Finance flash: the TOP-10 articles of week 33, 2020

Want to stay up to date with the latest developments in finance, but short on time? Don't worry. CFO South Africa weekly collects 10 of the most important articles from international media for your convenience.

1. Taking Stock of the Covid-19 Recession
Six months after the start of the coronavirus recession the macroeconomic landscape has become more, not less, confusing. Business leaders have to navigate shattered expectations, widely disparate outcomes, and continued uncertainty. Although we have seen the worst growth decline on record, financial markets are buoyant. It’s time to take a step back and reflect on the journey so far.

2. OPEC Lowers Oil Demand Forecast for 2020
OPEC lowered its forecast for world oil demand in 2020 but still sees a record-breaking rebound next year assuming the coronavirus will largely be under control. In its latest monthly oil report, OPEC said demand will tumble by 9.06 million barrels per day (bpd) this year, up 110,000 bpd from the 8.95 million bpd decline expected a month ago.

3. The Innovator’s Imitation Dilemma: TikTok and Facebook in Context
At first glance, TikTok is facing an existential threat. Not only is the wildly popular short video-sharing app banned in India and now forced to be spun off in the United States from its Chinese owner Bytedance, it also has to fend off copycats like Facebook’s Reels. But TikTok may have a secret sauce that allowed it to thwart Facebook’s earlier imitation attempt, and that may yet secure its future: the ability to recombine existing know-how in a market as complex and fast-moving as tech-based entertainment.

4. Forming active defence against activist investors
Worldwide over the last five years, the number of companies targeted by activist campaigns has been increasing by 8% a year, while assets under management of activist investors has been growing at 9% annually, according to global consultancy firm McKinsey. Activists’ interests involve mergers-and-acquisitions activity, divestments, and corporate break-ups. How can finance help companies protect themselves?

5. The key to stopping the coronavirus spread are new tests that prioritize speed over accuracy
Broad access to testing is one of the most powerful tools to keep the COVID-19 pandemic under control until there’s an effective vaccine in use. Diagnostic testing, which is used in medical settings to determine whether someone is infected with the coronavirus, is costly, slow, and overstretched in the U.S. But that’s not the only type of test that can be used.

6. How six companies are using technology and data to transform themselves
A study referenced in the popular magazine Psychology Today concluded that it takes an average of 66 days for a behavior to become automatic. If that’s true, that’s good news for business leaders who have spent the past five months running their companies in ways they never could have imagined. The COVID-19 pandemic is a full-stop on business as usual and a launching pad for organizations to become virtual, digital-centric, and agile—and to do it all at lightning-fast speed.

7. 7 sectors boosted by the coronavirus
For management accountants, it's crucial to know which sectors are struggling and which ones might present new opportunities from the crisis. There are indications that the following categories of businesses are worth observing for trends that could impact business operations and strategy in countries around the world.

8. Why corporate purpose statements often miss their mark
Most recently, the coronavirus pandemic has prompted the world to reconsider what work and which organizations are essential to society’s function. And unrest over social injustice has led many organizations to reflect on their role in promoting diversity, equity, and inclusion. These important initiatives will be most effective if they involve a close examination of purpose.

9. How Universal Basic Income Could Save Capitalism
Long before Covid-19 hit, faith in capitalism was faltering. The global recession of 2008 highlighted the growing gulf between the haves and the have-nots in developed economies. Soon after, the rise of China’s state-managed economy challenged the hegemony of unconstrained free markets. In the United States, the surging pandemic has sent inequality into overdrive. American billionaires have grown 20 percent richer, as unemployment has soared to record levels. It remains to be seen just how much of this cognitive dissonance the system can sustain before spinning into total chaos.

10. When Is Learning a Marathon and When Is It a Sprint?
When training for your first marathon, you don’t just go out and run the 26.2 miles (42.2 km) the first day. It’s understood that this kind of learning takes more than simple repetition. To teach your body to run that distance requires bursts of training and rest. Practice, practice, practice is often the mantra when we are learning something new, but it turns out that how we practice matters and the process depends on what we are learning.