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Photo: Xinhua News Agency / Contributor

American companies can learn from the experience of Chinese companies that stayed afloat during the months-long shutdowns as China fought the coronavirus, Boston Consulting Group’s chief economist Philipp Carlsson-Szlezak told me in an interview.

What they're saying: CEOs should lead the response themselves. "You have to really be in the moment. This is moving so fast," said Carlsson-Szlezak.

  • Company leaders have to "reframe this on a daily basis;" it can't be delegated to a task force.

Redeploy workers, don't lay them off. "You don't want to go into a mode where you lay off workers particularly since you don't know the duration," said Carlsson-Szlezak.

  • Some Chinese companies found creative ways to redeploy their temporary overcapacity — for example, one Chinese company quickly retrained staff as online influencers and were able to expand online sales.

Consider which consumer behaviors might change permanently. Some changes will be temporary, but others might stick.

  • The crisis may lead consumers to embrace different ways of interacting with companies and products.

Prepare for the rebound ... whenever it comes. "For many Chinese companies ... it was not easily predictable how soon a rebound would be underway."

  • Carlsson-Szlezak said that companies have to prepare in advance for that scenario, so that they are ready when the rebound comes and don't lag behind.

Go deeper: The coronavirus economy will devastate those who can least afford it

Go deeper

Ina Fried, author of Login
20 mins ago - Technology
Column / Signal Boost

Microsoft's metaverse maneuvering

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

Microsoft is pitching investors and regulators that its $68 billion Activision Blizzard deal is all about the metaverse, that nebulous buzzword taking the tech world by storm.

What they're saying: By my colleague Stephen Totilo's count, Nadella used the word "metaverse" at least five times in his conference call discussing the deal. Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick mentioned the metaverse four times, while Microsoft gaming chief Phil Spencer used the term twice.

Women in same-gender partnerships face a double pay gap

Expand chart
Data: The Hamilton Project; Chart: Kavya Beheraj/Axios

A married female couple will bring home lower wages, on average, than an opposite-gender married couple or a same-gender male couple.

Why it matters: Women in same-gender partnerships can experience (at least) two kinds of discrimination, based on their gender and on their sexual orientation.

The high cost of bringing down inflation

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Suppose the Federal Reserve had perfect foresight last year, and set out to keep inflation at its 2% target anyway — despite supply disruptions and labor shortages. What would that have looked like?

The answer: A catastrophe for growth, according to new research from the BlackRock Investment Institute. The Fed would have had to crater demand in the economy so much, that it would have pushed the unemployment rate to nearly 10%, the researchers estimate.