Globalism at a crossroads

To kick off the Future Forum, CNN Anchor Becky Quick moderated a conversation with Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella and BlackRock CEO Larry Fink. In addition to sharing their views on the future of globalism, the two leaders touched on many of the themes that were explored throughout the Future Forum, including how geopolitical tensions are impacting business operations, the role of corporate purpose and the move to sustainable investing.

After the conversation, Kate Moore, BlackRock’s Head of Thematic Strategy, provided perspectives on how the evolution of globalization is affecting the current investment landscape.

Key insights from this session


Globalism is not dead, but it is evolving. While globalism has benefitted billions of people around the world, it has left others behind and we need to adjust for the unintended consequences. Much of this work will fall on the shoulders of multinational corporations, which will increasingly need to address the issues that were created during the most recent phase of globalization, if they want to continue to have a license to operate in communities around the world.

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"If we don’t focus on the positive impacts of globalization, we are going to leave billions of people in society behind.”

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Larry Fink BlackRock CEO

Geopolitical tensions

While much of the focus in geopolitics is on U.S.- China tensions, there are other relationships — such as those between the U.S. and the EU and between China and India — that are significantly impacting the way corporations need to run their businesses. The world is being reshaped, and multinationals need to adjust. That means an increased focus on providing local employment opportunities, respecting different data sovereignty preferences and complying with a diverse set of jurisdictional rules. The bottom line for tech companies: The days of unfettered access to markets with little regulation are gone.

Corporate purpose

Society is frustrated with government and is looking for large corporations to play a bigger role. If corporations don’t have a strong purpose, they’re not going to get the best and brightest young people joining their firms. It’s a time for companies to be courageous, to focus on stakeholder capitalism and to put corporate purpose at the core of the business model. We believe those that do so will be the big winners in the future, while those that don’t are going to fall.

Sustainable investing

Given the challenges that Covid-19 presents to corporations, and to entire industries, there has been much speculation that as companies hunker down and focus on survival, they will be forced to scale back their efforts to combat climate change. But we don’t believe that this will be the case. We see parallels between the effects of the pandemic and the effects of climate change, and we view the pandemic as an accelerant that will likely increase focus on climate change and sustainability.

Attendee polling results

How has the retreat from globalism affected your investment strategy/positioning?

Attendee polling results from the globalism session.

Source: BlackRock. Number of respondents = 323.

Larry Fink
Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, BlackRock
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Kate Moore
Head of Thematic Strategy, Global Allocation, BlackRock
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Satya Nadella
Chief Executive Officer, Microsoft
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Becky Quick
Co-Anchor of Squawk Box, CNBC
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