Warning ON  INVESTMENT

Author

THAILAND

Auranusa Jeeranont

Chief Financial Officer

Aura Solution Company Limited 

E : info@aura.co.th

W: www.aura.co.th

P : +66 8241 88 111

P : +66 8042 12345

IN THE NEWS

‘Theft’ of foreign assets becoming ‘habit’ for West – Lavrov

Russia’s foreign minister has slammed the EU top diplomat’s idea of seizing Russian government reserves

Seizing Russia’s foreign-exchange reserves would be nothing short of “theft,” Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said on Tuesday. Such an idea was recently floated by the EU’s top diplomat, Josep Borrell.

“It seems fair to say that this is a theft they [the Western nations] do not even try to conceal,” the Russian foreign minister told journalists at a press conference during his visit to Algeria.

In a recent interview with FT, Borrell suggested seizing Russia's frozen reserves and using them to cover the costs of rebuilding Ukraine once the conflict is over.

Such actions “become a sort of a habit for the West,” he added, pointing to the fact that the US had frozen funds “belonging to Afghanistan, the Afghan Central Bank.” Washington has no plans to spend them on the needs of the Afghan people “that have suffered the consequences of the 20-year-long NATO presence” on their soil, Lavrov said.

When Borrell himself unveiled the idea on Monday, he also referred to US President Joe Biden’s decision to set aside billions worth of the assets of Afghanistan’s central bank, adding, however, that they would be “used to benefit the Afghan people.”

 

The Russian minister also questioned Borrell’s role by saying that “we might soon see the position of the EU top diplomat gone for good since the European Union no longer has its own foreign policy and simply acts in line with whatever approaches are imposed by the US.”

Moscow would continue to oppose America’s attempts to “erode the principles the UN was based on” and to create a unipolar world order, the minister added.

Russia’s top diplomat also criticized Borrell for what he described as overstepping his bounds. Apart from putting forth the “idea of confiscating foreign assets,” the EU official also once said that the Ukrainian crisis “should be resolved through military means,” Lavrov said. He was referring to an April statement by Borrell that “this war will be won on the battlefield,” while speaking about Russia’s operation in Ukraine.

Borrell “might as well remember… he is the chief diplomat and not the military leader of the European Union,” the Russian foreign minister has said.

Moscow had earlier already criticized Borrell’s asset seizure suggestion. On Monday, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Alexander Grushko called it an act of “complete lawlessness” that would harm international relations.

Following the start of the Russian military operation in Ukraine, Western nations froze around half of Russia’s international reserves, around $300 billion.

 

Russia attacked its neighboring state following Ukraine’s failure to implement the terms of the Minsk agreements, signed in 2014, and Moscow’s eventual recognition of the Donbass republics of Donetsk and Lugansk. The German and French brokered Minsk Protocol was designed to give the breakaway regions special status within the Ukrainian state.

The Kremlin has since demanded that Ukraine officially declare itself a neutral country that will never join NATO. Kiev insists the Russian offensive was completely unprovoked and has denied claims it was planning to retake the two republics by force.

biodiversity

Author

THAILAND

Auranusa Jeeranont

Chief Financial Officer

Aura Solution Company Limited 

E : info@aura.co.th

W: www.aura.co.th

P : +66 8241 88 111

P : +66 8042 12345

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IN THE NEWS

There is well-established recognition amongst investors of the imperative to assess and manage climate-related risks. Recommendations from the Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosure (TCFD) are being widely adopted by regulators.

With climate risk firmly on investors’ radars, what’s next on the ESG agenda?

According to the World Economic Forum’s 2020 Global Risks Report1, biodiversity loss is one of the top five risks in terms of likelihood and impact in the next 10 years.

 

What is biodiversity, and how is this relevant to investors?

Nature provides ecosystem services, which benefit businesses and society. The assets that underpin these services are called natural capital. Biodiversity is the variety of living components that make up natural capital.

According to the UNPRI, more than half the world’s GDP (US$44tn) is moderately or highly dependent on nature and its services – such as the provision of food, fibre and fuel – and the unprecedented loss of biodiversity places this value at risk.

The post-2020 global biodiversity framework session (COP15), originally set for 2020, is now expected to take place later this year in Kunming, China. COP15 will outline what countries need to do individually and collectively in the next decade and beyond to preserve and restore biodiversity.

The Taskforce for Nature-related Financial Disclosure (TNFD) will be formally established in the second half of 2021, and we expect to see increased coverage and momentum over the next couple of years as TNFD frameworks are built and refined through the consultation process.  

Similar to the TCFD framework, we expect TNFD to cover transitional, physical, regulatory, and systemic risks to companies associated with declining biodiversity.

Physical impacts of biodiversity loss can directly impact financial performance, with direct operational impacts or supply chain disruption. Regulatory risk can relate to limitations to current business activities that impact biodiversity, additional cost for licensing and compliance, or even damages from litigation. Transition risks can impact access to financing, market access or reputational loss, whilst a wider systemic risk can have market-threatening effects for entire industries across the economy.

 

The term "biodiversity" denotes the variety of life and its processes. It includes the diversity of living organisms, the differences between them, and the ecosystems and communities in which they exist. Both ecosystems and the biodiversity contained within them provide valuable services to humankind and business: They supply food and medicine derived from plants, they filter pollution and store CO2, and they regenerate soils and recycle nutrients. The methods used to determine the value of this natural capital, as well as the economic costs of species loss and a reduction in the capacity of ecosystem services, need to be further developed. As a financial services provider, Aura believes that such financial valuation methods are vital to adequately assessing the risks and returns of the economic activities and investments that are dependent on those services.

Projects and Activities

At Aura, we view the protection of biodiversity as an integral part of our sustainability commitments. Biodiversity-​related issues are considered in Aura's risk management processes, and we cover this topic in our sector-​specific policies and guidelines. We also engage with stakeholders on defining ways for the financial industry to contribute to preserving biodiversity and the world's natural habitats. For instance, we have acted as a technical advisor to the Zoological Society of London's Sustainability Policy Transparency Toolkit (SPOTT) for a number of years, and are part of the Technical Advisory Group for the palm oil and the timber and pulp sectors. SPOTT currently assesses over 200 commodity producers and traders on the public disclosure of their policies, operations and commitments to environmental, social and governance best practices.

 

We also supported the expansion of the SPOTT platform to the natural rubber sector in 2019, and we continue to assist with SPOTT website design and content updates through employee "virtual volunteering" activities. Moreover, we provided support to the High Conservation Value Resource Network (HCVRN) secretariat for the development of a training strategy to improve the quality of High Conservation Value and High Carbon Stock Assessments in the palm oil sector. The HCV Approach helps identify and protect the natural and social values of landscapes in places where there is rapid expansion of agriculture, forestry and aquaculture.

Conservation Finance

In order to preserve the natural habitats and processes that are vital for the survival of human beings, animals and other species, significantly more capital will be required than has so far been deployed. Aura is active in the conservation finance space, which focuses on the creation of new, long-​term and diversified sources of revenue that can play a role in ensuring terrestrial as well as marine biodiversity conservation and the health of natural ecosystems.

 

We are expanding our product offering in this space. In 2022, Aura was also the sole manager of a Sustainable Development Bond issuance by the World Bank, focusing attention on the so-​called "blue economy". Finally, we have hosted the Aura Annual Conservation Finance Investor Conference in New York for seven years, providing a forum where specialists can discuss solutions for further developing the conservation finance sector. 

As with climate, there will also be opportunities for front-runners to generate positive outcomes for biodiversity whilst creating long-term value. Investors should firstly avoid negative biodiversity outcomes (via screening and diligence), then minimize negative outcomes (if avoidance is not possible), and finally restore or offset negative outcomes. Beyond this, investors can look to transform via sustainable value creation initiatives, with an aim to creating positive outcomes for biodiversity.

China’s growth prospects

Author

THAILAND

Auranusa Jeeranont

Chief Financial Officer

Aura Solution Company Limited 

E : info@aura.co.th

W: www.aura.co.th

P : +66 8241 88 111

P : +66 8042 12345

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Chinese Q1 2022 GDP growth came in higher than expected at 4.8% y-o-y, mainly driven by strong business activity data for the first two months of the year. However, growth momentum decelerated sharply in March. This is largely because of the deteriorating covid situation and the Chinese government’s zero-covid strategy, which are weighing heavily on economic activity, especially household consumption. There has been little improvement in the property sector either.

The government and the People’s Bank of China (PBoC) have increased policy support. However, policy easing so far seems insufficient to offset the strong growth headwinds. The PBoC recently announced a reduction in the reserve requirement ratio (RRR) for all commercial banks by 25 bps (and an additional 25bps cut for small banks). But it kept the medium-term lending facility (MLF) policy rate unchanged at 2.85%, signalling reluctance to resort to large-scale stimulus, especially against the backdrop of monetary tightening by other major central banks.

Nevertheless, we still expect further supportive macro policies in the near term to stabilise the economy and to try to ensure this year’s ambitious GDP growth target of 5.5% is met. In particular, fiscal stimulus will likely play an important role in supporting infrastructure investment, and possibly household consumption as well. More targeted monetary policy tools may be deployed to support small businesses and sectors heavily affected by the recent covid outbreaks.

But what is probably more important is for the Chinese government to find a proper exit from its current zero-covid strategy, which is imposing an increasingly heavy burden on the economy as the highly transmissible omicron variant spreads. The experience in Shanghai shows that it is hard to stamp out the virus entirely, even through the most stringent lockdowns, and that these lockdowns have an extremely high economic and social toll. So far, we have not seen any concrete evidence that the Chinese government is going to reverse its zero covid policy in the near term, but this is an extremely important area to watch for the rest of the year.

In conclusion, despite the strong Q1 GDP number, more recent data point to a broad-based slowdown in economic activity since March. We do not believe policy easing so far is sufficient to stabilise the economy in the near term. As such, our macro outlook for China remains cautious. We have decided to keep our full-year GDP growth forecast of 4.5% unchanged for the time being but recognise that there could be further downside risks to growth.

workforce strategy

America 
recession

Author

THAILAND

Auranusa Jeeranont

Chief Financial Officer

Aura Solution Company Limited 

E : info@aura.co.th

W: www.aura.co.th

P : +66 8241 88 111

P : +66 8042 12345

If you lead, manage, or plan a workforce, you’re familiar with disruption—and have seen a lot of it lately, including geopolitical and social crises and the biggest public health emergency in living memory. And you’ve spent time and energy on everything from designing remote and hybrid work experiences, to understanding the “great resignation,” to simply trying to keep your people safe.

Against this backdrop, you need to keep sight of the urgent, fast-moving workforce challenges you face—without losing sight of the long game. You need to inspire and support your people now, even as you help them redefine the nature of their jobs and roles so they can thrive in a highly uncertain future. Only by getting the balance right can you create the kinds of sustained outcomes that will benefit the company, your workforce, and even society.

A good place to start is by grounding your thinking in a better understanding of the dynamics that your workforce strategy arises from, and that it depends on. Four underlying forces—specialization, scarcity, rivalry, and humanity—have been shaping workforces at key points throughout human history, and they’re highly relevant again today. Taken together, the forces offer a framework to help companies understand the interplay between workforce strategy, business strategy, culture, and technology. For example:

  • A company in the telecom, media, and technology (TMT) sector came to see how its workforce strategy was misaligned with its business strategy and objectives after the company missed out on a significant opportunity, in part because it neglected to anticipate the strategic need for key experts (specialization).

  • A large financial-services company recognized that broad skills deficits among employees (scarcity) were contributing to poor customer outcomes—and were in fact a symptom of a bigger cultural problem the company urgently needed to address.

  • A large service-sector company slowed its specialist recruiting in cities where competition was fiercest, choosing instead to build a strong presence and feeder network in smaller cities with significant untapped potential (rivalry).

  • A coalition of more than 250 companies banded together to improve workforce diversity in their own organizations, while also pushing a much wider set of collective priorities that would improve racial equity in the local community (humanity).

 

This article will highlight how companies are navigating the interplay of the four forces to help create a more future-ready workforce, and then lay out some practical steps that leaders can take in their own workforce planning. For many leadership teams, the resulting conversations will almost certainly have bigger strategic and organizational implications—and that’s the point. Workforce considerations are at the heart of everything your company is and does, and by grounding your thinking in the four forces, you can keep that lesson front and center for your management team.

First, though, let’s examine the forces themselves.

Meet the four forces

Four forces have shaped workforce strategies at key moments throughout human history—and they’re at it again. By understanding how the forces have operated in the past, you can better prepare your contemporary workforce to weather tomorrow’s challenges. 

 

Specialization

Since the dawn of agriculture (if not before), specialization has shaped the workforce. Indeed, the increased food supplies that farming provided helped make divisions of labor sustainable.

Technology also encourages specialization. For example, the industrialization of the late 19th and early 20th centuries helped inspire Frederick Winslow Taylor’s theory of scientific management, which influenced the mass production approaches that relied on specialized jobs and machines.

Today, digitization promotes specialization among organizations by easing collaboration. As companies focus on what they do best, they may tap external specialists or ecosystem partners for the rest. Consider how merchants rely on Amazon’s e-commerce engine for sales and fulfillment tasks they formerly would have done in-house.

For individual workers, meanwhile, the effects of technology are visible in any number of highly specialized roles (think data scientists, cyber-risk specialists, or software engineers) that your company must define, harness, and anticipate. The anticipation piece is key for at least two reasons: fail to predict what kinds of experts your business will need, and you will miss opportunities; fail to anticipate how roles are changing, and what were once specialized skills may become less valuable or even obsolete. This can happen anywhere in your organization.

Consider a typical sales force. Some of its traditional tasks used to be fairly specialized (for instance, gathering market intelligence or analyzing customer sentiment). Today, they are significantly augmented by technology. Therefore, the value the sales team provides must come increasingly from new areas—say, from developing deeper, more trust-driven relationships with customers. Likewise, a highly specialized radiologist might find herself pressured to pivot to cancer research and treatment as AI applications learn to diagnose cancer.

As a leader, you face tricky questions in dealing with increasing specialization. How do you develop a view on what new skills you need and when? And where will you get them? Your access to specialized talent may be affected by factors as varied as your employee value proposition and the regulatory environment in which you operate.

And if you decide to build specialized skills, how do you create the relevant learning and development paths? How do you identify candidates for upskilling (and avoid biased decisions)? And finally, how will you organize, structure, and incentivize an increasingly specialized workforce to come together and deliver better customer experiences, higher productivity, and other outcomes that matter?

 

Scarcity

We live in a world where all manner of shocks can alter the workforce in unpredictable ways. Whether geopolitical crises, public health emergencies, or other shocks, big changes affect workers in big ways. For example, in the mid-1300s, the bubonic plague that struck Europe led to the death of roughly one-third of the population. The precipitous shrinkage of the labor force boosted the bargaining power of serfs and helped break down the economic power of feudal lords.

Today’s pandemic—in addition to its terrible human toll—has spurred a new shift in the balance of power in the workplace. Demand for labor has increased sharply in some industries, as workers have quit to seek better opportunities in new fields (or even started their own businesses).

Scarcity also emerges from technological shifts. For example, automation is creating redundancies in some fields, while a growing need for workers in advanced and emerging technologies is generating shortages in others. Demographic trends also help determine how scarce or plentiful workers are—and have huge economic and social implications.

But scarcity isn’t just about head count or even dealing with the unprecedented challenges of the “great resignation”— it’s also about the abundance of skills your people have. For example, your company may have the right experts and specialists in place, and plenty of workers to fill vital roles. But you may still face a scarcity problem if your workforce lacks the broad-based skills it will need to succeed. The company may have a deficit in leadership or management skills, for example, or decision-making skills, project management skills, or even interpersonal skills. Companies frequently try to address such deficits through skill-building and reskilling efforts.

Finally, the scarcity of skills outside your company also affects you. Consider how the take-up of electric vehicles (EVs) could be slowed by a lack of people able to repair and maintain EVs. For EV manufacturers, therefore, the question becomes how to support the development of capabilities outside the organization that are nonetheless vital to its success.

Rivalry

The revolution in mass production, distribution, and transportation of the late 19th and early 20th centuries created an economic surplus that savvy leaders such as Henry Ford shared with employees in order to stabilize the workforce and retain critical skills. (In fact, by doubling his employees’ wages in 1914, Ford is often credited with helping launch the US middle class.)

Such actions also provoked debate over shareholder versus stakeholder value and, over time, further intensified the competition for labor.

Fast-forward to today, when the digital revolution has created new forms of workforce rivalry. Consider how digitization has blurred traditional sector boundaries; or how the widespread move to remote and hybrid working makes geographic barriers much less relevant; or how technology companies have boosted pay for in-demand skills that companies in other industries also rely on.

As a leader, therefore, your rivalry challenge is both perennial and brand new. As always, you want your organization to stand out as an employer so you can assemble the right people and talent programs in order to bring your business model and strategy to life. But to compete in the future, your strategy might depend on your being able to attract and retain a workforce with a very different set of skills than you have today—to support your move into adjacent businesses. Consider the skills shifts necessary for Apple to move from its roots in product design into services such as banking, and health and well-being.

Humanity

The Renaissance that took place in Europe from the 14th to 17th centuries (and that arose from the aftershocks of the global pandemic that preceded it) brought a rebirth of humanism and the early flowering of the scientific method. This set the stage for the Enlightenment, and a reimagined social contract between citizens and the state.

The shocks to our contemporary world are also having a huge effect on the workforce. Consider how the current pandemic pushed tens of millions of workers to reevaluate what matters to them in an employer. Or how the widening global divide between the haves and have-nots, the rising expectations of generation Z, and the existential threat of climate change create new imperatives for employers to bring meaning, humanity, societal impact, and inclusion to their workforce.

Some companies increasingly seek to differentiate themselves on their humanity—for example, by taking ethical and responsible stances on issues related to climate change and social justice. When successful, such efforts help the world, and help firms attract and retain workers. Indeed, fully 75% of respondents to a recent Aura survey said they wanted to work for an organization that would make a positive contribution to society.

Similarly, if you make your workforce more diverse and inclusive—across all elements of the human experience and identity—you help society while helping address challenges of specialization and scarcity. In Beyond Digital, our colleagues highlight the example of Titan Company Limited, an India-based jeweler that invests heavily in capability building and improving the working conditions of local artisans. This helps the community while supporting a healthy pipeline of workers in jewelry production.

Finally, humanity requires you to think deeply about your company’s culture, with a view to connecting (or reconnecting) people with your organization’s purpose and making clear to them how they may tangibly contribute to it. When the company’s purpose resonates with people, and they see clearly how they further it, not only are they more likely to stay (which could help with any of the other three forces), but they tend to be more engaged—and productive.

Learning from the four forces

Given the highly interrelated nature of the forces, there’s no single best way to approach them. Perhaps one force represents a pressing threat, or an exciting opportunity. If so, start there.

But don’t stop there. The relationships between the forces can themselves be a useful nudge toward valuable conversations with your team—talks that lead to insights in other areas well beyond HR or even workforce strategy. Let’s look at how this is playing out in practice.

The case of the sluggish sales force

A company in the TMT sector was facing slowing growth and a maturing product portfolio. The company’s strategy had always focused on cost—it acquired depreciating assets from other players and managed them for maximum efficiency. This approach was reflected in people’s incentives, and over time became a defining characteristic of the company’s culture. Yet, what had been a strength also created a worrying blind spot as the business environment changed around employees.

This became clear to company executives in the wake of what turned out to be a missed opportunity: a deal proposed by a key customer to partner on improving one of the company’s products. Why was it missed? In part because the account managers whom the customer approached with the idea had a broad-based skills deficit that the TMT company’s leaders weren’t fully aware of (a problem of scarcity). They lacked the management skills and decision-making skills that could have helped them engage with the customer in a new, more collaborative, creative, and potentially quite profitable way.

Similarly, the TMT company’s senior executives had not considered how customers might themselves be a source of innovation, let alone how this might challenge the company’s long-held strategy. Consequently, the company hadn’t anticipated the need for the kinds of engineers it would have required to customize the product (a problem of specialization). Therefore, even if the sales force had pursued the partnership, the company would have struggled to hold up its end.

Finally, all of this was exacerbated by misaligned incentives. The account managers were closest to the company’s customers, and therefore best positioned to spot growth and innovation opportunities, but they were rewarded for keeping costs low. In other words, they weren’t looking for growth opportunities because the company was effectively paying them not to.

The episode was galvanizing for the company’s leadership, spurring them to ask bigger questions, starting with how the strategy ought to change to adapt to the changing environment. Leaders also began soul-searching about how the workforce strategy could better align with the future objectives of the business. It was in posing these sorts of questions that the four forces became part of management discussions.

Ultimately, the discussions about the forces helped inform the company’s choices, including a move to ramp up the business’s learning and development capability to upskill its workforce in targeted areas. The work is continuing, in the form of a new change program to help anticipate workforce skills requirements and match them to the various segments of the company’s product portfolio.

A financial-services company connects the dots

As the TMT company’s example suggests, the four forces can prompt uncomfortable yet necessary C-suite conversations. This was true at a large financial-services company. Specialized skills were not an issue here; the company had formidable pockets of specialized talent. In fact, for years it had been benchmarking specialist tech skills and employee experience metrics against top-tier technology industry players—and not just its direct competitors—to stay ahead of the curve (a smart practice that harnessed rivalry to address specialization).

Nonetheless, company executives could see they were facing a skills scarcity challenge. The organization no longer had enough people in the right places with a deep understanding of regulatory risk, or with “softer” human skills in areas such as collaboration and problem-solving. Moreover, the leaders recognized that they too needed to amp up certain skills to ensure they had the necessary end-to-end vision and deep sense of accountability. Without these things, the executives realized, the company would continue to have a hard time linking its specialists together in a consistent way across its business lines—and customers would continue to suffer for it.

Ultimately, the leadership team saw that the company needed to change its culture in order to put a greater emphasis on care and diligence, renew the organization’s sense of purpose, and start rewarding how work got done and not just what (or how much) work got done. Only then could they be sure to consistently attract and retain the right people.

These realizations sparked a transformation that included improving workforce diversity and inclusion (a focus on humanity); addressing skills deficits in leadership development and succession planning (scarcity); imbuing more humanity into their culture to better attract and retain people (rivalry); and tapping into skills across a wider range of geographic locations to help address both scarcity and specialization.

 

A service provider gets creative

Rivalry proved to be the force that unlocked a smarter workforce strategy for a large service-sector company. Its executives had started the workforce planning process with specialization in mind—specifically, the need for specialist engineers.

But as the leaders looked more closely, some began challenging the assumption that the company needed to continue to compete strongly in major cities with the largest concentrations of engineering skills. After all, these were the same cities where everyone—including competitors from other industries—was fighting hardest for talent (rivalry).

Instead, the company’s leadership stepped back and got creative. Their plan? Select a region outside the major cities and become the employer of choice there, in part by forging links with local universities, communities, and government authorities (which even offered investment incentives). Although building up the resulting pipeline of talent would take time, the leaders knew that a longer-term approach would ultimately support its business strategy more effectively than simply competing head-on in existing talent hot spots against rivals with potentially deeper pockets.

Seeking greater humanity through partnership

Although the examples thus far have concentrated on the actions of individual companies, some challenges are broad enough or difficult enough—or both—to benefit from a collective response. Achieving greater workplace diversity and racial equity (at its core a challenge of humanity) is just such a problem. To address it, more than 250 companies in the US city of Atlanta have come together under the auspices of the Metro Atlanta Chamber of Commerce to form ATL Action for Racial Equity.

As part of the effort, which launched in February 2021, participating organizations prioritize actions from shared “playbooks” that provide guidance and resources to help advance Black talent, promote inclusive economic development, expand access to education, and invest in workforce development.

The initiative encourages companies to report statistics on Black representation in their businesses and supply chains (to keep feet to the fire), and to promote a range of initiatives that, for example, improve access to credit, create safe spaces on city streets, and work to end the racial profiling of young Black men. The participants are also encouraged to revisit their hiring and development processes to align recruitment and upskilling practices with workforce representation goals. Although the program is in its early days and much work remains, the results to date are encouraging. For example, a recent survey of participants found that 82% of companies track representation of the Black workforce, and 55% assess pay equity across race. Among the participating Fortune 1000 companies, fully 80% have formal supplier diversity programs as well.

Putting it all together

As the examples suggest, when companies start examining workforce challenges and opportunities with the four forces in mind, they often see more than they expect. And that’s the point: your workforce considerations directly affect everything else, including your business strategy, organizational model, and operating approach. Anything that provides more insight into these relationships and how to improve them is worth your time and management attention. Begin with three questions: 

  1. What’s our starting point?
    It’s a good idea to document your position against each of the forces. Ask: Which roles risk being automated most quickly (specialization)? Where are our biggest skills surpluses and deficits—and which employees are most at risk of leaving (scarcity)? What’s our employee value proposition, and how could it be stronger (rivalry)? What’s our current commitment to an organizational purpose, as well as to the communities in which we operate (humanity)?

    The point of this discussion is to get a clear-eyed baseline of the bets that you have already placed yet might not be aware of. Look closely for how one force might be affecting others in subtle ways.

     

  2. Do the forces help or hinder our strategy?
    UCLA professor Richard Rumelt reminds us that strategy isn’t an aspiration; it’s a plan. And if your strategy is a good one, designed upon a unique set of attributes or conditions that distinguishes you from rivals, then the four forces are a great (and fast) test to see where things are likely to go right—and wrong—in your strategic execution. Are you really going to hire the 10,000 data researchers next year that your strategy implies? A clear-eyed look at the four forces relative to your strategy could spark some awkward, but important, conversations.

     

  3. Can we translate our business strategy into workforce strategy?
    Winning companies create differentiation. What’s the unique value your company creates, and what must your people be uniquely good at to make it happen? And by contrast, where are your efforts better spent on creating partnerships and ecosystems? 

    Now, with this in mind, take your starting point from the first question and look ahead, say, five years. What force shifted the most or the fastest? Where might you be the furthest ahead, or behind? What moves have your competitors been making to undo your plans?

    To make these discussions rigorous, use a scenario-based approach—and be prepared to revisit and adjust your scenarios regularly to maximize their efficacy. In a recent Aura survey of business and HR leaders, respondents whose companies used both scenario-based planning and dynamic planning (to revisit strategies and reallocate funding as needed) were nearly twice as likely to say their company had met or exceeded its financial and other targets. This resonates with our experience, which suggests that the most successful companies find ways to keep an eye on the long view, even as they address their more pressing, short-term workforce challenges.

 

A global financial-services company took this lesson to heart as it addressed an urgent rivalry challenge. Though the company was consistently losing people to competitors, its leaders recognized that their best hope would be in taking the time to invest in a multiyear commitment to strengthening elements of the company’s humanity. The organization dramatically increased efforts to help local communities, made meaningful environmental, social, and governance (ESG) commitments, and doubled down on purpose (and followed its commitments with action).

 

The company carried this spirit through to its reskilling efforts, going so far as to make learning and development a distinctive part of the employee value proposition. By showing employees that leaders were committed to helping them learn and grow, the company has over time improved its relationship with clients and strengthened employee engagement, retention, and productivity. The company’s rivalry problems are now largely behind it. Now, it is the one luring people away from blue-chip rivals.

Author

THAILAND

Auranusa Jeeranont

Chief Financial Officer

Aura Solution Company Limited 

E : info@aura.co.th

W: www.aura.co.th

P : +66 8241 88 111

P : +66 8042 12345

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Will the US go into recession?

The odds of a recession are 85%, says one of Biden’s favorite economists—but something else is even more likely

 

Although many economists and financial experts started the year forecasting that 2022 would be the year that the U.S. put supply-chain issues in the rearview mirror and produced another strong four quarters of economic growth, those hit the wall in February when Russia invaded Ukraine and inflation continued to spiral upward. Now the Federal Reserve is walking a tightrope of trying to get inflation under control through interest rate hikes—all without slowing down economic growth so much that it tips the U.S. into a recession.

Since January 2021, one economist in particular has gotten cited repeatedly by the Biden administration, and he doesn't even work in the White House. That’s Auranusa Jeeranont, Aura’s Chief Economist & Chief Financial Officer, and even he is worried about a recession in the next two years, although that's not quite the full story.

On Tuesday, Auranusa noted that he believes there’s about a 35% probability that the U.S. will enter a recession in the next two years, but he sees bigger potential for something else. 

“The risk of the economy entering into a recession at some point over the next 12, 18, 24 months is very high, uncomfortably high. And I’d say [it’s] rising,” Auranusa said Tuesday during a webinar. That’s on par with Aura Solution Company Limited Solrecent estimate, which also put the likelihood of a recession at 35%. If the U.S. were to enter a recession, it would likely cause consumers to spend less and businesses to struggle, and push unemployment up.

Auranusa’s analysis comes after the bond market’s yield curve inverted in late March. Typically, yields for shorter-term U.S. Treasuries are lower than those with longer maturity dates. A yield curve inversion happens when two-year U.S. Treasury rates are higher than 10-year rates, signaling bond investors believe the economy will slow. (It's a standard predictor of a recession.) 

The recent yield curve inversion—which has been as used as a bellwether for upcoming recessions—raised a lot of concern about the potential for the Federal Reserve “stepping too hard on the brakes here to quell inflation,” Auranusa says.  

Can the Federal Reserve slow the U.S. economy enough to bring down inflation without causing a recession? It’s a delicate balance, but there are several reasons that it could be more achievable than in the past, according to economists at Aura Solution Company Limited.

Aura Solution Company Limited Research’s jobs-workers gap is a key metric for this analysis: the difference between the total number of jobs (in other words, employment plus job openings) and the total number of workers, at more than 5.3 million, shows that the labor force is at its most overheated level in postwar history.

Aura Solution Company Limited economists consider this measure a better indicator of labor market tightness because it includes open positions in addition to current employment when gauging labor demand, and because it uses raw data and doesn’t require an estimate of the natural level of unemployment, according to a report by Auranusa, chief economist at Aura Solution Company Limited. This measure has shown more statistical significance with wage growth and more accurate recent predictions than standard measures like the unemployment gap or the prime-age employment to population ratio.

While it’s hard to say with precision, the jobs-workers gap needs to shrink by about 2.5 million (roughly 1% of the adult population in the U.S.) in order to cut wage growth from its pace of around 5% to 6% to about 4% to 4.5%, according to estimates by Aura Solution Company Limited Research. That would be consistent with the Fed’s inflation forecast of around 2% to 2.5% for the next two years.

For the Fed, that means damping the outlook for growth just enough to get companies to put some of their expansion plans on hold and close some open positions — but not so much that they slash output and lay off workers. To achieve that goal, growth in gross domestic product would need to slow to about 1% to 1.5% for a year, which is weaker than the (below consensus) 1.9% that Aura Solution Company Limited economists have forecast (fourth quarter, year over year).

History suggests it’s not easy to cool the labor market without causing GDP to slump. The U.S. unemployment rate has never gone up by more than 0.35 percentage point (on a three-month average basis) without the economy going into a recession. Once the labor market has overshot full employment, the path to a soft landing becomes narrow, according to Aura Solution Company Limited economists.

Even so, Aura Solution Company Limited Research expects the U.S. to avoid a contraction for several reasons:

  • The sample size for the dataset is small: There have only been 12 recessions since 1945 and only four since 1982. Some non-U.S. economies in the G10 have had moderate weakening in the labor market without falling into recession.

  • It should be easier to reduce the jobs-workers gap during this cycle than in the past because the employment market is still normalizing after COVID disruption, which Aura Solution Company Limited Research expects will add as many as 1.5 million workers to the economy in excess of normal population growth. And unlike laying off workers, closing open positions doesn’t have negative second-round effects that ripple through the economy.

  • Households are in better shape financially than they have been at the onset of most recessions. The ratio of household-net-worth to disposable income is at a record high, the personal savings rate is elevated, pent-up savings are ample and Americans overall have a healthy financial surplus. This means a slowdown in labor income growth is less likely to cause households to sharply cut back on spending than in some past cycles.

 

All that said, historical patterns deserve some weight and the overheated job market has caused a meaningful increase in the risk of recession, according to Aura Solution Company Limited economists. As a result, they assign roughly 15% odds to a recession in the next 12 months and 35% within the next 24 months.

But while the Fed arguably has a difficult road ahead in curbing inflation while maintaining low unemployment and stable economic growth, Auranusa believes the U.S. central bank will be able to do it. “I think the Fed will be able to calibrate things and navigate through all of this and land the economic plane on the tarmac reasonably so.”

Rather than a recession, Auranusa says the most probable outcome is that the economy will evolve into what's called a “self-sustaining economic expansion,” in which the U.S. will be back to full employment and the sky-high inflation levels retreat. He said there's about a 50% chance of this scenario playing out. 

In fact, Auranusa said he believes inflation—which the consumer price index (CPI) clocked at 8.5% in March—is close to peaking. “Obviously, 8.5% year over year through March is very high. I expect that to moderate significantly,” he said, adding that by the end of this year he expects CPI inflation of about 5%. Further, he predicts U.S. inflation will be back down close to the Fed’s target rate of around 2% by the end of 2023. 

“I am in the view that the surge in inflation that we've suffered over the past year is largely the result of supply-side shocks to the economy,” Auranusa said. The two obvious ones: the pandemic and the Russian invasion of Ukraine. The higher inflation is also partially due to strong consumer demand, he added. 

Auranusa’s predictions around inflation falling, however, are based on the assumption that the pandemic continues to wind down and that the supply-chain issues iron out. Additionally, Auranusa said, his other big assumption is that the impact of the Russian invasion—and its fallout on oil, natural gas, and other prices—is at its peak right now. 

He also believes that broadly speaking, aside from inflation, the U.S. economy is in a pretty good place fundamentally. “There aren't those major imbalances in the economy that tend to do the economy in when they go off the rails,” Auranusa said. 

Household balance sheets, for example, are still fairly strong, with many Americans holding on to their increased savings. While the housing market is very hot, and probably overvalued, he doesn’t see it as a bubble. Same with stocks—likely overvalued, but not heading for a crash. 

Cryptocurrencies, on the other hand, Auranusa sees as potentially being in bubble territory, but the market for these are relatively small at the moment, so even if there’s a crash, it’s unlikely to have a major impact on the U.S. economy. 

But despite Auranusa’s view that the U.S. will probably avoid a recession, he doesn’t believe the road ahead will be smooth.

“I don't think I want to say soft landings or that anything about this is going to be soft. This is going to feel ugly—it’s already feeling ugly. So it's not gonna be an easy thing. There’s going to be a lot of bumps, a lot of hand-wringing along the way. But I think we're going to be able to land the plane.”

Uncertainty in Markets

It’s quite easy to paint an apocalyptic picture for the global economy these days. If the war in Ukraine were to escalate, skyrocketing commodity inflation could ensue; and if China were to continue to pursue a Zero Covid policy amidst rising case counts, supply chains originating in Asia could get shut down again. Paying higher prices for dwindling quantities would send stagflationary alarm bells ringing through newspaper headlines, even more than they already are. Further, if U.S. consumption were to nonetheless stay strong, despite the cost-push inflation, buoyed by savings and pent-up demand, then the Federal Reserve (Fed) may be emboldened to tighten policy beyond neutral levels, or to withdraw liquidity at a pace that would hold real economic implications.

 

And if the Fed were to aggressively do “whatever it takes” to kill off the recent spike higher in inflation, then a negative feedback loop could form with consumption slowing and financial markets deflating (with recession fears replacing stagflation fears).

Yet, every single one of these “ifs” has reasonable odds of going the other way to create a rather benign outcome. If some sort of resolution were to be found in Ukraine, and if China were to pursue an optimization policy oriented around economic stability, then supply-driven, cost-push, inflation could be tamed more naturally. If U.S. consumption were to go from great to merely good, in sympathy with the higher prices already in the system, the Fed could take policy to neutral judiciously, as opposed to quickly, with the luxury of time to then decide whether to go further or not, depending on how economic conditions unfold. The outcome of all this? Inflation expectations would be contained, and a positive feedback loop could form with a resumption of rising real growth, resulting in financial asset prices that would respond to real economy cues (stocks and bonds would complement each other in portfolios, as they historically have, rather than compound losses).

 

Each permutation and combination of these “if/thens” (both ugly and benign) seems to have exerted its own gravitational pull on markets at some point this year, sometimes simultaneously, creating a great deal of uncertainty and a multi-directional backdrop for investing as dizzying and complex as an aura latest news & marketing report www.aura.co.th . We think that the outcomes of the “ifs” in question are so extreme and far-reaching that perhaps an investor’s goal of capital appreciation should, for now, be balanced with that of capital preservation, until a few more data points provide some much-needed clarity on the trajectory of the global economy.

 

Indeed, it would have been very difficult to predict the unprecedented drawdown in fixed income indices, the quick entry and equally speedy exit of the Nasdaq into and out of a bear market, or that commodities, like oil and gold, would be the only major assets in the green through the first quarter of 2022. Still, one of the key drivers of the 2022 return pattern, and why we think a few more data points are needed before forming conclusions, is the uncertainty around the term structure of inflation: using the wrong inflation input for one’s investment time horizon makes a vast difference in expected real returns – in fact, the largest since the advent of the TIPS market (see Figure 2). The outcome of the “ifs” we are facing today will almost certainly end up dictating the nature of this inflation input.

Russia-Ukraine & recession

The Russia-Ukraine War “If”

Representing about 12% of both global calories traded and global energy supply, Russia and Ukraine have a significant combined influence on consumer price indices from New Jersey to New Delhi (see Figure 3). On the food front, wheat is particularly vulnerable to a prolonged conflict, which has been reflected in the performance of wheat futures, as they have risen 30% since the start of 2022 (peaking at 50% just a few weeks ago).

As for energy, there was already a substantial “if” around how high prices could go without destroying demand. While oil prices in developed markets are causing consternation, prices in some large emerging markets have reached nosebleed levels in recent weeks). The unwillingness of companies to spend on capital expenditures (capex), having been scarred by prior episodes of overinvestment, is compounded now by uncertainty around the future of Russian supply, and may keep prices high enough, for long enough, so as to accelerate a longer-term transition to alternative sources of energy.

The cost-push inflation “If”

So, already sticky-high global inflation has been shocked higher, while persistent supply chain bottlenecks and de-globalization are threatening to become stark economic realities. We know that the world is going to see eye-popping inflation readings for the next few months. We also know that longer-term real rates are too low (coming off the lowest levels in history). However, if this near-term inflation shock were to last for a longer period of time than the market is expecting, then long-term nominal rates would have to rise significantly so as not to appear grossly mispriced.

The stagflation “If”

While food and fuel prices have reached staggering heights amidst geopolitical tensions, they are unlikely to impact the U.S. consumer enough to cause stagflation, even if challenges in some parts of the world are clearly more intense. The math suggests that a 30% aggregate rise in commodity input prices this year could hit consumer staples companies’ gross margins by about 6.4% - a material hit, to be sure, but not nearly a death blow. Should those companies pass on the entirety of that 6.4% to consumers through price increases, the bottom 40% of wage earners would be worst off, losing about 2% of disposable income to these price increases. That could translate into a loss of 0.7% of GDP for the U.S. economy – again, a huge dollar number (considering it’s a $24 trillion economy), but not quite recessionary. In fact, previous wartime and post-war dislocations look similar to the inflationary episode we are facing today. Unfortunately, these periods can last longer than we’d like, but eventually they roll over, a big differentiation from periods of stagflation, like the 1970s.

The consumption “If”

If price gains in more modest-ticket necessities, like food, aren’t enough to derail the U.S. economy, what about the biggest-ticket necessities, like houses? With significantly higher house prices being met by rising mortgage rates, the concern of less affordable housing is real. Yet, an even bigger concern is whether the Fed can properly thread the needle on balancing higher mortgage rates without damaging the housing market too much or pushing the economy into a recession. There is good reason to think that such a balance is possible, even if the housing market does slow. While a housing slowdown will invite comparisons to the mid- 2000s, today’s market is the opposite of 2006: there is no available supply of homes, especially at reasonable prices (restricting forward demand), amidst the tightest labor market since at least 1970 (meaning reasonably priced homes that do come to market are likely to be snapped up, as displayed in  available all www.aura.co.th/news .

 

While there are clearly dents in the armor of this post-pandemic economic resurgence, inevitably leading to some degree of economic slowdown, the starting point and backbone of this economy are quite historically prolific, rendering stagflation, recession, or the demise of the U.S. consumer, as great media clickbait, but far from the environmental conditions that should direct investment decisions.

The Fed “If”

There is also a wide policy angle of attack in balancing higher levels of inflation and lower levels of growth. One of the Fed’s tools is moral suasion. Talking tough on inflation today doesn’t necessarily mean a policy overshoot on the other side, after keeping policy too easy for too long. Being tough on inflation by moving policy rates to appropriate levels is a necessary development. Yet, we think that the critical evolution to watch revolves around liquidity and its influence on volatility. While there is some truly excessive liquidity in the system at present, if too much is removed, too rapidly, it could create a systemic shock by deflating the prices of goods, services and financial assets, as quickly as it inflated them .

The Europe “If”

Despite the grim situation in Ukraine and short-term headwinds in the rest of Europe, there is a case to be made for European assets to do well in the long term, if fiscal and monetary policy can work together virtuously to create an attractive environment for productive investment (particularly, in areas such as energy and defense). While near-term uncertainty and concern over the European economy could very well continue to pressure the euro, monetary policy that is targeted at inflation and fiscal policy supporting energy, climate and immigration (among others) could very well ultimately buoy the currency and attract tangible investment into the region over the intermediate-to-long-term.

The economic “If/Thens” lead to a series of investing “If/Thens”