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J.P. Morgan International Council: Preparing for a Post-COVID World

By Peter L. Scher,  Head of Corporate Responsibility and Chairman of the Mid-Atlantic Region, JPMorgan Chase & Co.

Jan 19, 2021

Our geopolitical challenges have rarely looked as uncertain as they do today. The COVID-19 pandemic is accelerating some trends, complicating others, and exacerbating the already raw tensions that reside both within countries and between them. It is imperative that business and government leaders work together to solve the health, economic and societal problems the world is now facing to help those who need it most.

In light of these historic challenges, J.P. Morgan’s International Council met throughout the summer and fall to discuss what lies ahead and make recommendations related to three high-stakes issues that are contributing to the broader political, economic and societal re-shaping of the post-COVID world order: (1) the future of the international system; (2) the future of work; and (3) China’s role in the world.

Over the course of these conversations, it became evident that unless and until the core problem of inequality is addressed, all other economic objectives will remain elusive. It also became clear that today’s business leaders have a responsibility to help government officials adapt to the transformations reshaping our societies, to act as part of a greater whole and to advocate on behalf of the communities that they serve.

In recognition of the very significant challenges faced by leaders around the world, we are sharing the key takeaways from the International Council’s discussions.


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Executive Summary

A new U.S. president will soon take up residence at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. With a change in Washington comes an opportunity for fresh approaches to both the immediate health crisis and the myriad, attendant challenges contributing to a broader political, economic, and societal re-shaping of the post-COVID world order. J.P. Morgan’s International Council—a coterie of global business leaders, former Prime Ministers, and ex-cabinet officials—convened several times throughout the Summer and Fall to discuss what lies ahead. Among the many expert voices were former Prime Ministers Tony Blair and John Howard; CEOs Jamie Dimon (JPMorgan Chase), Joe Kaeser (Siemens), and Alex Gorsky (Johnson & Johnson); Former Secretaries of State Condoleezza Rice and Henry Kissinger; and former Secretary of Defense Robert Gates.

In recognition of the fact that business leaders have a heightened responsibility to help drive solutions in these unprecedented times, we are sharing some of the key takeaways from the Council’s discussions in order to highlight areas that may carry elevated risk or opportunity during the critical weeks, months, and years ahead. While not all of the specific views expressed in this paper were shared by all Council members, some frequent observations did emerge:

  • The new president urgently needs to renew and reawaken international cooperation and to do so in the enlightened self-interest of the United States and its allies. The absence of such cooperation has worsened the COVID-19 crisis for each individual nation. In a world where so many challenges are blind to national borders, it is essential we build an international system that is again effective.
  • The rising confrontation between the United States and China poses a significant challenge. The United States and Europe must re-establish strong transatlantic links and together confront and compete with China across a range of issues, while also remaining obliged to cooperate on shared challenges like climate and global health. 
  • Business leaders have a responsibility to play a part in managing the vast changes coming to the future of work—by opening up greater opportunity for diversity, supporting training and skills, ensuring digital preparedness, and engaging with policymakers from the point-of-view of the public interest, not simply narrow business interests. This is especially needed as the effect of the COVID-19 crisis will be to deepen structural inequalities. Business must be an active voice giving solutions, not a passive reactor to events.

Read the full report

View the full list of International Council members