar group of firms is that it’s actually very competitive at the top actually.

So we found that of the top 10% of firms, something like half of them fell out of the superstar category every business cycle. And of the ones that fell out of that group at the top, close to 40% of them actually fell all the way to the bottom. So in other words, it’s actually quite competitive at the top. And these are firms that tend to be more globalized, tend to make use of technology and tend to quite frankly, be growing quite fast. Now, if you translate that now to the COVID moment, you can already see that many of those firms are actually seeing perhaps even more accelerated growth, partly benefiting from the highly digital nature for many of them.

We know that for example, some of the trends that have been accelerated in this moment are mostly digital trends. So we were already on this path towards more and more e-commerce, well, that’s been one of the trends has been accelerated. We were on this path of seeing more delivery of products and services through digital means and remote delivery and so forth, so we’re seeing more of that. We’re already seeing the trends where automation was increasing. Well, in a case where people are concerned about public health and so forth, I think there’s also been a steady growing appetite to actually automate more and we’ll see how that plays out. So it’s quite possible that these superstar effects will get even more accelerated. There’s one area though, where we might actually see a slight undoing perhaps of the superstar effects.

This is with regards to superstars when it comes to cities. We had observed that at least over the last 20, 30 years they were increasingly these superstar cities that were capturing a large disproportionate share of the global GDP or even the GDP of their own countries. So you can think of a London, or you can think of a Moscow, or you can think of a Cairo, for example in the constant of their own countries. But one of the things that’s going to be interesting about these superstar cities is that many of them relied on what you might call densification or a glomeration. People are living in very high dense environments.

And I think as concerns about public health and safety increase, we may actually see perhaps a de-densification of most things particularly in a world in which there continues to be concerns about public health and safety in the worlds in which we may get a little bit more comfortable with remote work, and we make it a little bit more comfortable with delivered services wherever we are. We may actually see an interesting de-densification. So it’s going to be quite interesting to see how all these trends evolve of the next step a few years, even after the COVID challenges and crisis have hopefully gone away.

Rob Johnson:

I’m interested. I’d recall through the Commission, you and Mike Spence and I were together in the Presidio about a year ago. And I remember John Mallory from MIT was talking about cybersecurity and competition, and many people have been what you might call had sort of like Orwellian or foreboding scenarios where they saw centralization under technology. They saw because of increasing returns, extreme monopolies, extremely concentrated political power on the horizon. And there was just after a kind of enthusiasm for entrepreneurship and innovation. It was almost like a dark cloud came over the technology sector. Now I see, I won’t say the clouds have all dissipated, but I see kind of two schools.

One, a guest I had on last week, Naomi Klein, talks about the screen new deal and the extreme centralization and destruction of democratic privacy. And on the other side, the miracle of this technology is that it can detect the disease outside a building. It can, protect people, it can gather data, it can do all kinds of marvelous, unprecedented things which may contribute to the termination or at least buying time until a vaccination occurs. But you live right in the middle of this world. Did you also feel this kind of changing of climate unfolding?

James Manyika:

Yes, I did. I mean, I think one of the things has been… that’s always fascinating and I think it’s one of these challenges where we have to hold both things, two ideas at the same time. I think on the one hand, the promise and possibilities of technology continue to be enormous. The transformation potential of how these technologies, the information technology especially can transform society, transform lives in very positive ways, I think remains true. And it also remains true that many of these technologies for the benefits to be fully realized, have to operate at scale. I think it wouldn’t be helpful to have a hundred thousand search engines, or a hundred thousand social platforms, in some ways it almost defeats the purpose because these become valuable when the agglomerate many participants and that’s why platforms are useful.

So you have all these benefits that come from the technological innovation, the scale, the speed, and the marginal cost economics that come from increasing scale, which are all wonderful. And we also have the benefits that come from the fact that these technologies allow us to do some innovations that be very, very hard. I think in this COVID moment, we’ve seen everything from technology be used for contact tracing. We’ve also seen AI based techniques and machine learning techniques join up with the innovations, the biological sciences to begin to simulate our potential vaccines. Might look like these have machine learning in trying to think through the… understand the disease itself. So these are all wonderful things and we should absolutely capitalize and harness this as much as possible, but at the same time, with all these enormous benefits come enormous challenges and responsibilities.

This is particularly the case when it comes to things like the potential use and misuse of these technologies. We know that machine learning and AI and so forth can be so subject to bias, can be misused in ways that leads to whether it’s deep fakes or, fake news, or mimicking this, that, or the other. These are all misuses of technology. We also know that they can be used for… by authoritarian regimes for monitoring society. So the fact that we have these both, these enormous benefits, but yet these enormous challenges to me, just suggest that we should be thinking about how can we manage the use of these technologies, what governance mechanisms do we have? I think it’d be a mistake in my view, Rob, to be on one or either side of these. So the view that says we should therefore stop using technologies, doesn’t seem to make sense to me at the same time, the view that says we should let technology do what technology will do and not manage it in any way, also doesn’t make sense to me.

So I think one of the challenges in the 21st century, I think is going to be, how do we think about governance mechanisms for the use of these technologies that allow us to get all these enormous benefits, but at the same time helps us mitigate all these enormous downsides. I think that is yet still an unsolved challenges and I worry that we’re going to veer back and forth between two extremes here, in a way that won’t be helpful to society.

Rob Johnson:

Yeah. I know you’re fellow commissioner Rohinton Medhora, that runs the Center for International Governance Innovation. I both… I heard him at a meeting at the Vatican Council of social science and also podcasts that we made together. And he’s advocating for something analogous to the Food and Drug Administration. Where instead of technology going out and finding out what it does to society, we run pilot programs like you do in pharmaceuticals or new food products, assure there’re what you might call safety in the… kind of what you might call the implications for society, and then authorize them.

I don’t know that requires a very deep and knowledgeable understanding by the evaluators and in this tech environment. I suppose it’s feasible just like understanding deep effects in biology and chemistry, but do you think such a notion makes… has a modicum of sense within it?

James Manyika:

I think it does. And I think we’re going to need methods like that, running pilots and experiments, but also a very adaptive policymaking. And I think the… I’ve always liked the idea for adaptive policymaking, because I think historically we’ve always assumed that policymakers can think through all the possible consequences and come up with the perfect solution and the perfect policy that anticipates all possibilities. I think that’s very hard to deal with rapidly advancing science and technology. So there’s got to be some notion also of adaptive and evolving policies and methods for how we govern these things that try to just keep up with these technologies as they evolve both in their capabilities and their possible impacts. But I think that can be coupled with pilots and experiments a bit like Food and Drug Administration.

The only thing I would want to think about though, Rob, is that when it comes to powerful foundational technologies like artificial intelligence and some of these biological or biology based synthetic biology innovations, is to keep in mind that in some cases, we may not have the luxury of undoing their effects. Because I think, once you start to do things at the genome level and start to do genetic editing, those things may not be possible to undo, and so where you can say, “Oops, that was a bad idea lets not do that again.” So I think more forward looking thinking is actually quite important and not only rely on the fact that we should just let things happen and iterate our way to the right answer. We may not have the luxury in all cases to do that, particularly we’ve put these powerful foundational technologies.

Rob Johnson:

Well, speaking of looking forward, you do a tremendous amount that… How would I say, explores, envisions what we call the future of work? I had a very extraordinary experience at this Swedish consulate in the United States about February of 2019, just after Peter Goodman, the New York Times reporter in London had written a story called We Love the Robots. And these Swedes came to me, Leif Pagrotsky was the head of the consulate, he’s a good friend of mine. And at the time they said, “Mr. Johnson, you’ve always had a growth model in economics.” And the story was the U.S. is flexible, reallocates and continues to grow in Europe is sclerotic, but we think the scope in the scale of technical change now is so frightening and so threatening that the Scandinavian model where we protect people, but not jobs will allow us to take advantage of the production possibility frontier, where America may be caught in despondency despair in a very, very sick form of adversarial politics. And that our governance had to start thinking about governing for people rather than governing for sectors or what have you.

Well, as I mentioned a moment ago, your knowledge, your insight, your sensitivity to the future of work, what do you see on the horizon? How is technology in this… Well, I feel like we’re kind of in the middle of the game, we’re in baseball terms in the for thinning. How does the rest of the game look like it will play out in your mind and do these Swedes have a valid perspective on how, what you might call fear might overcome opportunity and will miss significant opportunities if we don’t adjust how governance and society react to it?

James Manyika:

I think the Swedes may be onto something here, but keep in mind that what they’re describing was essentially one of the key insights from the Lyndon Johnson commission, as you remember Rob, Lyndon Johnson set up one of the earliest commissions on the future of what we would call today, the future of work. This is a blue-ribbon commission that included some future grades. People like Bob Solo, for example, were on that commission. And one of the key insights from that commission when they finally published their report in the late ’60s, was to make an observation, which I think is still true, which is technology destroys jobs, but not work. And I think that’s still true in the sense that all the research we’ve done and even that of others, I think would suggest that there will probably always be demand for work and part of it is how society and the economy adjust to the changing nature of work along the way.

So for example, part of what our research has shown when we’ve looked at this question future work, in fact we’ve published a report that we called Jobs Lost Jobs Gained. And we titled it that way quite deliberately because we did find that there would be jobs that would be lost, but at the same time there’d be jobs that would be gained. And in most of the economies that we looked at the data and the analysis and the scenario seem to suggest that, the net of it will be that there’ll be more jobs gained than lost. And so in that sense, at least if you look at the next several decades, I’m not as worried about, and that’s loss of jobs because of technology and automation. Of course one should always worry about that that at some level in the most extreme scenarios, but I’m not… That’s not my biggest worry or thing to think about when it comes to future of work.

What I do think about some of the transitions along the way as the economy and the nature and structure of jobs evolve. And here there are basically four key transitions that I think about. One is the transitions around skills and how the skills needed for the jobs that emerge and evolve need to adapt and shift. We know that what happens is technology is, yes, some jobs get lost, but also many more jobs actually change. So both for the people who work in that have been lost and for those workers who work in jobs that are changing because of technology. One common feature of both kinds of changes is the need to rescale or build new skills that allow them either to be employed in the jobs that are emerging or adapt as their own jobs change because of technology.

So this question of skills adaptation and skill shift is an important consideration. A second one is to think about the occupational shifts themselves. We know that anytime technology has an effect, and this has been true since the industrial revolution. I mean, we forget that there was a time when half the workers in America worked in agriculture today only under 2% work in agriculture. That’s an example of occupational shifts that have occurred in the economy. So one of the things we know is that they’re going to be these occupational shifts and how workers adapt and how is assigned to even government and other mechanisms make it easy for workers to adapt and shift occupations as occupations grow, I think is an important second shift to think about and manage. The third one in some ways, maybe one of the toughest ones actually, which is how we adapt with regards to wages and incomes.

We know that one of the things that shifts as occupation shift. We know that most occupations are shifting to more service sector jobs. And for the most part service sector jobs don’t pay as much as some of the jobs that are… categories that are actually declining. So this shift in occupations and sectors has a mostly a downdraft impact on wages for most workers. We know that for example, we’re going to need more care workers. And by the way, the need for care workers is only been exacerbated in this current COVID moment because of the need for to care, not just for workers as society ages, but to care for workers when there are public health crisis. But we also know that most people involved in the care sector don’t get paid as much as they should.

We all say we value teachers and roles like that. Those are some of the hardest jobs to automate, but at the same we don’t really pay teachers as well as perhaps we should. We don’t pay people who look after our children as much as we should. So this question of the wage effects as occupations shift and the structure of the economy shifts, in this future work is one of the most difficult ones for us to contemplate. And then the final one, the fourth kind of big challenges, is of course, how we redesign the work itself. We know that we’ve always needed to redesign work and workflows, but now think about how we also having to redesign the work because of the public health crisis. We’re now having to think about social distancing in the workplace. How do we think about protocols for reopening the economy? How do we think about protocols that keep workers safe and healthy? And what happens when in fact we… The pandemic lingers, or we have many more pandemics in the future?

So we’re now having to recontemplate this question of how do we actually organize for work? Both to take a kind of technology effect, but also now public health crisis and public health considerations. So to me, these are some of the big things to think about. Rob, I don’t know if you know, I happened to be co-chairing the future of work commission in California. And California is the fifth largest economy in the world if it was a country.

Rob Johnson:

That’s right.

James Manyika:

And these are very profound challenges, actually. Let me mention one of the challenge by the way, which as a fifth challenge when it comes to work. This is the fact that we now have an interesting geography of work, which we now have to contemplate. And this comes in stark relief. I mean, even before the COVID crisis, Rob, if you had looked at the national statistics, we would say, “Hey, there’s job growth in the United States, there’s job growth everywhere.” But some of the work we’ve done where we’ve been turned to look at the job labor markets at the county level. So for example, we looked at all the counties in the United States, which is roughly something like 3,150 counties. And when you look at the labor markets at that granular county level, you suddenly realize that even though the national numbers say we’ve had job growth, those jobs have been very concentrated in a few places and not everywhere. And you see the same patterns in Europe where we’ve just done the work similarly looking at local economies across a few countries in Europe.

You suddenly realize that you have this geography of work where we now have to deal with the fact that work looks very uneven from place to place. And this is the other challenge of the 21st century, by the way, this geography of work, in addition to some of these inequality challenges. So I think when I think about the future of work, it’s less about are we going to have jobs in the future? I think we will, but it’s much more, how do we deal with these four or five challenges, I’ve just described? I think that’s the work we have to do to solve for that.

Rob Johnson:

So James as we look at our commission, we’re convened in probably another month electronically, but the co-chairs are putting together kind of a… what I’ll call, not a reset, but adjustment to course. And as I talked to you and the other commissioners through this podcast, I’m curious how you think things have changed as a result of the pandemic and what’s been revealed, say since December? We were on our way to write four key reports, you and Mike Spence were the co-chairs of the sub committee on technology, and I’m very grateful that you are given the kind of insights that you could share today. But over the large scheme of things, we’ve got four reports on financialization, one on how the nation state is being affected by globalization, climate, technology, and then as we’ve talked about on the horizon, the induced disruption of those other four and how they create problems that lead to migration.

But as you look at it now, what would you advise us as our co-architect to do? How should we change our course in understanding and in the exploring and hopefully guiding the world to a better place?

James Manyika:

I think some of what we’re planning to do feels like it’s still right to focus on, but perhaps with greater emphasis. So for example, I think thinking through the impact of technology and society still feels the right thing to me, I think because this moment has probably accelerated those technological trends. If there are growing at a fast clip, I think we’ve now lived through a moment where the whole world has had this experiment about working from home. We’ve had this experiment about e-commerce and how it plays out. We now have had this experiment about what does remote learning look like. So I think these technological trends have become even more important to fully understand. So that I think it’s still important.

I also think that the questions that we’re grappling with around globalization itself and whether we call the different global flows that happen, whether it’s a flow of goods, products, and services, how far you’ve changed work, what the people flows migration, as you mentioned. I think the flow of things through the global economy, I think it’s going to go through a reexamination, I think. Both because of some of the economic implications, but also in the public health implications on a topic that perhaps we should have spent some time on, which is the evolution of global value chains. So I think that seems to me to be important perhaps more than we may have considered before. I think there’s a final area that I think is going to be so… becomes so important for us as a commission, Rob, which is… I think we’re going through a massive reconsideration of several things where I think we’re going to have to reconsider, how does our system work? Whether it’s a capitalist system, more economic system, more broadly defined, how does it work? And what is the role of institutions where institutions either governments or companies in supporting individuals?

I think there’s an interesting moment here to reconsider how the system works in a fundamental way. I think this crisis is a unique opportunity. I’ve just been struck, Rob, by the fact that for the first time I’ve heard people openly and quite comfortably talking about safety nets, talking about should we now take seriously universal basic income? Should we take seriously the question of health for all and universalizing healthcare in some form of fashion? I think this is a unique moment to reconsider these things.

And then finally, I think it’s worth reconsidering here what are the things that we have to tackle globally in some coordinated fashion? I think pandemics and perhaps climate change are two that come to mind where these are challenges that are going to need our collective action, and to a large extent, some global coordination, because these don’t constrain themselves via national borders necessarily. But I think we’ve now come to realize how global coordination is important. I’ve just been heartened by the way, in this pandemic moments by the enormous amount of collective and coordinated scientific research that’s going on right now. I think the scientists right now are showing the way in many respects when it comes to global collaboration and coordination in a way that’s quite inspiring to be honest. So I’m quite excited about that.

Rob Johnson:

Yeah. The resurrection of faith and trust in expertise through the scientific explorations, I think is a very important I say thing to underscore just as you did, because the denigration of expertise in many forums has been accelerating up until this point.

James Manyika:

Yes.

Rob Johnson:

Well, James, I think this has been an outstanding session. I want to thank you for joining me. I’m inspired and comforted to have you on the Global Commission and be a guiding light, particularly in the realms related to technology, but across many areas as the listeners today can now understand. I hope to see you again or hear you again in the coming months. We can reconvene on this podcast and explore as things develop. And I look forward to reading and also putting on the INET website, many of the documents that you and the McKinsey Global Institute are creating to share with us and shed light on the challenges we face. Thanks again, thanks very much.

James Manyika:

Yeah. And thank you Rob, for having me, this was wonderful. And I think more than ever the work that we’re doing on the Commission, I think is… If we thought it was important, it’s becoming even more important now, I think.

Rob Johnson:

I agree. I agree. Thanks. Bye-bye.

James Manyika:

Thank you. Bye-bye.

About the Host

ROB JOHNSON serves as President of the Institute for New Economic Thinking.

Johnson is an international investor and consultant to investment funds on issues of portfolio strategy. He recently served on the United Nations Commission of Experts on International Monetary Reform under the Chairmanship of Joseph Stiglitz.

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About the Guest

JAMES MANYIKA is a senior partner at McKinsey & Company and chair and director of the McKinsey Global Institute (MGI), the firm’s business and economics research arm. James also serves as a member of McKinsey’s Shareholder Council (its Board of Directors).

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