No one was expecting a return to business as usual after the events of 2020. By November 2021 the initial shock of the Covid-19 pandemic will have dissipated, but many of the resulting shifts in public attitudes and changes in consumer behaviour will be with us for the long term. Consequently, for many companies the business landscape will change. The fully recovered economy is likely to look significantly different from the one that existed before the pandemic.
The most resourceful and resilient businesses will have adapted their business models and will be expecting to make more changes as markets and societies evolve. It has become more important than ever to scan and understand the forces shaping the business environment.
Coming as it did on the back of a decade of stagnating productivity and slow economic growth, the pandemic will lead to government borrowing at near wartime levels. As a result of the economic shock, the GDP growth and increased tax revenue that governments rely on to reduce their debt will be a long time coming. Add to this the continuing political volatility, trade disruption, UN projections that show an ageing population, and increasing social pressures on both advanced and developed economies over the coming decade – and the economic challenges for the 2020s will be a lot more daunting than those of the previous decade. As economist John Kay put it Radical Uncertainty is the new normal.
As the business world of 2022 and beyond throw up yet more surprises, those companies that have pivoted, survived and thrived will need to do so again. At a time when you will be at an advanced stage of thinking about budgets and plans for next year, our speaker, a prominent economic commentator will give us a perspective on how the economic environment of the coming decade might develop.
Economics Editor, The Sunday Times
David has been Economics Editor of The Sunday Times since 1989, where he writes a weekly column. He is also chief leader-writer, an assistant editor and policy adviser. Since 2016 he has also been writing a weekly column for The Times, where he worked from 1984 to 1989.
David Smith is the author of several books, including The Rise and Fall of Monetarism; Mrs Thatcher’s Economics; North and South; From Boom to Bust; UK Current Economic Policy; Eurofutures; Will Europe Work?; Free Lunch: Easily Digestible Economics; The Dragon & the Elephant: China, India and the New World Order; The Age of Instability: The Global Financial Crisis and What Comes Next, and – in 2015 Something Will Turn Up; Britain’s Economy Past, Present and Future. He is a visiting professor at both Cardiff University and Nottingham University. He has won a number of awards, including the Harold Wincott Senior Financial Journalist of the Year Award, the 2013 Economics Commentator of the Year Award and the 2014 Business Journalist of the Year Award in the London Press Awards.