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Why the world needs business leaders to step up

May 16, 2022, 9:18 AM UTC

Good morning.

There’s a new book out tomorrow from Ian Bremmer, co-founder of the Eurasia Group and geopolitical guru to companies around the world. It’s called The Power of Crisis, and it’s smart, relatively short (208 pages), and encapsulates the central dilemma facing the world today.

That dilemma? The world is breaking apart—most importantly with a growing civil war in the U.S. and a growing cold war between the U.S. and China—at a time when the need for global cooperation has never been greater because of the challenges posed, in particular, by global health threats, by the climate crisis, and by the revolution in technology.

While Bremmer’s premise is often dark, his conclusion is optimistic. The three challenges, he argues, “create the most important opportunity that humans have ever had to merge their practical and moral imaginations for the good of all.”

Competition and cooperation can coexist, he insists. It’s not necessary for Americans to resolve their differences over, say, abortion in order to develop training programs on a size and scale suitable for the technology revolution. 

And it’s not necessary for the U.S. and China to come to terms on, say, Uyghur rights in order to cooperatively address the climate or adopt rules of the road for data use. 

Bremmer points to the success of COVAX, supported by 172 countries to provide equitable global access to COVID vaccines, as an example of what’s possible. Could it be expanded for other health challenges? Could we use a similar approach to create a Green Marshall Plan? Or a World Data Organization?

The path to such solutions in today’s fractured world is far from clear. But Bremmer’s analysis underscores why efforts by corporate leaders to spend more of their scarce time and attention on social, environmental and geopolitical problems is important. 

Global political leaders, increasingly, are pursuing strategies of division. Business leaders, by nature, search for paths of addition and multiplication. The world needs their help.

More news below. And thanks to all last week who sent their thoughts and congratulations on my new book, Tomorrow’s Capitalist. I certainly don’t have all the answers, but I’m confident this is the right conversation.

More news below. And check out Will Daniel’s analysis of whether the era of FAANG investing is over.

Alan Murray
@alansmurray

alan.murray@fortune.com

TOP NEWS

Food crisis

The war in Ukraine was already threatening the world's wheat supply, thanks to Russia's blockading of ports there, but now India has also banned wheat exports for the benefit of its own food security. The EU and U.S. are now scrambling to shore up food supply chains. CNBC

Worst-case scenario

Think the markets are bleak now? Goldman Sachs would like you to remember they could get way, way worse, with a potential full-on recession further decimating stocks this year. Fortune

Bigger NATO

Sweden's politicians have now cleared the way for an historic NATO application, in lockstep with Finland. Turkey could still hold things up, as it seems to want concessions over Nordic support for Kurdish groups, so there are urgent talks underway about Ankara's demands. Meanwhile, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, whose image has already been battered by his relatively timid stance on Russia, has been further damaged by poor state-election results for his SPD party in Germany's most popular region. Politico

Bitcoin limitations

Influential crypto figure Sam Bankman-Fried reckons Bitcoin will never take off as a payments network. The founder of crypto exchange FTX says the Bitcoin network and other proof-of-work networks cannot scale sufficiently, plus there's the environmental impact problem. Financial Times

AROUND THE WATERCOOLER

Terra scraps

Ethereum co-founder Vitalik Buterin approves of a proposal that would see the "poorest" 99.6% of Terra investors made "whole" again with what remains of the collapsed crypto ecosystem's funds: "Coordinated sympathy and relief for the average UST smallholder who got told something dumb about ‘20% interest rates on the US dollar’ by an influencer, personal responsibility and SFYL [or sorry for your loss] for the wealthy." Fortune

Omicron response

Some new (but early-stage) research suggests vaccinated people may get better immune responses from an Omicron infection than from a booster. That doesn't mean you should rush out to deliberately catch it, of course. Bloomberg

Ukrainian victory

What should Europe do if Ukraine actually wins its war against Russia? It's a scenario that's being more widely entertained in recent days, but there's discord over the extent to which Vladimir Putin should be allowed to save face, and the eventual results of doing so or allowing a Russian humiliation. Politico

Where to start?

Just read this wild profile of Israeli health-tech entrepreneur Harel Hershtik, who murdered a "charismatic snake trapper" a quarter of a century ago, became a serial entrepreneur while in prison, got stabbed by Arab inmates over an Islamophobic plot, and is now hawking technology that can detect COVID-19 on a patient's breath. Times of Israel

This edition of CEO Daily was edited by David Meyer.

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