For people around the world, arguably the greatest hope is that 2021 will be a year of beneficial transformation: rapidly recovering economies, firms eager to pivot to offense with “resized” business models, and governments talking about “building back better.” The risk, as yet insufficiently appreciated, is that decision-makers will end up spending most (and too much) of the year dealing with both existing and new damage from the COVID-19 shock.

There are four good reasons to be optimistic about 2021. First and foremost, scientists and pharmaceutical companies have worked furiously to develop a COVID-19 vaccine, often supported by sizable direct and indirect government funding. A handful of vaccines have been approved, thus opening the way to the herd immunity needed for economic and social interactions to return to normal.

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