Special Covid-19 Series, Issue #34

Autore : Action Institute

Data: 17-05-2021

Tipo: Other

Tematica: Action Institute

Hello, Action Institute Community!

While the COVID-19 pandemic is hurting the global economy, we at Action Institute aim at delivering a whole-rounded perspective, cutting through the noise.
Our weekly Special series approaches the effects of the virus from different perspectives: from medical facts to health policy, from economic policy to macroeconomic issues, from politics to financial markets, from technology to the impact on businesses, and more. We encourage our esteemed readers to provide us with feedback and suggestions.

This weekly issue proposes a selection of papers and articles focused on (i) Technology and (ii) Impact on Business.



“Technology is a word that describes something that doesn’t work yet.”, Douglas Adams

The impact of COVID-19 on artificial intelligence in banking” (Bruegel, Julia Anderson, David Bholat, Mohammed Gharbawi and Oliver Thew, April 15th, 2021). Banks have been keen adopters of AI, including machine learning and other advanced data-science techniques. In fact, machine learning and data science are part of a wider digitalisation of banking services, which has accelerated as a result of COVID-19. The first wave of the pandemic triggered a 10% to 20% rise in online and mobile banking across Europe. Use of online and mobile banking is expected to continue at higher levels once the pandemic subsides, with between 15% and 45% of consumers expected to cut back on branch visits following the end of the crisis.

 “Pandemic accelerates growth in cybercrime” (FT, Misha Glenny, April 28th, 2021). The coronavirus pandemic has changed the way in which everyone works, including cyber criminals, which during 2020 have stolen 30 billion data records – more than what had been stolen in the previous 15 years. The following article identifies and explains the two main trends which have contributed to this: the growing dependence on networked technologies, which has been massively accelerated by the pandemic, and the increased outsourcing of computer systems to cloud-based companies.

 “A health-data ecosystem to protect against public-health threats” (Brookings, Sheri Lewis, Alan Ravitz, Aaron Katz and John Piorkowski, May 6th, 2021). At the heart of the health-care, decision making and supply-chain problems exposed by COVID-19 is an unquenchable thirst for data. The health community must strengthen its ability to leverage data in managing the health of individuals and populations through a data ecosystem. The ecosystem would be always operational, surveilling for the next pandemic and managing data associated with other medical conditions that have global ramifications such as cancer, diabetes, and cardiovascular diseases.

 “How AI-powered poverty maps can increase equity in the COVID-19 response” (Brookings, Laura McGorman, Guanghua Chi and Han Fang, May 7th, 2021). In order to have a more equal global response to COVID-19, information gaps on poverty have to be filled: nontraditional data sources can help reach this goal. Over the past four years, Facebook’s Data for Good team and the University of California have been working to develop micro-estimates of wealth and poverty for low- and middle-income countries using nontraditional data. To predict where poor populations live, the research team trains machine-learning algorithms using demographic and health survey data from 56 countries that offer gold-standard household data on a range of health and economic indicators.



“In the business world, the rearview mirror is always clearer than the windshield.”, Warren Buffett

 “What the pandemic means for retail supply chains — in charts” (FT, Chelsea Bruce-Lockhart, April 21st, 2021). The following article analyses how the coronavirus health concerns have led to shifts in consumer behaviour: from increasing online shopping to a greater use of local businesses. According to the article, these new consumers’ attitudes will most probably outlast the pandemic, as shown by the data gathered during periods of relaxed restrictions, meaning that retailers will have to adapt to ensure that goods and services can be delivered quickly, cheaply and efficiently in order to survive in the post-pandemic period.

 “Management practices boosted firm performance in COVID-19 by facilitating remote work: Evidence from Italy” (, Megha Patnaik, Andrea Lamorgese, Andrea Linarello and Fabiano Schivardi, May 1st, 2021). The following article analyses the role of management in Italian firms’ response to the abrupt shock caused by COVID-19. The study has been focused in Italy as it was the first western country to be severely hit by the crisis, highlighting the total unpreparedness of the firms. The results show that firms with structured management practices have experienced lower declines in performance during the lockdown period as they were more likely to adopt labour-related strategies, such as transitions to remote work.

 “For mothers in the workplace, a year (and counting) like no other” (McKinsey Global Institute, May 5th, 2021). The pandemic has hit everyone hard, but some groups have suffered in unique ways. Working mothers, Asian Americans, and nurses are among those whose difficulties at work and at home could result in a retreat from their careers. Companies can help by providing emergency childcare and tutoring services, offering to continue remote work for those who want it, and revising hiring standards to eliminate the bias against gaps in employment.


Let me remind you that credit is the lifeblood of business, the lifeblood of prices and jobs.

Herbert Hoover […]


Good health is essential to social and economical development and it empowers all of the public sectors.

World Health Organization […]


Innovation is the specific instrument of entrepreneurship. The act that endows resources with a new capacity to create wealth.

Peter Drucker […]

Human Capital

Talent is a source from which water flows constantly renewed. But this source loses its value unless it is properly used.

Ludwig Wittgenstein […]