French

Simon French, Chief Economist at Panmure Gordon & Company

What economic lessons have been learned from the 2008 financial crisis that policy makers are putting into place when planning for recovery?

There has been political recognition that fiscal austerity from governments simply delays the economic recovery. Whilst there are still some hold-outs amongst conservative lawmakers, I would expect greater borrowing and tax cuts to do more to support this recovery than was the case in 2008. Also, there is the question of a debt overhang from this period - with a large number of companies forced to tap capital markets for emergency funding. I expect policymakers to look to downgrade the seniority of this debt in an attempt to avoid a delayed rebound of investment and job creation.

Proving credibility and trust by businesses to their customers will be key to consumer confidence and the restarting of the economy. What can businesses do to reassure their customers that it’s save to go back into the shop/gym/hotel/restaurant?

From a public health standpoint it will be about providing a safe environment for customers. However, from an economic standpoint there will be a focus on two things. Firstly, how was behaviour during the crisis? Were refunds forthcoming, communications open and honest, staff treated with dignity and respect. If there is a good story to tell, tell it! Secondly, what is the long term viability of the business? Customers will lack confidence to make bookings if there are questions over the going concern of the business. If you can signal this (long track record, strong parent organisation, commitment to events in the future) then this can be a key distinguishing feature.

 

At some point, the bill for this unprecedented level of debt has to be paid. How do we begin this process?

From a public sector standpoint the debt may be large but the cost of debt (the government bond yield) remains exceptionally low across almost all countries. The process of paying this liability begins by determining how much of the accrued debt is going to be “owned” by the nation, versus by corporates and/or households. Once that division is determined then it is about structuring it in a way that it does not stop these sectors taking on new, productive opportunities/ investments.

 

Will there be a long term labour shortage in travel? Millions have been made redundant or furloughed and may not return to the sector due to concerns about volatility.

Labour shortages are not something that should be a problem amidst what is expected to be double-digit unemployment – but there is a risk of scarring due to the acute challenges faced by the travel sector. Key to establishing a steady labour supply will be to show commitment to high levels of public health – but also having a business model that can adapt to what is likely to be a rocky road back to normality. 

 

 

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Simon will be presenting The Road to Recovery: Economic Overview on Monday 18 May during In Sync.

In Sync is a virtual event from Questex Hospitality Group that commits to uniting senior leadership within the global hospitality sector. Taking place on the 18th and 19th May, the event will look at the global hospitality investment landscape and how to plan for its future. To register for this complimentary event, visit www.HospitalityInsights.com, click Attend an Event from the drop down menu and select In Sync.


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