Feb 25, 2022
To mark the release of his new book, The Next Age of Uncertainty: How the World Can Adapt to a Riskier Future, author and Osler Special Advisor Stephen Poloz sat down with John Stackhouse, Senior Vice President, Office of the CEO at RBC, and former Editor-in-Chief of The Globe and Mail, for a special event hosted by Osler. The pair discussed many of the themes explored in Stephen’s book, from the various sources of economic and social anxiety in the modern age to how we can manage risk and prepare for an uncertain future.
Stephen identifies five main elements contributing to uncertainty in the years ahead: an aging population and workforce, technological revolution, the spectre of climate change, growing government debt and widening global income inequality. In the past, governments have only had to deal with two or three such factors at a time. To tackle the convergence of all these elements — and mitigate their potentially chaotic or unpredictable outcomes — policymakers and businesses alike will need to adapt their thinking.
With a large portion of the world’s workforce likely to be affected by the upcoming fourth industrial revolution, a new fiscal model will be needed to minimize cycles of unemployment and prevent significant disruption to people’s lives. For example, a modified form of employment insurance that kicks in automatically when needed might be difficult to achieve politically but could relieve pressure on monetary policy and provide stability for household finances. For the first time in such a crisis, major banks played a huge role in deploying government programs like mortgage holidays and small business loans during the pandemic. Resources from both the public and private sectors will be required to meet the challenges ahead of us.
Our aging population will also increase demands on governments in the coming years. To help service debt, support retiring workers and replenish resources for the next big economic shockwave, Stephen suggests, governments can make investments like childcare or new infrastructure that will boost their economies’ underlying growth rates and sustain themselves. Companies will also need to get creative in order to attract employees and satisfy their shareholders’ growing appetite for environmentally and socially responsible business practices.
To hear Stephen and John’s full discussion on the forces reshaping our economy in the years ahead, watch the webinar on demand.