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The U.S. election appears to be heading toward a relatively orderly conclusion. The feared violence and chaos, so far, has been avoided. There was no blue wave. There was no red wave. But there is still an intensely polarized nation, almost evenly divided, highly energized, sometimes angry, and living with completely different views, and even facts, regarding their national lives. The great challenges of our time—like climate change, COVID-19, and racial injustice—are perceived as almost entirely different realities on either side of the great divide.
At a time when CEOs are increasingly involved with their employees’ well-being, that political division can’t be ignored. “For CEOs right now,” says BCG CEO Rich Lesser, “the challenge is how do you convey a sense of community and humanity and support for the democratic process at a time when there is so much distrust and division. That’s the balance many of us are trying to navigate right now.”
Alan Fleischmann of Laurel Strategies predicts the election will “further elevate the role of what I call the CEO Statesmen. These past years have seen a dramatic rise in the willingness and necessity of private sector and civil society leaders stepping up to fill the void of government inaction. This trend only accelerated this past year. And as inspiring as it has been to see CEOs speak up on issues of social and economic justice, it will be just as important for the private sector and civil society to help the nation find a healing middle ground.”
In the meantime, visit Fortune.com to get a look at Lesser’s advice for surviving the COVID winter, how Presidents Xi and Putin view the U.S. election, and how California’s Prop 22 ballot initiative will affect the future of Uber and Lyft. Other news below.
International election observers say the U.S. election has been "tarnished" by legal uncertainty and President Trump's "unprecedented attempts to undermine public trust." The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe issued a preliminary report that said "baseless allegations of systematic deficiencies, notably by the incumbent president, including on election night, harm public trust in democratic institutions." The report also highlighted systemic problems that disadvantage poor people and ethnic minorities, such as varying voter ID requirements. Guardian
The European Commission has issued its fall economic forecast, and while this year's contraction is looking less grim than previously feared, the subsequent pandemic recovery is looking weaker and more protracted. Valdis Dombrovskis, the Commission's economy chief: "This forecast comes as a second wave of the pandemic is unleashing yet more uncertainty and dashing our hopes for a quick rebound." Fortune
Commerzbank is feeling the pain of COVID—it lost €69 million ($81 million) in Q3, largely because of rising loan loss provisions linked to the pandemic (€181 million, up from €131 million in Q2.) A year ago, Q3 saw €297 million in profits. Germany's second-largest lender said most clients who deferred servicing of loans earlier this year have now resumed payments, but it could take a hit next year when the government un-suspends its insolvency law. Financial Times
A senior government scientist in India has indicated that a government-backed COVID-19 vaccine could be launched there as early as February. Developer Bharat Biotech had been expecting a rollout of COVAXIN in Q2, but tests thus far have turned out well. Phase 3 trials aren't complete yet, though. Reuters
AROUND THE WATER COOLER
There is a remote possibility that, even if Joe Biden seems to have secured the 270 electoral votes he needs to claim the presidency, some state electors could break their pledge to vote for the highest vote getter in their state. These people are called faithless electors, and Fortune's Lance Lambert explains here how the scenario might play out. Fortune
China's suspension of Ant Group's IPO is a bigger deal for Asia than the U.S. election is, according to Reyl Singapore chief investment officer Daryl Liew. There has been a consensus that regulatory concerns are more of a Western issue, said Liew, but now Eastern tech firms also need to watch out. "The fact that the Chinese are also now looking into this is a concern," he said. CNBC
Supermarkets in the U.S. have been slow to pick up on the e-commerce trend, but that's changing in the pandemic, with grocers devoting more of their floor space to the fulfillment of online orders. However, the extra costs associated with fulfillment, such as having to pay workers to pick and package items on customers' behalf, provide a new challenge. Wall Street Journal
The Indian conglomerate Adani decided to rebrand its Australian mining operation, which has been embroiled in controversy over a new coal mine in Central Queensland. CEO David Boshoff said the new name, Bravus, was the medieval Latin word for "courageous". It isn't, though—as Latin experts have pointed out, the word would be more accurately translated as "crooked," "assassin," or even "depraved barbarian." Guardian
This edition of CEO Daily was edited by David Meyer.