With internship interviews fast approaching, it’s time to catch up on current affairs. In many fields, it is expected that you pay attention to the world around you, so interviewers may question you on what “commercial awareness” topics interest you. Getting started with research is difficult, so this week on Watch.Listen.Read. Weekly, four of our UCL Guild presidents provide some ideas. With these anecdotes as starting points, you’ll have a portfolio of topics to explore further.
Matei – Investment Society
US Presidential elections
With less than two weeks to go until US Presidential elections, market commentary has intensified around what a Democratic victory could mean for financial markets. A potential Biden administration was initially perceived as a fundamental risk to US equities, with increased taxation and regulation both on the table. Given the lead in polls widening over the past few weeks, investors are now seeing a Biden win as a bullish scenario, with less room of a contested outcome by Republicans.
While the narrative above has attracted most of the attention, the real driver in price action has been the negotiations for a stimulus deal, with the two sides failing to reach an agreement over the size of the fiscal package.
An interesting development emerged over the weekend, with Nancy Pelosi setting a hard deadline for progress: 48 hours. Will a deal be reached at the eleventh hour or should investors expect more volatility in equity markets?
For more, make sure to read this article from Bloomberg News:
Stimulus Deal Before Election Hangs on Pelosi’s Tuesday Cutoff
Valeriia – Business Society
There cannot be a discussion of current market affairs without mentioning Covid-19. The pandemic has altered every aspect of society, from tech to the ongoing US elections. With the second wave happening in some countries and foreshadowed to soon follow in others, we can only imagine how society will be affected.
As a result of quantitative easing and phenomenal low-interest-rate policies so far, many engaged in buying equity, increasing indexes like S&P 500 to its pre-Covid positions and beyond. As a result, some wonder how governments react at this time. There is not much room for implementing alterations in monetary policies, and with the current debility in the markets, certain economies, especially in Europe, cannot afford to use fiscal stimulus. We are experiencing an extraordinary time, unlike any other in history, including the 2008 crisis. The question remains: how will the countries react to the incoming second wave?
For more articles on how Covid-19 will impact our economy, make sure to check out these resources:
The IMF predicts that the world economy will suffer from “long covid”
Coronavirus: Could the world have been spared?
Yiheng (Scott) – Data Science Society
AI and Business in Society
While there continues to be significant enthusiasm and legitimate skepticism surrounding how AI will continue to shape our society. Intelligent machines are currently unlikely to unseat humans in the near future, but may become extremely valuable tools that change the way we live and work. In many senses, it will streamline the way we live our lives, offering solutions to repetitive and menial tasks which involve language and pattern recognition. This includes assisting in personalization, employment and education. In the near future, this will be an indispensable part of your life, whether you like it or not.
To find out more, read The impact of AI on Business and society by the Financial Times.
Ana – Guild Society
CHina’s Economic Relationship with the United States
Given the stark differences in ideology and methods of achieving economic prosperity, it is unsurprising that the debate over the possibility of China-US decoupling has been going on for years. While political decoupling is becoming an increasingly more believable prospect, this is much less so when it comes to economic disintegration. With this in mind, it is key to take another perspective into consideration – that of the financial sector. The facilitation of market entry for foreign firms, combined with consistent GDP growth and interest rates way above zero, makes China an attractive destination for foreign banks and asset managers. For instance, not only did BlackRock recently get approval to start selling its mutual funds in China but also Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley took majority control of their Chinese securities ventures while JPMorgan Chase is to buy its local asset-management venture partner for $1bn.
The undeniable and growing importance of China in the financial arena gives rise to essential questions: How quickly and in which capacity could this impact the global financial landscape? What would be the wider implications for multinationals and local businesses?
To find out more, check out these articles from The Economist:
Why is Wall Street expanding in China?
Is Wall Street winning in China?
Furthermore, listen to this episode on China by BBC Radio 4’s The Bottom Line.