Home » News & Speeches » ICC Trading Thoughts with Ajay Banga, President and CEO, Mastercard, and ICC Chair

The International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) speaks with Ajay Banga, President and CEO of Mastercard, and ICC Chair, about the economic consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic, leading a values based organisation, and ICCs “Save our SMEs” campaign.

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ICC elected Ajay Banga, President and CEO of Mastercard, as its Chair back in June.

ICC spoke with Mr Banga about his vision for how ICC can continue to advocate for peace and prosperity for all, especially in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. Mr Banga also discussed the requirements for operating a values based organisation, as well as what steps governments and businesses can take to Save Our SMEs from the economic and human consequences associated with COVID-19.

Please find below a transcript of the conversation:

Ajay, thank you for joining us today, first and foremost, how have you been doing over the past couple of months? As the head of a company with billions of clients and customers around the world, how has Mastercard responding to the economic and health consequences associated with Covid-19?

AB: Yeah, so it has been a tough period for everybody. The first thing you’ve got to start with is to hope that everybody who you work with and your friends and everyone else is safe from what we’re all going through. And that’s kind of what we did with our employees. We first focused on employees and tried to make them feel confident and safe…both at the fact of help…but also in the fact that we tried to take away from them the feeling of stressing about their jobs. The first thing we told them is that we would have no COVID related layoffs this year. Therefore, instead of worrying about their jobs, they should focus on their customers and their family and themselves and make sure that they get through this period in a good way. As you know, it’s not just your physical health, it’s also mental health that people are stressing about during the last six months, given all kinds of reasons, from confinement at home to the absence of social contact, to fears about their family, to concerns and issues about their own jobs and their futures. There are many stresses. And you don’t want to be the one adding to that stress. You want to take that away so they can focus on what they’re there for.

That brings you to how do you do well with your customers. And I think there what we focused on was trying to make sure that our systems were operative and capable of running the way they should. After all, what do you use your payment system, whether it’s through a card or a phone or Apple pay or online through e-commerce – so PayPal. What you really want is that your transaction should go through seamlessly. And so everything should be safe, simple and smart for you. Right? That’s what you care about as a consumer. We focused on making sure that our transactions are working properly and working appropriately through this. That’s the second big thing that happened.

Then, the aspect of working well with clients and banks and merchants and governments. There has been a lot of energy around trying to find a way to keep in close contact with your clients, even though you’re doing so remotely. I think that’s been interesting because for a while those clients were also quite happy that you weren’t coming in after nobody really wanted to meet anyone physically, but they were also not exactly going to work. This whole thing works really well. But I think as markets are opening up, I think getting to the stages of normalisation, not as well as we were doing pre-Covid to the regular vaccine, but better than we were doing in the second quarter of this year as a society. I think you need to find a way for that client contact to reenergize, just as I think we need to find a way for human interaction and creativity and culture development in a company to reenergize. One of the things that now working our way through is how to make employees feel confident about coming back to work in the office. That’s what we’re up to now.

And what are your thoughts in general on the changes we are seeing and may see in the months and years to come as a result of Covid-19?

AB: Yes, I think there’s well, this the immediate term or let’s say the next three, six, nine months, and then there’s what I think really is happening underlying in changes that are running through the system. So let’s for a second talk about the next three, six, nine months. And we laid out four stages that we felt we would all go through, and that’s how a company should run through those stages. So the stages are our containment, which was when things were shutting down every day, which is the month of March for most parts of the world, February and January for China. But for most parts of the world, it was March. And then we set the next stage would be stabilization. You’re kind of hit bottom and in restaurants are closed and people are going out and they’re all locked up. But you are shopping online for groceries, for home care and hygiene and things that are essentials. And then people began to turn to watch what I would call normalization, which is when even though we were not fully reopened, you began to do things like home improvement or you began to start outdoor dining or the beginnings of coming back to office or nature activities of that type of a pent up. But you probably want to get to things like mass entertainment or cross-border travel for another, I would say, period of time. I don’t know how long that’ll take, but you got to get these stages and phases.

And the last phase would be what I would call growth. So think of containment, stabilization and normalization, which is kind of where the world feels right now. And it’s not structurally normal. It’s normal compared to the past of the last six months. But it’s not totally normal pre-COVID – that would be the growth phase. I think will need some form of vaccine widely distributed, well available, with enough people having taken it on around the world for a level of confidence to come back about business and personal travel and the like. So that to me is how I see the next few months go by. I visualized vaccines being available in scale, probably only towards the second half of next year. So you may start getting them to be available earlier, but to get them adequately around the world where you can create confidence and travel and meetings, again, it’s probably the second half of next year. So we’ve got to see our way through some more time, see it…but your question was also a little bit about the underlying changes. And I think that there’s a four or five things that are happening in society.

The first is the obvious one around digital. I mean, look, you’re not having this conversation Zoom. In a normal time, I would have been sitting in Paris for the ICC office with you having a conversation or at some other such location. I traveled two hundred plus days a year this year and now for six months, I haven’t traveled a day. And so so that’s a big change. And yet work continues and it’s continued relatively seamlessly. I think that’s the digital part of what we’re all doing, e-commerce, generational gaps and embracing e-commerce have disappeared during this period. I think digital is the trend that was already there, probably got a turbo charge from what’s happened over the last six months.

Coming with that is, I think, a deeper issue around changes in consumer preferences, not just for digital, because I think when physical is more widely available, there will be a rebalancing of what we are seeing today where physical will increase in its usage. You can see it already in our data and statistics on consumer spending because we are by nature, human beings are social animals and physical interaction is part of being that kind of an animal. And so I think you’ll find a rebalancing, but with a high level of digital than it ever has been, it is changing everything. But with it are coming clear preferences around hygiene, safety, security, data, privacy. I think you will see that evolve over the next couple of years. You can see it in our business directly in the usage of contactless papers because we won’t touch anything. But I think it goes way beyond that. And there’s going to be many more aspects of this changing consumer preference. So that’s the second thing. The third thing which comes with all this is what I would call loosely “precautionism”.

And that’s not really protectionism in the sense of closing down borders, it’s not really nationalism in the sense of saying it’s all about us and our own country. I think most countries still recognize that the connectivity of issue across countries is essential for prosperity and growth. But precautionism where you’re saying, I’m going to first make sure my own citizenry is safe. I’m going to first make sure that my citizens data is kept well. I’m going to make sure that my local businesses are protected to some extent through this unbelievable crisis. That precaution is amiss here in a fairly strong way. The negative side of it is nationalism and protectionism. But the positive side of it is that maybe we’ll find the right way to thread the needle where we can help societies feel comfortable locally while still being global citizens. I think that’s going to be an interesting challenge for society over the next couple of years. And the fourth one that’s of interest to me is consolidation. I think larger companies have come through this crisis better capitalized liquid equiped. You could see it in the retail sector. And I wonder whether that’s a trend where, you know, what we had seen over the last decade was the proliferation of new entrants and in the way digital created the opportunity for new entrants and innovation and capital flooded into those areas. With this current situation, what I think should not happen, would be to stifle innovation or creativity.

But it may well and I think we’re going to have to make sure that we find a way to enable the strong to be there for us, but also to enable innovation and creativity to be well flourishing for the future because you need SMEs to flourish. You need innovation to flourish. And that’s what we all want, pretty much new, cheaper, smarter ways to do the same thing and do benefits. So that’s really important. And the last two wireless supply chains. I think there’s an enormous amount of work going on rethinking supply chains, the aspect of efficiency versus resiliency in a crisis. And I don’t think it’s either or, I think people will find a way to navigate where they can find a little bit of both.

I don’t think you should see mass changes, but I do think you should see a reassessment of the importance of efficiency and the importance of resiliency in your supply chains. And I think that connects to SMEs because more supply chains are built off SMEs and SMEs are really struggling through this crisis for all kinds of reasons. There’s some work and ICC has taken the SME issue upon itself as well in many ways.

And then the last one is the environment. And my predecessor, Paul Polman, is very eloquent about this. He was talking about it on a call that I was on yesterday, but. I think building back better. Requires us to not only think about sustainable growth in the form of inclusive growth, but also sustainable growth in the form of environmental sustainability, because the climate crisis and the warming of our temperatures and the meaning of that for all of us and our children, I think is a crisis that is of a far greater magnitude than even Covid has been. Despite the horrific nature of what Covid has shown itself to be over the last six months, where thousands and hundreds of thousands of people have lost their lives and millions have lost their livelihoods. I think the climate could be something much worse if we don’t do something about it early enough. And I think time’s not on our side on that one.

So that’s kind of the big picture of the stuff. Governments are stepping up through fiscal policy, through monetary policy, through health policy. Some governments are being very thoughtful on environmental policy. The EU in particular is taking fairly strong steps at this time. But I mean, you know, the story is yet to be written. The painting is yet to be painted over the next few years.

You just touched upon this in your last answer, but I think it’s worth highlighting again. You’re obviously taking over as chair at ICC at a very critical time for businesses, especially small and medium sized businesses, which have been particularly hit hard by Covid-19. What is your vision for how ICC can continue to advocate for peace and prosperity for all, particularly in light of ICC’s “Save our SMEs” campaign, which we’ve launched during this this crisis?

AB: Yes, we were originally the merchants of peace, right, and the idea was that trade could bring peace and prosperity because interconnectivity between nations would lead to lower conflict. That was kind of the idea. And it’s borne true now over the last 50, 60 years, ever since the Second World War, that that trade and commerce has led to a relatively more peaceful world. That part is correct, but it also has had consequences that I think we need to pay attention to. Inequality is one of those consequences. Environment and climate change is another one of those consequences. And I think if we’re not careful about both of these, I think we could end up with people sort of rejecting the idea of trade for the wrong reasons. My belief is that that commerce and trade and capitalism have done really well on the whole. But like everything else, they need guidance, they need corrections, they need tender care at the right time. And I think now is the time for society and leaders to step forward to give it that care. So what ICC is doing with SMEs and specific is the subset of that thinking. SMEs are 90 percent of businesses. They are half of employment and half of GDP. By the way, that’s true for New York City, not just Africa or India. So when people think of SMEs, you know, yes, of course, New York City is home to gazillions of Fortune 500 companies. But that’s not the point. Despite that, 90 plus percent of employers in New York City are SMEs and half of employment is estimated – three million people in New York City are SME employed. And, you know, that’s just the nature of our economy. All of us and our supply chains and our and our prosperity is built on the backs of SMEs.

And so stepping forward to understand the unique challenges right now and doing something about them is really important. What ICC is trying to do is to bring focus and attention and shine light on that issue. But let me give you a couple of specific issues that I worry about within that. The first one is, is the breakdown of global standards. You know, I mean, if every country were to enact its own standards on everything from data to fertilizer to your shampoo to specific clothing, you would end up with a situation where an SME with limited resources is incapable of comprehending and dealing with that complexity. And consequently, they are cut out from the opportunity to be a part of this global social milieu that we’re talking about right now. And digital technology can help to sort of set to break down the arbitrage that incumbents have had. But it cannot make it possible if you create a multitude of standards that SMEs cannot navigate through and therefore having some global interoperable standards for products and services that allow SMEs to compete on a leveled playing field. That’s all I’m talking about. A level playing field is really important. I think we are losing some of that dialogue because global institutions that were responsible for creating these standards and creating a global dialogue around them have not had the credibility over the last decade that they had over the prior four or five decades. We have a real challenge on this front. So that’s one problem.

The second problem to me in the SME space is the concern I have around protectionism, as I was talking about. If it’s precautionism, that’s one thing. But protectionism makes it impossible for SMEs to tap into the growth of other economies. And you could think through what China and India, Vietnam and Bangladesh and other countries have achieved over the last two or three decades. They couldn’t have done it if their SMEs could not have accessed developed markets elsewhere with the demand that is available in those markets for high quality produce that these firms were able to make. I think that’s a second problem.

I think a third issue is finance. Now, as of today, it’s not as though SME financing has dried up around the world. A lot of governments have stepped in to help. But my memory of the last financial crisis is still wrong, and that time SME financing dried up pretty quickly. So I think we do need to make sure that trade financing and those kinds of issues are properly discussed at the right level, maybe at the G20 or with the IMF and the World Bank and the UN so that people who care about this cross-border can ensure that we enable SMEs to be prosperous through this period.

Lots of governments have done things locally. I’m more worried about the availability of financing for cross-border trade in this specific case. I think ICC’s attempt to shine a light on all of this is really important. And digital is an important enabler inside all this. But digital can help but cannot solve all these problems. And even digital by itself has the last issue, which is the digital divide. After all, not every country has broadband that works as efficiently as where you and I are living right now. And even in this country, in the United States, large parts of non- urban America does not have broadband access of the type that I’m used to having for me or my children. And India has a bigger problem. And, you know, different countries have issues on this front. And so if they’re going to be more digital, which is where we started with the first question, then you have to worry about about the availability of access is a level playing field as well. So there’s many aspects to this, all of which impacts SMEs. And I think that John Denton and ICC caring about the topic of SME is absolutely bang on. It is absolutely mission critical to the emergence of this idea.

Picking up on the digital divide issue, as you said, it’s clear that many SMEs have lacked the same technological capabilities as their multilateral peers throughout the pandemic. This is especially true in the case of companies that sought to transition their operations remotely. I mean, as we’re seeing in the case of covid-19 right now, do you think that SMEs will continue to struggle to keep up with the accelerated rate of growth in the technology sector?

AB: Well, you know, the first thing is that we’ve got to see what happens to SMEs coming out of this crisis. At the New York City Partnership which I became part of, published a study recently that said as many as one third of New York City’s businesses may not survive the pandemic. Now that is actually a frightening number because, as I said, 90 plus percent of US business of New York businesses, they provide more than half of our employment. Can you imagine what happens if one third of them don’t come out of this? I think we’ve got a crisis of a fairly high and large dimension staring at us. Now policymakers in a way, the good news is there are lots of things the federal government is trying to do in the United States to help with this. And I think they’ve really brought the bazookas out in an effort with the Fed to do something about it, the Treasury and the Fed. And you can argue about aspects of implementation, but you cannot argue about the intention of making this better. I think countries are trying, but I worry about this topic. The issue of digital is deeply intertwined. I think SMEs are very capable of comprehending and adapting to digital. The question is they need certain tools that need to be able to go online. They need to be able to create their websites. They need to be able to have accounting tools available.

They need to be able to have inventory tools, cash management tools, payment and digital acceptance, all that stuff. And then, most importantly, they need to protect themselves, cyber security data, managing their bank accounts, passwords and the stuff that. Who in an SME has thirty five people, one information security officer, one financial officer, one guy to look after treasury? No, they don’t. They have everything in one person or two people. Managing this is not easy. And I think all of us companies and institutions, we need to find ways to create the necessary support system for SMEs to tap into. I give you a couple of examples. I am a co-founder along with Sam Palmisano. Who used to be the CEO of IBM and a few others, Microsoft and Penny Pritzker, the former commerce secretary, for example, we created an institute called Cyber Readiness Institute. And the task there is to develop tools and learning methods for SMEs to be able to tap into free of cost, which can make them be safer in the cyber world for themselves and for their customers, so that you raise the level of water in the river and you make it harder for the thief to swim, you know what I mean? And that, to me, is an example of doing something that creates better infrastructure, better foundational principles for SMEs to build on. It doesn’t have to be commercial. It can be done the way we just described, which is to let them do it for free. It’s called the Cyber Readiness Institute. And if you have a chance to go online and check them out and you’ll see what I’m referring to. One example, there are many I’m just giving you the one that I know of intimately.

Another one in our own company is something called Digital Doors, so we have, over the course of this crisis, put aside a commitment of two hundred and fifty million dollars devoted to small businesses around the world to help them get up and going online. So that includes creating a website, getting access to digital payments, cyber security, that kind of thing. And we’re not the only ones. There are others doing this to, my friend Dan Schulman at Paypal is doing it. Others are doing it at IBM, Microsoft. This is not one company, but what I’m trying to say is that there are examples like this and if he can proliferate these and make them available at scale to SMEs, then I think your question of whether SMEs can come through the digital issue well or not will depend on how well we create the foundation for them to build off. They can focus on running their businesses, not focus on providing a new technology, if you know what I mean.

Right. Shifting gears back to climate change real quick, you mentioned while the economic and human consequences associated with covid-19 are severe and deserve global attention, it’s also critical that businesses do not lose sight of climate change. In your opinion, how can businesses better adopt sustainable practices, such as greater financial inclusion and responsiveness to climate change?

AB: Yeah, so you know, what I will give you answer in two parts of the first part is let me frame for you how I’ve thought about the issues that society and therefore companies face.

Companies are a microcosm of work in our societies. The first realisation you need is that that if you look past your tools and you look midway a little out there, there’s no way that you can grow in your company and make it prosper and do well. If around you there isn’t a prosperous society. If there isn’t an expanding middle class and there isn’t health and wellness around you. If climate change is not working for you as compared to against you. It’s just not going to happen. It’s in your own self-interest. And so I’ve got to look at things on three sides of a triangle. I struggle to do things in more than tree. My head is off pretty well, so bear with me.

One side of the triangle is one versus many, and that’s the obvious issue of inclusion. And by the way, it’s not just financial inclusion – it’s inclusion, racial inclusion. It’s inclusion for gender. It’s inclusion for your sexual orientation. It’s how you feel about yourself as a person. I should respect you for, what you do and how you do not what you look like and where you came from, that one versus many. That that aspect is one big aspect. It’s got many things underlying it, but it’s one angle of the triangle. The other side of the triangle is humanity versus nature, mankind versus nature. Whatever words you want to use us versus nature.

I think that’s where climate change, the environmental sustainability of that doing the right thing. The rising water levels, the availability of drinking water in many countries around the world, the availability of good food, the availability of things to those, it gets exacerbated when you combine “one versus many: with that, because very often the most impacted by this are those who can afford it the least. And so those two those two sides of the triangle, unfortunately, work rather well together in a negative way.

Then, the base of the triangle is long term versus shorter. And that, to me, is what actually causes these two sides of the triangle to get a foundation. If you could all think longer term, if you could look in the middle and not on our toes when walking, we would all be thinking out five, 10, 15, 20 years and we’d be thinking about the world we are preparing for our children. And I think we would have a very different way of thinking about the two sides of the triangle that I talked about. And it’s true of politicians. It’s true. After all, if a politician is elected for four years, what’s the incentive to build an underground rail system as compared to merely some form of a bus rapid transit system that looks cool but doesn’t actually solve real challenges of environmental change and efficiency. Politicians have this problem, CEOs have the problem, individuals have the problem.

And so those three sides of the triangle are kind of what bothers me. The part that connects to all this. Back to your issue of how do companies embrace and leaders embrace doing these things better? Is that long term, if you’re willing to argue with your employees, with your board, with your investors about the importance of it being in your own self-interest in a commercially sustainable way, not in a CSR, let me write a check and tick the box way, but to make it part of your business model. Then, you can find ways to do this the right way. Paul Polman did that at Unilever and packaging and the use of water. We’re doing it on financial inclusion and how we’ve helped to raise 500 million people out of being excluded into being included over the last few years, we’ve now doubled that to a billion by 2025 with 50 million micro SMEs, back to our earlier conversation, but also 25 million women entrepreneurs back to one versus many. Different companies are setting great examples in the space, I think, to do that well, you have to have a medium to longer term vision. You’ve got to have your investors on your side, got to have your employees excited about it and your board supporting you. The only way to do that is to make it part of your business model, not just something you write a check to or you turn your attention to as part of your well-meaning and well-deserved philanthropy.

Drawing on your experience at MasterCard, what do you consider to be the key elements in leading a values-based organisation?

AB: Values mean many different things to many people. Let me put that to me how I understand that my way is to think about the attributes that define our culture, our way of behaving. I think those you can call them values, you can call them embedded principles, you can call them whatever. But that’s the way we kind of discussed this with our own employees. I think it starts with a few attributes of what I want our employees to be like and behave like, then is built on a foundation that I’ll come to so that the first attribute is to me, a sense of urgency, of urgency balanced with thoughtfulness. What do I mean by that? We’re in an industry, as are many others, where the only constant is change and technological obsolescence is all around us. And there’s people innovating all the time. If you aren’t going to have a sense of urgency about embracing change and rushing towards it and making it your friend, then you will lose. You can’t do that by not listening to people and understanding the quantum of change going on around you. The ability to listen and yet take decisions quickly without perfect information, therefore taking thoughtful risks, all that is inside this thoughtful urgency. The second one to me is the aspect of being able to think of yourself and not as being confident of how you’re growing, but having a sense of competitive paranoia.

What do I mean by that? Just because you’re doing well today doesn’t mean you’ll do well tomorrow. So you have to have a little bit of FOMO “fear of missing out”. If you’re going to have you know, if you if you were here, you would see just the back of my computer is a little sign that says question everything always. That is that I’m not satisfied. You’ve got to keep raising the bar and always wondering, what are you not doing properly and what are you missing out on? And so that is kind of the second big attribute that matters a lot. I think if you get these ideas of thoughtful risk taking, combined with the urgency, combined with listening to people carefully, but having the willingness to take that risk and take a quick decision, =combined with competitive paranoia. Then, the last part is poor decision-making right at the front and closest to where the customer is. So, people are empowered to take a decision, but then they must feel accountable, because then you can come back and tell me, hey, that guy said this and that guy said that. It’s not going to work because I told you that you’re empowered. So empowerment and accountability coupled together. Those values, that culture is kind of what we want to do. Our idea is to be a winning culture. We want to win. What we want to win in a foundation of decency. So that’s the decency foundation. I tell all my employees that when I was growing up, when I was much younger. I was told IQ mattered, but when I was in business school, I learned about EQ dealing with complicated circumstances. Now you need to understand DQ your decency quotient, which is, you know, breaking your heart and your mind to make people want to work for you, make people want to work with you, make people see you as somebody who has their hand on their back, not in their face. That doesn’t mean that you have to be nice or kind, it means you have to be fair and transparent. And I think if you can find that balance and it’s really hard because I make mistakes on that balance every day. It’s very easy to say. It’s really hard to do it. But if you live it, you get better every day. And so those cultural attributes to win combined with the decency quotient is to me the culture that MasterCard is trying to put right into its foundations so we can be an even better company tomorrow.

You published an inspiring statement regarding the Black Lives Matter movement. How can the business sector play a role in this difficult, but hugely important conflict?

AB: Yeah, I look, I think that. Equality of all types. We were just saying one side of the triangle. Racial equality is very much a part of that. So is gender equality. So is your sexual orientation. I don’t think any one of those is more important than the other, just to be clear. I don’t want one issue to mean that we only fix one and not the other, just as it felt like everybody was focused on gender for a while. Now, let’s not lose that and only focus on race. We need to fix equality. Unfortunately, a really transparent and awful part of that is race and ethnicity. If you kind of look like what I do and I’m not black, but I’m brown and I certainly don’t look like the average guy in a Fortune 500 company or Fortune 100 company as a CEO. I have been lucky. I was in companies like Citigroup and when I don’t believe what I look like matters, I believe that both Citi and MasterCard, all that matters is, like I said, what you do and how you do it. But I’m lucky that doesn’t allow for a fair, equal society. Luck should not be what we rely on. We should have intent. My belief is that that if we don’t do something about this obvious issue, this obvious cliff that we’re standing at, the tip of, which is the issue of how we have been dealing with race in this country, then I think shame on us.

We’ve had too many incidents over the last 20 years that I’ve been in this country where it feels like we’ve become aware of solving the problem. And then time goes by and we go right back to where we were. Then another Eric Garner or another George Floyd happens. And once again, we rise up in revolt and disgust. And then unfortunately, once again, we let it go by.

My hope is that we all, as leaders will not let that happen and I think that requires us to not only do something in a company about how you recruit people or how you train them or how you develop them. It’s not just statistics of recruitment. It’s actually caring about the growth of the company. It’s a pathway to prosperity. It’s the same for small businesses. Why is it that black people don’t get access to capital the way that others do? Why cannot community financial institutions that were created to help disadvantaged communities, why don’t they get enough capital to be able to go and seed capital for minority owned businesses? We’ve got to change this.

And I think there is a realisation among certainly politicians and society today. The question is, will we have the energy to take this all the way? And I’m reminded, as I’ve said in a different context, of what Leonardo Da Vinci code, which is that it’s not enough. You’ve got to really do it. It’s not enough to just be willing. You’ve got to actually do something about it. It’s not enough to just talk about this. And I think you can, we talk a lot and we’ve got to do something about it because I feel like something that’s been of this nature for hundreds of years. What a shame if you can’t fix it today and I’m saying this from the viewpoint of the US, I’m well aware that racism and the sense of equality across multiple forms is a problem across the world. Don’t get me wrong, I’m being self-critical of our country because I think you’ve got to first fix your own home before you can tell somebody else. But let’s be aware that this is a problem across the world.

Thank you for joining Trading Thoughts, I found the conversation to be very inspiring and powerful if there is anything else you would like to add or tell our listeners today. The floor is totally yours.

AB: Nothing. I would tell you that the one thing you should know is that this all sounds very simple to do and it sounds like they’ve figured it all out. I think these are amazingly difficult issues from dealing with the crisis to dealing with racism and equality in dealing with climate change to dealing with income inequality. These are all very difficult topics. I think the most important thing is to know that you will make mistakes along the way. That’s not the issue. The issue is, do you care enough to take the risk to make the mistake so you can learn from it and do even better next time. And if you do care enough to do that, then we all deserve to feel better about where we could end up. And if you don’t, and it’s going to be a hard period. It’s got to be optimistic. I’m an eternal optimist that we will do better out of this. We will build back better.

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