On January 30th, I arrived in Manila to start my recent survey quarter, and the Philippines had just confirmed their first case of COVID-19. I observed what seemed like a swift local response as much of the population was already wearing masks, and hand sanitizer was provided in most hotels and restaurants in the Makati area. One supermarket even advised customers to put on a mask upon entering, but it was not mandatory.
Last quarter, in the early stages of the global COVID-19 outbreak, I was surveying Southeast Asia. At the time of my transit through Kuala Lumpur, AirAsia had recently suspended flights from mainland China, Macau, and Hong Kong. Though normally a carrier that promotes customer self-service, the airline was diverting all travellers from these locations to the check-in counters to undergo screening questions before being allowed to proceed; in fact, they were prohibited from using the automated-check-in machines as you can see in the photo below.
The outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic has been unprecedented, and its impact to world markets has been reflected in foreign exchange. The impact of COVID-19 touches every part of the economy, and can largely be divided into three categories:
The COVID-19 pandemic is presenting us all with a period of great uncertainty. One thing we have learned from past crises is that we will likely experience economic volatility, including wide exchange rate swings and abnormal patterns of inflation. While these are early days, we have already measured higher rates of inflation in China, as well as significant fluctuations in major currencies. In addition, living conditions have worsened for many across the globe. It is likely economic volatility and restricted lifestyles will be with us for some time.
My primary responsibility is to serve as the strategic point of contact for the AIRINC clients in my region. I work with them to look for ways to help them meet their goals and face their mobility program’s challenges. The COVID-19 outbreak has been a prime example of the latter in 2020. I have been working with clients to ensure they are informed about the conditions facing their assignees and the impacts to the data that they receive from AIRINC – mainly hardship and danger pay.
AIRINC is pleased to announce that Jeff Hawk is the new Americas Region Leader. Jeff moves into the vacant Americas role that Morgan Crosby transitioned from to take on the newly created Global Growth Leader. With 27 years of mobility experience, Jeff brings significant and varied experience to the role; he has led the data operations group, served as a senior client engagement director, and managed the EMEA region as an expatriate himself. These varied experiences from personal to client to detailed data methodologies will serve him well in his new role.
The Stockholm housing rental market has been mostly stable over the last several months, despite a steady increase in demand. Rental units are challenging to find in this near-zero vacancy market and houses are especially limited. For new assignees, there has been an increase in demand for employer-backed leases and this trend is expected to grow.
The outbreak of COVID-19 began to impact Hong Kong in late January, following the initial spread of the virus in mainland China. In the first weeks of the outbreak, supply of hygiene related goods, like masks and hand sanitizer, was unable to meet the sharp increase in demand.
Mobility’s scope of responsibility continues to broaden, challenging the function’s ability to advise their customers in a progressively complex global business environment.
AIRINC is partnering with United Healthcare, GTN, and others to host an exciting Detroit-area Global Benefits Forum. This is a follow on to our well-attended and valued event on China last year.