On Friday 12 June, the universities of Edinburgh and Glasgow (the Corporate and Financial Law Research group) jointly hosted a full-day webinar entitled ‘Does the global pandemic signal a paradigm shift in law and the economy?’ co-organised by Prof Emilios Avgouleas and Prof Iain MacNeil.
The event was opened by Professor Peter Mathieson, Principal and Vice-Chancellor of the University of Edinburgh. Four panels of eminent speakers and leading experts discussed key issues linked to economic and monetary policy, the future shape of financial markets, debt sustainability and preservation of financial stability, and the development of corporate governance norms to serve social growth and the green economy.
Twenty eminent panellists contributed to the webinar, bringing perspectives from academia, industry, the banking sector, asset management, legal practice and the judiciary, and the Institute of Directors to the conference.
In the first panel, ‘The pandemic response in the Eurozone—towards a fiscal union?’, attention focused in particular on the role of the European Central Bank in responding to the pandemic and the merits of a collective vs national approach to debt consolidation (Panel 1).
In the second panel, ‘Macro-financial aspects of the pandemic’, the discussion examined the implications of high levels of debt linked to the pandemic for financial stability, and potential approaches to mitigating financial distress (Panel 2).
The third panel, ‘Re-shaping capital markets after the pandemic’, examined the potential role of capital markets in channelling savings into the funding of the pandemic recovery, the potential for sustainable and green finance to feature more prominently in that process, and the role of technology in enabling markets to achieve these objectives (Panel 3).
In the fourth panel, ‘The legacy of the pandemic for corporate governance’, panellists focused on the potential for the pandemic to act as a catalyst for a change to a longer-term outlook with a clearer focus on broader stakeholder interests (Panel 4).
The most notable conclusions drawn from the rich debates included the need for businesses to incorporate inclusion and sustainability into their business objectives, the shift of institutional investors towards sustainable investment, the impact of technology on the employment of the semi-skilled, financial market democratisation through technology, the need for the Eurozone to tackle its mountain of public debt, and the fact that governments will have to use public money wisely this time around in order not to create the injustices that followed the 2008 financial sector bailouts.
The webinar concluded with a ‘Round-up and Reflections’ panel with additional contributions from Professor Sir Anton Muscatelli, Principal and Vice-Chancellor of the University of Glasgow and Professor John Finch, Head of the Adam Smith Business School. Final remarks were delivered by Sir Anton, drawing attention to the key role of law, economics and the social sciences in contributing to the design and implementation of policy linked to the phase of recovery from the pandemic.
A link to the Zoom recording of the webinar is available here.
Professor Iain MacNeil holds the Alexander Stone Chair of Commercial Law, University of Glasgow.
Professor Emilios Avgouleas holds the Chair of International Banking Law and Finance, University of Edinburgh.
Professor Irene-Marié Esser is Professor of Corporate Law and Governance (School of Law), University of Glasgow.