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Market capitalisation of Global Top 100 companies at record $21 trillion

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The market capitalisation of the world’s 100 largest public companies has increased by $1,040bn (5%) in 12 months, according to PwC’s Global Top 100 ranking, released today.  

The rise is more subdued than the 15% increase reported in 2018, reflecting more challenging market conditions.

Growth in market capitalisation in the past year has been primarily driven by US companies, on the back of a robust economic environment.  Both Greater China (-4%) and Europe (-5%) registered a decrease in market capitalisation, reversing last year’s gains.

The technology sector continues to dominate, although the healthcare, consumer services and telecommunications sectors performed most strongly over the past year.

For the fifth year running, the US accounts for more than half (54) of the Global Top 100 by number of companies with growth of 9%, outpacing the overall.  US companies represent 63% of the total market capitalisation, up from 61% last year.

Greater China is the second largest component of the Global Top 100 by market capitalisation, despite a 4% decline in the past 12 months following trade uncertainties and their impact on local market sentiment.  This contrasts with the 57% increase in 2018, when three new companies entered the Global Top 100 and two rose to the top ten. 

Geopolitical challenges including uncertainty on Brexit are likely to have impacted European based companies in the ranking in the past year. Three European based companies have left the Global Top 100 and overall European based companies in the ranking lost 5% in market capitalisation.  Recent trends for companies from the Rest of the World are more positive, with market capitalisation increasing by 22%.

Overall, the best performing  country in the ranking in relative terms was India. Despite only two companies in the Global Top 100, a strong domestic stock market performance and robust earnings increased their market capitalisation by $63bn or 37%. 

Ross Hunter, Partner and IPO Centre Leader, PwC UK comments: 

“While the US continues to be the powerhouse of the Global Top 100, we expect to see a growing contribution from China, India and other developing markets. The new entrants from India and Saudi Arabia this year, and strong growth in the value of companies from the rest of the world support this view.”

The technology sector continues to be the largest component of market capitalisation within the Global Top 100, ahead of the financials sector, with healthcare in third place. Growth in the healthcare, consumer services  and telecommunications sectors of 15% outpaced technology’s growth (6%), which experienced volatility in late 2018.  Financials was the weakest performing sector with a 3% decline in market capitalisation.  

The global top ten continues to be dominated by the technology and e-commerce companies – Microsoft, Apple, Amazon, Alphabet – followed by Facebook in sixth position and Alibaba and Tencent as numbers seven and eight, respectively.

Microsoft was the strongest performer in terms of absolute increase in market capitalisation, gaining $202bn or 29% in value compared to 2018, which propelled it into the top spot.  It’s followed by Apple, Amazon and Alphabet. This breakaway group is 40% ahead of the fifth ranked company, Berkshire Hathaway, which has a market capitalisation of $494bn.

In the private company domain, the value of the top 100 unicorns grew by 6% to $815bn at 31 March 2019, consistent with their public company counterparts.  Nearly half (48%) of the top 100 unicorns were from the US, also in line with what we see in the Global Top 100. 

Notably, Greater China contributes approximately 30% of unicorns in both number and value terms, which is a much higher proportion than for the Global Top 100.  As a significant source of future IPOs or acquisitions by other companies, this suggests that we can anticipate more entries from Greater China into the Global Top 100 in due course.

Ross Hunter, Partner and IPO Centre Leader, PwC UK: 

“While the technology sector did not perform as strongly as in previous years, it continues to dominate the Global Top 100, with the top four US giants in a league of their own.  Longer term, we anticipate the imbalance reducing, with Greater China technology companies, in particular, challenging the current position. The prominence of companies from Greater China amongst the unicorns may be evidence to support this.”

View the PwC Global Top 100 here.

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Post-COVID-19, regaining citizen’s trust should be a priority for governments

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The COVID-19 crisis has demonstrated governments’ ability to respond to a major global crisis with extraordinary flexibility, innovation and determination. However, emerging evidence suggests that much more could have been done in advance to bolster resilience and many actions may have undermined trust and transparency between governments and their citizens, according to a new OECD report.

Government at a Glance 2021 says that one of the biggest lessons of the pandemic is that governments will need to respond to future crises at speed and scale while safeguarding trust and transparency. “Looking forward, we must focus simultaneously on promoting the economic recovery and avoiding democratic decline” said OECD Director of Public Governance Elsa Pilichowski. “Reinforcing democracy should be one of our highest priorities.”

 Countries have introduced thousands of emergency regulations, often on a fast track. Some alleviation of standards is inevitable in an emergency, but must be limited in scope and time to avoid damaging citizen perceptions of the competence, openness, transparency, and fairness of government.

 Governments should step up their efforts in three areas to boost trust and transparency and reinforce democracy:

 Tackling misinformation is key. Even with a boost in trust in government sparked by the pandemic in 2020, on average only 51% of people in OECD countries for which data is available trusted their government. There is a risk that some people and groups may be dissociating themselves from traditional democratic processes.

 It is crucial to enhance representation and participation in a fair and transparent manner. Governments must seek to promote inclusion and diversity, support the representation of young people, women and other under-represented groups in public life and policy consultation. Fine-tuning consultation and engagement practices could improve transparency and trust in public institutions, says the report. Governments must also level the playing field in lobbying. Less than half of countries have transparency requirements covering most of the actors that regularly engage in lobbying.

 Strengthening governance must be prioritised to tackle global challenges while harnessing the potential of new technologies. In 2018, only half of OECD countries had a specific government institution tasked with identifying novel, unforeseen or complex crises. To be fit for the future, and secure the foundations of democracy, governments must be ready to act at speed and scale while safeguarding trust and transparency.

 Governments must also learn to spend better, according to Government at a Glance 2021. OECD countries are providing large amounts of support to citizens and businesses during this crisis: measures ongoing or announced as of March 2021 represented, roughly, 16.4% of GDP in additional spending or foregone revenues, and up to 10.5% of GDP via other means. Governments will need to review public spending to increase efficiency, ensure that spending priorities match people’s needs, and improve the quality of public services.

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Sweden: Invest in skills and the digital economy to bolster the recovery from COVID-19

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Sweden’s economy is on the road to recovery from the shock of the COVID-19 crisis, yet risks remain. Moving ahead with a labour reform to facilitate adaptation in a fast-changing economic environment, and investing in digital skills and infrastructure, will be crucial to revive employment and build a sustainable recovery, according to the latest OECD Economic Survey of Sweden.

The pandemic triggered a severe recession in Sweden, despite mild distancing measures and swift government action to protect people and businesses. GDP fell by less than in many other European economies in 2020, thanks to reinforced short-time work, compensation to firms for lost revenue and measures to prop up the financial system, but unemployment still rose sharply. Solid public finances provided room for further stimulus in 2021 to buttress the recovery.

 The Survey recommends maintaining targeted support to people and firms until the pandemic subsides, then focusing on strengthening vocational training and skills and increasing investment in areas like high-speed internet and low-carbon transport. Addressing regional inequality, which is low but rising, should also be a priority as the recovery takes hold.

 The Survey shows that Sweden has been among the most resilient OECD countries in the face of a historic shock. Yet, like other economies, it faces challenges from demographic changes and the shift to green, digital economies. Investments in education and training, and labour reforms along the lines negotiated by the social partners, will support job creation and strengthen economic resilience. Building on Sweden’s leadership in digital innovation and diffusion will also be key for driving productivity.

 After a 3% contraction in 2020, interrupting several years of growth, the Survey projects a rebound in activity with 3.9% growth in 2021 and 3.4% in 2022 as industrial production resumes and exports recover. The recovery in world trade is bolstering the Swedish economy, however the country remains vulnerable to potential disruptions in global value chains.  

The pandemic has aggravated a mismatch in Sweden’s job market, with unfilled vacancies for highly qualified workers coinciding with high unemployment for low-skilled workers and immigrants. The public employment service needs strengthening to provide better support to jobseekers, including immigrants and women, and labour policies should strike the right balance between supporting businesses and workers and supporting transitions away from declining businesses towards growing sectors.

A rising share of youths and older people in the population, especially in remote areas, is affecting the finances of local governments, which provide the bulk of welfare services. Strengthening local government budgets and ensuring equal welfare provision across the country will require providing tax income to poorer regions more efficiently and raising the economic growth potential across regions through investments in innovation. Improving coordination between government entities and reinforcing the role of universities in local economic networks would help achieve that aim.

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Fewer women than men will regain work during COVID-19 recovery

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Generations of progress stands to be lost on women and girls' empowerment during the COVID-19 pandemic. Photo: ILO

Fewer women will regain jobs lost to the COVID-19 pandemic during the recovery period, than men, according to a new study released on Monday by the UN’s labour agency.  

In Building Forward Fairer: Women’s rights to work and at work at the core of the COVID-19 recovery, the International Labour Organization (ILO) highlights that between 2019 and 2020, women’s employment declined by 4.2 per cent globally, representing 54 million jobs, while men suffered a three per cent decline, or 60 million jobs. 

This means that there will be 13 million fewer women in employment this year compared to 2019, but the number of men in work will likely recover to levels seen two years ago. 

This means that only 43 per cent of the world’s working-age women will be employed in 2021, compared to 69 per cent of their male counterparts. 

The ILO paper suggests that women have seen disproportionate job and income losses because they are over-represented in the sectors hit hardest by lockdowns, such as accommodation, food services and manufacturing. 

Regional differences 

Not all regions have been affected in the same way. For example, the study revealed that women’s employment was hit hardest in the Americas, falling by more than nine per cent.  

This was followed by the Arab States at just over four per cent, then Asia-Pacific at 3.8 per cent, Europe at 2.5 per cent and Central Asia at 1.9 per cent. 

In Africa, men’s employment dropped by just 0.1 per cent between 2019 and 2020, while women’s employment decreased by 1.9 per cent. 

Mitigation efforts 

Throughout the pandemic, women faired considerably better in countries that took measures to prevent them from losing their jobs and allowed them to get back into the workforce as early as possible. 

In Chile and Colombia, for example, wage subsidies were applied to new hires, with higher subsidy rates for women.  

And Colombia and Senegal were among those nations which created or strengthened support for women entrepreneurs.  

Meanwhile, in Mexico and Kenya quotas were established to guarantee that women benefited from public employment programmes. 

Building forward 

To address these imbalances, gender-responsive strategies must be at the core of recovery efforts, says the agency. 

It is essential to invest in the care economy because the health, social work and education sectors are important job generators, especially for women, according to ILO. 

Moreover, care leave policies and flexible working arrangements can also encourage a more even division of work at home between women and men. 

The current gender gap can also be tackled by working towards universal access to comprehensive, adequate and sustainable social protection. 

Promoting equal pay for work of equal value is also a potentially decisive and important step. 

Domestic violence and work-related gender-based violence and harassment has worsened during the pandemic – further undermining women’s ability to be in the workforce – and the report highlights the need to eliminate the scourge immediately. 

Promoting women’s participation in decision-making bodies, and more effective social dialogue, would also make a major difference, said ILO. 

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