The Future of Work, Entrepreneurship, and Investments in 4 questions with Professor Hubbard

-- Interview with Professor Hubbard, the Russell L. Carson Professor of Finance and Economics at Columbia Business School and former Chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers.

The future of work has never been more uncertain, and while approaching the end of the lockdown is a relief for the majority of us, it also brings to the fore many possible scenarios about how a post COVID-19 world will look like for employees, entrepreneurs, and investors.

We have had the chance to discuss the topic with exceptional individuals to get their insights about the current recession and what it will mean for economic actors in the short and long run. We’re presenting the main conclusions of those discussions in the form of a Q&A in the series we dubbed  “The future of work, entrepreneurship, and investments”. We typically try to distill insights into the 4 most relevant questions depending on the interviewee’s background to make these complicated issues easier to understand for a wide audience.

We are honored to start the series with our first guest, Glenn Hubbard, American economist and academic, former Dean of Columbia Business School (from 2004 to 2019)  where he remains the Russell L. Carson Professor of Finance and Economics. Hubbard previously served as Deputy Assistant Secretary at the U.S. Department of the Treasury from 1991 to 1993, and as Chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers from 2001 to 2003. 

Q - How do you see the COVID-19 crisis impacting the job market for future MBA grads and also in general?

"Top talent will always be in high demand. The next several months will see a slower pace of hiring and increased pace of layoffs because of heightened economic uncertainty.  As uncertainty recedes, talent should once again be in demand as firms consider new opportunities and change in the post-COVID world."

Q - How do you see the investment climate evolve in the next 12 months?

"Business investment will not likely snap back until CEOs believe there is a medium-run floor for aggregate demand and policy uncertainty over trade, taxation, and regulation fades.  Central bank actions to lop off the left tail of potential economic outcomes are also useful in this regard."

Q- What opportunities do you see during these times for employees, businesses, and investors?

"Flexibility" and "resilience" will be watchwords for employees and leaders and for investors and firms.  Those skills keep one open to changes suggested by technology developments and changes in consumers ‘ tastes in the aftermath of the pandemic.  Many sectors are proximately affected in the crisis — travel, and hospitality, for example — but reimagining the underlying experiences and services consumers need will point the way toward opportunity and growth."

Q- What advice would you give to entrepreneurs right now?

"Entrepreneurs like most business leaders should focus on liquidity and cash. In a year’s time, it will be easier to explain caution than going out of business. Transparency with employees and investors will also be important for keeping teams together and spirits up.  Finally, looking through the pandemic’s ‘fog of war’ to future opportunity is critical."

Thank you, Professor, for your insights!