Cú hích – The pokes…

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Mọi sự đều có hai mặt, ẩn chứa cả mặt tốt và không tốt… vì chúng ta tất cả đều cảm tính. Trong thời kỳ khó khăn, một sự phá vỡ cấu trúc nền kinh tế cũng là một cơ hội được che đậy. Để tồn tại, và cuối cùng, để phát triển mạnh mẽ, các công ty phải học cách khai thác nó. Không có gì ví như cuộc khủng hoảng – một cơ hội để gột rửa tâm trí. Trong thời điểm biến động đột ngột, cần phải có một chiến lược; và trên thực tế, không như hầu hết những điều mọi người vẫn định nghĩa về chiến lược – tuyên bố sứ mệnh, mục tiêu táo bạo, kế hoạch ngân sách ba đến năm năm…; ở đây là một chiến lược thực sự…

Không sốt hay đau họng, cũng không cảm thấy mệt mỏi, ho khan hay có các vấn đề về tiêu hóa; vẫn cảm thấy khỏe mạnh, nhưng bí ẩn là ai đó trong chúng ta có thể đã mất khứu giác hoặc vị giác. Được biết đến như chứng mất vị giác, sự mất cảm giác này đang nổi lên như một triệu chứng ở những người mang mầm bệnh không biểu hiện bên ngoài khác của Covid-19. Mặc dù dữ liệu còn hạn chế, tờ New York Times báo cáo rằng các bác sĩ tai mũi họng (ENTs) có tập hợp đủ thông tin để đưa ra cảnh báo, nhưng với các ENT ở Vương quốc Anh, họ yêu cầu những người mắc chứng mất vị giác đột ngột phải cách ly trong ít nhất bảy ngày. Theo tờ Times, các bác sĩ người Anh đã trích dẫn các báo cáo từ các quốc gia khác chỉ ra rằng số lượng bệnh nhân coronavirus đáng kể đã trải qua chứng mất vị giác; ở Hàn Quốc, nơi xét nghiệm quy mô lớn, 30% trong số 2.000 bệnh nhân xét nghiệm dương tính mắc chứng mất vị giác. Và đó là lý do tại sao những người cảm thấy khỏe mạnh phải cảnh giác…

Nhưng, mất vị giác và khứu giác trong thời gian giãn cách khi nhiều người tìm kiếm sự “bình an” trong rượu vang và thực phẩm thì chắc chắn đây là một sự thất vọng, một thảm họa; nhưng thực sự lại ở chỗ những người mắc chứng mất vị giác có thể vô tình lây truyền virus sang những người có hệ thống miễn dịch dễ bị tổn thương. Bất cứ ai cũng có thể đối mặt với điều tương tự?

Từ những ảnh hưởng của Covid-19 cũng như cảnh giác về khả năng lây nhiễm và tái lây nhiễm Covid-19 vào cộng đồng dù vừa qua thời hạn cách ly và giãn cách xã hội, vẫn rất cần thận trọng phòng tránh cho sức khỏe của mỗi người;

bên cạnh đó, người Việt ngày càng chú trọng nâng cao ý thức chất lượng cuộc sống và sức khỏe, trong đó, 20% – 40% thu nhập dành cho chi phí ăn uống, gồm: cả chi phí ăn chính và những bữa ăn với bạn bè, người yêu, gia đình… và “bên ngoài” – nhu cầu thưởng thức ẩm thực tại các quán ăn, nhà hàng đang dần phổ biến trong cuộc sống của người Việt Nam.

Cho tới cuối 2019 trước khi Covid-19, Hà Nội đang có khoảng 3.500 quán kinh doanh cafe, đồ uống và hơn 5.000 nhà hàng quán ăn; ở TP.HCM con số này lớn hơn rất nhiều. Theo một thống kê tổng quát về ngành ẩm thực của Việt Nam, xét ở khu vực dịch vụ ăn uống, Việt Nam có trên 540 nghìn cửa hàng ăn uống, trong đó có 430 nghìn cửa hàng nhỏ, hơn 7 nghìn nhà hàng thức ăn nhanh, 22 nghìn nhà hàng cà phê, bar với hơn 80 nghìn nhà hàng phát triển bài bản. Dự kiến nhu cầu vẫn không ngừng tăng cao trong năm 2020. Hãng nghiên cứu thị trường BMI dự đoán, tốc độ tăng trưởng ngành thực phẩm và đồ uống sẽ cao hơn trong giai đoạn 2016 – 2020, trong đó khả năng Việt Nam sẽ đứng ở vị trí thứ ba Châu Á.

Năm 2018, cùng với phát triển nở rộ của công nghệ, ngành ẩm thực chứng kiến sự vươn mình vượt trội của loại hình giao đồ ăn cùng với sự định hình phân loại thông qua đánh giá của người tiêu dùng về thực phẩm mà họ đang sử dụng. Điều này đặt ra thách thức không nhỏ với loại hình truyền thống, thách thức các nhà quản lý nhà hàng, quán ăn thích nghi với những thay đổi thị trường qua những yếu tố định hình xu hướng nổi lên trong năm 2019 vừa qua. Năm 2020 được dự đoán sẽ là cơ hội phát triển của nhiều mô hình kinh doanh ẩm thực vừa và nhỏ – phát triển sâu phân khúc thị trường ngách đáp ứng nhu cầu của thực khách đang hướng tới hương vị độc đáo, mới lạ, thơm ngon và phù hợp với túi tiền…

Từ những ảnh hưởng lên xã hội như cách ly, đại dịch COVID-19 đã thay đổi cuộc sống, thói quen, đặc biệt, thay đổi cách sử dụng internet; dữ liệu cho thấy một cái nhìn sâu sắc thú vị về tác động của đại dịch và hành vi sử dụng – đã thay đổi mối quan hệ của con người với công nghệ; có thể nói bị “mắc kẹt” tại nhà trong đại dịch Covid-19, các rạp chiếu phim đóng cửa và không có nhà hàng nào để ăn tối, người ta đã dành nhiều chỗ trong cuộc sống của họ hơn để lên “mạng”. Trong một phân tích của New York Times về việc sử dụng internet ở Hoa Kỳ từ SameWeb và Apptopia, hai nhà cung cấp dữ liệu trực tuyến, cho thấy hành vi của người dân thay đổi, và rõ ràng, khi virus lây lan và đẩy mọi người gần hơn nữa với các thiết bị điện tử để làm việc, chơi, giải trí thư giãn và kết nối…

Sẽ thật sự bất ngờ khi dữ liệu cho thấy, các dịch vụ trò chuyện video như Google Duo, Hangout, Whatsapp và Zalo đều có lượng truy cập tăng mạnh kể từ ngày 21 tháng 1. Tương tự, các ứng dụng làm việc từ xa phổ biến, bao gồm Zoom, Microsoft Teams và Google Classroom, đã trở nên phổ biến hơn. Tuy người ta vẫn nghi ngờ chất lượng các dịch vụ này, nhưng có lẽ không ai không nhận ra chúng đã bùng nổ đến mức nào cho đến khi nhìn vào báo cáo phân tích. Tại Mỹ, kết luận còn đáng ngạc nhiên hơn;  ví dụ: nhìn vào lưu lượng truy cập trung bình hàng ngày của Facebook, Netflix và YouTube [qua trang web] từ ngày 15 tháng 1 đến ngày 24 tháng 3. Trong khi những ứng dụng đó trên di động đã cho thấy lưu lượng truy cập tăng lên rất nhỏ trong khoảng thời gian đó (hoặc thậm chí giảm) – thì ngược lại lượng truy cập qua trình duyệt tương ứng đã tăng vọt; thậm chí, chúng còn thay đổi cách mọi người tìm kiếm tin tức – điển hình là lưu lượng truy cập đến các tờ báo địa phương và quốc gia đã tăng vọt…

là một thực tế mới, nhưng có thể khó xác định chính xác liệu những thay đổi đối với hành vi của con người đó là từ chính loài người hay là dấu hiệu cho sự khởi đầu của một thay đổi lớn hơn.

Trong vài năm qua, người dùng các dịch vụ trực tuyến ngày càng chuyển sang điện thoại thông minh của họ, tạo ra sự tập trung toàn ngành vào thiết bị di động. Bây giờ khi chúng ta đang cách ly – dành thời gian ở nhà, với máy tính bên cạnh, dường như sẽ khá khó chịu khi phải tập trung nhìn vào những màn hình điện thoại nhỏ bé đó trong một thời gian dài. Facebook, Netflix và YouTube đều đã thấy số người dùng trên các ứng dụng điện thoại của họ bị đình trệ hoặc giảm xuống trong khi qua các trang web của họ đột biến, dữ liệu từ SameWeb và Apptopia chỉ ra việc này đặc biệt xảy ra với người tiêu dùng Hoa Kỳ.

Trong khi các trang mạng xã hội truyền thống cũng đang tăng, có vẻ như loài người muốn làm nhiều hơn là chỉ kết nối thông qua tin nhắn hay văn bản – con người muốn gặp nhau, muốn giao tiếp. Điều này đã mang lại một động cơ lớn cho các ứng dụng trò chuyện video Google Duo, Hangout, Whatsapp và Zalo, cho phép các nhóm bạn tham gia trò chuyện video và chơi trò chơi cùng với nhau phát triển. Con người dù sao cũng quan tâm nhiều hơn đến môi trường trực tiếp của chính họ, cách nó thay đổi qua phản ứng với virus và các biện pháp kiểm dịch. Điều này đã dẫn đến một sự quan tâm mới đối với các trang web truyền thông và mạng xã hội tập trung vào việc kết nối cộng đồng và bè bạn.

Thực tế, đối tượng hưởng lợi lớn nhất là các trang tin tức [địa phương], với lưu lượng truy cập rất lớn khi mọi người cố gắng kiếm thông tin về đại dịch cũng như ảnh hưởng và sự lây lan của chúng. Các thương hiệu truyền thông có uy tín như CafeF, Vnexpress, 24h có lượng truy cập đột biến tìm kiếm thông tin về cuộc khủng hoảng sức khỏe cộng đồng và hậu quả kinh tế của nó. Tương tự, ở Hoa Kỳ, CNBC, trang tin tức kinh doanh, đã chứng kiến lượng độc giả tăng vọt. Các trang web của New York Times và The Washington Post đều tăng lưu lượng truy cập hơn 50% so với tháng trước, theo SameWeb.

Khi tất cả các trò chơi thể thao giải đấu lớn đã bị loại bỏ, trong đó có những sự kiện thể thao được trông đợi như giải đua F1. Tương tự, việc sử dụng trang web của ESPN đã giảm mạnh kể từ cuối tháng 1. Đồng thời, một số trang web trò chơi video đã có lưu lượng truy cập tăng đột biến, cũng như với các trang web cho phép bạn xem người khác chơi. Twitch, trang web hàng đầu để chơi trò chơi phát trực tuyến, đã có lưu lượng truy cập tăng 20%. TikTok ứng dụng di động với các đoạn phim ngắn từ trò chơi khăm tới hát nhép, đã cất cánh trước khi dịch coronavirus bùng phát và… nó vẫn tiếp tục đi lên kể từ đó. Và,

ít nhất còn một số thứ vẫn không thay đổi bởi cuộc khủng hoảng…

Rõ ràng,

việc làm sáng tỏ tầm quan trọng của một sự kiện khó hơn là việc kể lại chúng. Thiết nghĩ rằng chúng ta đang xem xét một sự phá vỡ cấu trúc với quá khứ một cụm từ kinh tế lượng, trong đó nó biểu thị thời điểm trong dữ liệu chuỗi thời gian khi xu hướng và mô hình liên kết giữa các biến thay đổi.

Một cuộc khủng hoảng doanh nghiệp thường là một dấu hiệu cho thấy mô hình kinh doanh của công ty đã nói lên rằng, cấu trúc cơ bản của ngành công nghiệp đã thay đổi đáng kể, vì vậy những cách kinh doanh cũ không còn hiệu quả nữa. Tương tự như vậy, các tờ báo hiện đang khủng hoảng khi Internet thu hút độc giả và quảng cáo của họ. Nhu cầu về thông tin và phân tích ngày càng tăng, nhưng các phương tiện xuất bản truyền thống gặp khó khăn trong việc kiếm tiền từ nó.

Nguyên tắc tương tự áp dụng cho toàn bộ nền kinh tế. Trong hầu hết các cuộc suy thoái trong 40 năm qua, nhu cầu bắt kịp với công suất và tăng trưởng trở lại sau 10 đến 18 tháng. Sự suy thoái này cảm thấy khác biệt bởi vì thật khó để tưởng tượng sự tái cấu trúc đầy đủ của các dịch vụ tài chính hoặc sự quay vòng nhanh chóng trong tiêu dùng. Ngoài hai điểm nóng này, dường như có những xu hướng không bền vững về giá cả hàng hóa, nhập khẩu dầu, cán cân thương mại quốc gia, tình trạng của các trường học, và những lời hứa lớn về quyền lợi – sự hỗ trợ. Khi mô hình kinh doanh của một phần hoặc toàn bộ nền kinh tế thay đổi theo cách này, sự phá vỡ cấu trúc đã hình thành để trở thành chủ đề nóng tiếp theo…

Phá vỡ cấu trúc làm cho nhiều mô hình hành vi hiện có thay đổi hoặc biến mất, nhưng việc đó lại chỉ ra con đường phía trước cho một số công ty và đôi khi ngay cả đối với toàn bộ nền kinh tế. Ví dụ, cuộc suy thoái kéo dài năm 1893 đã đánh dấu kết thúc của sự bùng nổ đường sắt, và sự khởi đầu của quá trình chuyển đổi sang nền kinh tế dựa trên hàng tiêu dùng tinh vi. Milton Hershey xây dựng thương hiệu sô cô la sớm và lợi thế phân phối của mình ở giữa những thời điểm khó khăn đó. General Electric là một sản phẩm cùng thời, vì sự phá vỡ cấu trúc cũng đánh dấu sự phát triển của một nền kinh tế mới dựa trên điện. Mặc dù những năm 1930 là thời kỳ rất khó khăn đối với Hoa Kỳ, nhưng không phải mọi ngành công nghiệp hay doanh nghiệp đều bị từ chối. Khi nền kinh tế chuyển dịch ồ ạt từ hàng hóa tư bản sang hàng tiêu dùng, một số ngành công nghiệp như thép, cao su, than, thủy tinh, đường sắt và tòa nhà đã bị ảnh hưởng rất nhiều, nhưng các thương hiệu tiêu dùng như Kellogg, đã đạt được bước tiến. Tương tự như vậy, trong thập kỷ từ 1996 đến 2005, chi tiêu chung của người tiêu dùng vẫn khá bằng phẳng ở Nhật Bản. Tuy nhiên, nền kinh tế xoay chuyển sang những điều mới. Đất nước này, chẳng hạn, có hơn 200 nhãn hiệu nước giải khát, và mỗi cửa hàng tiện lợi nhỏ Seven-Eleven Nhật Bản mang theo hơn 50 bất cứ lúc nào. Khoảng 70 phần trăm của các thương hiệu này biến mất mỗi năm và được thay thế bởi những thương hiệu mới…

Sự phá vỡ và thời điểm khó khăn là những dấu hiệu chắc chắn cho thấy một mô hình cũ đã được đẩy đến giới hạn của nó và đang phá hủy giá trị. Hãy xem xét các ưu đãi trong ngành tài chính như một ví dụ về mô hình như vậy. Nhiều thập kỷ nghiên cứu chỉ ra không có bằng chứng cho thấy bất cứ điều gì ngoài may mắn giải thích lý do tại sao một số nhà quản lý quỹ vượt trội hơn những người khác. Một mô hình khác có thể tạo ra lợi nhuận giảm dần hoặc tiêu cực là sự phức tạp khó hiểu của hệ thống quản lý và kinh doanh. Ngành công nghiệp dịch vụ tài chính cũng là một con đẻ cho các chi phí của loại hình phức tạp này. Các cơ quan quản lý tốt nhất có thể làm trong trường hợp này là cấm một số loại hành vi…

Vì vậy, trong thời gian phá vỡ cấu trúc tại thời điểm khó khăn, việc cắt giảm chi phí là không đủ. Mọi thứ phải được thực hiện khác nhau, và trên hai cấp độ: giảm sự phức tạp của cấu trúc doanh nghiệp và chuyển đổi mô hình kinh doanh. Ở cấp độ công ty, điều ưu tiên đầu tiên là đơn giản hóa và đơn giản hóa lại. Vì các công ty phải cấu trúc “lắp ghép” (module) và đa dạng hơn, loại bỏ các ủy ban điều phối, hội đồng đánh giá và các cơ chế khác kết nối các doanh nghiệp, sản phẩm hoặc địa lý. Mục đích của những cắt giảm này là cung cấp các dịch vụ trung tâm và hỗ trợ tinh gọn mà không yêu cầu các đơn vị kinh doanh phải dành thời gian và năng lượng để điều phối các hoạt động của họ. Chia các đơn vị lớn hơn thành các đơn vị nhỏ hơn để tiết lộ các khoản trợ cấp chéo và phá vỡ các phong tỏa chính trị. Đâu đó có thể cho rằng chi phí phối hợp sẽ tăng nếu phân chia doanh nghiệp, nhưng thực tế buộc phải làm như vậy để chỉnh lại những gì phải được sắp xếp hợp lý.

Nói chung,

nhiệm vụ đầu tiên là hiểu cách một doanh nghiệp tồn tại, cạnh tranh và kiếm tiền trong quá khứ. Nếu doanh nghiệp quá phức tạp để hiểu, hãy chia nó thành những phần dễ hiểu. Một khi đạt được sự hiểu biết quan trọng này, chúng ta có thể bắt đầu công việc định hình lại. Ở đây không có cái gọi là công thức kỳ diệu: cải cách một doanh nghiệp luôn có cái nhìn sâu sắc và trí tưởng tượng…

Mùa dịch,

các nhà hàng ở mọi nơi phải đấu tranh để tồn tại giữa vô số những hạn chế chặt chẽ. Trên khắp thế giới, các thành phố và hệ thống thực phẩm và chuỗi giá trị của họ đang bị ảnh hưởng bởi sự lây lan của Covid-19 theo nhiều cách khác nhau và những thay đổi mạnh mẽ cũng vì vậy mà diễn ra ở nhiều mức độ hiệu quả khác nhau – cách mà chính cộng đồng đối phó và thích nghi trong thế giới đầy biến động này:

  • Hiện tại ở Paris, người ta chỉ có thể rời khỏi nhà để mua thực phẩm thiết yếu hoặc các mặt hàng khác, chăm sóc y tế, chăm sóc trẻ em hoặc người bị bệnh hoặc ốm yếu, những công việc thiết yếu không thể thực hiện tại nhà hoặc một số lượng nhỏ bài tập đơn độc trong khu phố của họ. Trước khi cách ly hoàn toàn, trường học đã đóng cửa và mọi người được yêu cầu làm việc tại nhà; và rất nhanh sau đó, một thông báo vào tối thứ bảy, nhà hàng, quán bar, bảo tàng, rạp chiếu phim, các công viên và chợ công cộng cũng đóng cửa. Việc kiểm dịch lần đầu tiên thực tế là một trở ngại rất lớn đối với thói quen, thú vui và sự tiện lợi của cuộc sống hàng ngày ở Paris – nơi đối với phần lớn người dân, nhà hàng, mua sắm thực phẩm và giao thức ăn là quan trọng nhất. Giờ đây, như một thử thách tâm lý sâu sắc bắt đầu xuất hiện liên quan đến từ sự cô lập, sợ hãi và suy ngẫm về cuộc sống. Sự cần thiết phải thực hiện việc nấu ăn tại nhà ban đầu là niềm vui đối với nhiều người, nhưng nó bắt đầu bị bào mòn ngày này qua ngày khác, điều này nhắc nhở mọi người nhớ về các đầu bếp và ngành công nghiệp nhà hàng. Hàng ngàn nhà hàng ở Pháp sẽ không sống sót sau vụ đóng cửa này, vì tỷ suất lợi nhuận của họ đã mỏng và thường chỉ có nguồn tiền mặt tối thiểu. Điều này cũng sẽ có tác động khủng khiếp đối với nông dân, người làm pho mát, nhà sản xuất rượu vang… Toàn bộ chuỗi thực phẩm của Pháp trở nên mong manh và cần sự hợp tác hơn khi chỉ có các nhóm nhà hàng lớn như Alain Ducasse và các nhà sản xuất thực phẩm công nghiệp lớn tồn tại;
  • Khách du lịch là chìa khóa để hỗ trợ trào lưu thực phẩm chậm Ý và các sản phẩm thực phẩm thủ công. Với lượng du khách đã sụt giảm, những nhà cung cấp và thực phẩm sản xuất có nguy cơ ngừng sản xuất, điều này cũng sẽ làm mất đi truyền thống được bảo vệ an toàn hoặc đa dạng sinh học mà thực phẩm Ý được tôn vinh rộng rãi;
  • Tại Budapest, các trường học đã bị đóng cửa, tất cả các sự kiện công cộng bị hủy bỏ, vì vậy đường phố vắng tanh và mọi người được khuyến khích ở nhà. Các nhà hàng và quán cà phê có thể hoạt động đến 3 giờ chiều, sau đó họ phải đóng cửa hoặc chuyển sang dịch vụ giao hàng. Vấn đề là, vô số nhà hàng Budapest phụ thuộc vào khách du lịch. Thành phố đã dọn sạch du khách nước ngoài và hầu hết người dân địa phương không thể đủ khả năng trả 10 euro cho một món ăn chính. Điều này có nghĩa là chúng ta không chỉ cần cuộc sống, mà cả du lịch phục hồi trở lại; bởi vậy, sẽ còn phải lâu hơn nữa…
  • Cùng lúc, Phần Lan đang trong tình trạng khẩn cấp quốc gia. Chính phủ quyết định đóng cửa tất cả các viện bảo tàng và nhà hát dù ngành văn hóa đang có một cú hích lớn, và đất nước này đã đóng cửa biên giới ngoại trừ vận chuyển hàng hóa. Các nhà hàng và quán cà phê vẫn được phép duy trì mở cửa, nhưng nhiều người đã quyết định đóng cửa, như S-Group, nơi đang đóng cửa mạng lưới 82 nhà hàng ở Helsinki. Việc sa thải đang diễn ra mọi nơi, và nỗi sợ phá sản trở nên đặc quánh trong không khí…
  • Ở châu Á, Kuala Lumpur cũng đang trong tình trạng bị “khóa” hoàn toàn, và không ai được phép vào hoặc ra khỏi đất nước. Lực lượng thực thi pháp luật và quân đội đang sử dụng các cuộc tuần tra và rào chắn để thực thi lệnh giới nghiêm, đảm bảo mọi người chỉ ra ngoài nơi công cộng để mua nhu yếu phẩm hoặc giúp đỡ người già hoặc những người không thể tự giúp mình. Hai dịch vụ giao thực phẩm lớn trong khu vực là GrabFood và FoodPanda vẫn đang cung cấp và khuyến khích người dân đặt hàng thực phẩm. Tuy nhiên, cả hai shipper này dường như đang tống tiền các nhà hàng – Grab lấy 20 đến 25% phí cho mỗi đơn hàng và FoodPanda tính phí 30% – một gánh nặng khủng khiếp cho các nhà hàng tại thời điểm này, vì họ chỉ được phép phục vụ thức ăn bằng cách lấy hàng hoặc giao hàng;
  • Còn tại Việt nam, có thể nói, chưa bao giờ hoạt động kinh doanh nhà hàng ăn uống lại rơi vào tình trạng khó khăn nặng nề như thời gian vừa qua. Dịch COVID-19 bùng phát trên toàn thế giới, lan rộng toàn Việt Nam khiến cả nước căng mình chống dịch. Người dân lo lắng trước nguy cơ nhiễm dịch bệnh; và cũng vì thế, thói quen tiêu dùng gần như thay đổi hoàn toàn; có ảnh hưởng từ hạn chế đến những nơi đông người, tránh tiếp xúc khi không cần thiết… Trong bối cảnh đó, những người kinh doanh nhà hàng, quán ăn và nhà hàng ăn nhanh… rơi vào tình trạng “ngồi trên đống lửa”; mỗi ngày mở mắt ra, họ phải đối mặt với hàng loạt chi phí như thuê mặt bằng cho nhà hàng, chi phí nhân công, nguyên vật liệu, phần mềm quản lý nhà hàng… Các nhà quản lý đau đầu tìm kiếm giải pháp mong sao có thể cắt giảm bớt chi phí, gia tăng doanh thu để duy trì và củng cố ổn định hoạt động kinh doanh của nhà hàng… Giải pháp giao hàng tận nơi cũng được nhiều nhà hàng lựa chọn khi lệnh cách ly hiệu lực…

Giờ đây, cùng với những khó khăn, những người làm việc tại hầu hết mọi nhà hàng trên toàn cầu đang phải chịu một nỗi kinh hoàng tàn khốc hơn, một người bị đe dọa không chỉ với tiền lương mà còn cả sức khỏe của họ. Bỗng nhiên vào một ngày khủng khiếp cho cả chủ sở hữu và người lao động, cả hai điều đáng sợ có nghĩa là không có khách và điều gì sẽ xảy ra nếu khách hàng nhiễm virus, việc đóng cửa hàng loạt đang diễn ra, và hoàn toàn không ai có thể đoán được chuyện gì sẽ xảy ra tiếp theo…

Nếu nhân viên y tế là người đầu tiên gióng lên hồi chuông cảnh báo về mối đe dọa nghiêm trọng thì coronavirus mới chính là thước đo cho sức khỏe, và nhân viên nhà hàng là người đầu tiên cảnh báo chúng ta về mối đe dọa mà nó gây ra cho nền kinh tế của chúng ta. Cuộc khủng hoảng tài chính 2008 và 2009 hay dịch SARS đã nghiền nát ngành công nghiệp nhà hàng sau nhiều tháng đóng cửa và thông qua sự tiêu hao dần dần, tàn khốc. Nhưng bây giờ, các nhà hàng ở các thành phố lớn trên khắp cả nước đang đóng cửa cùng một lúc trong vài ngày, không biết khi nào họ sẽ mở cửa trở lại, hoặc thậm chí họ có thể không bao giờ mở lại nữa…

Những người làm việc trong thế giới nhà hàng và những người yêu thích nó đang trải qua cảm giác đau buồn thực sự khi cuộc sống đang bị trì hoãn, và những nơi chúng ta sẽ cần nhất để xây dựng lại lại có nguy cơ biến mất vĩnh viễn. Nỗi đau buồn đó sẽ chỉ tăng lên khi các trường hợp COVID-19 tăng lên. Bây giờ, nỗi sợ hãi thậm chí còn tồi tệ hơn, cả đối với toàn bộ ngành công nghiệp đang giảm và ngừng hoạt động; các đầu bếp, nhân viên giao hàng và nhân viên tạp hóa có nguy cơ bị căng thẳng và đối mặt với nguy cơ phơi nhiễm. Sinh kế và cuộc sống có nguy cơ – và nếu không có bất cứ can thiệp nào, sẽ mất cân bằng và đảo lộn… và thực sự trở thành mâu thuẫn thách thức.

Đối với nhiều người “trốn” trong nhà và không có không gian ngoài trời, phiên bản khu vườn “riêng tư” của họ trông hơi giống những “mảnh thế giới riêng” và giống như hành lá mọc trong ly nước trên bậu cửa sổ. Giống như nướng bánh hay cà phê và các bữa tiệc ảo thời cách ly, hình thức làm vườn cấp thấp này đã nổi lên như một trong những xu hướng của đại dịch. Đối với nhà văn Kat Thompson, việc trồng tỏi tây và hành lá của cô – những “đứa con thực vật” của cô – có ý nghĩa cả về tiền bạc và thời gian khi sự bùng phát virus gia tăng ở New York và việc mua sắm tạp hóa trở nên nguy hiểm hơn…

Sự đơn giản của loại vườn trồng rau thủy canh cũng là một lý do tại sao nhiều người, kể cả những người trồng rau lần đầu, bị cám dỗ để thử. “Nếu bạn định bắt đầu một thứ gì đó, cho dù đó là nấu ăn hay thậm chí là làm vườn, hãy bắt đầu với thứ bạn biết sẽ tạo dựng sự tự tin. Các nhu yếu phẩm hay thức ăn và phế liệu nhà bếp; hành lá trong bình đựng nước, hạt đậu còn sót lại trong nồi đất, thậm chí là cà chua, thật dễ dàng và đáng khích lệ để giải quyết động cơ gia tăng cảm hứng. Đây là tất cả những việc nhỏ mà mọi người có thể làm mà không cần phải nỗ lực quá nhiều,” theo Nik Sharma, tác giả cuốn sách dạy nấu ăn Nik Sharma. Tất nhiên, không phải tất cả mọi người hiện đang cố gắng phát triển cuộc sống mới trên bậu cửa sổ sẽ vẫn tiếp tục sau khi đại dịch kết thúc. Trước nhiều điều không chắc chắn, lãng phí thực phẩm khan hiếm và lao động – vấn đề này không thể giải thích được câu chuyện hành lá, vì nó minh chứng cho hành trình từ cánh đồng đến cửa hàng tạp hóa đến nhà bếp của mọi người…

Các nhà hàng và quán ăn từ lâu đã tồn tại một số quy định nghiêm ngặt về an toàn thực phẩm, với các sở y tế là việc thực thi các quy định về vệ sinh, nhiệt độ, rửa tay, nhiễm chéo và sử dụng găng tay để chuẩn bị thức ăn. Nhưng coronavirus mới chính thức làm cho các thủ tục đó trở nên quan trọng và cấp thiết khi ngăn chặn căn bệnh lây lan. Sau khi coronavirus tăng đột biến, nhân viên nhà hàng tuân thủ phải đeo khẩu trang. Nhưng đối với nhiều nhà hàng, khẩu trang dường như một bước bắt buộc quan trọng để ngăn chặn sự lây lan ra cộng đồng. Khi sở y tế địa phương yêu cầu mọi người thực hiện các khuyến nghị để ngăn ngừa COVID-19, là những điều cần làm vì ở đây liên quan tới kinh doanh thực phẩm. Tuy nhiên, vẫn còn những rào cản đối với việc áp dụng chúng trong môi trường công nghiệp thực phẩm. Trong nhà bếp, các nhân viên đứng cách nhau 2 mét theo quy định và đeo khẩu trang trong suốt ca làm việc; có lúc khẩu trang trở nên vướng và khó thở, đặc biệt, khi họ đứng bên nước sôi. Sau một tuần cố gắng điều chỉnh nhà hàng nhỏ Saffron De Twah của mình sang thành dịch vụ mang về (take away), đầu bếp Omar Anani đã đóng cửa vào ngày 17 tháng 3 do doanh số hạn chế và khó khăn khi đảm bảo nhân viên có thể tiếp cận công việc một cách an toàn. Anani đã tìm kiếm lời khuyên trên mạng về cách sử dụng đúng khẩu trang và thông qua nói chuyện với bạn bè và người thân trong lĩnh vực y tế. Trong khi khó có ai có thể thực sự tưởng tượng được việc kinh doanh sẽ như thế nào trong những tuần và tháng tới, Anani tin rằng khẩu trang có thể sẽ trở thành một phần thường xuyên của đồng phục mới cho nhân viên nhà hàng, chúng sẽ trở thành một phần quan trọng trong cuộc sống bình thường. Phần lớn mọi người nghĩ một cách vô thức rằng nhiều năm tới mọi người sẽ ra đường với khẩu trang…

Ở phần nhiều các quốc gia, các nhà hàng ăn nhanh (Quick-Service Restaurant – QSR) đóng hoàn toàn hoặc chỉ hoạt động trên cơ sở hạn chế, cung cấp mang đi, nhận, giao hàng, lái xe qua hoặc một số kết hợp của các tùy chọn đó. Ngay cả khi một số QSR vẫn còn mở cửa, sự sụt giảm trong kinh doanh vẫn có chiều hướng tăng lên. Các cuộc điều tra về hành vi của người tiêu dùng mà McKinsey đã thực hiện vào cuối tháng 3 trên khắp châu Âu và Hoa Kỳ chỉ ra rằng trong cuộc khủng hoảng, hầu hết người tiêu dùng mong đợi giảm chi tiêu cho tất cả các món ăn từ nhà hàng, QSR hay các loại nhà hàng khác, thậm chí cả dịch vụ về thực phẩm và giao hàng.

Trong khi đó, tại Trung Quốc hay Việt Nam [trừ Hà Nội] mấy ngày trước đây, khi các hạn chế về khoảng cách vật lý đã được dần nới lỏng, các cuộc điều tra về hành vi của người tiêu dùng cho thấy ba xu hướng có thể diễn ra giống nhau ở các khu vực địa lý khác nhau:

  • Chi tiêu hậu dịch cho ăn uống tại nhà hàng dự kiến ​​sẽ thấp hơn mức trước đó, phần lớn là do người tiêu dùng vẫn sẽ cảnh giác khi ở trong không gian công cộng đông dân cư;
  • Nhu cầu về việc mang đi dự kiến ​​sẽ trở lại mức độ trước khi dịch bùng phát khá nhanh;
  • Sau đại dịch, người tiêu dùng có thể sẽ chi nhiều hơn cho việc cung cấp thực phẩm, thực phẩm chế biến sẵn và cửa hàng tạp hóa so với trước đại dịch.

Vì căng thẳng về tài chính và lo ngại về việc ăn uống ở những nơi đông người, người tiêu dùng có thể sẽ tiếp tục ăn ở nhà, ít nhất là trong thời gian tới. Và, dường như những thách thức mà mỗi QSR phải đối mặt trong cuộc khủng hoảng này là duy nhất, tùy thuộc vào vị trí thị trường và tài chính của công ty và thời gian và tiến triển của đại dịch tại thị trường [địa phương] đó.

Làm thế nào để đối mặt với thách thức và rủi ro?

Lập lại kế hoạch ngay bây giờ: Những ưu tiên ngắn hạn

Bảo vệ nhân viên và khách hàng

Cho đến nay, hầu hết nhà quản lý QSR đã thiết lập các quy trình và chính sách về sức khỏe và an toàn mới để bảo vệ nhân viên và khách hàng. QSR cũng đã điều chỉnh các dịch vụ tại chỗ của mình để tuân theo các hướng dẫn của địa phương và quốc gia; ví dụ, bằng cách tắt các quầy thức ăn tự chế biến, đình chỉ tất cả các sự kiện liên quan tới khách hàng và chuyển sang mô hình chỉ giao hàng. Liên quan đến vệ sinh và an toàn, QSR đã thiết lập các giao thức nghiêm ngặt, như cung cấp chất khử trùng tay và nhiệt kế, thiết lập kính chắn và đào tạo nhân viên để giảm thiểu tiếp xúc với con người.

Bảo vệ hàng đầu

Bất chấp các quy định giãn cách vật lý, các nhà hàng có thể tiếp tục tạo ra doanh số. Tại các địa phương cấm ăn uống tại chỗ, QSR đã tăng cường khả năng tiếp nhận và giao hàng và áp dụng các chiến thuật tiếp thị mới để tiếp cận những người tiêu dùng vốn không chủ động tìm kiếm các dịch vụ này.

Ổn định chuỗi cung ứng

Các nhà hàng cần một chuỗi cung ứng đáng tin cậy không chỉ cho các thành phần thực phẩm mà còn cho các nguồn cung cấp thiết yếu để duy trì hoạt động kinh doanh: hàng giấy dùng một lần, sản phẩm làm sạch, phụ tùng cho xe tải và xe máy được sử dụng để giao thực phẩm… Để giảm thiểu rủi ro gián đoạn trong chuỗi cung ứng, các QSR đang thực hiện một loạt các hành động; chẳng hạn như giới hạn các menu để phù hợp với những gì họ có thể dự đoán nguồn, thay thế các sản phẩm đông lạnh cho các sản phẩm tươi khi cần thiết, điều chỉnh lại các đơn đặt hàng để phù hợp với nhu cầu, xác định thay thế các nhà cung cấp, và hợp tác với các nhà sản xuất để tạo ra các kế hoạch dự phòng. Để hỗ trợ các nhà cung cấp vừa và nhỏ có thể gặp khó khăn trong cuộc khủng hoảng, một số QSR giàu tiền mặt đang điều chỉnh các điều khoản thanh toán hoặc đưa ra các lựa chọn cho vay tạm thời. Một số ít QSR có tư duy tiến bộ cũng đang tận dụng giá hàng hóa thấp trong lịch sử bằng cách mua trước nếu có thể hoặc bằng cách đặt trước năng lực vận chuyển hàng hóa.

Quản lý tiền mặt

Hầu hết các QSR xác định phục hồi một phần nhỏ của doanh thu bình thường trong thời gian trước mắt, vì vậy quản lý tiền mặt phải là một ưu tiên. Một số QSR đã hình thành một nhóm quản lý tiền mặt thường trực để có thể đánh giá đầy đủ về dự báo và tối ưu hóa nguồn tiền mặt. Để tiết kiệm tiền mặt, các nhà quản lý còn hoãn hoặc đàm phán lại các khoản thanh toán tiền thuê nhà, trì hoãn chi tiêu gián tiếp và chi tiêu vốn, và giảm chi phí nhân sự và nỗ lực tận dụng các chương trình do chính phủ hỗ trợ…

Mô hình hóa một loạt các kịch bản

Thời gian phục hồi thay đổi theo quốc gia, Trung Quốc và Việt Nam dường như hồi phục trước nhiều nước phương Tây bao gồm Ý và Hoa Kỳ. Đối với nhà quản lý chuỗi QSR có địa điểm ở nhiều thị trường, một bài tập quan trọng là lập mô hình các kịch bản 3 tháng, 6 tháng và 12 tháng cho mỗi thị trường và phát triển các kế hoạch hành động cụ thể cho mọi kịch bản, đảm bảo rằng các nhà lãnh đạo công ty được liên kết về các kịch bản cũng như danh mục hành động cho từng kịch bản. Ví dụ, nếu các nhà hàng vẫn đóng cửa trong 6 tháng, thời gian, các QSR có thể cần giảm chi phí cố định bằng cách đàm phán lại hợp đồng thuê và các điều khoản tín dụng hoặc bằng cách bán bất động sản. Nếu nhà hàng đóng cửa kéo dài hơn 6 tháng, một số công ty có thể cần tìm kiếm các dòng tín dụng mới, các đơn vị kinh doanh thoái vốn hoặc thậm chí đưa ra để bán…

Lập kế hoạch cho phục hồi: hành động trung hạn

Khi các nhiệm vụ ở nhà bắt đầu giảm và các nhà hàng mở cửa trở lại, QSR sẽ cần phải có kế hoạch để nắm bắt nhu cầu quay trở lại. Việc quay trở lại mức nhu cầu trước đó đã là giành chiến thắng ngay lập tức; do đó, QSR sẽ cần thực hiện một cách tiếp cận theo từng giai đoạn để “sống” lại lao động, hoạt động ăn uống và hỗ trợ chuỗi cung ứng. Vì các công ty QSR bước vào cuộc khủng hoảng từ vị thế mạnh sẽ có nhiều lựa chọn hơn và linh hoạt hơn trong việc chuẩn bị cho sự phục hồi.

Bảo tồn và phát triển

Phần lớn nhà hàng truyền thống hay QSR nói riêng bước vào cuộc khủng hoảng ở vị thế tiền mặt bấp bênh. Nói rộng ra, những loại hình này có xu hướng có một vài thuộc tính chung:

  • sự phụ thuộc nặng nề vào hình thức nhà hàng truyền thống;
  • sự hiện diện tối thiểu trong các kênh kỹ thuật số và phân phối;
  • các menu không đủ khác biệt so với các đối thủ cạnh tranh và lòng trung thành hạn chế các chương trình;
  • có xu hướng dễ bị mất ổn định chuỗi cung ứng vì cơ sở cung ứng nhỏ và phân tán.

Trong cuộc khủng hoảng, các công ty này sẽ tập trung vào việc tránh phá sản; họ cần tìm cách điều chỉnh dịch vụ của mình trong khi bảo toàn tiền mặt. Ngay cả trong giai đoạn phục hồi, các nhà hàng giới hạn tiền mặt sẽ cần phải tiếp tục truyền thông văn hóa ý thức về tiền mặt ở tất cả các cấp của tổ chức. Họ cần phải cân nhắc thận trọng với chi tiêu, cũng là một biện pháp dự phòng trong trường hợp hồi sinh của coronavirus. Đối với các công ty này, việc tiếp tục tạo ra các dự báo dòng tiền hàng tuần và thực hiện đánh giá sức khỏe tài chính thường xuyên có vai trò vô cùng quan trọng. Họ cũng nên xem xét đàm phán lại các hợp đồng để tăng tính linh hoạt; ví dụ, bằng cách buộc tiền thuê vào doanh thu. Đồng thời, các QSR bị hạn chế về tiền mặt phải liên tục liên lạc với khách hàng của họ, đặc biệt là những người trung thành nhất của họ, họ sẽ là đòn bẩy tốt nhất để tăng nhu cầu khi nhà hàng mở cửa trở lại.

Xây dựng dựa trên thế mạnh

Ngược lại, khi QSR bước vào cuộc khủng hoảng với vị thế thanh khoản mạnh. Các công ty ổn định tài chính này có xu hướng có các kênh phân phối và kỹ thuật số được thiết lập tốt và các chương trình khách hàng thân thiết mạnh mẽ. Hầu hết đã đầu tư vào chuỗi cung ứng bằng cách xây dựng một cơ sở cung ứng ổn định và phát triển các kế hoạch dự phòng để giảm thiểu sự gián đoạn chuỗi cung ứng trong thời kỳ khủng hoảng. Trong quá trình phục hồi, các công ty này có thể tăng tốc tăng trưởng bằng cách tăng đầu tư vào các giải pháp di động và giao hàng, cung cấp các chương trình khuyến mãi bữa ăn giá trị và bữa ăn gia đình, và tập trung vào những dịp phát sinh sụt giảm lớn nhất trong cuộc khủng hoảng (bữa sáng trên đường đi làm). Họ có thể lôi kéo khách hàng quay trở lại ăn uống tại chỗ với các chương trình khuyến mãi hấp dẫn và các dịch vụ thực đơn mới. Họ cũng có thể xem xét khởi động “lực lượng đặc nhiệm” để tiến hành giảm thiểu cạnh tranh: ở một số thị trường, đối thủ cạnh tranh có thể đang gặp khó khăn hoặc có địa điểm đóng cửa. QSR đồng thời có thể đẩy mạnh các nỗ lực tiếp thị của họ trong các lĩnh vực đó để chiếm thị phần. Các công ty mạnh hơn cũng có thể tận dụng các vị trí tiền mặt của họ để tạo những động thái đột phá: ví dụ, đầu tư theo chu kỳ, mua bất động sản hoặc mua các đối thủ cạnh tranh, đơn vị kinh doanh hoặc thương hiệu đang yếu thế.

Hình dạng bình thường tiếp theo: Cân nhắc dài hạn

Khi khủng hoảng lắng xuống, tất cả các QSR phải chuẩn bị cho những thay đổi sắp tới, trong suy nghĩ và hành vi của người tiêu dùng, điều đó sẽ định hình ngành công nghiệp tiếp theo bình thường, gồm:

  • Quan tâm nhiều hơn về vệ sinh và an toàn: Người tiêu dùng sẽ yêu cầu nhiều thông tin hơn về các thành phần trong thực phẩm nhà hàng, nguồn gốc từ đâu, cách thức chế biến và của ai. Kết quả là chi phí hoạt động hàng ngày sẽ tăng lên. Chi phí đóng gói thực phẩm cũng có thể tăng. Giao hàng và tiếp nhận không tiếp xúc có thể trở thành tiêu chuẩn;
  • Nhu cầu mạnh hơn về kỹ thuật số và giao hàng: Bối cảnh cạnh tranh trong phân phối thực phẩm sẽ được chuyển đổi khi nhà quản lý xây dựng năng lực nội bộ, đầu tư vào công nghệ thế hệ tiếp theo hoặc hợp tác với các nhà cung cấp bên thứ ba. Các chương trình khách hàng thân thiết sẽ trở nên mạnh mẽ hơn khi các QSR tìm cách tăng cường sự gắn bó giữa các khách hàng;
  • Chuyển đổi chi tiêu từ nhà hàng đến các cửa hàng tạp hóa: Dấu hiệu ban đầu cho thấy một số sự thay đổi từ chi tiêu trong nhà hàng sang chi tiêu của các cửa hàng tạp hóa phát triển trong một thế giới hậu coronavirus. QSR có thể tìm kiếm các nguồn doanh thu bổ sung; ví dụ, các nhà quản lý QSR có thể xem xét tung ra các dòng sản phẩm tạp hóa hoặc mở rộng sang các kênh mới, như phục vụ B2B. Để tổn tại với mức doanh số thấp hơn, các QSR cũng có thể xem xét đánh giá lại chi phí công ty, mạng lưới nhà hàng và cơ sở nhượng quyền của họ;
  • Tăng cường tập trung vào quản lý chuỗi cung ứng: Cuộc khủng hoảng COVID-19 đang phơi bày những điểm yếu trong nhiều chuỗi cung ứng và nhấn mạnh tầm quan trọng của tính linh hoạt và khả năng thích ứng. Thách thức này sẽ thúc đẩy các QSR đầu tư vào công nghệ và năng lực của chuỗi cung ứng để họ có thể cải thiện tốt hơn và cung cấp nhanh hơn cho phù hợp với nhu cầu. Nhiều QSR cũng gặp phải sự gián đoạn chuỗi cung ứng do thiếu hụt lao động trong cuộc khủng hoảng, và điều đó có thể khiến họ đẩy nhanh đầu tư vào tự động hóa chuỗi cung ứng.

QSR và nhà hàng nói chung cần một mô hình hoạt động đủ linh hoạt để có thể đáp ứng mức độ không chắc chắn mà ngành công nghiệp phải đối mặt.

Chỉ trong hơn một tuần, nhiều cơ sở trên cả nước có thể chưa bao giờ xem xét việc giao hàng trước đây đã chấp nhận bán buôn như một phương tiện sinh tồn trong bối cảnh mới và đáng sợ được tạo ra bởi coronavirus. Và một số ít thậm chí còn tiến xa hơn một bước bằng cách trở thành điểm đến cho các mặt hàng chủ lực đựng thức ăn, làm sạch, tiếp liệu, giấy vệ sinh ngoài bánh mì nướng thông thường. Về cơ bản, các nhà hàng đang trở thành cửa hàng “đầu đường” ([convenient] corner shop). Các nhà hàng đang cung cấp tủ đựng thức ăn và cho khách hàng mượn. Ở Portland, Oregon, nhà hàng gà rán Yonder đang cung cấp thực đơn bình thường; ngoài ra còn có một thực đơn mới, được thiết kế để giúp khách dự trữ: các mặt hàng thường không có sẵn để bán, như bánh mì, sẵn sàng – để nướng bánh quy, dưa chua, và bơ có hương vị. Ở một tiệm bánh nổi tiếng ở Detroit, đã nhanh chóng chuyển hướng cung cấp các mặt hàng mang đi như salad cải xoăn và bánh quy sô cô la kiều mạch, cũng như một lựa chọn luân phiên của các mặt hàng chủ lực như bột mì, trứng, sữa và sữa chua. Định dạng, tuy còn ở giai đoạn đầu, là một yếu tố được gọi là một kế hoạch toàn diện được thiết kế để giúp chăm sóc nhân viên trong khi giảm lãng phí tại cửa hàng và tạo thu nhập. Các cửa hàng kệ hàng cung cấp thêm các tùy chọn như trứng, sữa, đậu đóng hộp, gia vị và nước rửa tay sát khuẩn – những nhu yếu phẩm hàng ngày trở nên có nhu cầu hơn kể từ khi COVID-19. Nếu việc ngừng hoạt động kéo dài lâu hơn nữa, có khả năng nhiều nhà hàng sẽ bắt đầu xem xét các mô hình này để bổ sung thu nhập ngoài dịch vụ thực phẩm…

Khi các nhà hàng, quán ăn trên khắp đất nước đóng cửa để đối phó với đại dịch, các nhà hàng chuyển sang giao hàng và mang đi – nhưng, một số đầu bếp đang phàn nàn rằng nó không đáng…

Ngày càng nhiều đầu bếp và chủ nhà hàng trên khắp đất nước, những người ban đầu cố gắng thực hiện việc giao hàng và/ hoặc giao hàng sau khi hiện các kế hoạch giãn cách xã hội, nhưng gần đây đã quyết định rằng nó quá rủi ro cho sức khỏe và sự an toàn, và thay vào đó chọn đóng cửa hoàn toàn. Tuần trước cách ly, hàng loạt nhà hàng khách sạn đóng cửa cơ sở của mình do những lo ngại về an toàn cho nhân viên và khách hàng. Một phần quyết định khó khăn này đưa ra để đóng cửa hàng nhờ vào một phần khách hàng không tôn trọng an toàn khoảng cách hoặc khẩu trang. Một người phụ nữ xuất hiện trong mồ hôi và ho. Từ góc độ tài chính, đây là quyết định khó khăn, nhưng khi liên quan tới y tế công cộng giờ đang được quan tâm nhiều thì đó là sự cấp thiết…

Các cấp quản lý đang cố gắng giải quyết một vấn đề quy mô chưa từng có, trong khi vật lộn với thông tin thay đổi nhanh chóng và đôi khi mâu thuẫn về virus và các biện pháp tốt nhất để ngăn chặn nó…

Đôi khi như ở một số nhà hàng tại quận 1 và 3 ở HCMC đã cung cấp dịch vụ mang đi tại đơn vị kinh doanh của họ cách đây 2-3 tuần, nhưng dần họ nhận ra đang phải đối phó với một vấn đề không lường trước được: khách hàng vây quanh bên ngoài mà không tuân thủ các hướng dẫn giãn cách xã hội. Đây là một vấn đề khiến các nhà hàng lo lắng từ việc xử phạt của nhà chức trách và tạo ra mối đe dọa đối với sự an toàn. Điều này đã trở nên rõ ràng khi đám đông nhân viên giao hàng và khách hàng tập trung đến mức cảnh sát vào, giải tán đám đông, và phạt nhà hàng, kết quả cuối cùng nhà hàng đã đóng cửa hoạt động. Các nhà hàng chắc chắn ý thức những gì họ đang cố gắng trong vài ngày trước khi họ hết sản phẩm dự trữ đã đặt hàng và điều này đã khiến việc chuyển sang giao hàng tạm thời cũng có thể bị gián đoạn. Việc mang đi và giao hàng rất quan trọng để kéo dài những gì họ có thể làm để có thể giữ lại và hy vọng sẽ kéo dài duy trì dòng tiền cho đến khi có thể tiếp cận hỗ trợ từ chính phủ.

Khi Quốc Hội và Chính Phủ đã thông qua gói cứu trợ an sinh xã hội VND 60 nghìn tỷ, phần nào có thể cung cấp một số cứu trợ cho các nhà hàng và nhân viên của họ bị ảnh hưởng trong ngành nhà hàng khách sạn, hay du lịch nói chung – mặc dù nó vẫn không đủ cho các chủ doanh nghiệp nhỏ và hàng triệu người lao động. Nhưng đa phần chủ sở hữu thất vọng vì thiếu hướng dẫn từ các nguồn chính thức, vẫn chọn cách mở “lén” và thực hiện các biện pháp vật lộn nhiều nhất có thể…

Hầu hết người trong cùng ngành đồng cảm với các đồng nghiệp của họ, những người chọn mở. Họ muốn bảo vệ và duy trì càng nhiều nhân viên có công việc càng tốt, và đồng thời, ở khía cạnh nào đó, muốn thể hiện tinh thần lạc quan và nuôi sống cộng đồng. Đúng là không thể nghĩ rằng bất cứ ai đang mở đều thực sự là chỉ để kiếm tiền, hay sẽ kiếm được tiền – hầu hết họ đều sợ rằng nếu họ đóng cửa, họ sẽ mất tất cả…

Một đầu bếp cao cấp tại Quận 1, HCMC chia sẻ: “hy vọng rằng khi tình hình tiếp tục được cải thiện, chính phủ sẽ làm điều cần thiết và cung cấp cứu trợ để nhiều nhà khai thác cảm thấy thoải mái khi đóng cửa. Tôi yêu nhà hàng của mình và tôi yêu thế giới nhà hàng, nhưng chúng tôi không phải là một phần của chuỗi cung ứng có thể cung cấp các nhu yếu phẩm cơ bản cho con người nhất là trong khó khăn. Chúng tôi phải ở nhà; tất cả chúng ta…”

___

Xxx – npl

 

 

<The pokes…>

 

Everything has two sides, both hidden good and bad side … because we are all emotional. In difficult times, a disruption of the economic structure has been also an opportunity in disguise. To survive, and finally to thrive, companies had had to learn to take use from it. There would be nothing like a crisis – an opportunity to wash away the mind. In times of sudden upheaval, a strategy was needed; and in fact, unlike most things people still defined strategies – mission statement, bold goals, three-to-five-year budgeting plan …; here would be a real strategy …

No fever or sore throat, nor feeling tired, dry cough or digestive problems; still felt healthy, but the mystery was that one of us might have lost our sense of smell or taste. Known as loss of appetite, this anosmia was emerging as a symptom in Covid-19’s other non-exogenous pathogen carriers. Although the data had been limited, the New York Times reported that ear, nose, and throat doctors (ENTs) had had enough information to issue warnings, but for UK ENTs, they asked people with sudden loss of appetite symptom had had to be isolated for at least 7 days. According to the Times, British doctors cited reports from other countries indicating that a significant number of coronavirus patients had experienced a loss of appetite; In South Korea, where large-scale testing was performed, 30% of the 2,000 positive test patients suffered from anosmia. And that was why those who felt healthy should be alerted …

But, losing taste and smell during the break as when many people seeking “peace” in wine and food was certainly a disappointment, a disaster; but actually the loss of appetite could unintentionally spread the virus to those with compromised immune systems. Anyone could face the same thing?

Due to the effects of Covid-19 as well as being vigilant about the possibility of infecting and re-infecting Covid-19 into the community, despite the time of social isolation and social separation, it was still necessary to take serious precautions to protect health invidually;

besides, Vietnamese people were increasingly focusing on raising the awareness of quality of life and health, in which, 20% – 40% of income was spent on food expenses, including: meals and meals With friends, lovers, family … and “outside” – the need to enjoy food in bars and restaurants was gradually popularized in the life of Vietnamese people.

By the end of 2019 before Covid-19, Hanoi had had about 3,500 cafes, drinks and more than 5,000 restaurants and bars; In Ho Chi Minh City, this number was much higher. According to a general statistics of the culinary industry of Vietnam, in the food service area, Vietnam had more than 540 thousand restaurants, including 430,000 small restaurants, more than 7,000 fast-food restaurants, 22,000 coffee and bar restaurants with more than 80,000 well-developed restaurants. Demand was expected to continue to increase in 2020. BMI market research firm predicted that the growth rate of food and beverage industry would be higher in the period of 2016 – 2020, in which Vietnam was likely to be ranked at third place in Asia.

In 2018, along with the booming technology, the food industry witnessed the remarkable rise of the food delivery niche along with the classification of shapes through consumer reviews of the food they were currently served and using. This posed a big challenge to the traditional type, challenging restaurant and restaurant managers to adapt to market changes through the factors that had shaped the emerging trend in 2019. 2020 was expected to be an opportunity for development of many small and medium culinary business models – deep development of niche market segments to meet the needs of customers heading towards unique, new and fragrant flavors. delicious and affordable …

From widely social influences such as isolation, the COVID-19 pandemic had changed lives, habits, in particular, changed internet usage; the data showed an interesting insight into the impact of pandemics and usage behavior – changing human relationships with technology; It could be said that “stuck” at home during the Covid-19 pandemic, the cinemas closed and there were no restaurants for dinner, people spent more “space” in their lives to surf internet. In an analysis of the New York Times of internet usage in the United States from SameWeb and Apptopia, two online data providers, showed that people’s behavior had changed, and obviously, when the virus spread and pushing people were closer to electronic devices to work, play, relax and connect …

It would be really a shock when the data showed that video chat services like Google Duo, Hangout, Whatsapp and Zalo had all increased their traffic since January 21. Similarly, well-known remote working applications, including Zoom, Microsoft Teams and Google Classroom, had become more popular. While the quality of these services had been doubtful, no one may not realize how blasting it were until looked at the analytical report. In the US, the conclusion was even more surprising; for example, looked at the average daily traffic of Facebook, Netflix, and YouTube [via the website] from January 15 to March 24. While those mobile apps showed traffic access increased very little during that period (or even decreased) – in contrast, the corresponding browser traffic had skyrocketed; they even changed the way people search for news – typically, traffic to local and national newspapers had skyrocketed …

was a new reality, but it could be difficult to determine exactly whether the changes of human behavior would be from the human race itself or a sign of the beginning of a larger novel change.

Over the last few years, users of online services had increasingly turned to their smartphones, creating an  industry-wide condensed focus on mobile devices. Now when we had been isolated – spending time at home, with a computer in reachable, it would seem quite uncomfortable to stare into those tiny phone screens for a while. Facebook, Netflix and YouTube had all observed the number of users on their phone apps stalled or shrank while their websites were mutant, as data from SameWeb and Apptopia, indicating that was especially happening to American.

While traditional social networking sites were also on the rise, it seemed that people had wanted to do more than just connect via short messages or texts – people wanted to meet, communicate. This had brought a great incentive to the video chat apps as Google Duo,  Hangout, Whatsapp and Zalo, allowing groups of friends to join video chat and play games together to rocket. People were , nonetheless more interested in their own direct environment, the way it changed through virus response and quarantine measures. This had led to a renewed interest in social media and social networking sites focusing on connecting with community and friends.

In fact, the biggest beneficiaries were [local] news sites, with huge traffic when people had tried to find information about pandemics as well as its influence and spread. Reputable media brands such as CafeF, Vnexpress, 24h had had mutant traffic seeking information about the public health crisis and its economic consequences. Similarly, in the United States, CNBC, the business news site, had seen its readership soar. The New York Times and The Washington Post websites both increased traffic by over 50% compared to the previous months, according to SameWeb.

When all major tournament sports games had been eliminated, those were expected sporting events such as F1. Similarly, usage of ESPN’s website had dropped sharply since the end of January. At the same time, some video game sites were seen a spike in traffic, as well as with sites that allowed people to view other playing. Twitch, the leading site for playing live streaming games, had a 20% increase in traffic. TikTok mobile app with short videos from pranks to lip-syncing, took off before the coronavirus outbreak and … it had continued to rise ever since. And,

at least some things remained unchanged by the crisis …

Clearly,

clarifying the importance of an event was more difficult than retelling it. It was thought that we have been considering a structural break with the past an econometric term, in which it denoted the moment in time series data when trends and patterns of links between variables were changing…

A business crisis was often an indication that the company’s business model had stated that the basic structure of the industry was changed dramatically, so the old ways of doing business had been no longer effective. Similarly, newspapers were currently in crisis as the Internet has attracted their readership and advertising. The demand for information and analysis was growing, but traditional publishing media had difficulty been making money from it.

The same principle applied to the entire economy. In most recessions over the past 40 years, demand had caught up with capacity and grew again after 10 to 18 months. This recession would feel different because it was hard to imagine the full restructuring of financial services or the rapid turnaround of consumption. Beyond these two hotspots, there seemed to be unsustainable trends in commodity prices, oil imports, national trade balance, the status of schools, and great promises of entitlement – support. As the business model of part or the whole of the economy changed in this way, structural disruption had formed to become the next hot topic …

Breaking down the structure would make many of the existing behavioral patterns change or disappear, but that did show the way forward for some companies and sometimes even the entire economy. For example, the 1893 recession marked the end of the rail boom, and the beginning of the transition to a sophisticated consumer-based economy. Milton Hershey built the chocolate brand early and his distribution advantage in the midst of those difficult times. General Electric was a contemporary product, because the structural disruption also marked the development of a new electricity-based economy. Although the 1930s were a difficult time for the United States, not every industry or business was rejected. As the economy shifted massively from capital goods to consumer goods, some industries such as steel, rubber, coal, glass, railways and buildings were greatly affected, but brands. Consumers like Kellogg, have made strides. Similarly, in the decade from 1996 to 2005, overall consumer spending remained fairly flat in Japan. However, the economy turned to new things. The country, for example, had more than 200 beverage brands, and each Japanese small convenience store Seven-Eleven carried more than 50 at any time. About 70 percent of these brands disappeared each year and were replaced by new ones …

Disruptions and hard times were sure signs that an old model had been pushed to its limits and was destroying value. Considering incentives in the financial industry as an example of such a model. Decades of research had shown no evidence that anything but luck explained why some fund managers outperformed others. Another model that could generate diminishing or negative profits was the confusing complexity of business and management systems. The financial services industry was also a poster child for the costs of this complex type. The best governing authorities that could do in this case would be to ban certain types of behavior…

So, during a time of structural disruption at a difficult time, cost cutting was not enough. Everything had to be done differently, and on two levels: reducing the complexity of the business structure and transforming the business model. At the company level, the first priority was to simplify and re-simplify. As companies had to be structured in “modules” form, eliminating coordination committees, evaluation boards and other mechanisms connecting businesses, products or geographies. The purpose of these cuts was to provide streamlined support and central services without requiring business units to spend time and energy coordinating their operations. Dividing larger units into smaller units to reveal cross-subsidies and circumvent political blockades. Some might argued that the cost of coordination would increase if the business was divided, but in fact it was forced to do so to correct what had had to be streamlined.

Generally,

the first task was to understand how a business had been existed, competed and made money in the past. If the business was too complex to understand, dividing it into easy-to-understand parts. Once this important understanding was reached, we could begin the work of reshaping. There was no such thing as a magic formula: reforming an enterprise always had insight and imagination…

Season of epidemic,

restaurants everywhere struggled to survive amid a myriad of tight restrictions. Around the world, cities and their food systems and value chains were affected by the spread of Covid-19 in many ways and drastic changes were thus taking place in many varying degrees of effectiveness – how the community itself coped and adapted in this volatile world:

  • Currently in Paris, people could only leave home to buy essential food or other items, medical care, care for children or people who were sick or ill, essential tasks that could not be done at home or a small exercise alone around their neighborhood. Before full isolation, the school was closed and everyone was required to work from home; and very soon after that, an announcement on Saturday night, restaurants, bars, museums, cinemas, parks and public markets also closed. The first quarantine was in fact a huge obstacle to the habits, pleasures and convenience of everyday life in Paris – where for most people, restaurants, food shopping and food delivery were the most important. Now, as a profound psychological challenge began to appear related to the isolation, fear and reflection on life. The need for home cooking at first was fun for many, but it started to be abrasive day after day, reminding people of chefs and the restaurant industry. Thousands of restaurants in France would not survive with this closure, as their profit margins were already thin and often had minimal cash. This would also have a terrible impact on farmers, cheese makers, winemakers, etc. The entire French food chain was more fragile and needed more cooperation as when only large restaurant groups had been involved such as Alain Ducasse and other existed major industrial food manufacturers.
  • Tourists were key to supporting the trend of slow Italian food and craft food products. With the decline in the number of tourists, the suppliers and the food manufacturers were in danger of stopping production, this would also lose the tradition of safety protection or biodiversity to which Italian food was widely honored.
  • In Budapest, schools were closed, all public events were canceled, so the streets were empty and people were encouraged to stay home. Restaurants and cafes could operate until 3 pm, after which they had to close or switch to delivery. The problem was, countless Budapest restaurants had depended on the tourists. The city had cleared out foreign visitors and most locals could not afford to pay 10 euros for a main dish. This meant that we did not only need life, but also tourism to recover; therefore, it would take much longer …
  • At the same time, Finland was in a national emergency. The government decided to close all museums and theaters despite the recent big cultural push, and the country closed its border except freight. Restaurants and cafes were still allowed to remain open, but many had decided to close, such as S-Group, which was closing its network of 82 restaurants in Helsinki. The layoffs were happening everywhere, and the fear of bankruptcy became thick in the air …
  • In Asia, Kuala Lumpur was also in a state of “locked” completely, and no one was allowed to enter or leave the country. Law enforcement and military forces were applying patrols and barriers to enforce a curfew, making sure people only go out in public to buy necessities or help the elderly or those who could not help yourself. Two major regional food delivery services, GrabFood and FoodPanda, were still providing and encouraging people to order food. However, both shippers seemed to extort restaurants – Grab charged 20 to 25% of the fee for each order while FoodPanda charged 30% – a terrible burden for restaurants at the moment, because their only food was served by pickup or delivery.
  • In Vietnam, it could be said that restaurant business had never been in such a difficult situation as recently. COVID-19 epidemic broke out around the world, spreading throughout Vietnam, causing the whole country to fight against epidemics. People were worried about the risk of disease infection; and also because of that, consumption habited almost changed completely; influenced from restricting to crowded places, avoiding contact when not needed … In this context, business people in restaurants, bars and fast food restaurants … fell into the situation of “being on a fire“; opening their eyes every day, they faced a range of costs such as location renting for a restaurant, labor costs, materials, restaurant management software … Managers had a headache finding the desired solution. How could they reduce costs, increase sales to maintain and consolidate stable business operations of the restaurant … Delivery solutions were also selected by many restaurants when the isolation order took effect …

Now, along with the difficulties, people who worked at almost every restaurant across the globe had been suffering from a more horrifying terror, one who was threatened not only with their income but also with their health. Suddenly on a horrible day for both owners and employees, both scary things meant no customers and what would happen if customers had been infected with the virus, mass closures were taking place, and absolutely no one could predict what might happen next …

If a medic officer was the first person to bell a warning about a serious threat, coronavirus was a real measure of health, and restaurant staff was the first to alarm us about a threat on what it was causing to our economy. The 2008 and 2009 financial crisis or the SARS epidemic crushed the restaurant industry after months of closure and through gradual, catastrophic consumption. But now, restaurants in major cities across the country were closing at the same time for several days, not knowing when they would re-open, or even they might never re-open again …

Those who worked in the restaurant world and those who loved it were experiencing true grief when life was delayed, and the places we would need the most to re-build were in danger of disappearing forever. That grief would only increase as the cases of COVID-19 increased. Now, the fear was even worse, for the entire industry that was falling and decommissioning; chefs, delivery staffs, and grocery workers were at risk of being stressed and exposed to exposure. Livelihoods and lives were at risk – and without any intervention, imbalances and upsets … and truly became challenging contradictions.

For many people who “hided” indoors and did not have an outdoor space, their “private” garden versions looked a bit like “world pieces” and resembled scallions growing in a glass of water on a windowsill. Like baking cookies or coffee and quirky virtual parties, this low-level gardening had emerged as one of the trends of the pandemic. For writer Kat Thompson, her growing leeks and scallions – her “plant children” – meant both money and the time when the virus outbreak was rampant in New York and the grocery shopping became more dangerous …

The simplicity of the hydroponic vegetable garden was also why many people, including first-time vegetable growers, were tempted to try. “If you’re going to start something, whether it’s cooking or even gardening, start with something you know will build confidence. Necessities or food and kitchen scraps; scallions in a pitcher of water, peas leftover in earthen pots, even tomatoes, are easy and encouraging to tackle the motivating motivation. These are all small things that people can do without much effort,” said Nik Sharma, author of the cookbook Nik Sharma. Of course, not everyone who was currently trying to develop a new life on the windowsill, would continue it after the pandemic ends. Facing many uncertainties, wasting scarce food and labor – this problem could not explain the story of green onions, as it illustrated the journey from the field to the grocery store up to the kitchen of every people…

Restaurants and eateries had long had a number of strict food safety regulations, with health departments enforcing hygiene, temperature, hand washing, cross-contamination and usage rules using gloves to prepare food. But coronaviruses made these procedures even more important and urgent while stopping the disease from spreading. After the coronavirus spike, the compliance restaurant staff had had to wear a mask. But for many restaurants, masks appeared to be an important mandatory step to prevent the spread to the community. When the local health department asked people to follow recommendations on things to do to prevent COVID-19 as because it had related to the food business. However, there were still barriers to their application in the food industry environment. In the kitchen, employees stood 2 meters away from each other according to regulations and dressed a mask throughout the shift; sometimes masks became entangled and breathless, especially when they were standing by boiling water. After a week of trying to turn his small restaurant Saffron De Twah into a take away service, chef Omar Anani closed on March 17 due to limited sales and difficulty in securing the members to access work safely. Anani had sought advice online on how to use a mask correctly and through talking with friends and relatives in the health field. While hardly anyone could really imagine what the business would be like in the coming weeks and months, Anani believed that masks could become a regular part of the new uniform for restaurant staff, they would become an important part of normal life. Most people subconsciously thought that in the coming years people would come out with masks …

In most countries, quick/fast-service restaurants (QSRs) were fully closed or operate only on a limited basis, offering take-off, pick-up, delivery, drive-through or some mixes of those options. Even when some QSRs were still open, the decline in business still tended to increase. McKinsey’s consumer behavior surveys conducted in late March across Europe and the United States found that during the crisis, most consumers expected to reduce spending on all items from eating from restaurants, QSRs or other types of restaurants, to even food and delivery services.

Meanwhile, in China or Vietnam [except for Hanoi] a few days ago, when physical distance restrictions were gradually eased, surveys of consumer behavior showed three cents. The direction might take place the same in different geographical areas:

  • Post- epidemic expenditure in restaurants would be expected to be lower than the previous level, largely because consumers might still be wary of being in a crowded public space;
  • Demand for take-away would be expected to return to pre-outbreak levels pretty quickly;
  • After a pandemic, consumers would probably spend more on food, processed food and grocery stores than before the pandemic.

Because of financial stress and worries about eating in crowded places, consumers might continue to eat at home, at least in the very near future. And, it seemed that the challenges each QSR faced in this crisis had been unique, depending on the market position and financial position of the company and the timing and progress of the pandemic in the [local] market there.

How to face challenges and risks?

Re-addressing the plan now: Short-term priorities

Protecting employees and customers

To date, most QSR managers had established new health and safety policies and procedures to protect employees and customers. QSR had also adapted its on-site services to follow local and national guidelines; for example, by shutting down home-made food stalls, suspending all customer-related events and switching to a delivery-only model. In terms of hygiene and safety, QSR had to establish strict protocols, such as the provision of hand disinfectants and thermometers, set up screens and staff training to minimize human contact.

Top guard

Despite physical spacing rules, restaurants could continue to generate sales. In places where eating and drinking were prohibited, QSR had increased interception and delivery capabilities and applied new marketing tactics to reach consumers who were not actively seeking these services.

Stable supply chain

Restaurants needed a reliable supply chain not only for food ingredients but also for essential supplies to sustain their business: disposable paper goods, cleaning products, spare parts for trucks and motorbikes used for food delivery … To minimize the risk of disruption in the supply chain, QSRs were taking a series of actions; such as restricting menus to match what they could predict the source, replacing frozen products for fresh produce as needed, adjusting orders to fit needs, Identify alternative suppliers, and collaborate with manufacturers to create contingency plans. In order to support small and medium-sized suppliers who may be in crisis, some cash-rich QSRs were adjusting payment terms or offering temporary lending options. A few thoughtful QSRs were also taking advantage of historically low commodity prices by buying in advance if possible or by booking freight capacity.

Cash management

Most QSRs identified recovering a small portion of normal revenue in the immediate future, so cash management had had to be a priority. A number of QSRs had formed a standing cash management team to be able to fully evaluate the forecast and optimize cash resources. To save cash, managers postponed or re-negotiated renting payments, delaying indirect and capital expenditures, and reducing staffing costs and taking effort to take advantage of government support …

Modelling a variety of scenarios

Recovery times varied by country, China and Vietnam seemed to recover before many Western countries including Italy and the United States. For QSR chain managers with locations in many markets, an important exercise were to model 3-month, 6-month, and 12-month scenarios for each market and to develop specific action plans for every single scenario, making sure that company leaders were linked on the scripts as well as the list of actions for each scenario. For example, if restaurants remained closed for 6 months and time, QSRs might need to reduce fixed costs by renegotiating leases and credit terms or by selling real estate. If the restaurant closed for more than 6 months, some companies might need to look for new credit lines, divesture or even offer a sale…

Planning for recovery: medium-term action

As home tasks began to decline and restaurants re-opened, QSR would need to have a plan to capture the need to come back. Returning to the previous demand level was an instant win; therefore, QSR would need to take a phased approach to “relive” labor, food activities and supply chain support. Because QSR companies entering the crisis from a position of strength would have more options and more flexibility in preparing for recovery.

Conservation and development

Most traditional restaurants or QSR in particular entered the crisis in a precarious cash position. More broadly, these types tended to have a few common attributes:

  • heavy reliance on traditional restaurant forms;
  • minimal presence in digital and distribution channels;
  • menus were not sufficiently different from competitors and loyalty was limited tagged to programs;
  • tended to be vulnerable to supply chain instability because of small and fragmented supply base.

During the crisis, these companies would focus on avoiding bankruptcy; they needed actually to find ways to adjust their services while preserving cash. Even during the recovery period, cash-limited restaurants would need to continue cash-conscious culture communication at all levels of the organization. They needed to weigh carefully with spending, which was also a preventive measure in case of a revival of coronavirus. For these companies, it was important to continue creating weekly cash flow forecasts and performing regular financial health assessments. They had had also to consider renegotiating contracts to increase flexibility; for example, by tying rent into sales. At the same time, cash-constrained QSRs had to constantly communicate with their customers, especially their most loyal people, which would be the best leverage to increase demand when the restaurant reopened.

Building on strengths

On the contrary, when QSR stepped in the crisis with a strong liquidity position. These financially stable companies tended to have well-established digital and distribution channels and strong loyalty programs. Most had invested in the supply chain by building a stable supply base and developing contingency plans to minimize supply chain disruptions during a crisis. In the process of recovery, these companies could accelerate growth by increasing investment in mobile and delivery solutions, providing valuable meal and family meal promotions, and focusing on the biggest contractions during the crisis (as breakfast on the way to work). They could entice customers to come back to eat on-site with attractive promotions and new menu services. They might also consider initiating a “task force” to reduce competition: in some markets, competitors might be struggling or might have a place to close. QSR could also accelerate their marketing efforts in those areas to gain market share. Stronger companies could also take advantage of their cash positions to make breakthrough moves: for example, cyclic investments, real estate purchases or competitors, business units or weak brand.

Next normalized shape: Long-term considerations

When the crisis subsided, all QSRs had had to prepare for the upcoming changes, in the minds and behaviors of consumers, that would shape the next industry normally, including:

  • More care about hygiene and safety: Consumers could ask for more information about the ingredients in a restaurant’s food, where it came from, how it was prepared and whose it was. As a result, daily operating costs would increase. Food packaging costs might also increase. Non-contacting delivery and reception might become standard;
  • Stronger demand for digital and delivery: The competitive landscape of food distribution would be transformed as managers built internal capacity, invested in next-generation technology or partner with other third party vendors. Loyalty programs would become stronger as QSRs seeked to strengthen customer engagement;
  • Transition spending from restaurants to grocery stores: The early sign showed some changes from restaurant spending to grocery store development in a post-coronavirus world. QSR might seek additional sources of revenue; For example, QSR managers might consider launching grocery product lines or expanding to new channels, such as serving B2B. To compromise at lower sales levels, QSRs might also consider reevaluating their company costs, restaurant network and franchise facility;
  • Increasing focus on supply chain management: The COVID-19 crisis was exposing weaknesses in many supply chains and emphasizing the importance of flexibility and adaptability. This challenge would motivate QSRs to invest in supply chain technology and capabilities so they could improve better and deliver faster to suit demand. Many QSRs also experienced supply chain disruptions due to labor shortages during the crisis, and that could prompt them to invest in supply chain automation.

QSR and restaurants in general needed a model that would be flexible enough to meet the level of uncertainty the industry faces.

In just over a week, many facilities across the country could never consider deliveries that previously accepted wholesale as a means of survival in the new and frightening context created by coronavirus. And a few even went a step further by becoming a destination for staples for food, cleaning, supplies, toilet paper in addition to regular toast. Basically, restaurants were becoming “convenient” corner shops. Restaurants were providing pantry and lending to customers. In Portland, Oregon, the Yonder fried chicken restaurant was offering a casual menu; there was also a new menu, designed to help guests stock: items that were often not available for sale, such as bread, ready – for baking biscuits, pickles, and flavored butter. At a famous Detroit bakery, it was quick to shift to offering takeaway items like kale salads and buckwheat chocolate biscuits, as well as a rotating selection of staples like flour, eggs, milk and yogurt. The format, while being still at an early stage, was an element called a comprehensive plan designed to help take care of employees while reducing shop waste and generating revenue. Shop shelves offered more options like eggs, milk, canned beans, spices and antiseptic hand sanitizers – daily necessities had become more in demand since COVID-19. If the outage lasted much longer, it was likely that many restaurants would begin to consider these models to supplement income outside of food services …

As restaurants and bars across the country closed to cope with the pandemic, restaurants turned to delivery and take away – but, some chefs were complaining that it’s not worth …

An increasing number of cooks and restaurant owners country-wide, who initially tried to make deliveries and/or deliveries after showing social separation plans, but recently decided that it was too health and safety risks, and instead of choosing to close completely. Last week was isolated, a series of hotel restaurants closed their premises due to safety concerns for employees and customers. Part of this difficult decision made to close the store was due to customers who did not respect distance or masks. A woman appeared in sweating and coughing. From a financial perspective, this was a difficult decision, but when it had come to public health, it was urgent now…

Managers were trying to solve an unprecedented scale problem, while grappling with rapidly changing and sometimes conflicting information about viruses and the best measures to prevent it …

Sometimes, as to some restaurants in District 1 and 3 in HCMC that provided take-away service at their business units 2-3 weeks ago, they gradually realized they were dealing with an unforeseen problem: the customer surrounded the outside without following socially spaced instructions. This was a problem that worried restaurants from the sanctions of the authorities and created a threat to safety. This became evident when the crowd of delivery staffs and customers was so concentrated that the police entered and dispersed the crowd, and charge fine to the restaurant, as consequence, eventually the restaurant was closed. Restaurants were definitely aware of what they were trying to do for a few days before they ran out of their stockpiles and this had led to a temporary interruption in delivery. Take-away and deliveries were important to prolong what they could do to keep and hopefully extend the maintenance of cash flow until government support could be accessed.

Once the National Assembly and the Government had approved a VND 60 trillion social security bailout, which might provide some relief to the affected restaurants and staff in the hospitality industry, or tourism in general – though it was still not enough for small business owners and millions of staffs. But most owners were frustrated by the lack of guidance from official sources, still choosing to “sneakily” open and taking all efforts to struggle as much as possible …

Most people in the same industry sympathized with their peers, who had chosen to open. They eventually wanted to protect and maintain as many employees as possible, and at the same time, wanted to show optimism and nurture the community. It was true that it had been impossible to think that anyone who had been opening was really just to make money, or would make money – most of them were afraid that if they closed, they would lose everything …

A senior chef in District 1, HCMC said: “It is hoped that as the situation continues to improve, the government will do what is needed and provide relief for many operators to feel comfortable closing. . I love my restaurant and I love the restaurant world, but we are not part of the supply chain where can provide basic necessities to people especially in hard times. We have to stay at home; all us…

___

Xxx – npl

 

Tuần – Week 20 – 25/04/2020

  • For English version, please scroll down –

 

Kẻ khóc người cười…

bão dịch tuy chưa tan nhưng dư âm của bão đã dần hình thành trận cuồng phong tiếp theo từ kết quả hoạt động ngưng trệ của doanh nghiệp. Ngành dịch vụ tài chính vốn nhạy cảm và gắn liền với thực trạng nền kinh tế cho thấy một chân trời ảm đạm u ám… liệu những gì ngành ngân hàng đạt được trong những năm qua như giảm nợ xấu, giảm lãi suất, quản lý chất lượng tín dụng, chất lượng tài sản có trụ qua trận cuồng phong này không hay vẫn còn mong manh…

Các sự kiện chính – Main events:

Đại dịch coronavirus toàn cầu có nguy cơ tạo nên một cú sốc lớn đối với nền thương mại lương thực-thực phẩm quốc tế và gây ra khủng hoảng lương thực mới, quan chức nông nghiệp hàng đầu Trung Quốc phát biểu hôm thứ Hai – 20/4/2020. Cùng lúc đó, ở bên kia bán cầu, việc đóng cửa các nhà máy khiến Mỹ rơi vào tình trạng thiếu thịt trầm trọng và đang lan mạnh hơn tới các nhà cung cấp trên khắp châu Mỹ.

Các nước có nguồn lực kinh tế khác nhau tất yếu sẽ sử dụng các chính sách khác nhau, Việt Nam nên tận dụng các cơ hội và lợi thế của riêng mình“. Ông Đặng Hoàng Hải Anh, Giáo sư thỉnh giảng ĐH Indiana, Mỹ nói và bởi vậy, Việt Nam không nên kích cầu như các nước giàu.

Các chuyên gia gợi ý tùy từng lĩnh vực, tùy từng địa phương mà nên có lộ trình mở cửa lại ngành kinh tế cụ thể sau dịch sao cho phù hợp để hồi phục kinh tế Việt Nam khi bão dịch đi qua; nhưng việc thực hiện hoàn toàn không dễ, dịch vụ tài chính đã cho thấy ảnh hưởng của bão dịch như thế nào…

Kết thúc quý 1, nhiều ngân hàng ghi nhận nợ xấu tăng cao. Các ngân hàng tiếp tục nâng trích lập dự phòng cho vay, tăng tỷ lệ bao nợ xấu, chuẩn bị cho ảnh hưởng của dịch Covid-19 đến dư nợ trong thời gian tới…

Tại sao nó ảnh hưởng – Why is it affected:

Việc phong tỏa và kiểm dịch nghiêm ngặt để kiểm soát dịch COVID-19 làm gián đoạn chuỗi cung ứng lương thực-thực phẩm của Trung Quốc và khiến nhiều ngành công nghiệp gặp khó khăn trong việc tìm đủ công nhân, gây ra các khó khăn trong sản xuất chăn nuôi gia cầm và lợn ở thị trường thịt hàng đầu thế giới. “Dịch bệnh lan rộng trên toàn cầu đã tạo ra sự bất ổn lớn trên thị trường và thương mại nông nghiệp quốc tế”, Vu Khang Chấn, thứ trưởng Bộ Nông nghiệp Trung Quốc được Reuters dẫn lời. “Nếu dịch bệnh tiếp tục lan rộng và leo thang, tác động đối với thương mại và sản xuất lương thực quốc tế chắc chắn sẽ nghiêm trọng hơn và có thể gây ra một đợt khủng hoảng lương thực mới”, ông Vu bổ sung. Nhận định này được đưa ra trong lúc coronavirus bùng phát làm gián đoạn các chuỗi cung ứng nông nghiệp toàn cầu, sau khi một số quốc gia hạn chế xuất khẩu các loại ngũ cốc chính và tăng mua dự trữ. Đại dịch và các biện pháp mà một số quốc gia áp dụng để đảm bảo nguồn cung trong nước đã ức chế thương mại và nguồn cung thông thường, gây ra một số biến động lớn về giá. Ngoài ra, không chỉ là lương thực tại tâm dịch – Trung Quốc, gần 1/3 sản lượng thịt lợn của Mỹ đã bị cắt giảm. Các nhà máy chế biến gia cầm lớn cũng đã bị đóng cửa và các chuyên gia cảnh báo rằng nước Mỹ chỉ còn cách cuộc khủng hoảng thịt chỉ vài tuần. Brazil, quốc gia xuất khẩu gà và bò số 1 thế giới, cũng đang phải đóng cửa hàng loạt các nhà máy vì dịch. Hàng loạt nhà máy chế biến thuộc sở hữu của JBS SA, công ty thịt lớn nhất thế giới, cũng đã bị đóng cửa tại Brazil. Điều tương tự cũng đang xảy ra ở Canada. Trong khi hàng trăm nhà máy ở châu Mỹ đang hoạt động, sự gia tăng đáng kinh ngạc với sự gián đoạn nguồn cung tiếp tục reo rắc quan ngại với tình trạng thiếu hụt toàn cầu. Mỹ, Brazil và Canada chiếm khoảng 65% tổng số giao dịch thịt trên thế giới.

Chính phủ gần đây đã đưa ra gói tín dụng 285.000 tỷ và gói trợ cấp gần 62.000 tỷ để hỗ trợ doanh nghiệp và người lao động. Ông Đặng Hoàng Hải Anh, Giáo sư thỉnh giảng ĐH Indiana, Mỹ cho rằng đây là những chính sách đúng đắn và khá kịp thời. Đồng thời, ông cũng cho rằng Chính phủ cần đảm bảo thông tin rộng rãi, minh bạch để doanh nghiệp và người dân tăng cường giám sát và góp ý giúp các chính sách đó được thực thi hiệu quả hơn. Bên cạnh đó, trong điều kiện Việt Nam là một nước thu nhập trung bình thấp, do ngân sách có hạn, không nên chỉ nhắm vào các giải pháp kích cầu như các nước giàu hơn, mà nên xem xét nhiều giải pháp để nền kinh tế vận hành hiệu quả hơn.

Khi chưa thể dự đoán đến khi nào dịch bệnh có thể hoàn toàn chấm dứt ở Việt Nam cũng như trên thế giới, nhưng có thể chắc chắn Việt Nam nằm trong nhóm quốc gia có thể kiểm soát dịch sớm nhất. Vì vậy Chính phủ cũng như từng địa phương, tùy theo mức độ dịch khác nhau phải có lộ trình để bình thường hóa các hoạt động kinh tế, khôi phục lại những gãy đổ ở một số lĩnh vực, một số ngành trong thời gian qua. Dịch Covid-19 sẽ còn làm gia tăng xu hướng bảo hộ và chống toàn cầu hóa trong vài năm gần đây. Theo đó, khu vực FDI khó trở thành đầu tàu để kéo nền kinh tế hồi phục nhanh, như vẫn là đầu tàu tăng trưởng nhiều năm gần đây. Những doanh nghiệp lớn thuộc khối doanh nghiệp nhà nước cũng bị tác động nặng nề bởi Covid-19, trong khi khả năng linh hoạt thích ứng với các điều kiện khó khăn thì kém hơn các khu vực khác, theo đó, khả năng phục hồi cũng sẽ chậm hơn. Khu vực tư nhân đóng góp lớn nhất đến GDP, gồm phần lớn là các doanh nghiệp vừa và nhỏ, các đơn vị cá thể, hộ kinh doanh gia đình… Mặc dù quy mô rất nhỏ nhưng lại linh hoạt hơn để thích ứng với những cú sốc.

Song song với diễn biến nợ xấu tăng, các ngân hàng cũng nâng trích lập dự phòng cho các khoản vay. Trong đó, Vietcombank “tích cực” nhất, tăng dự phòng rủi ro dư nợ thêm 40%, ở quanh mức 14.548 tỷ đồng. Tỷ lệ bao nợ xấu lên tới 235%, từ mức 180% đầu năm. Kienlongbank cũng nâng dự phòng lên 364 tỷ đồng, tại thời điểm cuối quý III, tăng 23% so với đầu năm. Dù vậy, tỷ lệ bao nợ xấu 16%, thấp hơn nhiều so với mức 87% đầu năm. TPBank cũng nâng dự phòng lên 1.432 tỷ đồng, tăng 19%. Tuy nhiên, tỷ lệ bao nợ xấu giảm từ 97% xuống 76%. Thời gian qua, trước ảnh hưởng của dịch Covid-19, các ngân hàng đã tung nhiều gói tín dụng ưu đãi lãi suất nhằm hỗ trợ khách hàng và doanh nghiệp, theo chỉ thị của NHNN. Tuy nhiên, việc cho vay này tiềm ẩn rủi ro với cả khoản vay mới và cũ với các nhóm ngành bị ảnh hưởng.

Xu hướng chính – Key trends:

Trong khi tốc độ lây truyền dần chậm lại, Trung Quốc đang tập trung vào việc chống lây nhiễm từ nước ngoài khi đang có gia tăng lây lan ở phía đông bắc tỉnh Hắc Long Giang, tỉnh giáp biên giới Nga. “Nguy cơ coronavirus từ bên ngoài vẫn còn rất lớn và sẽ gây áp lực đáng kể cho sản xuất chăn nuôi”, ông Vu nói. Trung Quốc, đang phải chiến đấu với dịch tả lợn châu Phi, đã chứng kiến đàn lợn của cả nước giảm ít nhất 40% trong khi dịch bệnh này vẫn tiếp diễn. Cùng lúc, sự hoành hành của Covid-19 khiến các nhà máy thịt trên toàn cầu bị đóng cửa, Trung Quốc, nhà sản xuất thịt lợn hàng đầu thế giới, đã điêu đứng vì đại dịch tả lợn châu Phi, khiến số lượng khổng lồ lợn bị tiêu hủy. Nước này báo cáo có thêm 13 ổ dịch tả lợn châu Phi kể từ tháng Ba; virus bùng lên ở Trung Quốc khiến sản lượng thịt lợn chưa thể phục hồi, làm nghiêm trong hơn cuộc khủng hoảng thiếu có thể sắp xảy ra. Hiện tại hàng tồn kho có thể là cứu cánh. Tổng nguồn cung thịt lợn của Mỹ tại các kho lạnh tương đương với 2 tuần sản xuất. Hầu hết các nhà máy ngừng hoạt động trong 14 ngày vì lý do an toàn, lượng dự phòng này không còn quá nhiều ý nghĩa. Khi các lò mổ đóng cửa, người nông dân chẳng có nơi nào để bán gia súc, gia cầm. Thậm chí, một số người phải vứt bỏ chúng. Điều này giáng một đòn tàn độc vào chuỗi cung ứng khi thực phẩm bị lãng phí nhưng kệ hàng trong các siêu thị lại trống trơn. Bộ trưởng Nông nghiệp Trung Quốc Hàn Trường Phú loại trừ khả năng có một cuộc khủng hoảng lương thực ở Trung Quốc, nói rằng họ tự tin vào khả năng đảm bảo nguồn cung cấp ngũ cốc và các sản phẩm nông nghiệp lớn khác. “Xuất khẩu thủy sản, rau và trà sẽ bị ảnh hưởng do đại dịch,” vị bộ trưởng chia sẻ do Trung Quốc có đủ ngũ cốc để đáp ứng nhu cầu trong nước, một số sản phẩm nông nghiệp phụ thuộc nhập khẩu khác như đậu nành và dầu ăn có thể bị ảnh hưởng bởi đại dịch toàn cầu.

Dịch bệnh lần này có thể đem lại các cơ hội cả ngắn hạn và dài hạn cho Việt Nam. Vị giáo sư đã lấy hai ví dụ cụ thể. Ví dụ thứ nhất, Việt Nam nên phát huy tốt hơn nữa thế mạnh của mình là một đất nước xuất khẩu gạo hàng đầu thế giới. Trong ngắn hạn, khi giá gạo trên thế giới tăng cao như hiện nay, đây sẽ là cơ hội tốt để xuất khẩu gạo thu thêm ngoại tệ, nâng cao thu nhập người nông dân. Tất nhiên giới hạn xuất khẩu cụ thể nên được tính toán để đảm bảo tốt an ninh lương thực, và có sự tham gia tư vấn của các hiệp hội kinh doanh lúa gạo. Trong dài hạn, chúng ta cần đầu tư vào chất lượng các sản phẩm chế biến từ gạo và các phụ phẩm từ gạo để nâng cao giá trị gia tăng. Ví dụ thứ hai, việc giảm thiểu giao tiếp xã hội do dịch bệnh lần này làm tăng giá trị các sản phẩm IT và phần mềm hỗ trợ cho làm việc từ xa. Việt Nam có lợi thế nhân lực mạnh về toán và kỹ thuật cơ bản so với các nước khác. Do đó chúng ta nên đẩy mạnh đầu tư vào ngành công nghệ IT. Một mô hình tốt cho chúng ta học hỏi là Ấn Độ với ngành sản xuất gia công phần mềm phát triển, đã tạo ra nguồn thu khoảng 120 tỷ đô la trong năm 2019.

Cái gì tiếp theo – What comes next:

Theo đánh giá của NHNN, đến nay dư nợ dự kiến bị ảnh hưởng bởi dịch Covid-19 khoảng 2 triệu tỷ đồng, chiếm khoảng 23% dư nợ toàn hệ thống. Nếu dịch được kiểm soát trong quý I, tỷ lệ nợ xấu sẽ ở mức 2,9-3,2% đến cuối quý II và từ 2,6-3,0% đến cuối năm 2020. Trường hợp dịch diễn biến phức tạp hơn và được kiểm soát trong quý II, tỷ lệ này sẽ ở mức gần 4% vào cuối quý II và 3,7% cuối năm 2020 và còn có thể cao hơn, dẫn tới ảnh hưởng đến tiến độ thực hiện phương án cơ cấu lại gắn với xử lý nợ xấu của các ngân hàng và khả năng phục hồi của các ngân hàng yếu kém. Việc nâng trích lập dự phòng của các ngân hàng trong quý I là một động thái trong những bước chuẩn bị cho việc nợ xấu tăng trong thời gian tới.

Dấu hiệu rủi ro – Risk signals:

Tổng cục Thống kê đưa ra con số gần đây là CPI của các mặt hàng lương thực thực phẩm gần như không thay đổi trong tháng 3 so với tháng 2. CPI giảm gần 5% trong lĩnh vực giao thông vận tải, và giảm 2,4% trong lĩnh vực văn hóa, giải trí, và du lịch… nhưng, không thấy có nguồn nào trích dẫn về thực trạng tăng giảm nhu cầu thiết yếu?

Cuối cùng thì… hết dịch, lấy gì bỏ vào miệng…

xxx – npl

<Week 20 – 25/04/2020…>

The one who cries and who laughs …

although the pandemic storm had not yet dissipated, the storm’s echo gradually formed the next hurricane from the stagnant performance of the enterprises. The financial services industry, which was sensitive and closely tagged to the current status of the economy, showed a gloomy horizon … whether the banking sector had achieved in recent years such as reducing bad debts, reducing interest rates, managing credit quality or asset quality was able to cope this hurricane up or still fragile …

Main events:

The global coronavirus pandemic risked creating a major shock to international food trade and causing a new food crisis, China’s top agricultural official said on last Monday – April 20, 2020. At the same time, on the other side of the hemisphere, the closure of factories had caused the United States to fall into a serious shortage of meat and was spreading to suppliers across the Americas.

Countries with different economic resources will inevitably apply different policies, Vietnam should take advantage of its own opportunities and advantages.” Mr. Dang Hoang Hai Anh, Visiting Professor at Indiana University, USA said and therefore, Vietnam should not stimulate demand like rich countries.

Experts suggested that depending on each field and each locality, there would be a roadmap to re-open the specific economic sectors after the epidemic so as to be suitable for the recovery of Vietnam’s economy when the epidemic passed; but the implementation was not easy, financial services had shown the impact of the storm …

By the end of the 1st quarter, many banks recorded a high increase of non-performing loans. Banks had continued to raise the provision for loans, increased the ratio of bad debts, prepared for the impact of Covid-19 on the outstanding loans in the coming time …

Why is it affected:

Strict blockade and quarantine to control the COVID-19 epidemic had disrupted China’s food supply chain and made it difficult for many industries to find enough workers, causing difficulties in poultry and pork production in the world’s leading meat market. “The widespread disease worldwide has created great instability in the market and international agricultural trade,” Vu Khang Chan, China’s deputy minister of agriculture, was quoted as saying by Reuters. “If the disease continues to spread and escalate, the impact on international trade and food production will certainly be more serious and could cause a new food crisis,” Vu added. This comment was made during a coronavirus outbreak that disrupted global agricultural supply chains, after some countries restricted exports of major grains and increased stockpiles. Pandemics and measures had taken by some countries to ensure domestic supplies have inhibited trade and regular supplies, causing some price fluctuations. In addition, not only food in the epicenter – China, nearly a third of US pork production had been cut. Large poultry processing plants had also been closed and experts had warned that the US was only weeks away from the meat crisis. Brazil, the world’s No. 1 exporter of chickens and cows, was also closing a series of factories because of the epidemic. Numerous processing plants owned by JBS SA, the world’s largest meat company, had also been closed in Brazil. The same thing was happening in Canada. While hundreds of plants in the Americas were operating, the staggering increased with supply disruptions continued to spark concerns with global shortages. The US, Brazil and Canada accounted for about 65% of total meat transactions in the world.

The Vietnamese government had recently launched a VND 285,000 billion credit package and a VND 62,000 billion subsidy package to support businesses and workers. Mr. Dang Hoang Hai Anh, visiting professor at Indiana University, USA said that these policies were right and quite timely. At the same time, he said that the Government needed to ensure broad and transparent information so that businesses and people could intensify supervision and suggestions to help those policies be implemented more effectively. Besides, under the condition that Vietnam was a low-middle-income country, due to its limited budget, it would not only focus on stimulus solutions like richer countries, but also consider many solutions of more efficient operation to the economy.

When it was not possible to predict when the disease would be completely ceased in Vietnam as well as in the world, it was certain that Vietnam had been one of the countries that could control the disease as soon as possible. Therefore, the Government as well as each locality, depending on the different epidemic levels, had had to have a roadmap to normalize economic activities, recover the failures in some fields and some industries in recent years. The Covid-19 epidemic would also increase the trend of protectionism and anti-globalization in recent years. Accordingly, it was difficult for the FDI sector to become the locomotive to re-pull the economy for quick recovery, as it had been the growth driver for recent years. Large SOEs were also heavily affected by Covid-19, while their ability to flexibly adapt to difficult conditions had been worse than other areas, accordingly, the ability to recover would also be slower. The private sector contributed the most to GDP, including mostly small and medium-sized enterprises, individual units, household businesses … Although the scale was very small, it had been more flexible to adapt to shocks.

Along with the rise of bad debt, banks also increased the provision for loans. In which, Vietcombank was “most active“, increasing the provision for outstanding loans by 40%, around VND 14,548 billion. NPL ratio was up to 235%, from 180% at the beginning of the year. Kienlongbank also raised the provision to VND 364 billion, at the end of the 1st quarter, up 23% from the beginning of the year. However, the bad debt ratio was 16%, much lower than 87% at the beginning of the year. TPBank also raised the provision to VND 1,432 billion, up 19%. However, the bad debt ratio decreased from 97% to 76%. Recently, under the influence of the Covid-19 epidemic, banks had launched many preferential interest-rate credit packages to support customers and businesses, as instructed by the SBV. However, this loan implied risks with both new and old loans to affected groups.

Key trends:

While the rate of transmission was slowing down, China had been focusing on fighting foreign infections as it grew in the northeast of Heilongjiang province, a province bordering Russia. “The risk of coronavirus from outside is still very high and will put significant pressure on livestock production,” Yu said. China, which had been battling African swine cholera, witnessed swine herd decrease. The whole country had decreased by at least 40% while this disease epidemic continued. At the same time, the raging of Covid-19 caused global meat factories to close, China, the world’s leading pork producer, was dismayed by the African swine pandemic, causing huge numbers of pigs were destroyed. The country had reported an additional 13 outbreaks of African swine fever since March; a virus outbreak in China had made pork output unable to recover, making it more serious during the imminent shortage crisis. Current inventory could be the end. The total US supply of pork in cold storage was equivalent to 2 weeks of production. Most factories had shut down for 14 days due to safety reasons, this backup was not too much sense. When the slaughterhouses were closed, the farmers had had nowhere to sell cattle and poultry. Some people even had to throw away them. This dealt a devastating blow to the supply chain when food was wasted but supermarket shelves were empty. Chinese Agriculture Minister Han Changfu ruled out a food crisis in China, saying that he had been confident in ensuring the supply of grain and other large agricultural products. “Export of seafood, vegetables and tea will be affected by the pandemic,” the minister said as China had had enough grain to meet domestic demand, some other imported dependent agricultural products, such as Soybean and cooking oil may be affected by the global pandemic.

This epidemic may provide both short-term and long-term opportunities for Vietnam. The professor took two specific examples. The first example, Vietnam would better promote its strengths as a leading rice exporter in the world. In the short term, when rice prices in the world have risen so high, this would be a good opportunity for rice exports to earn more foreign currencies and improve farmers’ incomes. Of course, specific export limits would be calculated to ensure good status of food security, and consulted by rice trade associations. In the long term, we needed to invest in the quality of rice products and by-products from rice to enhance added value. The second example, the reduction of social communication due to this disease increased the value of IT products and software support for remote work. Vietnam had a strong human resource advantage in mathematics and basic technology compared to other countries. Therefore we would boost investment in IT technology. A good model for us to learn from was that India, with its growing outsourcing industry, would generate about $ 120 billion in revenue in 2019.

What comes next:

According to the State Bank, so far, the expected outstanding debt affected by Covid-19 epidemic had been about VND 2 million billion, accounting for about 23% of the whole system’s outstanding debt. If the epidemic was under control in the first quarter, the bad debt ratio would be at 2.9-3.2% by the end of the second quarter and from 2.6-3.0% until the end of 2020. The case of higher complicated developments and be controlled in the second quarter, this ratio would be near 4% by the end of the second quarter and 3.7% by the end of 2020 and even higher, leading to the impact on the progress of the implementation of the structural plan again associated with dealing with bad debts of banks and the resilience of weak banks. The increase in provisioning of banks in the first quarter was a move in preparation for the increase in bad debts in the coming time.

Risk signals:

The General Statistics Office released a recent figure that the CPI of food and foodstuff items was almost unchanged in March compared to February. CPI dropped by nearly 5% in the transport sector, and by 2, 4% in the fields of culture, entertainment, and tourism … but, there was no source cited about the situation of increase or decrease of essential demand?

Finally … after pandemic, anything left to mouth …

xxx – npl

Note – PitchBook: Augmented reality bites at Magic Leap

For much of the venture capital industry, the past decade was a time of optimism and excess, of unchecked growth and untamed ambitions, and of big funding totals and even bigger valuations. There were promises of world-changing technology, and plenty of investors lining up to put their money behind the cause.

All of that was true in the case of Magic Leap, the headline-grabbing augmented reality startup that raised more than $2.6 billion in VC between 2014 and 2019, according to PitchBook data.

For much of the venture capital industry, the past decade was a time of optimism and excess, of unchecked growth and untamed ambitions, and of big funding totals and even bigger valuations. There were promises of world-changing technology, and plenty of investors lining up to put their money behind the cause.

All of that was true in the case of Magic Leap, the headline-grabbing augmented reality startup that raised more than $2.6 billion in VC between 2014 and 2019, according to PitchBook data.

But the coronavirus pandemic has brought an abrupt end to the good old days for many startups. And once again, Magic Leap is no exception.

Welcome to The Weekend Pitch. I’m Kevin Dowd, and you can reach me at weekend@pitchbook.com. The wave of layoffs rushing across the startup landscape claimed one of its biggest victims yet, which is one of 10 things you need to know from the past week:

1. One giant Leap

Magic Leap announced sweeping layoffs Wednesday, with my colleague James Thorne reporting that the cuts amount to about half of the company’s staff, or more than 800 employees. Magic Leap is also moving its focus away from consumer applications of its technology and toward the business market. In a public note, CEO Rony Abovitz attributed the changes in part to a sudden lack of investor interest brought on by the coronavirus.

Magic Leap will still be around, still working to solve the prickly problems of augmented reality, or AR. Perhaps this setback will eventually prove to be a bump in the road, a minor blip before another period of growth. But it also seems to be the clear end of an era at the company, the death of its dream to transform consumer entertainment with the wonders of AR.

Founded about a decade ago, Magic Leap spent some of its earliest days working on a series of feature films and graphic novels before pivoting fully toward AR. The company operated in relative anonymity until October 2014, when it raised $542 million in a funding round led by Google, with participation from other big names such as Andreessen Horowitz and Kleiner Perkins.

The investment came near the end of a year that, in retrospect, might have been the peak of virtual and augmented reality excitement. Facebook agreed to pay $3 billion for Oculus in March 2014, and Google Glass headsets debuted that May. Evangelists believed the industry was on the brink of a revolution, a new era where video games, movies, and everyday life could all be easily infused with a new kind of interactivity.

In the ensuing years, the funding kept coming. Nearly $800 million in 2016 at a $4.5 billion valuation, according to PitchBook data. Another $963 million in 2018, this time at a $6.4 billion valuation. But the company itself, with its headquarters tucked away in South Florida, far from the prying eyes of Silicon Valley, remained shrouded in a degree of mystery. Magic Leap promised groundbreaking technology, but as the years passed, any real evidence remained scant.

In August 2018, the company at last released its first consumer headset, with a price tag of more than $2,000. Reviews were mixed, including a certain amount of vitriol from some who thought Magic Leap’s claims of innovation were overblown. Oculus founder Palmer Luckey, admittedly not exactly an unbiased observer, described it as a “tragic heap.” Karl Guttag, a VR and AR expert, told Wired that year that “Magic Leap is and continues to be a hype machine.”

Gradually, Magic Leap began shifting its focus toward enterprise applications for AR, with an eye on industries such as healthcare, manufacturing and education. And now, it appears that shift is complete.

Magic Leap had its fair share of questions and problems in recent years, but in an environment of such easy money, it didn’t matter so much. Just last year, it raised $280 million at an essentially flat valuation of $6.7 billion. But now, screws are tightening across venture capital. As Abovitz, Magic Leap’s CEO, put it, the pandemic has “decreased availability of capital and the appetite for longer term investments.”

The economic catastrophe of the past several weeks is shining a bright light into all the cracks and crevices that, in recent years, many startups had been able to gloss over. Magic Leap may still use AR to transform the world. But first, it will need to transform itself.

2. Benchmark’s shake-up

Bill Gurley, one of Silicon Valley’s most famous (and tallest) investors, will not be a general partner for Benchmark’s next flagship vehicle, The Wall Street Journal reported this week. Gurley will continue to make investments out of Benchmark’s current flagship fund and will work with his existing portfolio companies, but the move could be a sign that Gurley is inching closer to an eventual exit. The new fund, Benchmark’s 10th, has a reported target of $425 million.

3. Facebook’s big bet

Facebook agreed this week to pay $5.7 billion for a reported stake of nearly 10% in Jio Platforms, a subsidiary of Reliance Industries that provides phone and internet services in India. The deal is a sign of Facebook’s ambitions even in the face of a global crisis, both in terms of continuing to grow its user base in the world’s second most populous nation and in expanding its offerings beyond social media into broader internet services.

4. Game on

Buoyed by a lockdown-inspired surge of interest in Houseparty, the company’s interactive video-chat app, Epic Games is in talks to raise between $500 million and $1 billion in new funding at a valuation “significantly higher than $15 billion,” according to Bloomberg. Epic has been better known in recent years as the creator of “Fortnite,” the success of which helped fuel a reported $1.25 billion round at a $15 billion valuation in late 2018.

5. Say cheese

The parent company of Chuck E. Cheese set up a restructuring committee this week to explore its options, Business Insider reported, as the business attempts to escape a pile of debt that dates to its acquisition by Apollo Global Management in 2014. Another dairy-fueled restaurant chain with private equity ties was also in the news, as The Cheesecake Factory lined up $200 million in funding from noted franchise investor Roark Capital Group.

6. Imperiled apparel

The traditional retail industry was already in trouble. The coronavirus has dumped a whole 55-gallon drum of fuel on the fire, sparking a new wave of closures, layoffs and other woes. This week brought a report from Reuters that Neiman Marcus is boring down on a Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection filing. It also brought news that Sycamore Partners is attempting to terminate its agreement to pay $525 million for a 55% stake in Victoria’s Secret, a move that’s set to provide a test of whether the pandemic is sufficient legal grounds for breaking a deal.

7. Travel transactions

Apollo Global Management and Silver Lake agreed this week to take a $1.2 billion stake in Expedia, mere days after both firms made debt investments in Airbnb. Reports emerged this week that Apollo is also among several suitors vying to restructure Virgin Australia, one of many airlines around the globe in dire straits due to a sharp decline in business.

8. Layoffs roundup

Magic Leap was far from the only company with VC or PE backing to make job cuts this week, as the coronavirus crisis continues to send unemployment to previously unimaginable levels. Interior design startup Houzz, coding specialist Lambda School, mattress retailer Casper and talent management giant Endeavor were among the other names reported to lay off workers in recent days.

9. Debutantes

IPOs remain few and far between, but Friday brought stock-market debuts for two companies with prior VC backing. One-time fantasy sports unicorn DraftKings consummated its reverse merger with SBTech, a sports gambling site, and began trading on the Nasdaq. And ORIC Pharmaceuticals, a developer of cancer therapies, raised $120 million in a traditional IPO and saw its stock spike more than 50% in its first day trading.

10. Psychedelia

It wasn’t long ago that marijuana was illegal across the entire US, considered a taboo substance that did much more harm than good. But in the past decade or so, public opinion has rapidly shifted, and the healthcare benefits of cannabis have been embraced. Will the same thing happen for psychedelics? Peter Thiel seems to think so. A German startup called Atai Life Sciences that’s exploring medical uses for mushrooms and other psychedelics announced this week that Thiel was among several investors in a new $24 million convertible-note round.

Startup name of the week

I have always been confused by restaurant chains like Fatburger and Blimpie, companies that choose to highlight the fact that the food they sell might put a few extra pounds on their customers. At first, I thought we had another such startup this week in the form of Fat Snax, which unveiled a reported $4.5 million in new VC funding.

But as it turns out, the company’s products are actually for dieters. More specifically, for people embracing a ketogenic diet, a plan that’s low on carbohydrates and heavy on fats, with the idea of forcing the body to burn fat instead of carbs. I’m not here to give anyone health advice, but hey—any diet that involves lots of cookies and brownies sounds good to me.

The Weekend Pitch
PitchBook

Share – Cuộc đời có đối xử bất công với tôi? — Triết Học Đường Phố 2.0

(755 chữ, 3 phút đọc) “Mọi chuyện xảy ra đều có lý do của nó. Tất cả chỉ là những phước lành, những lời chúc phúc được ngụy trang sau lớp vỏ sần sùi của bất hạnh.”

via Cuộc đời có đối xử bất công với tôi? — Triết Học Đường Phố 2.0

“Sau vụ khủng bố ngày 11 tháng 9, một công ty đã mời các thành viên còn sống của các công ty đã bị tàn phá bởi cuộc tấn công vào tháp đôi đến để chia sẻ. Tại buổi họp mặt, người đứng đầu bộ phận an ninh đã kể các câu chuyện về lý do tại sao những người đó vẫn còn sống. Và tất cả các câu chuyện chỉ là NHỮNG ĐIỀU NHỎ NHẶT:

Người đứng đầu công ty ngày hôm đó tới trễ vì con trai ông ta bắt đầu đi mẫu giáo.

Một người khác vẫn còn sống vì tới lượt anh ta đi mua bánh donut. Một người phụ nữ bị muộn vì đồng hồ báo thức không reo. Một người tới trễ vì mắc kẹt trên đại lộ New Jersey do một tai nạn ô tô.

Một người trong họ lỡ xe bus. Một người bị đổ đồ ăn dơ quần áo và phải mất thời gian để thay đồ. Xe của một người không nổ máy. Một người quay trở lại để bắt điện thoại đang reo. Một người bị thằng con lề mề làm muộn.

Một người không bắt được taxi. Bất thường nhất chính là một người mang giày mới vào buổi sáng, dùng nhiều phương tiện khác nhau để đi làm nhưng trước khi đến nơi, anh bị một vết phồng rộp trên chân, bèn dừng lại ở hiệu thuốc để mua một miếng băng cá nhân — Đó là lý do tại sao anh ấy hôm nay vẫn còn sống.

Bây giờ khi tôi bị kẹt xe, lỡ thang máy, quay lại để bắt chuông điện thoại… tất cả những điều nhỏ nhặt làm phiền tới tôi. Tôi nghĩ đến bản thân mình, đây chính xác là chỗ mà Vũ trụ muốn tôi ở ngay lúc này.

Lần tới khi buổi sáng của bạn nhìn có vẻ sai sai — đứa con thay đồ chậm như rùa, bạn không thể tìm thấy chìa khóa xe, bạn luôn gặp đèn đỏ — đừng điên lên hoặc chán chường.

Hãy nhớ rằng, vũ trụ đang làm công việc theo dõi bạn. Mong vũ trụ tiếp tục ban phước cho bạn với tất cả những điều nhỏ nhặt đó, và mong bạn có thể nhớ mục đích có khả năng của chúng.”

— Dolores Cannon, Vũ trụ xoắn

Có hai câu nói có thể giúp cuộc sống của bạn trở nên dễ dàng hơn đó là “Mọi chuyện xảy ra đều có lý do của nó. Tất cả chỉ là những phước lành, những lời chúc phúc được ngụy trang sau lớp vỏ sần sùi của bất hạnh.”

Công việc của bạn không được suôn sẻ lắm vì dịch bệnh đó có thể là lời nhắc nhở cho bạn về việc phải sống chậm lại, dành thời gian cho bản thân, chữa lành cho chính mình, quan tâm đến gia đình nhiều hơn. Tìm ra điều gì là quan trọng nhất trong cuộc sống: tiền bạc, danh tiếng, nhu cầu được công nhận liên tục từ xã hội hay sự hạnh phúc thực sự từ bên trong.

Bạn cố gắng rất nhiều nhưng cuối cùng vẫn không trúng tuyển vào vị trí mơ ước, rất có thể là một công việc phù hợp hơn vẫn đang chờ bạn ở phía trước. Hãy dành thời gian cố gắng, nỗ lực hơn và bạn sẽ nhận được điều xứng đáng với mình.

Tình yêu bạn khắc cốt ghi tâm cuối cùng lại có một cái kết không trọn vẹn, bạn đau đớn như mất đi một nửa linh hồn. Hãy biết rằng, mối quan hệ ấy đến để dạy bạn những bài học bạn cần học, những đau đớn này là để giúp bạn trưởng thành, mạnh mẽ hơn. Và rồi khi bạn trọn vẹn, đủ đầy nhất “The one” của bạn sẽ đến và ở bên bạn mãi mãi.

Hay câu chuyện về những đứa trẻ bị tự kỉ, chậm phát triển. Chúng thực ra là những món quà từ vũ trụ đến cha mẹ để họ học những bài học về sự nhẫn nại, kiên trì, cảm thông, thấu hiểu và bao dung với những khác biệt của con cái họ.

Đừng biến mình thành nạn nhân, cũng đừng coi mình là con ghẻ của vũ trụ. Khi ta không có được điều mình mong muốn nghĩa là có những thứ tốt đẹp hơn chúng đang chờ ta ở phía trước.

“Everything happens for a reason. It’s all a blessing in disguise.”

Tác giả: Thu Hiến

Share – Tại sao chúng ta cần tĩnh lặng? — Triết Học Đường Phố 2.0

(1891 chữ, 7 phút đọc) Vì trong nơi tận cùng, tâm trí biết rằng, nếu bạn bắt đầu im lặng, nó sẽ chết, những thói phóng đãng bừa bãi mà nó vẫn xúi bẩy bạn làm sẽ đến hồi tận diệt.

via Tại sao chúng ta cần tĩnh lặng? — Triết Học Đường Phố 2.0

Có bao giờ các bạn luyện tập thiền định, ngồi im một chỗ, nhắm mắt lại và cảm thấy thoải mái về việc này? Hay một chuyện khác đơn giản rằng trong những ngày cách ly xã hội, bạn chỉ ở nhà và thấy việc không tụ tập bạn bè, không nói chuyện nhiều như trước không hề làm bạn thấy khó chịu? Không có mạng xã hội, bạn vẫn sống vô tư? Không có TV, âm nhạc hay các chương trình giải trí, bạn vẫn không hề cảm thấy cuộc đời nhàm chán? Trong các cuộc đối thoại, bạn không cần phải tranh cãi với người khác? Thậm chí, khi gặp khó khăn nghịch cảnh trong đời, bạn cũng chẳng kêu than lấy một lời, dù chỉ trong suy nghĩ? Có bao giờ bạn làm được như vậy hay tập để làm được như vậy? Đừng hỏi rằng “tại sao tôi nên làm thế?” Câu trả lời mình đã vừa nói ở trên cả rồi. Đó là khi tĩnh lặng, bạn hoàn toàn bình an cho dù bất kể chuyện gì đang diễn ra, bạn thoát khỏi lực hấp dẫn của sự khổ.

Trước kia, mình chưa bao giờ biết bình an là gì và làm sao để tĩnh lặng. Tất cả những gì mình làm là chạy theo cái guồng xoáy của tâm trí, phản ứng bừa bãi với mọi rung động xung quanh chẳng khác gì một con rối. Nấu cái gì đó ăn đi. Mở loa đài lên đi. Ra ngồi phơi nắng đi. Chụp ảnh hoa đi. Nhảy nhót đi. Đánh răng rửa mặt đi. Lao động kiếm tiền đi. Vào facebook đăng ảnh cho vui đi. Tranh luận với mấy người kia đi. Suy nghĩ về God đi. Ngoái đầu lại nghe xem ai đang cãi nhau ở đằng kia đi…. Mình đã sống theo vô hạn những câu lệnh đó từ ngày này qua ngày khác mà không hề có một lần nào dừng lại để đánh giá rằng câu lệnh đó từ đâu phát ra và nó có cần thiết phải thực hiện theo không. Không chỉ có mình, mà đa số con người không thể vươn lên khỏi những câu lệnh tương tự trong tâm trí mà lựa chọn một lối sống có ích cho riêng bản thân mình, để thường xuyên được ngơi nghỉ trong sự thinh lặng và thư thái.

Mình đã chứng kiến không ít người kêu than rằng họ không thể ngồi thiền nổi vì tâm trí suy nghĩ đủ thứ như thác đổ. Rồi họ lấy đó làm lý do để không thiền nữa, trong khi, họ vẫn đi tìm những người có thể gỡ rối cho chuyện tình cảm, nhà cửa và công việc của mình như thể những chuyện này chẳng hề liên quan gì đến việc họ có luyện tập tĩnh lặng hay không. Tình huống này cũng giống như một người được nhìn thấy sự dao động dữ dội của chính mình và phẩy tay bảo rằng “thôi, tôi cứ tiếp tục ồn ào như vậy cũng chẳng sao, tôi quen rồi, giờ thì hãy nói cho tôi cách để không giận dữ với người hàng xóm đi!”

Đúng vậy, chúng ta đã quen thuộc với những thứ ồn ào, quen với một tần số dao động mạnh và đầy kích thích rồi. Sự tĩnh lặng làm những tần số đó bị nôn ra và rất ít người chịu đựng được cú nôn ấy mà tiếp tục nạp sự tĩnh tại vào bên trong tâm hồn. Chúng ta thích được nói chuyện ồn ào, được suy nghĩ vô độ về đủ thứ chẳng cần thiết trên đời, thích được làm chuyện này chuyện kia, thích được thể hiện. “Tôi đây, chính là tôi đây, cả thế giới này nhìn thấy tôi chưa, tôi vừa nhặt được một cục sỏi đây, tôi siêu chưa, hãy nhìn đây!” Nhưng bạn biết thế giới nhìn thấy gì từ bạn không? Một sự phóng đãng.

Từ xưa tới nay, tất cả những bậc Thánh trong lịch sử chẳng bao giờ nói về chuyện làm sao để trở nên giàu có sau 7 ngày hay chuyện làm thế nào xây được một tập đoàn khổng lồ. Tất cả họ đều nói về một điều quan trọng nhất mà một người nên đạt tới là tĩnh lặng tâm trí. Họ có tầm ảnh hưởng và trở nên vĩ đại vì tầng thực tại mà họ đứng là tầng cao cấp hơn tầng của con người. Ở đó, họ nhìn thấy tâm trí, và gọi nó dưới nhiều cái tên như maya, Sa-tan, bể khổ, giấc mơ, bộ phim, con ngựa hoang, con khỉ đu cành, người chủ tồi, bản ngã, cái tôi giả, v.v… Và việc họ làm là khai sáng cho những người còn sống ở tầng đó về cái nhà tù mà họ đang phải chịu đựng, để từ đó con người chúng ta có thể trỗi lên các tầng cao hơn như họ.

Nhưng cái khó là khi còn sống đồng hóa với tâm trí, bạn trở thành hiện thân của sự ồn ào và đau khổ. Bạn không muốn nghe, không có đủ khả năng lắng nghe. Bạn muốn đi làm kiếm tiền như cách bạn vẫn đi, muốn cãi cọ sân si như cách bạn vẫn cãi, muốn khóc lóc khổ sở như cách bạn vẫn khóc, muốn suy nghĩ như cách bạn vẫn thường nghĩ, nhưng tuyệt nhiên, bạn không bao giờ muốn im lặng. Vì trong nơi tận cùng, tâm trí biết rằng, nếu bạn bắt đầu im lặng, nó sẽ chết, những thói phóng đãng bừa bãi mà nó vẫn xúi bẩy bạn làm sẽ đến hồi tận diệt. Trong khi, bạn thì lại thích làm những chuyện đó hơn là lột xác để trở nên điềm tĩnh, vì những chuyện ồn ào thì dễ thực hiện hơn, nó quen thuộc hơn, gần gũi hơn, đã được bạn thực hành hàng chục năm nay rồi. Nên bạn không chịu nghe và tìm mọi cách từ chối sự lắng nghe, chỉ để bảo toàn cái quán tính của chính mình.

Theo ý kiến cá nhân của mình, với những ai thật sự khao khát sự giác ngộ thì nên chấp nhận ý tưởng rằng cách để đi ra khỏi sự đồng hóa với khổ đau, đó là bạn đồng hóa bản thân mình với một thứ mang bản chất khác biệt với khổ đau, đó là tĩnh lặng. Càng im lặng bao nhiêu, bạn càng bám sâu vào tầng thực tại nằm ngoài tâm trí bấy nhiêu, bạn càng hòa nhập với trực giác và tâm hồn bấy nhiêu. Không phải việc đọc hàng ngàn cuốn sách về Đạo, tranh luận ngày đêm với bạn đồng tu, hay nói đủ thứ về Thượng Đế sẽ khiến bạn giác ngộ, mà là thực hành tĩnh lặng. Tất cả chỉ có vậy. Mọi học thuyết rườm rà sẽ chỉ càng làm tâm trí được gia cố tứ bề. Trong khi sự tĩnh lặng thì bào mòn tâm trí như nước sông bào mòn đá sỏi không hề thương tiếc.

Trước kia, mình rất khó ngồi yên được một chỗ, là một người rất hiếu động, tinh nghịch và bướng bỉnh. Mình hay có cảm giác bồn chồn, buồn tay buồn chân muốn làm một cái gì đó cho đỡ chán. Buổi sáng khi đạp xe ra công viên, mình thường bị thu hút bởi những bông hoa rung rinh, bởi những giọt sương lấp lánh, bởi bầu trời cao vút xanh thẳm rồi rút điện thoại ra chụp ảnh. Đang đạp xe mà thấy cảnh đẹp mình cũng dừng lại để chụp ảnh. Nhưng kể từ ngày mình nếm trải sự tĩnh lặng tự thân, mình chỉ muốn ở trong đó mãi và cứ ở đó càng lâu càng tốt. Mình nhận thấy rằng việc chụp ảnh không quan trọng bằng việc thẩm thấu bản chất bình an này. Mỗi lần tâm trí theo quán tính cũ kích thích lên bởi một điều gì đó, mình lại so sánh bản chất của nó mang tới với trạng thái bình an này. Và lần nào mình cũng thấy rằng nó không quan trọng hơn, và phần lớn các suy nghĩ thì không đủ sức cuốn hút để phải làm theo.

Tại sao con người thường có xu hướng nỗ lực vươn ra tới bình an, tới tĩnh lặng, và tới God? Vì chúng ta đã được lập trình góc nhìn và thói quen để tin rằng bình an là thứ nằm ngoài chúng ta, God cũng là ai đó tách biệt với chúng ta đang đi ngao du ở các tầng thiên đàng mà tạm thời ta không thấy, còn tĩnh lặng thì không phải là thứ tự thân có thể tỏa ra được. Chúng ta đã sống với một niềm tin rằng phải chạy đua để đạt được các phần thưởng, là điểm số cao ở trường lớp, là khoản lương cuối tháng, là sự chú ý của bàn dân thiên hạ, là chức vụ cao cấp trong công ty, v.v… Từ nhỏ cho đến lớn, ta được dạy để vươn ra, để gồng lên, để chiến đấu, để cạnh tranh và để sở hữu nhiều hơn. Điều này đã khiến cho sự chống cự, nỗ lực, căng thẳng, vội vàng và bức bách trở thành “bản chất” mới của chúng ta, là thứ được khen thưởng, còn sự im lặng lại được nhìn như một sự trừng phạt. Trạng thái ồn ào này kéo dài đủ lâu và ở đủ người để chúng ta tin rằng nó là bình thường, là hiển nhiên, là lẽ phải. Nhưng không. Nó là sự giả dối, là liều thuốc gây mê, và cần được chấm dứt càng sớm càng tốt. Vì bản chất thực của chúng ta, của mọi con người, động vật, chim chóc, cây cối, thậm chí đá sỏi là bình an, là tĩnh lặng tự nhiên, là thư thái và hài lòng không cần điều kiện. Và điều này chỉ có thể được nhận ra khi một người bất đầu đảo ngược chiều chú ý của họ vào bên trong tâm hồn và thoát ly khỏi mọi vật chất ồn ào, bao gồm cả những suy nghĩ. Sự thực hành quyết liệt và miên mật là điều cần thiết cho sự khai sáng về bản chất của thế giới và của chính người ấy.

“Hạnh phúc là bản chất tự nhiên của bạn. Không có gì sai khi mong cầu hạnh phúc. Điều sai là đi kiếm tìm ở bên ngoài trong khi nó ở bên trong ta.” — Ramana Maharshi

Vậy nên tóm lại, bạn hãy luyện tập sống trong thinh lặng, tập quan sát cách làm việc của tâm trí, xu hướng của nó và giới hạn của nó. Bạn sẽ thấy rằng sự tĩnh lặng tuyệt đối là điều có thể xảy ra và nên được xảy ra nhất trong cuộc đời, không phải cho ai mà cho chính sự tồn tại hạnh phúc của bạn. Không giống như các thành tựu của thế gian, là tiền bạc, nhà cửa, danh tiếng, địa vị, một khi sự tĩnh lặng thuần khiết đã hiển lộ, nó sẽ không bao giờ bị phai tàn.

Tác giả: Vũ Thanh Hòa

Kungfu – HOW MARTIAL ARTS CAN COMBAT AUTISM

By Terry L. Wilson

Full link: https://blackbeltmag.com/arts/history-philosophy/how-martial-arts-can-combat-autism?utm_campaign=BBM%20FY20&utm_source=hs_email&utm_medium=email&utm_content=86797809&_hsenc=p2ANqtz-8JOXis4Qy7krxtKlV0zMl8J4ErmBwJmHY5fZhEkxhN40Afjqk-QALCykuhtnyponi7tM9oeYqbhGo4ML_1MBn9Hnp0FA&_hsmi=86797809

With more than 500 first-place wins, 100 grand championships, 44 world titles and 10 international titles, Tyler Weaver Jr. is used to standing at the top of the podium. In fact, he’s been doing just that since he began competing seriously at age 9.

The martial artist started entering tournaments as an amateur two years earlier, at an age when most kids are home playing video games. He crisscrossed the country, showcasing a skill set that grew stronger with each passing year. Meanwhile, his passion for karate blossomed, as did his status in the martial arts community.


Performance after performance, Tyler Weaver Jr.’s flawless execution of weapons techniques and kata left spectators — and judges — in awe. However, few knew that each kick and punch he threw was part of an internal battle the youth was fighting with an affliction that attacks one in 59 children in the United States: autism.

“We noticed that Tyler was having problems with his reading and writing, along with difficulties dealing with basic social skills,” his father Tyler Weaver Sr. said. “By the time he was 7, Tyler Jr. had already made a name for himself in the martial arts. He’d been doing a lot of traveling, competing on the NASKA circuit, in the National Blackbelt League, in the ATA (American Taekwondo Association) and in local karate events in Colorado.

“He was still very young, and we thought traveling to all those events just had overwhelmed Tyler Jr. So we got him a private tutor who took him from third grade through high school. At the time, we had no idea that he had a learning disorder.”

Because he was being tutored, his parents had no idea how far behind he was falling. They didn’t discover the reason until he was 22. “It was then that we learned he was actually autistic,” Tyler Sr. said.

Tyler Sr., a career martial artist and the owner of a karate school, struggled to understand his son’s diagnosis and the actions the family could take to help him. He knew that Tyler Jr. had always shown an amazing ability to memorize kata and technique sequences, sometimes after a single lesson — things that might take another student weeks or months to pick up. That’s when the father put two and two together.

Tyler Weaver Jr. and other martial arts students with autism often excel at weapons use because their propensity to repeat movements over and over lends itself to mastery, Tyler Sr. thought. “Junior has a difficult time interacting socially in situations where it’s not repetitive,” he said. “He’s at his best when he’s performing martial arts, talking about martial arts and judging martial arts because he’s familiar with the subject.”

The Weavers began making a concerted effort to learn everything they could about autism. “We got a lot of help from a lot of people,” Tyler Sr. said. “We’ve joined forces with Developmental Pathways, a group here in Colorado, a nonprofit that helps families like us. We’ve also worked with the U.S. Autism Society.”

At a recent U.S. Autism convention in Las Vegas, Tyler Weaver Jr. was the keynote speaker. “He knows how important it is to spread the word about autism and is eager to give more seminars on the subject,” Tyler Sr. said. “Tyler did so well we thought doing speaking engagements like this might be a path for [him].”

After mulling over the circumstances and realizing that this was surely a life-changing situation for the whole family, the Weavers developed a program called Jasper’s Journey in honor of younger brother Jasper, who was also diagnosed with the disease. The family hit the road for autism awareness and began advocating for Tyler and Jasper. Among other things, they attend major tournaments around the country to do speaking engagements and set up “sensory rooms.”

“We just got back from the AKA Grands in Chicago, where we set up the first sensory room ever at a karate tournament,” Tyler Sr. said. “People with autism don’t have a filter. They have super hearing, they see everything and they feel everything. So a sensory room is a place for them to relax and decompress. The lights are turned down. A flickering laser light projects designs and images on the wall, which is very calming for them.”

The Weavers are attracting lots of attention with their outreach effort. “We had more than 30 people come over to the tent who had kids and knew adults that were autistic, saying this was the best thing they’ve ever seen at a tournament,” Tyler Sr. said.

Now they’re picking up sponsors for their autism-awareness campaign. “Our first priority [is] to use grant money to establish sensory rooms at various martial arts events around the country,” Tyler Sr. said. “We also pass out literature explaining how martial arts can help someone dealing with autism. And we’re developing an online course for martial artists to get certified in order to learn cues and triggers when it comes to teaching students with autism.”

Martial arts training is excellent for those who have autism, Tyler Sr. said. “One of the best things karate does is to teach students how to focus and how to communicate better. Communication is important because autistic people tend to shy away; they don’t want to get involved or interact. Everything we’re taught in martial arts from day one all folds directly into benefiting people with autism.”

In particular, students with autism derive great benefit from practicing kata because of the repetition. “It helps improve their memory, and they scream and yell while doing moves, which defuses their anxiety,” Tyler Sr. said. “So [in our program], we break down step by step what is the best way to teach and the best way to approach them [because] sometimes they don’t like to be touched. Sparring is really hard for them and can be overstimulating.”

Tyler Weaver Jr. hatched an idea for a line of martial arts pads and uniforms designed for students with autism. For those who may not know, many autistic people require special socks, clothing without buttons, and shirts without tags and abrasive materials to minimize stimulation. The product line is a work in progress, but it’s already getting some serious attention.

Enter John Paul Mitchell Systems and Century Martial Arts. Paul Mitchell, helmed by John Paul DeJoria (see the June/July 2013 issue of Black Belt), supports Tyler Jr.’s travel and logistics, as well as the family’s efforts to spread autism awareness through the distribution of pamphlets at martial arts events. In addition, the company donates gentle hair-care products that are suitable for anyone but perfect for those with autism. Century supports Tyler Jr.’s equipment needs and assists with promotional efforts.

With that kind of help — along with his tournament-winning skill set — Tyler Weaver Jr.’s martial arts journey is guaranteed to go far. He plans to continue using his talents to teach students, groom instructors and serve as a role model for everyone who has autism.

Ẩm thực – 16 Energizing, Immunity-Boosting Drink Recipes

Sipping on these healthy drinks is exactly what your body needs!
detox drink

There’s a simple fix to eliminating more sugar and fat from your diet that’s easier than you might imagine: Cut out those sneaky liquid calories coming from your daily drinks. The grocery store shelves are stocked with tons of zero-calorie energy drinks and diet sodas, all with one thing in common—a long list of ingredients too hard to pronounce with no nutrients.

Sure, it might take a little longer to make your own healthy drinks at home, but it will be worth it. And if you happen to have a lot of time on your hands at the moment, why not channel your attention to making something truly good for you? Here, we’ve rounded up delicious and immune-boosting drinks for you to sip on that will have you feeling great, too.

1

Matcha Tea Latte

matcha tea latte
Courtesy of Nutrition Stripped

Coconut milk and matcha green tea powder are a matcha made in heaven! This bright green powder is an antioxidant-rich tea that packs in as much nutrition as 10 cups of your average cup of green tea. Matcha is a metabolism-boosting super powder that can be combined with the healthy fat of coconut milk for a latte and will do more than just wake you up! Adding a touch of natural sweetener like maple syrup or honey gives it the perfect amount of sweetness without causing your blood sugar to drop later.

2

Fermented lemonade soda

honey lemonade soda
Courtesy of Nourished Kitchen

Fermented food and drinks are an easy, gut-friendly way to add probiotics to your diet without having to purchase those pricey supplements. Fermentation also creates tons of beneficial enzymes, B vitamins, and omega-3 fatty acids that help your digestive system and make it easier to absorb nutrients from other foods. If this sounds good to you (and it should!), don’t miss these 14 Fermented Foods to Fit Into Your Diet.

3

Vegan chai spice latte

chai latte
Courtesy of Emilie Eats

This vegan latte skips the belly-bloating dairy and is made with a homemade Chai spice that has those warm flavors to get you feeling all fuzzy inside: cinnamon, ginger, cardamom, allspice, cloves, and nutmeg. These spices not only taste amazing but they aid weight loss from their metabolism-revving properties. Have this in the A.M. to start your day right or as a post-dinner treat; either way, it’s a simple way to add a healthy dose of nutrients to your day!

4

Strawberry lime cucumber mint water

strawberry lime mint water
Courtesy of Wholefully

Getting your recommended daily intake of water isn’t as easy as it sounds. When you go to grab a drink from the fridge and your decision falls between a sugar heavy soda or a bottle of water, it takes a little more effort to grab the water. But you don’t have to be bored with your average H20; instead, add in some vitamin-rich ingredients to make a beverage you’re excited to drink! Naturally flavoring your water with fruits, veggies, and herbs is a great way to liven up that glass without any artificial additives or fake sugars!

5

Turmeric latte

turmeric latte
Courtesy of Fooduzzi

If you’re a health nut like a few of us around here, you’ve probably heard of the powerhouse drink: Golden milk. Here’s a spin on the highly-talked about drink. While it’s also the perfect trendy drink to order at brunch on the weekend for a great Instagram picture, it’s also one of the best beverages out there for your health, too. While it’s gleaming with a yellow-orange color, it’s also gleaming with some of the bodies most necessary nutrients! Ingredients like turmeric, cinnamon, and ginger are all spices that have anti-inflammatory properties and help build a strong immune system. This is a flavorful frothy drink that’s the perfect replacement those sugar-filled fraps you’re getting from the coffee shop!

6

Almond milk hot chocolate

almond milk hot chocolate
Courtesy of Veggie Quest

Hot chocolate is the classic cozy drink to cuddle up with on a chilly night. So, whether you’re getting warm by the fire or simply craving a sweet treat, this is your go-to option! This version is made with unsweetened almond milk and cocoa powder to give it a rich, chocolatey flavor that keeps it low in calories and high in antioxidants. Add in a sweetener for your liking, but steer clear of those fake artificial ones!

7

Homemade kombucha 3-ways

kombucha
Courtesy of Natural Fit Foodie

Kombucha is an ancient beverage that has been around for over 2,000 years and offers some of the most vital health benefits for your body. Along with being an excellent source of probiotics, it has that same fizzy feeling as soda—but without all the fake sugars and chemicals! This blogger shows that it can be made with a variety of different fruits like berries, pineapple, or fresh ginger for whatever your taste buds may prefer. Yum!

8

Soothing elixir

smoothing elixir
Courtesy of The Paleo Mama

Fight the winter weather with this immune-boosting beverage. This warm and soothing drink can be made in a crock pot or over the stove with ingredients that are most known for their cold-curing benefits. Lemon, ginger, cinnamon, apple cider vinegar, honey, and tea are all it takes for this natural sickness fighting remedy to take effect! If you perked up at the idea of apple cider vinegar, then you’ll love these 8 Apple Cider Vinegar Detox Drinks!

9

Nojito

nojito
Courtesy of In Katrina’s Kitchen

If you love a refreshing Mojito but you’re looking to cut back on the alcohol and calories, this one’s for you! It’s an easy mocktail to make at home and has a great flavor that will put you right on an island with the sun in your hair and sand in your toes. Fresh mint, lemon or lime juice and sparkling water with a touch of agave are all the ingredients it takes to make this relaxing treat.

10

Ginger lemon and pomegranate detox drink

detox drink
Courtesy of Amazingly Tasty

This bright drink is not only gleaming in color, it’s gleaming in nutrients, too. The detoxifying properties of lemon and ginger join the high amounts of vitamins from pomegranate to create a simple and satisfying drink for any season. This weight loss wonder is bubbly and sweet without going too far. It’s a great way to compliment dinner or to just enjoy by itself.

11

Iced almond macadamia milk latte

almond latte
Courtesy of Some Kitchen Stories

When you get bored with your same ol’ morning mocha, try this Iced Almond Macadamia Milk Latte. Dates naturally sweeten up this drink without any of the chemical-filled syrups or sugars that the coffee houses use. The almonds and macadamias create a silky, smooth milk that can be combined with espresso to make this a creamy latte you’ll be eager to wake up for.

12

Clean eating eggnog

eggnog
Courtesy of The Gracious Pantry

You’d typically find eggnog in your fridge over the holidays and it’s normally that super sweet drink that you can only take a few sips of because of its heavy ingredients and filling consistency. Forget that! Take a spin on the classic by making your own at home with completely clean ingredients; this recipe allows for you to use a milk of your choice and honey to sweeten it up naturally. Honey not only comes straight from Mother Earth herself, it aids in reducing the risk of congestion and contains flavonoids that help to prevent heart disease.

13

Coconut lime watermelon slushie

watermelon coconut slushie
Courtesy of Minimalist Baker

The juiciness of a watermelon is simply begging to be made into a drink! All this recipe takes is watermelon (frozen and juice), the juice of a lime, and coconut milk. Blend them all together to get a tropical slushy that will quench your thirst and satisfy your taste buds! This recipe skips the unnecessary sugar that you would usually find in a slushy and uses maple syrup or honey instead. Since watermelon is already a super sweet fruit that has enough to cut your cravings, there’s really no need for much of it. And speaking of sweet fruits, discover the 25 Popular Fruits—Ranked by Sugar Content!.

14

Superfood coffee elixir

superfood coffee
Courtesy of The Glowing Fridge

This drink is anything but your average cup of Joe! You get the immense health benefits coming from different ingredients like cacao, maca, cinnamon, and turmeric, as well as an extra energizing kick of ginger, black pepper, and cayenne. Not only are you getting a great-tasting burst of caffeine, you’ll be getting all the necessary nutrients for total body wellness.

15

Sparkling apple pear cider

pear apple cider
Courtesy of The Organic Dietitian

Nix any artificial sweeteners and preservatives from the store-bought ciders and instead make one that you know exactly what’s gone into it. This apple cider amplifies the cider game by adding in juice from pear. Pear gives it an additional touch of sweetness, as well as an added source of dietary fiber. Apples and pears are both loaded with vitamins and nutrients to keep you feeling awake and energized!

16

Chia fresca

chia fresca
Courtesy of Hurry The Food Up

Toss that sugar-laden energy drink in the trash and whip up this treat that’s perfect to take down before or after your hard workout! It’s made with only a few ingredients and is super simple to throw together. Chia seeds are the star of the show for this drink and for good reason; they are packing in omega-3 fatty acids, protein, fiber and vitamins to give you all the energy you need. This recipe uses lime juice and agave or honey to give it flavor, but try out different fruits and see what works for you!

Ẩm thực – The Little Pepper That Could

By 

Full link: https://www.eater.com/2018/7/11/17537702/fresno-chili-pepper-history-taste?utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=NATIONAL%2520-%252032020%2520V2&utm_content=NATIONAL%2520-%252032020%2520V2+Version+B+CID_3067fb5da7f3274de9b8bcb2f965bd3c&utm_source=cm_email&utm_term=THE%2520LITTLE%2520PEPPER%2520THAT%2520COULD

In praise of the mild-mannered Fresno chile, a California pepper waiting for its close-up

The chile looks a lot like a jalapeno and, well, it tastes like a jalapeno, too. But, you know, different. I first noticed it when I was eating the rice and beans at B.S. Taqueria downtown Los Angeles. The dish — the rice and beans — had a lot going on: The rice was puffed; the beans (white and garbanzos) were lightly fried. There were also grilled onions and cotija cheese, all served in a brown paper bag that quickly went wet with grease. But the chiles, they pulled the whole thing together, giving it a strange hint of sweetness, a tinge of smoke, and heat of course, a buzzy tingle and occasional pang. They never overwhelmed. They were very, very good. I was intrigued and, quickly, borderline obsessed. Why hadn’t I heard of a Fresno chile before?

Not long after that first encounter, I was talking to Ray Garcia, the chef-owner of B.S. Taqueria, who created the rice-and-bean dish. Fresnos are a “gateway chile,” he said — they’re friendly, easy to eat, both familiar and not. “People are like, ‘Oh! Fresnos! Yeah, I grow these! I grew up on these! This is, like, right before a jalapeno goes green, yeah?’” It is not. But it’s entirely possible you have encountered a Fresno, possibly in a supermarket, most likely mislabeled as a jalapeno. “No one knows what they’re talking about with Fresnos,” Garcia said, which seemed like it couldn’t be true. But, the more I looked into it, the more it turned out to be the case. Fresnos are right on the edge of familiarity: If you’d heard of them, you either had nothing to say about them, or what you did have to say was likely wrong. The chile was like the California city: a place you drove past and barely considered. Only, I wanted to consider it. I wasn’t even sure, starting out, if the city and the pepper had anything to do with each other.

They do. Sort of. Fresno chiles are named after Fresno, not the city, but the county in California’s central valley containing the city of the same name. They were developed in the 1950s by a local grower and seed merchant named Clarence “Brownie” Hamlin, who lived in the county of Fresno, in a town called Clovis, which is just outside the city of Fresno. The chile pepper Hamlin hybridized was, like all chile pepper plants, magnificently malleable. The chile pepper is a self-fertilizing plant, meaning the flowers on a single specimen contain both male and female genes. To crossbreed a pair of chiles, one plant has to be pollinated with the other. Swab the flower of one plant with a bee-like apparatus, perhaps a Q-tip, smear that across the flowers on the other plant, and boom, you’ve hybridized two peppers.

Okay, sure, it’s more complicated than that, since certain traits might show up in some peppers and not others, so there are seeds to save, and generations to cultivate, and traits to draw out through those generations, which is what Brownie Hamlin surely did to reach the variety he felt worth hanging onto and making an heirloom, the variety he named after the county he lived in and the town he lived near, the town at the center of the largest, most productive stretch of agricultural land on the continent, if not in the whole entire world.

Hamlin’s nephew, Casey, also lives near Fresno and sells seeds, including those of the Fresno, which he describes on his company’s website as similar to jalapenos but with thinner walls, which makes them perfect for cooking, or in a salsa. When I tried to buy the seeds online, or contact Casey directly, I couldn’t. Links were defunct, my calls and emails unreturned. I contacted the Fresno Historical Society, as well as the Fresno agricultural board, and, for good measure, the University of California’s agricultural cooperative, which has a few stations near Fresno. No one had anything to say about the Fresno chile.

Meanwhile, I began seeking out Fresnos everywhere I could, which produced all manner of disappointment. Unlike a jalapeno, serrano, Italian, shishito, or a bell pepper, a Fresno isn’t a regularly stocked item. You couldn’t plan around a Fresno, couldn’t count on it being there. And yet it is very much like those other far more common peppers, all of which are variations of the same species, capsicum annuum. (Not to be confused with black pepper, or piper nigrum, which comes from southern India.) All chile peppers come from the Americas — most likely central Mexico, where the plant was first cultivated at least 5,000 years ago.

Once the Spanish arrived, the peppers crossed oceans, first to Europe and then, carried by the Portuguese, to Asia, via the Indian port of Goa. Centuries passed, generation after generation of peppers: cultivated, hybridized, and folded into the cooking of regions throughout the globe. Peppers travel well and keep easily. The capsicum is a hearty plant, and the fruit works nearly every which way: grilled, sauteed, pickled, or dried and crushed. When looking at the great sweep of the chile pepper’s history, the Fresno is a very recent arrival. But that still doesn’t fully explain its second-class status. What might is its heat, or lack thereof.

Capsicums are unique plants — their fruit produces compounds called capsaicinoids, possibly, initially, evolutionarily, as a protective measure: to keep from being eaten. Capsaicinoids, you see, are what give the pepper its heat. The compounds aggravate and alarm our immune system. They make us feel hot and go sweaty. Humans, like peppers, are unique: Many of us find the experience of burning pain to be fantastic, excellent, delicious.

In recent decades, there has been a sort of arms race to hybridize ever-hotter peppers. In 1912, a Connecticut pharmacist named Wilbur Scoville developed the Scoville Organoleptic Test — a test for spiciness that involved progressive dilutions of a pepper’s extract into sugar water. The more dilutions required to minimize the heat to an imperceptible level, the hotter the pepper. And thus, the Scoville heat unit scale was born. A jalapeno requires about 5,000 parts water to one part chile extract to minimize its heat, so a jalapeno is around 5,000 Scoville heat units. A Fresno is about the same. A bell pepper is zero. The recently developed Bhut Jolokia is over a million SHUs. The Trinidad Scorpion is around 1.2 million. There is a very silly but also sort of fascinating debate as to which pepper is truly the hottest on Earth. On YouTube, there is a robust community of men (only men; mostly British) eating these peppers, going very red, weeping uncontrollably, falling on the floor, writhing, moaning, sweating, cursing, gasping, and bellowing. These are stunt peppers, not — if you are a sane and average person — for eating. The Fresno can’t compete.

Still, I wanted to track down some Fresnos, and find someone who could tell me something about them. I finally called Craig Underwood, a farmer who until recently grew all the jalapenos for Huy Fong Foods, Inc., makers of Sriracha, on 2,000 acres outside Ventura, California. He still grows jalapenos, as well as serranos and cascabels, but this year, he was putting in extra rows of Fresnos. “Way more than we’ve ever planted,” he yelled over the thrum of his pickup, piloting his way across his fields. His farm manager noticed that Fresnos were fetching pretty good prices down at LA’s 7th Street Produce Market, and Underwood wasn’t one to question what people wanted to buy. Maybe, he ventured, it was because in the fall, when the peppers turn red, their skin doesn’t crack the way a jalapeno’s often does. “People won’t buy a red jalapeno when it’s cracked,” he said with the confidence of a man whose trade is peppers. I asked Underwood if he thought there might be some growers still in Fresno, growing Fresnos. The community of pepper-growers in California was pretty small, he said, but he hadn’t heard of Brownie Hamlin or his nephew, and wasn’t sure about Fresnos growing in and around Fresno, which had lately turned to more lucrative crops, like almonds.

A few days after my call with Underwood, I decided to drive up to Fresno and find out for myself. Heading north from LA, up and over the San Emigdio Mountains, you first see the San Joaquin Valley from high above. If it’s early, which it was, clouds cling to the peaks as you drive by, and off in the distance, further east, nearly lost in the haze, are the Sierra Nevadas, still snowcapped in places, still holding the water that has fed this great valley since long before history, giving it some of the loamiest, richest soil on earth. The farmland begins even before the land levels out, continuing uninterrupted for some 450 miles. Fresno is smack in the middle. Some 85 percent of America’s carrots grow here, along with more than 90 percent of our raisins and almonds, around 95 percent of our processed tomatoes, and most of our walnuts, grapes, and pistachios, too. If you’re passing through the San Joaquin, you take I-5 (and, indeed, I usually do). But California State Route 99 cuts through the heart of the agricultural center and its cities. Driving the 99, it often seems like half the cars on the road are trucks laden with just-picked crops.

My first stop was a farm stand in Clovis, the town adjacent to Fresno and where Brownie Hamlin had first hybridized his chile seed. There I met Vincent Ricchiuti, great grandson of Vincenzo Ricchiuti, who first arrived in the Valley from Northern Italy in 1914. Vincent’s father, Patrick, runs P-R Farms, Inc., among the largest farming concerns in the valley. They grow peaches, plums, apricots, nectarines, apples, grapes, almonds, and olives. Vincent runs ENZO, an olive oil company; one of his olive oils is also made with crushed Fresno chiles. As it happened, he was just planting his field of Fresnos that morning, behind the building where he sold the oil.

Fresnos start the same as all the other peppers — after all, they’re technically the same plant, with different characteristics drawn out at different times in the life cycle. In Thai chiles, for example, the pepper begins green, as all peppers do. Then, the pepper turns a brownish color, and peaks in spiciness before eventually going red. Some recipes that call for Thai green peppers, or for Thai brown, or still others for Thai red — well, people think they are different peppers, but it’s the same exact pepper, just picked at different times throughout the season.

Across the street was a massive beige building, a packing plant for the family business. Behind the stand and store was a few acres of dirt, bounded on two sides by a housing development — enough space for nearly 11,000 chile plants. As we walked out toward the field, Ricchiuti described what it was that had drawn him to Fresnos, the only chile he used in any of his oils. He said that they were “nice and level” and “really approachable,” as well as “warm and inviting.” A spice that “doesn’t hit you in the face,” he said. Also, he added, his mother, “who does not like spice at all, puts it on her eggs all the time.” But the real reason he was planting all these Fresnos was because Fresnos had felt to him like a discovery, or a rediscovery — a re-evaluation of the place he was from and called home.

”It’s the most quintessential Fresno thing,” Ricchiuti said, squinting as he looked out over his field of chiles. “Here’s this beautiful food, named after us, but we’re not celebrating it, we don’t even know about it. It’s like a complex we’ve got: We’re not LA, we’re not San Francisco, and we’re reminded of that, often.” We walked along the rows of peppers for a stretch in silence. I had to admit, the plants didn’t look like much quite yet, just a few green shoots springing up out of the nearly black soil. “You got to go over to see Kong’s farm,” Ricchiuti said, breaking the silence. “That’s who got us set up here, because we’re not vegetable growers, really. But Kong, man, he’s growing the best vegetables in the country. I mean, Thomas Keller is flying his stuff to New York. Go see Kong. He’ll tell you what’s what. I think he’s got some Fresnos going in, too.”

An hour later, I arrived outside a small black gate, the entrance to Thao Family Farms, where Kong Thao met me and led me back to the 34 acres he and his parents and some of his 10 siblings farm. He smiled a rakish smile and asked if I was the guy who wanted to talk chiles, and then trudged off toward a patch of freshly tilled earth where his Fresnos had just gone in. “This is just a very small part of what we do,” he said, gesturing toward the patch. Beyond it were a dozen varieties of bell peppers, followed by dense rows of Italian long sweet peppers, Thai chiles, then arugula, tendrils of bitter melon, chards, collards, yu choy, bok choy, amaranth, blue spice basil, broccoli, Asian sorrel, Vietnamese coriander, chayote, several dozen varieties of heirloom tomatoes, 10 varieties of eggplant, six of summer squash, four of cucumbers — “a little bit of everything,” Thao said, eventually, giving up on listing it all.

Thao liked the Fresno chile’s complex flavor, but the reason he’d started growing it was even more basic than taste: “Vince and I, we’d been talking about it a few years, and finally we were like, ‘Let’s just do Fresnos, because we’re from Fresno.’” The taste of a pepper isn’t merely influenced by when it’s picked, but where it’s grown, so the Fresno has a different flavor when it’s grown in Fresno than anywhere elsewhere — farther north up the Valley, or along the coast, where growing seasons were longer. The peppers in those places get larger, but the flavor also gets diluted, according to Thao. In Fresno, the peppers were more compact, oily, and flavorful.

Thao mentioned a local chef named Jimmy Pardini, who also used his Fresnos, sometimes in salads, or on his pizzas. He came by the farm at least once a week to pick up some produce. It used to be, Thao would deliver directly to Pardini’s restaurant, the Annex Kitchen, but now Thao spends at least three days a week driving down to the farmer’s markets in Santa Monica, Hollywood, and Torrence, so he doesn’t have time anymore. Pardini was another one of the few locals who seemed to know about and like Fresno chiles. Maybe I should go talk to him?

Pardini’s restaurant was, as its name suggested, annexed from his family’s banquet hall and catering company, which they’d owned and operated for two generations. The space had been a diner — it still had the long counter with the kitchen right behind it, but now a pizza oven and huge wood grill dominated the entrance. A stack of almond wood from the Ricchiuti family orchards sat next to the grill. Fresno is a small place.

Like Thao and Ricchiuti, Pardini had grown up in Fresno, but he didn’t learn about Fresno chiles until after college, working the line at Osteria Mozza, Nancy Silverton’s LA restaurant. The pepper was in a linguine with clams. “I was like, ‘Fresno Fresno? Where I’m from? I know there’s, like, a Fresno in Mexico? Is that the town?’” It was hard to believe this pepper, showing up in this fancy restaurant in the big city, was from his humble home. It had to be something more exotic. But it wasn’t. It was Fresno, Fresno.

Later, I asked Silverton about the ways she uses the chile, what makes her like Fresnos as an ingredient, and what might have made Pardini first notice it. “Well it’s a beautiful chile, and when cooked there’s almost like a sweet kind of smoky note that it takes on,” she said. She slices it thin and chars it in the wood-burning oven and puts it on her salami pizza. Pickled, she adds it to braised chicken and sausage. Raw, she slices it into very thick rounds and, with a jalapeno, adds them to her spicy bean salad. There’s also a pesto she makes with Fresno chiles, for pasta.

The conversation turned to the Fresno’s provenance. She knew they were named after the city, but not much more than that. “It’s a newcomer, right?” Silverton ventured. Perhaps that was part of the problem, why it hadn’t found much of a foothold beyond chefs. It was new, as far as food goes. It didn’t have a tradition, or much of a story. “It’s a little lost soul,” she said, wistfully.

Pardini told me something similar, that although the pepper had a place, was named after a place, it kept falling through the cracks. “Each ethnic group has their chile,” he said. Italians long for the Italians, Armenian peppers for the Armenians, Thai chiles for the Thais, a whole universe of peppers for the Mexicans, he explained. In California, he continued, everyone had a friend — or an uncle, most likely — who had the peppers he grew in his backyard, the peppers he’d brag about over the grill in the summertime, and those peppers, passed down from generation to generation, were almost never Fresnos. We were, after all, a nation of immigrants, and peppers travel well. Even when a pepper came from here — even though all peppers come from this continent — we are loyal to the past, to the peppers we’ve known, that our ancestors had brought along.

But the Fresno chile can have a story, too. What’s nice about newcomers is that their story hasn’t been fully written, and can be yours to write. A few days after my trip to Fresno, I was at a nursery near my home, and there, beside the jalapenos and serranos, near the rows and rows of tomatoes, was a single Fresno chile plant in a tiny plastic pot. I took it up to the register, and the woman behind it couldn’t find the price anywhere. She thought it might have been a mistake, this plant’s arrival and existence in the nursery. That it had gotten mixed in with the other, more standard chiles. She sold it to me for a dollar and the next day, I planted it. There is at least one pepper growing on it now, small and green. But by the time you read this, maybe it will have started going red. And soon enough, it will be fall, and I’ll cut it open and carefully take out its seeds, saving them for next year. Then maybe I’ll pickle the rest of it, or make it into a jelly. I’ll have friends over to try some and I’ll probably tell them, yes, it comes from Fresno. But like all peppers it comes from elsewhere, too. It’s a hybrid. It’s a newbie. It’s a great American pepper. And isn’t it delicious?

Ẩm thực – The Cross-Border Indigenous Battle for Wild Rice

BY DARCY RHYNO

Full link: https://www.atlasobscura.com/articles/what-is-wild-rice?utm_source=Gastro+Obscura+Weekly+E-mail&utm_campaign=f52531a958-GASTRO_EMAIL_CAMPAIGN_2020_02_18&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_2418498528-f52531a958-70327933&mc_cid=f52531a958&mc_eid=df51e46713

In the Great Lakes region, what some consider a weed is actually a sacred seed.

Canoes are the traditional vehicles for gathering wild rice.

JAMES WHETUNG IS WILLING TO go to jail for wild rice. When he was a child, he helped his uncles harvest it in the Kawartha Lakes area, northeast of Toronto. As a Christmas treat, he ate wild rice pudding. His family members were among the last rice gatherers in his Curve Lake First Nations community.

“80 years ago, most of Kawartha Lakes had lots of wild rice in them,” says Whetung. “It used to be the rice bowl of North America.” One rice bed mentioned in Curve Lake oral history measured 17 miles long by a mile wide. “Used to,” Whetung says. “It’s gone now.” He blames the construction of the Trent Severn Canal, built in 1833, for much of that disappearance. Once an important shipping route, the waterway is now a National Historic Site operated by Parks Canada and a popular recreation area.

Today, there’s a tense, decades-old standoff between Whetung and recreational users of the lakes. That’s because he’s been reseeding wild rice in this area for the past 30 years. Boating, fishing, and swimming are difficult where the thick rice beds are flourishing once again. Cottage owners claim their property values are dropping as a result. Whetung has become a lightning rod for anger and frustration. His opponents created a group called “Save Pigeon Lake” to thwart Whetung’s efforts. So dramatic and protracted is this battle that the well-known Canadian author Drew Hayden Taylor, himself from Curve Lake First Nations, wrote a play about it, called Cottagers and Indians.

“I don’t care,” Whetung says after telling me about the opposition to his activities. “I would go to jail for it.”

Whetung has grown wild rice for 30 years.

The revival of wild rice in the Kawarthas began in 1986, when Whetung attended a conference led by Dr. Peter Lee of Lakehead University, a biologist who specializes in wetland ecology. Now retired, Lee says the conference had a dual purpose: to bring wild rice research to the community, and to encourage people to grow it. The conference took place at Minaki Lodge on the Winnipeg River, where 40,000 acres of rice grew as late as the 1970s. “As far as you could see, there was wild rice,” says Lee. Today, he estimates the beds are reduced to less than a quarter of their original size.

That conference and a call to action from other First Nations communities started Whetung down the path of what he calls a “food security uprising.” His yard and home double as Black Duck Wild Rice, the company he named for his father’s clan. Whetung himself is a slim, fit middle-aged man. The sides of his head are shaved, and his black Mohawk-style hair is combed back behind a pair of sunglasses propped on his head. A mischievous smile flits about his mouth as he shows me a furnace oil barrel fitted with a rusty chimney at one end and a wooden barrel at the other. This is his rice roaster. Scattered about the property are earlier generations of wild rice-processing machinery.

Processing wild rice is labor-intensive. Whetung cures and roasts the rice beneath a sugar maple wood fire, giving it a smoky flavor. To separate the chaff or husk from each grain, the rice is placed in a hide or blanket over a hole in the ground so someone can dance on it. To speed up the work, Whetung built what he calls a ‘dancing machine,’ with rubber paddles to remove the chaff. Traditionally, the rice and loosened chaff was tossed in the air using a blanket so the breeze could carry the non-edible chaff away. Whetung’s modern solution is a winnowing machine fashioned from an old furnace blower.

Processing wild rice is complex and time-consuming.

For Whetung, the stakes couldn’t be higher. He calls wild rice the gift of the creator. In the Ojibwe language of the Great Lakes Anishinaabeg peoples, wild rice is manoomin, which translates literally as “good seed” or “spirit food.” The return of manoomin means nothing short of survival, Whetung says. “Our people are so sick. We’ve been suffering pretty bad, confined to this reserve. Wild rice is one way to keep our people healthy.”

Wild rice is rich in protein, fiber, B vitamins, and minerals, making it nutritionally superior to white rice, oats, barley, and wheat. Whetung’s hope is that wild rice will once again become a plentiful source of food for Curve Lake and other First Nations. “A couple days of gathering, a week or two of other work, and a family could have a hundred pounds of rice,” he says.

As in Canada, Barb Barton says that many people who live next to lakes in Michigan consider wild rice a weed. “They don’t want it growing on their lake or around their dock, so they apply for permits to put chemicals in the water that kill it,” she says.

Barton is a member of the State of Michigan’s wild rice working group, an endangered species biologist, and the author of Manoomin: The Story of Wild Rice in Michigan. In 2009, Michigan State University honored Barton with the Extension Diversity Award for her work with Michigan tribes on manoomin.

Whetung shows off his rice roaster.

The first thing to know is that manoomin isn’t a rice at all. Zizania palustrisZizania aquatic, and Zizania texana (found only in Texas) are grasses native to North America, where they prefer to grow in gently flowing waterways with muddy bottoms. While Zizania grows mostly in the center of the continent, it’s listed as present in over 30 states and all but one of Canada’s 10 provinces. It’s so important to Indigenous people that the word manoomin has contributed to more place names than any other plant in North America.

Barton says that by the early 20th century, the plant was lost from much of its original range. She blames logging, dredging, and the draining of wetlands. “There was even draining because of the malaria epidemic in the mid-1800s,” she says. Mills, railways, farms, and settlements were built on the banks of rivers and lakes where rice beds once flourished.

Manoomin was particularly hard hit by dam construction. One such dam, built in the late 19th century at Lac Vieux Desert—the headwaters of the Wisconsin River—changed the lives of the Lake Superior Chippewa tribe. “By raising the water level, it drowned the rice,” Barton says. “A lot of people used to sell rice, so they lost a big source of income. Many folks moved away from the lake and into town. Manoomin is extremely important to the tribal people.”

Wild rice grows thick and dense, making it hard to swim and boat.

Renee Wasson Dillard serves on the Natural Resources Commission of her Little Traverse Bay Band of Odawa Indians in Michigan. She says that manoomin is rooted in their history. “We were once living on the east side of the United States,” she explains. “As we started to migrate, we were following symbols we were told to look for along the way. We would know that we were home once we came to the place where food grows on water. We came to understand that this was rice.”

“Now, it’s a part of our ceremonial feast,” she continues. “You cannot have a ceremonial feast without wild rice.” Until recently, the Little Traverse Bay Band had to purchase their wild rice, but recently band members have been able to harvest their own, thanks to the work of band members and people like Barb Barton. “It’s a very small amount, perhaps half a burlap bag,” says Dillard. “But at least we can do it ceremoniously.” This past year was particularly special, because the community built a birch bark canoe to harvest rice traditionally. She says the canoe helps decolonize the process. “We make our prayers and honor the rice,” she says, “to show it how much we appreciate it.”

Appreciation for the rice goes a long way, given how hard this band and others are working for its preservation. But new threats are lurking. Dillard says Asian carp and a tall invasive grass called Phragmites are taking over rice beds. Barton also notes that climate change has added new stresses. With increased temperatures, there’s a fungus now affecting the plants, and water levels are fluctuating wildly.

With new interest in regrowing wild rice, activists hope that the tradition will continue.

But there are hopeful signs too. The White Earth Band of Ojibwe in Minnesota recently adopted the “Rights of Manoomin” law. It’s the first of its kind, securing the rights of wild rice to exist, as well as the clean water and habitat it requires to flourish, both on- and off-reserve.

“It’s unfortunate we have to have a law,” says Barton. “But I think it helps bring the worldview of the tribal peoples to the general public.”

Dr. Lee agrees. “Wild rice provided nourishment for Indigenous people long before first contact with Europeans, and is a very important part of their heritage that needs to be respected.” He says he’s glad that Whetung is bringing back rice awareness in his community. Today, Whetung shares that responsibility with his daughter Daemin, ensuring that the battle to save wild rice in the Kawarthas will carry on.

Stoic – We All Fall Short

By now, you may have seen the video. A devout religious woman grabs the hand of Pope Francis as he greets the crowd of pilgrims and children. He tries to move on. She refuses to let go. In frustration, he slaps her hand and continues on.

It’s not a pretty sight for sure. Especially for a man who has spoken so beautifully about kindness and compassion and humility. To call it “violence” would be an overstatement, but it was rudely out of character—a contradiction of what the man teaches and is supposed to be an example of.

But here’s the thing: If you’re surprised and horrified, the problem is not the pope, it’s you. We all fall short. Seneca fell short. Marcus Aurelius fell short. Epictetus did too. Do you think they never lost their tempers? Never did the wrong thing? Ever failed to live up to their impossibly high standards?

They, like the pope, like you, are human. Which means flaws. Which means messing up. Which means doing the exact opposite of what you believe and how you want to be (because you’re tired, because you were tempted, because you weren’t thinking). “Is it possible to be free from error?” Epictetus said. “Not by any means, but it is possible to be a person stretching to avoid error.”

So don’t be too hard on other people, or even yourself. Accept apologies when given. Offer them readily when necessary. Learn from both other people’s mistakes and your own. And remember Pope Francis’ apology, because it was a wise one: “Love makes us patient. So many times we lose patience, even me, and I apologize for yesterday’s bad example.”

Collection – 3 Smart Things You Can Do to Upgrade Your Intellect | Thomas Oppong in Kaizen Habits

By Thomas Oppong

Full link: https://medium.com/kaizen-habits/3-smart-things-you-can-do-every-day-to-upgrade-your-intellect-262c685140fb

What it takes to function at your cognitive best

Intelligent people seem to have it better in so many ways — they are able to think their way through life’s challenges and come out as winners.

Intelligence encompasses many related mental abilities, such as the capacities to reason, plan, solve problems, think abstractly, learn new information, comprehend them, retain what you need, and then use that new knowledge as a foundation to solve next problem.

The good news is, your capacity to think clearly and beyond first-order consequences, solve problems beyond your level of intelligence can be developed over time. “The ability to think through problems to the second, third, and fourth-order — or what we will call second-order thinking for short — is a powerful tool that supercharges your thinking,” writes Shane Parish.

study published in 2018, Improving Fluid Intelligence with Training on Working Memory, by Jaeggi, Buschkuehl, Jonides, and Perrig, proved that it’s possible to increase your intelligence to a significant degree through training.

Whatever you do or hope to achieve, your need for mental clarity never really changes. The sharper your thinking, the easier it is to make smart choices and better judgement. Anyone can increase their cognitive ability, no matter what your starting point is.

Everything you achieve starts from belief. Belief is also a type of knowledge that you possess — and it can help you upgrade your intellect or stop you from growing.

Whether you’ve concluded that you’re not very smart or you’ve decided you’re socially awkward, those beliefs will stick because of a psychological principle known as “belief perseverance.”

Once you develop a core belief and believe something to be the only truth about yourself — you’ll filter out evidence to the contrary and pay close attention to any evidence that reinforces your belief.

Self-limiting beliefs about your supposed lack of intelligence will consistently stand in the way of your growth until you find the courage to face them and the fixed mindsets they create.

To upgrade your intelligence or improve your mindset about life and living it, take time to consider which beliefs might be limiting your potential to upgrade your intellect — perhaps you are smarter than think and more capable than you give yourself credit for.

How will your current beliefs about who you are impact your future and what better alternatives can help you improve your intelligence? Fast-forward a year, three years or even five years and ask yourself, “If I keep honouring this belief, what will it cost me?” If you doubt your ability to move up your career ladder, you can improve your skills by making your personal growth your responsibility.

By a process of systematically questioning the factual basis of your self-limiting beliefs, you can identify them, unlearn them and relearn better principles, values, and thought processes that can help you grow as a person.

Albert Einstein once said, One should not pursue goals that are easily achieved. One must develop an instinct for what one can just barely achieve through one’s greatest efforts.”

Einstein was not a neuroscientist, but he knew what it takes to function at your cognitive best. In essence — what doesn’t kill you makes you smarter.

In life, we’re either improving or degrading. The only way to keep a sharp and active brain is to be open to new knowledge. Intelligent people maintain an intrinsic motivation to improve their knowledge and skills. When you’ve mastered a particular skill, challenge yourself further. Keep pushing to the next level, as this will force your brain to work harder — this can expand your intelligence overall.

The brain uses a lot of energy when learning something new. While you’re attempting to learn or improve a skill, you are challenging your brain to make better connections form new patterns. But once you’ve mastered a skill, this cognitive growth slows because your brain becomes more efficient.

“You want to be in a constant state of slight discomfort, struggling to barely achieve whatever it is you are trying to do, as Einstein alluded to in his quote. This keeps your brain on its toes, so to speak,” writes Andrea Kuszewski of Scientific American.

Once your brain figures out something, and gets really good at it, it doesn’t need to work harder anymore, so the cognitive energy and the glucose goes somewhere else instead. In order to increase your intelligence, or build even better connections, you should keep pushing yourself and put your brain back into learning mode, allowing for cognitive growth.

Expose yourself to many viewpoints, ideas, and sources of information. Use your free time to listen to read a new book, listen to podcasts or audiobooks. This will prime your brain to be focused, which makes becoming smarter easier.

You can also improve your intellect by doing. Reading builds knowledge, but taking action on your knowledge builds skill. It may be a cliché, but yes, experience has always been the best teacher, so don’t be afraid of diving your time into learning, launching personal projects, creating, building etc.

Produce more than you consume — start learning by creating. Start writing. When you read, you add to your knowledge. When you write, you expand and enhance your learnings.

Seek novelty. It is no coincidence that geniuses like Einstein were skilled in multiple areas, or polymaths, as we like to refer to them. Intelligent people are constantly seeking out novel activities, learning a new domain, and pushing themselves.

“When you seek novelty, several things are going on. First of all, you are creating new synaptic connections with every new activity you engage in. These connections build on each other, increasing your neural activity, creating more connections to build on other connections — learning is taking place,” says Kuszewski.

Reading and literacy seem to be linked to intelligence. Research shows that reading not only helps with fluid intelligence ( the ability to solve problems, understand things and detect meaningful patterns) but with reading comprehension and emotional intelligence as well.

Studies have found that the benefits of reading extend beyond making sense of a passage, paragraph or a specific topic. The authors of “What Reading Does for the Mind”, write, “Reading has cognitive consequences that extend beyond its immediate task of lifting meaning from a particular passage. Furthermore, these consequences are reciprocal and exponential in nature. Accumulated over time — spiraling either upward or downward — they carry profound implications for the development of a wide range of cognitive capabilities.”

People who read a lot not only enhance their verbal intelligence, they also increase the regions of the brain involved in spatial navigation and learning new information increase.

Roberto Bolaño once saidsays“Reading is like thinking, like praying, like talking to a friend, like expressing your ideas, like listening to other people’s ideas, like listening to music, like looking at the view, like taking a walk on the beach.”

Your brain on books is active — growing, changing and making new connections and different patterns, depending on the type of material you’re reading. According to the ongoing research at Haskins Laboratories for the Science of the Spoken and Written Word, reading, unlike watching or listening to media, gives the brain more time to stop, think, process, and imagine the narrative in from of us.

Read thought-provoking books, and read a lot— read a wide variety of books outside your industry. The point of reading uncomfortable books and subjects is to familiarize yourself with a steep learning curve that gets your brain busy.

Intelligence is the ability to acquire and apply knowledge and skills. It’s about cross-domain thinking, the capacity for logic, understanding, self-awareness, learning, emotional knowledge, reasoning, planning, creativity, critical thinking, and problem-solving in a better way. This is the kind of intelligence that is valuable in life and career. Don’t rob yourself of the fullness of your own intellectual capacity.

Collection – Positive Economic Views Plummet; Support for Government Aid Crosses Party Lines

Full link: https://www.people-press.org/2020/04/21/positive-economic-views-plummet-support-for-government-aid-crosses-party-lines/?utm_source=Pew+Research+Center&utm_campaign=ca6f72092e-EMAIL_CAMPAIGN_2020_04_24_01_08&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_3e953b9b70-ca6f72092e-400737085

Most expect problems from COVID-19 to last six months or longer

As coronavirus strikes the U.S., positive assessments of the economy plummet Amid record unemployment claims and the disruption of commercial activity caused by the novel coronavirus outbreak, the public’s assessments of the U.S. economy have deteriorated with extraordinary speed and severity. Just 23% of Americans now rate economic conditions in the country as excellent or good, down sharply from 57% at the start of the year.

Most now say the economy is in either only fair (38%) or poor (38%) shape. In January, just 9% of Americans said economic conditions were poor.

Related: About Half of Lower-Income Americans Report Household Job or Wage Loss Due to COVID-19

As the public confronts a grim new economic reality, there is not only overwhelming support for the massive economic aid package passed last month by President Donald Trump and Congress, but also widespread belief that an additional aid package will be needed.

Nearly nine-in-ten U.S. adults (88%) say the $2 trillion economic aid package passed in March was the right thing to do, including identical majorities of Republicans and Democrats (89% each). More than three-quarters (77%) think it will be necessary for the president and Congress to pass legislation providing additional economic assistance.

Majorities of Americans say the aid package enacted last month will do a great deal or a fair amount to help a range of actors, including large businesses (77%), small businesses (71%), state and local governments (67%) and unemployed people (68%).

However, only about half (49%) expect it to benefit self-employed people, while 46% think it will help their own household a great deal or fair amount. In part, this reflects the fact that lower-income adults are far more likely than more affluent people to say the aid package will benefit them. A 59% majority of those in lower-income households believe the federal aid will help them, compared with just 22% in upper-income households. (To analyze these questions further, visit the Election News Pathways data tool.)

The new national survey by Pew Research Center, conducted April 7 to 12 among 4,917 U.S. adults on the Center’s American Trends Panel, finds that most Americans believe the economic problems arising from the coronavirus outbreak will persist for months to come. A majority (71%) says the economic problems resulting from the outbreak will last for at least six months, including 39% who say they will last a year or more. Just 29% expect these problems to last six months or less.

Yet the public does expect some improvement over time from today’s dire economic conditions. A majority (55%) expects that economic conditions in the country as a whole will be better a year from now than they are today, while 22% say they will be worse and 22% expect conditions to be about the same as they are now.

Support for coronavirus aid is much broader than for 2009 stimulus billThe survey finds that the public’s reactions to the recently passed economic aid package differ markedly from views of the economic stimulus plan enacted during the early months of Barack Obama’s presidency. At that time, views of the economy were even more negative than they are today, with 68% saying economic conditions were poor (38% say that today).

In March 2009, 56% said the $800 billion stimulus plan put forth by Barack Obama and passed by Congress was a good idea; about a third (35%) said it was a bad idea. While the question about the economic package passed in March differs somewhat, 88% of the public says it was the right thing to do.

In contrast to the extensive bipartisan support for coronavirus aid, support for the 2009 stimulus aid package was divided along partisan lines: 79% of Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents said it was a good idea, but just 28% of Republicans and Republican leaners said the same.

Coronavirus outbreak leads to much quicker decline in economic ratings than during previous downturns

The dramatic plunge in positive assessments of the national economy as a result of the coronavirus outbreak is steeper than declines in economic ratings seen during the last two recessions. Before they took a sudden negative turn, economic attitudes were historically positive. Just three months ago, the public’s views of the national economy were more positive than they had been at any point over the past 20 years.

This is very different from the Great Recession, which began in December 2007. Even before the recession and subsequent financial crisis, the public’s views of the national economy were not all that positive. They declined more gradually in 2007-2008 and remained very negative for the next several years.

Sudden decline in national economic ratings amid coronavirus outbreak, in contrast to past economic downturnsAs economic views turn far less positive, differences by income and party narrow

After the dot-com bubble burst in the early 2000s, views of the economy slipped precipitously, but far less rapidly than they have during the coronavirus outbreak. While public views of the economy prior to the economic trouble of the early 2000s were even brighter than they were prior to the COVID-19 outbreak, it took considerably longer for perceptions to fall as far as they already have in the first three months of 2020.

While the public takes a far more negative view of the economy, opinions about economic conditions are far less divided by income and partisanship than they were prior to the crisis.

In January, those living in upper-income households were 30 percentage points more likely than those living in lower-income households to say economic conditions in the country were excellent or good (73% vs. 43%). Today, there are no significant differences across income tiers in positive ratings of the national economy; only about a quarter in each income category rates conditions as excellent or good.

The gap in positive economic ratings between Republicans and Democrats has decreased from 42 percentage points at the start of the year to 26 points today. Republicans remain somewhat more likely than Democrats to say the economy is in excellent or good shape (37% vs. 11%).

Consistent with the patterns across income tiers overall, differences in economic ratings by income among both Republicans and Democrats are now much smaller than they were in January.

Who will benefit from the federal aid package?

There is general agreement between Republicans and Democrats that the federal aid package will help large and small businesses, state and local governments and unemployed people. Still, the shares who think the aid package will help most groups tend to be larger among Republicans than Democrats.

Republicans more likely to say economic aid package will benefit most groups, except large businessesOverall, 83% of Republicans and Republican leaners think the federal government’s aid package will help small businesses either a great deal (32%) or a fair amount (51%). A smaller majority of Democrats and Democratic leaners (60%) think small businesses will get at least a fair amount of help from the aid. Larger majorities of Republicans than Democrats also think state and local governments (77% vs. 59%) and unemployed people (80% vs. 57%) will get at least a fair amount of help from the federal response to the coronavirus outbreak.

By contrast, Democrats (81%) are somewhat more likely than Republicans (74%) to think large businesses will receive at least a fair amount of help from the federal government; the share of Democrats who think large corporations will get a great deal of help from the aid package is nearly double the share of Republicans who say this (45% vs. 23%).

Lower-income households most likely to say federal aid package will help themAbout six-in-ten Republicans (61%) think self-employed people will benefit at least a fair amount from the federal aid. Democrats are less sure: 38% say it will help self-employed people a great deal or a fair amount, while 61% say it will help them not too much or not at all.

Both Republicans and Democrats see their own household as less likely to be helped by the federal aid than large and small businesses, state and local governments and unemployed people. Still, partisan differences extend to personal assessments.

Among Republicans, 51% think the aid will help their household at least a fair amount, while about as many (49%) say it will help them not too much or not at all. Democrats are less hopeful: 40% say it will help their household a great deal or fair amount, compared with 59% who think it won’t help much or at all.

There also are significant differences by household income in the shares who expect to be helped by the COVID-19 federal aid package.

A majority of Americans in lower-income households (59%) think the federal response will help them either a great deal (25%) or a fair amount (34%). About half (48%) of middle-income earners think the aid package will help them at least a fair amount. Upper-income earners are far less likely to say this: Just 22% expect the federal response to help their own household.

Republicans and Republican leaners are more likely than Democrats and Democratic leaners to expect their household to be helped by the aid package across all income tiers.

Many say economy will be better a year from now

Narrow majority thinks economic conditions will be better in a yearAlthough Americans have become much more negative about the current state of the economy, 55% expect that things will be better a year from now. Just 22% think they will be worse; another 22% think economic conditions will be about the same as they are today.

Younger people are much less optimistic that economic conditions will improve compared with older Americans. Nearly seven-in-ten of those ages 65 and older (69%) think the economy will be better in a year. By contrast, fewer than half (42%) of those ages 18 to 29 think things will be better, while 34% expect conditions to be worse in a year. While younger people were slightly less optimistic about the future economy even prior to the current downturn, the age gap is now substantially wider than it was in January.

Adults with a college degree and those with higher incomes are more likely to expect the economy to be better in a year than those with lower levels of education and income. In January, those with a college degree were less likely than those without a bachelor’s degree to say economic conditions would improve.

In addition, white adults (62%) are more likely than black (38%) and Hispanic (40%) adults to say conditions will be better in a year.

Some of largest differences in economic outlook are between Republicans and Democrats, though this partisan gap is somewhat narrower than it was in January. Today, 72% of Republicans and Republican leaners think conditions will be better in a year; relatively few think they will be worse (12%) or the same (15%). Democrats and Democratic leaners are more divided in their views: 41% expect the economy to be better, while 30% think it will be worse and 28% think it will be about the same.

How long will economic problems from the COVID-19 outbreak last?

While a narrow majority expects overall economic conditions to be better in a year, the public also thinks the negative economic impacts resulting from the coronavirus outbreak will persist for some time.

Most think economic problems from the COVID-19 outbreak will last more than six monthsAbout seven-in-ten (71%) say the economic problems resulting from the outbreak will last more than six months, including 39% who say that they will last a year or more. Just 9% think the economic problems resulting from the coronavirus outbreak will pass in three months, while 19% expect the problems to last four to six months.

College graduates are more likely than those without a degree to anticipate longer-term negative economic effects of the outbreak – with 79% of college grads vs. 67% of those without a degree expecting problems to last six months or longer.

About three-quarters of Democrats and Democratic leaners (78%) think economic problems will last more than six months, including 48% who think they will last a year or more. A narrower majority of Republicans (62%) think the problems will last more than six months, and just 28% expect them to last a year or more.

Democratic college grads most likely to see long-term economic problems resulting from COVID-19 outbreakWithin both parties, those with higher levels of education are more likely than those with lower levels of education to expect the negative impacts of the coronavirus outbreak on the economy to last at least a year.

These differences are particularly pronounced among Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents. Among Democrats, those with at least a college degree are 15 percentage points more likely than those with no degree to say that the economic impact of the coronavirus outbreak will last at least a year (58% compared with 43%).

A third of college-educated Republicans think the economic problems resulting from the outbreak will last a year or more, compared with 26% of Republicans with no college degree.

Will another federal aid package be necessary?

At this stage of the outbreak, 77% of the public thinks it will be necessary for the president and Congress to pass another bill to provide more economic assistance for the country.

Most Americans think more federal aid is needed to address COVID-19 impactWhile clear majorities in both parties say additional economic assistance will be necessary, there is less bipartisan unanimity in views about a follow-up bill than about the previous aid package. While nearly nine-in-ten Democrats say another bill will be necessary, a narrower majority of Republicans (66%) say the same.

Within the GOP, moderates and liberals (74%) are more likely than conservatives (61%) to say an additional aid package will be necessary. And liberal Democrats are slightly more likely than conservative and moderate Democrats to think another bill will be necessary (92% vs. 83%).

Personal financial ratings little changed

Even as national economic ratings have plummeted, personal financial assessments have been far more stable.

Modest decline in personal financial ratings compared with last yearIn the current survey, 47% describe their own personal financial situation as excellent or good, compared with slightly more (52%) saying it is only fair or poor. Last summer, about as many described their finances as excellent or good (50%) as said they were only fair or poor (49%).

Upper-income and middle-income households have seen a sharper decline in their personal financial ratings than lower-income households. Since last summer, the share rating their own finances as excellent or good is down 13 percentage points among middle-income households and down 11 points among upper-income households; these ratings are down just 3 points among lower-income households. Still, very large differences remain in personal ratings across income tiers: Higher earners are almost three times as likely as lower earners to say their finances are in excellent or good shape (75% vs. 27%).

Previous telephone polling has found that personal economic ratings tend to change less dramatically than national ratings. For instance, during the Great Recession, assessments of the national economy showed more dramatic movement and became more intensely negative than personal ratings.

While the decline in overall personal financial ratings has been modest, a new analysis of the coronavirus outbreak’s impact on family finances finds that 43% say someone in their household has taken a pay cut or lost a job as a result of the outbreak.

In part, the difference in these two measures is tied to the fact that those who already rated their own personal financial situation as only fair or poor in August of 2019 are significantly more likely to say their household has experienced wage cuts or job loss as a result of the coronavirus outbreak than those who rated their finances more positively last summer.

The public’s expectations for the direction of their future financial situation is also little changed: 42% now expect their personal financial situation to be better a year from now than it is today, while 46% say it will be about the same and 12% expect it to be worse.

Collection – Commercial real estate must do more than merely adapt to coronavirus

By Vaibhav Gujral, Robert PalterAditya Sanghvi, and Brian Vickery

Full link: https://www.mckinsey.com/industries/private-equity-and-principal-investors/our-insights/commercial-real-estate-must-do-more-than-merely-adapt-to-coronavirus?cid=other-eml-alt-mip-mck&hlkid=84ec543d13244e71b38dcd2d6efdbf31&hctky=2618809&hdpid=e895998a-b865-42f1-8ea0-8f2ace9d85c6

COVID-19 is a humanitarian challenge that will have lasting effects on how people live, work, and play. By acting today, real estate leaders can best serve end users and ensure their own viability.

In a matter of weeks, the lives of so many have changed in ways they had never imagined. People can no longer meet, work, eat, shop, and socialize as they used to. The working world moved rapidly from business as usual to cautious travel, office closures, and work-from-home mandates. Instead of traveling and going out to eat at restaurants, consumers across the world are tightening their purse strings to spend only on essentials—primarily food, medicine, and home supplies—and getting these delivered much more often.

Physical distancing has directly changed the way people inhabit and interact with physical space, and the knock-on effects of the virus outbreak have made the demand for many types of space go down, perhaps for the first time in modern memory. This has created an unprecedented crisis for the real estate industry. Beyond the immediate challenge, the longer this crisis persists, the more likely we are to see transformative and lasting changes in behavior.

To respond to the current and urgent threat of COVID-19, and to lay the groundwork to deal with what may be permanent changes for the industry after the crisis, real estate leaders must take action now. Many will centralize cash management to focus on efficiency and change how they make portfolio and capital expenditure decisions. Some players will feel an even greater sense of urgency than before to digitize and provide a better—and more distinctive—tenant and customer experience. And, as the crisis affects commercial tenants’ ability to make lease payments, many operators will need to make thousands of decisions for specific situations rather than making just a few, broad-based portfolio-wide decisions.

Most real estate players have been smart to begin with decisions that protect the safety and health of all employees, tenants, and other end users of space. The smartest will now also think about how the real estate landscape may be permanently changed in the future, and will alter their strategy. Those that succeed in strengthening their position through this crisis will go beyond just adapting: they will have taken bold actions that deepen relationships with their employees, investors, end users, and other stakeholders.

The immediate challenge

Over the past several years, real estate investments have generated steady cash flow and returns significantly above traditional sources of yield—such as corporate debt—with only slightly more risk. Since the virus outbreak, however, this reality has changed, and real estate players have been hit hard across the value chain. Service providers are struggling to mitigate health risks for their employees and customers. Many developers can’t obtain permits and they face construction delays, stoppages, and potentially shrinking rates of return. Meanwhile, many asset owners and operators face drastically reduced operating income, and almost all are nervous about how many tenants will struggle to make their lease payments. “Concession” and “abatement” are the words of the day, and players are working rapidly to figure out for whom they apply and how much.

Not all real estate assets are performing the same way during the crisis. The market seems to have pivoted mostly on the inherent degree of physical proximity among an asset class’s users—even more so than on its lease length. Assets that have greater human density seem to have been the hardest hit: healthcare facilities, regional malls, lodging, and student housing have sold off considerably. By contrast, self-storage facilities, industrial facilities, and data centers have faced less-significant declines. As of April 3, by one estimate, the unlevered enterprise value of real estate assets had fallen 25 percent or more in most sectors and as much as 37 percent for lodging (the most extreme example).1 It’s no surprise that—when shoppers avoid crowds, universities send students home, and retailers, restaurants, and hotels close their doors—owning and operating those properties is a less valuable proposition. As such, liquidity and balance-sheet resilience have become paramount.

Behavioral changes that may outlive the crisis

Real estate owners and operators across almost every asset class are considering several potential longer-term effects of the coronavirus outbreak and the required changes that these shifts are likely to bring.

For example, within commercial office space, the multiyear trend toward densification and open-plan layouts may reverse sharply. Public-health officials may increasingly amend building codes to limit the risk of future pandemics, potentially affecting standards for HVAC, square footage per person, and amount of enclosed space. At the same time, just as baby boomers age into the sweet spot for independent and assisted living, fear of viral outbreaks like COVID-19 may prompt them to stay in their current homes longer. It is possible that demand for senior living assets could dampen, or the product could change altogether to meet new preferences for more physical space and more-intensive operational requirements. It is also possible that senior-living facilities could prove they are best able to handle viral outbreaks, accelerating demand.

The COVID-19 experience could also permanently change habits that may affect demand for other real estate assets, such as hospitality properties and short-term leases. Even a short moratorium on business travel could have lasting impact when alternatives such as video conferences prove sufficient or even preferrable. Near-shoring of supply chains may further reduce demand for cross-border business travel, and consumers who are afraid of traveling overseas may shift leisure travel to local destinations.

Consumers forced to shop online because of closed malls and shopping centers may permanently adjust their buying habits for certain categories toward e-commerce. Before the pandemic, consumers were already shifting their spending away from physical stores. This long-term trend may accelerate even faster after the crisis—especially as many previously struggling brands are tipped over the edge into bankruptcy or forced to radically reduce their footprint. Early evidence from China shows some staying power in the coronavirus-driven shift to e-commerce. Within certain product categories where supermarkets or mainstream retailers competed with online retailers, substantial market share could transfer to online players.

The shift to e-commerce may also further boost already high demands for industrial space. Relatively niche asset classes (such as self-storage and cloud kitchens) could see an improvement in their unit economics, as demand density goes up when more people work from home, while other asset classes (such as coliving) may suffer. And universities forced to educate remotely for entire semesters could convince students and other stakeholders that existing tools are sufficient to provide a high-quality education at a lower cost, and a new type of hybrid (online–offline) education could become even more widely embraced.

The depth and breadth of economic impact on the real estate sector is uncertain, just as the scale of human catastrophe from the pandemic is yet to be seen. However, behavioral changes that will lead to significant space becoming obsolete in a post-coronavirus environment seem imminent. Given the potential for transformative changes, real estate players will be well served to take immediate action to improve their businesses but also keep one eye on a future that could be meaningfully different.

How leading real estate owners and operators are navigating the crisis

While the longer-term consequences are difficult to predict, the immediate market consequences of the coronavirus crisis have been made clear—the public market sell-off in certain real estate types has been nothing short of dramatic. All companies, public and private, are working hard to navigate the immediate crisis with respect to staff, tenants, and end users of space, while also facing tough business trade-offs. Most industry leaders seek to strike the right balance between capital preservation and further strengthening their competitive differentiation.

Over the past several years, industry leaders have been diversifying sources of revenue, pursuing digital strategies, and focusing on tenant experience. The COVID-19 crisis has accelerated the need for those strategic changes—and highlighted that those that haven’t yet made such investments will probably need to catch up quickly. For example, while relatively few real estate companies were actively developing or pursuing digital and advanced analytics strategies before the pandemic, such strategies can help with tenant attraction and churn, commercial lease negotiations, asset valuation, and improved tenant experience and operations. Other direct results of the outbreak include the need to meaningfully engage with customers and employees on health and safety in physical spaces.

In the wake of the coronavirus outbreak, real estate industry leaders are taking on a set of common imperatives.

Earning the respect, trust, and loyalty of customers and employees

Above all, owners and operators have an obligation to protect the safety and health of people by all reasonable means. For leading operators, the need to overcommunicate—to both make sure they fully understand tenants’ needs in this moment and help protect everyone in their ecosystem—is leading to some changes in behavior. This may make the practice of communicating as a company-level brand (rather than property-level brand) more common, speeding up an existing market trend. In B2B environments, such as offices and retail stores, CEOs and management teams may join asset managers and property managers and engage directly with tenants. They should follow up quickly on the actions they have discussed with tenants. Not only are such changes the right thing to do—they’re also good business: tenants and users of space will remember the effort, and the trust built throughout the crisis will go a long way toward protecting relationships and value.

Centralizing cash management

Real estate has always been highly decentralized: many important decisions that impact cash flow have been made at the property level. But given the uncertainty around the duration and depth of this crisis, top management is now providing more centralized direction on property-level cash management in addition to company-level balance-sheet decisions and credit lines. All levels of management—including those at the property level and company level—are beginning to identify efficiency levers and when to pull them based on the underlying performance of properties and the business as a whole. In the past, few properties and companies took a lean-enterprise mentality toward capital and operating expenses. Those that do adopt lean practices and eliminate inefficiencies, however, can buy themselves a little more time to work through uncertainty. But creativity can also be employed more often, as not all cash-creating activities need to involve cutting costs. For example, some developers engaged in residential sales are looking into innovative ways to liquidate new inventory, such as lease-to-own programs and financing partnerships.

Making tailored, informed decisions—particularly in commercial lease concessions

While it may be tempting to make reductive assumptions about the coronavirus outbreak’s economic impact, the corresponding policy responses at city, state, and federal levels will not be uniform across real estate portfolios. Even within a single asset, needs will vary among tenants. Thanks to the richness of available behavioral data, select real estate leaders will use analytics to generate fact-based insights on local epidemiological and economic scenarios, what is happening to competitive assets around a property, and the impact of the crisis on individual tenants. These perspectives can inform highly targeted decisions, rather than a one-action-fits-all-tenants approach.

Nearly every landlord is preparing for the effects of the downturn, when scores of tenants across asset classes will ask for lease concessions or abatement. While a single policy across all tenants and properties may be easier to implement, decisions must be made for each situation, starting with a consideration of tenants’ safety and well-being. In the office sector, factors such as price point in the market, tenant-renewal probability, tenant-default probability, local regulations, building appearance due to vacant spaces, and potential reputational risks should inform individual decisions. Few real estate players have information about these on hand, and even fewer have the right tools, processes, and governance to make decisions. For instance, they rarely have detailed protocols in place for what can be decided at a property level versus what should be decided centrally, as well as what tools can be used for leasing or which asset-management professionals must make these tough decisions daily. Properly implemented, a set of clear protocols along with structured, fact-based decisioning will ensure fairness and procedural justice for tenants and help operators communicate their actions with key stakeholders, including tenants, investors, and lenders.

Taking the digital leap

Before the crisis, the real estate industry had been moving toward digitizing processes and creating digitally enabled services for tenants and users. Practically overnight, physical distancing and the lockdown of physical spaces have magnified the importance of digitization, particularly by measures such as tenant and customer experience. Within residential real estate, players that have invested in digital sales and leasing processes—using virtual open houses and showings; augmented and virtual reality; and omnichannel, targeted, and personalized sales—will more quickly allow their residents to find the right space for themselves.

When an operator may have to keep its amenity spaces closed for months, creating a differentiated experience will necessarily involve a suite of digital-first products and experiences: telehealth, on-demand delivery and concierge services, virtual communities, contactless access for residents, guests, and maintenance staff, and much more. As more users adopt these digital-first products and services, users’ expectations will be raised, and players that provide a differentiated post-crisis experience will stay ahead of the curve. These digital offerings will pay dividends in the form of superior loyalty and the ability to create brand new revenue streams while better meeting the needs of tenants and end-users.

Acquiring operating companies, not just single assets

In the context of a post-coronavirus world, most investors and operators are reconsidering all capital decisions. Extreme uncertainty surrounding the duration of cash-flow depression and exit capitalization rates make it exceedingly challenging to underwrite acquisitions and discretionary capital expenditure with confidence. And private market players that are not facing near-term financial distress intend to hold assets through the downturn—some view the current environment as a valuation issue, not a value issue. Still, record-high dry powder is influencing investor attitudes. Many have already shifted their mindsets toward finding single assets at bargain prices, though the current difficulty in accessing capital markets has delayed action, and supply may remain constrained as potential sellers wait for valuations to return. These combined complications have caused many real estate leaders to focus on acquisitions of operating companies, large asset portfolios, and public real estate investment trusts.

Rethinking the future of real estate, now

Some landlords are now starting the process of thinking ahead to when the crisis is over. Strategic review processes aim to understand how real estate usage might change going forward. However, rather than relying on traditional economic or customer-survey-driven approaches, real estate leaders are looking to psychologists, sociologists, futurists, and technologists for answers. Will employees demand larger and more enclosed workspaces? Will people decide not to live in condominiums for fear of having to ride elevators? While uncertainty currently reigns, by employing a range of creative personnel and using new methodologies—such as deep design interviews—business leaders may find new and more predictive insights.


As during the period following the global financial crisis of 2008, while some real estate players go beyond just adapting and flourishing, others fade. Individual firms’ abilities to weather the storm will depend on how they respond to immediate challenges to the industry—particularly the current declines in short-term cash flow and demand for space, as well as the uncertainty surrounding commercial tenants’ ability to pay their bills. In the medium to long term, the changed behaviors forced upon the industry will have likely altered the way consumers and businesses use and interact with real estate. The critical question is which of these changes will stick. Throughout, acting quickly and smartly will help determine the fate of players not only in these challenging times but also as the industry emerges from the current crisis and inevitably reinvents itself.

Landscape – China’s post-COVID-19 woes to flow through the Mekong

Author: Heidi Dahles, Griffith University

Full link: https://www.eastasiaforum.org/2020/04/15/chinas-post-covid-19-woes-to-flow-through-the-mekong/

As China shows signs of recovery from the COVID-19 outbreak, speculations abound about what a post-COVID-19 future will look like. Amid the cacophony of voices, consensus is gathering that global power balances will shift. What this shift might entail is fiercely debated. Some see China rising to global leadership and offering resources and experience to those currently battling the pandemic. Others suspect that China is engaging in a sinister campaign to push other countries further into dependency.

Checking body temperatures for people at a station for COVID-19 prevention and control in Tu Ky district, the northern province of Hai Duong on 5 April, 2020.

While China seems well positioned to lead the global economic revival, the damage to its economy is severe and prospects for a swift recovery look dim. 2020 GDP growth forecasts vary between 1.7 and 3.5 per cent, well below the official target range of 6 per cent. China will struggle to rebuild its productive capacity, supply chains and markets. Therefore, China is likely to turn to consolidating power in its own backyard — the Mekong region of Thailand, Laos, Myanmar, Cambodia and Vietnam.

Recent figures released by the Asian Development Bank show staggering economic losses across the Mekong region due to the global health crisis. Thailand is projected to lose US$5.6 billion or 1.11 per cent of its GDP and Vietnam will lose US$1.01 billion or 0.41 per cent of its GDP.

Tourism, manufacturing and trade are the hardest hit sectors across the region. The Mekong countries have come to rely on tourism as a major contributor to their economies. In 2018, the tourism industry is estimated to have contributed more than 30 per cent of GDP in Cambodia and 20 per cent in Thailand. A drop in tourist numbers has had devastating impacts, particularly where Chinese visitors dominate the market. All Mekong countries also find their supply chains with China disrupted, forcing manufacturers to shut down as their supplies of raw materials dry up.

In a post-COVID-19 world, the China-centred supply chain networks holding the region together seem to be a thing of the past. The relocation of production bases from China to ASEAN countries — initially commenced with the onset of the US–China trade war — will gather further momentum. Major US importers have started to buy directly from Mekong countries to avoid escalating tariffs. The region will see a surge in foreign direct investment and a boost to overall standards of production and workforce skill levels.

China can soon be expected to invest large sums in infrastructure projects in an attempt to prop up GDP growth rates. China has already committed billions of dollars in concessional loans and credit to Mekong countries via ambitious regional projects including the Lancang-Mekong Cooperation and the China-Indochina Peninsula Economic Corridor.

These collaborative frameworks will be further strengthened in a post-COVID-19 world to advance China’s bid for a leadership role in the region. In a special ASEAN–China foreign ministers’ meeting relating to the COVID-19 outbreak, China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi pushed for ‘closer and more active cooperation, so as to safeguard the health and lives of the people and to forge a closer China–ASEAN community of a shared future’. China recently shipped medical supplies to Cambodia to combat COVID-19 to match words with action.

Most of the Mekong countries maintain smooth relationships with Beijing and do not form an obstacle to China’s ambitions. Cambodia stands out as a particularly strong supporter of China. But Vietnam and Myanmar remain sceptical of China’s massive investments in mega dams along the Mekong and its claims in the South China Sea. Vietnam has consequently been left out of all major Belt and Road Initiative projects and had to request China release water from its upstream mega dams as rural communities along the Mekong were suffering from persistent water shortages.

Cambodia’s recent announcement that it would not build any new hydropower dams on the Mekong Mainstream for the next decade is of great significance. Hailed by environmentalists and human rights groups as a victory for biodiversity and local livelihoods, it is most of all an indication that China’s stance towards Vietnam is softening. China wants Vietnam on board.

Once COVID-19 subsides, old and new challenges will persist. With no end in sight to the US–China trade war, economies around the world are likely to continue to diversify their supply chains away from China towards Mekong countries, which are being propelled into increasing competition with China. China’s supremacy and access to the South China Sea will continue to be hampered as the United States and Japan broker agreements with countries in the Mekong region.

Note – Blooloop weekend briefing: Attractions reopen | Expo 2020 Dubai postponement | #CreepiestObject

Theme parks

Bob Iger has joined the Governor of California’s new economic task force, designed to develop economic recovery strategies to COVID-19.

Top executives from Walt Disney World and Universal Orlando Resort have joined Florida’s task force, designed to reopen Florida.

In a call with Florida’s new task force, Universal Orlando’s CEO mentions potential steps the theme park could take to reopen.

Universal Orlando Resort has sent a survey to its annual pass holders about possible precautions the theme park could take when it reopens.

Disney furloughs 100,000 workers as its theme parks remain closed. 70,000 of these were at Walt Disney World, while 17,000 staff at Disneyland Paris have also been placed on furlough.

Shinsegae Property has signed the contract which will allow it to start construction on an international theme park in Hwaseong, Korea.

SeaWorld has released information about the proactive financial steps it has taken to weather the COVID-19 storm.

Several more Fantawild Holdings theme parks are due to reopen in China, with extra health and safety measures in place.

Universal Parks and Resorts filed a patent in 2019 for a new in-ride sanitisation method that can be used for glasses, goggles or even ride handles.

Shanghai Disneyland has reportedly started testing parades, nighttime shows and indoor theatre performances with social distancing measures.

Compagnie des Alpes has released its COVID-19 financial strategy.

Zoos and Aquarium

In a world-first, Florida Aquarium has reproduced ridged cactus coral in human care. They hope this will help them repair the damaged Florida Reef Tract.

Kolmarden Zoo is extending its opening times from 1 May after a successful and safe partial reopening.

Museums

The Getty Museum has launched an Animal Crossing art generator, allowing members of the public to import its artwork into the popular game.

Museum curators around the world are sharing the #CreepiestObject in their collections on social media.

The Museum of London has issued an EOI for the first phase of construction for its new site at Smithfields Market.

Museums in Germany have started to reopen with strict hygiene precautions, as the government eases lockdown restrictions.

Attractions

The CEO of Wynn Resorts has suggested steps that can be taken to reopen Las Vegas in early May.

Expo 2020 Dubai is one step closer to being postponed for a year. The Executive Committee of the BIE proposed changing the date to 2021 and the General Assembly will now vote on this proposal.

As the attraction and tourist industry suffers because of COVID-19, a new platform, HTTP.US, has been launched to support business in the industry.

Holovis has developed a new app called Crowd Solo to help attractions open safely and with social distancing measures after the coronavirus pandemic.

In depth

Why season passes are so important to theme parks MORE

When disaster strikes, how do leisure & attractions stage a comeback? MORE

Coronavirus shutdowns and home-schooling: how museums are providing alternative education MORE

3 big questions facing theme parks in the post-coronavirus era MORE
Coronavirus update: news from the attractions industry MORE
Attractions news: Animal Crossing | Safety plans for reopening | Cocktails with curators MORE

Note – Nikkei Asian: Coronavirus Special: Our four-part series on Asia and the pandemic

Covering a global health crisis from quarantine

The past few months have been challenging for news organizations like ours. With lockdowns in place, old-fashioned shoe-leather reporting has become all but impossible. Stuttering video links have replaced conference meetings, and Slack messages are the nearest facsimile we have to the snatched conversations in corridors that so often generate story ideas.

It has also been personally wearing. The international nature of the news business means that many of us have become accustomed to living lives across borders. A serial migrant, I have family in Europe, North America and Southeast Asia. Affordable air travel and the luxury of a European passport have meant that those distances had shrunk in the imagination. As flights were cancelled and borders closed, the distances yawned open again.

At the Nikkei Asian Review, we have been trying to understand what this all means. A third of the world’s population is locked down. Whole economies are shuttered. Borders that have been open for generations are now closed, disrupting supply chains, trade, investment and tourism — the very foundations of globalization.

A few days after we decided to suspend our scheduled stories and throw our resources into this four-part series on the Covid-19 pandemic, I went into my own self-quarantine, after finding out that I’d been in close contact with someone who had later been hospitalized with COVID-19.

That meant that while reporting the first part of our series, looking at these unprecedented changes to the movement of goods and people, I was shut in, thousands of kilometers from my family, trying to navigate the same complex and frightening fractures that we were trying to explain. What I found, on long video calls with people across the region who were similarly confined, was an unexpected and reassuring solidarity. People needed to talk at that moment, even if it was to a reporter.

In the second piece we charted the search for a treatment for this new disease, from the hospitals where doctors and nurses are having to experiment in the middle of an unfolding catastrophe, to the researchers building global networks and using cutting edge computing to identify drugs. This brought us close to a story that was taking on heartbreaking dimensions — tens of thousands dead, more than a million infected. One minute we were speaking to doctors making impossible decisions in the midst of a crisis; the next we were on the phone to our own family members on isolation wards.

Next we looked at the state of global governance. We explored how this crisis has revealed the gaps in international institutions, and how it has been exploited by nationalists and demagogues with a zero-sum game view of world affairs. With the world in need of leadership, few countries have answered the call. As former Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd told writer James Crabtree: “In 2008 we built a machine to manage a crisis just like this one. But, so far, no one has stepped up to drive that machine.”

Finally, we ended as we started: in lockdown. The fourth entry in our series looks at how life across Asia has changed in the weeks and months of enforced or voluntary isolation. In India, millions of migrant workers have been stranded; in Jakarta and Singapore, middle class workers are struggling to adapt; in Japan and Vietnam, lives lived close to the edge have been pushed over it.

The crisis is far from over. Here in Tokyo, many people are worried that cases could surge and that the frontline could come to us. We have taken huge steps in just a few weeks to make profound changes to how we work. We can only hope it will be enough. As one doctor, overwhelmed and exhausted, told me two weeks ago: “You think you’re ready, right up to the moment where you find out you’re not.”

— Peter Guest, Cover story editor

Note – McKinsey: Can retail ever bounce back from the coronavirus?

This week, we look at how retail faces a trial like no other as stores stay mostly shuttered and consumer purchasing patterns shift. Plus, the HBR McKinsey Award for the best Harvard Business Review article of the year goes to a piece that delves into the paradox of innovative cultures.

image of ice cream cone on the ground

Store closings, travel bans, record unemployment … Being in the midst of a global pandemic is nerve wracking, to say the least. Yet even as we worry about friends and family and follow the latest updatesCOVID-19 is disrupting the economy in a major way. The McKinsey Global Institute estimates that the economic slowdown caused by virus-suppression efforts may very well lead to the largest quarterly decline in economic activity since the 1930s.
How are retailers faring during this time? Not well, as you might imagine. Last week, the US Commerce Department said retail sales plunged more than 8 percent in March, the largest decline in the nearly three decades the government has tracked the data. And April is expected to be worse.
As borders have closed, multinational companies and their supply chains have been thrown into disarray. In addition, the economic consequences of lockdowns are serious: people living under stay-at-home ordinances don’t visit restaurants, go see movies, plan vacations, or buy clothes. According to McKinsey estimates, up to 50 percent of discretionary consumer spending may be lost. For the $2.5 trillion global fashion industry, this could mean a 30 percent year-on-year decrease in revenue for 2020.
The pandemic is creating dramatic shifts in consumer behavior, including purchasing patterns. During times of crisis, people hold off on buying nonessential items while stocking up on necessities. McKinsey’s consumer research bears that out: survey respondents in Italy, Spain, the US, and the UK all said that, over a two-week period, they would spend more on groceries and household supplies and less on jewelry, clothes, hotel stays, furniture, appliances, and international and domestic travel. In addition, given the widespread practice of physical distancing and self-quarantine, consumers are focusing more of their spending online.
With so much uncertainty surrounding how long it may take the economy to recover, retailers will want to start building resilience now. Lessons gleaned from the last recession are helpful. By analyzing the performance of more than 1,000 companies from 2007–11, a period that includes the Great Recession of 2007–08, McKinsey learned what sets top performers apart.
These “retail resilients” increased cash reserves and moved into new markets, among other measures. While resiliency is important, it’s likely to be insufficient here. COVID-19 could end up dwarfing the financial crisis in economic damage. In that case, it will not be enough for many companies to tweak their business model; instead, they will need to rethink it.

Wage stagnation’s long history

There is pre-coronavirus data and post-coronavirus data, and never the twain shall meet. But we thought it was worth looking at our report from way back in February, The social contract in the 21st century, that noted how wage stagnation has been a persistent challenge for workers across economies even before the crisis erupted.

Wage stagnation’s long history exhibit

the Shortlist

McKinsey & Company

Note – AngelList: Remote work’s secret (and not-so-secret) winners

How COVID-19 has impacted business software spend

COVID-19 is reshaping our internet habits image

Last week, we talked about how COVID-19 reshaped consumer internet habits. This week, we’ll explore how the virus has affected business software spend. The data comes from research done by TrustRadius, a software review site.

The obvious winners

We all know that Zoom is winning. Web conferencing is up 5x overall. What’s notable, though, is that startups are starting to challenge Zoom. One of those challengers is Loom, a Sequoia-backed video platform founded in 2016. There’s been an almost 200x increase in traffic to the Zoom vs. Loom comparison page on TrustRadius.

The secret winner in the category: the VC firm that backed both companies. Sequoia Capital led Loom’s Series B and Zoom’s Series D.

The ones that make you say “oh, yeah, that makes sense”

Interest in electronic signature companies like DocuSign and HelloSign is up 5x. People apparently don’t want to sign documents that other people have passed around, with pens that others have used. This might also explain the recent popularity of an open-source project called FalsiScan, which gives users a way to “make it look like a PDF has been hand-signed and scanned”. You didn’t hear it from us.

Other “oh, yeahs” include antivirus software (up 3.5x), because big companies are making their employees install it. Also, “web portal” software is up 2x. We’re still not quite sure what web portal software does, other than provide confirmation to its users that they do not work at a startup.

More from Today in Tech

Buffer software engineer Jose Gilgado shares nine tips that have helped him make the most of remote work.

  • Over-communicate by default
  • Use your flexible schedule wisely
  • You’re not alone, so connect with others
  • If something feels off, say so
  • Deliberately make time for brainstorming and creativity
  • Find a mentor within the team
  • Align with the team or company’s goals
  • Focus on one thing at a time and one thing only
  • Focus on the things that don’t change
A business moat is a key competitive advantage that sets a company apart from its competitors. From Amazon to Uber, CB Insights looks at how 19 of the world’s biggest companies have built and defended their moats
Stand out in a job interview by asking the right questions about your prospective employer.

  • Avoid only asking self-serving questions
  • Ask one question at a time
  • Avoid “Yes” or “No” questions
  • Ask questions about multiple topics
  • Don’t ask what the company does
Steve Blank suggests using the customer discovery methodology to search for new careers.

  • Start by doing some reading and research, looking to the leading publications in the field you’re interested in learning more about.
  • Get out of the building (virtually) and talk to people in the professions you’re interested in. Learn about the job, whether they enjoy it, and how you can get on that career track.
  • Get out of the building physically. If possible, volunteer for some front-line activities. Think about internships in the new fields you’re exploring.
  • Inexpensively pivot your education into a new field. An online education could be a viable alternative to expensive college debt.

AngelList

Note – Fisher: Perspective on China’s Historic Q1 GDP Report

By Fisher Investments Editorial Staff,

Full link: https://www.fisherinvestments.com/en-us/marketminder/perspective-on-chinas-historic-q1-gdp-report

GDP reporting methods vary—an important fact investors shouldn’t overlook.

Last Friday, China reported Q1 2020 GDP fell -6.8% y/y, its first contraction since the country began reporting quarterly GDP in 1992. While this is no doubt a landmark event, it didn’t shock many. Analysts and economists widely expected a decline, to varying degrees, given the government essentially shut down the economy from late January through February to try to contain COVID-19. Some pointed out the drop was bigger than analysts anticipated, but those estimates were more like hugely disparate guesses, so we doubt that means much. Economists are now debating China’s growth prospects for the rest of the year, with most outlooks pessimistic. As many rightly point out, other major economies have virus-related restrictions in place now, and until eased, growth globally likely suffers—weighing on demand for Chinese goods. But besides the underlying details, we believe investors should also keep in mind how China reports GDP—methods vary, and comparing different countries’ headline numbers won’t always be apples-to-apples.

For historical context, here is a chart showing Chinese GDP growth since 1992.

Exhibit 1: Chinese GDP Quarterly Growth Rate Since 1992

Source: FactSet, as of 4/17/2020. Chinese GDP year-over-year growth rate, quarterly, Q1 1992 – Q1 2020.

All three major economic sectors—agriculture, heavy industry and services—contracted on a year-over-year basis (-3.2%, -9.6% and -5.2%, respectively).[i] Of 11 reporting subsectors, just 2 (Finance and Technology) grew.[ii] Any way you slice it, China’s six-week shutdown roiled the economy.

But China began easing restrictions in March, and some widely watched monthly gauges suggest certain parts of the economy were improving on a relative basis. (Note: China routinely combines many January/February monthly data points due to the shifting timing of the Lunar New Year.) March retail sales fell -15.8% y/y after plunging -20.5% in January-February, but beneath the headline figure, online sales rose, and spending on communication devices turned positive.[iii] After contracting -13.5% y/y in January-February, industrial production slipped -1.1% y/y in March—still contractionary, though a much slower pace of decline.[iv] Factories catching up on export orders boosted the gauge, though this recovery may be fleeting since foreign demand has dried up due to coronavirus restrictions. Fixed asset investment—a measure of construction and development activity—contracted -16.1% year to date (YTD) through March versus 2019’s first three months.[v] This, too, is a slower rate of contraction given the measure fell -24.5% YTD y/y in the January-February period, another signal of recovering economic activity as domestic restrictions eased.

Yet these relative improvements may not last, since major Western economies followed China’s lead in March with their own virus-containment policies. Both China’s official and the Caixin purchasing managers’ indexes (PMIs) show export orders dropped far into contractionary territory in February and March, a sign of flagging overseas demand. As many observers have noted, this development will likely weigh on Chinese output in Q2 and potentially beyond.

Looking ahead, we don’t expect a huge rebound in Q2 GDP—perhaps not even Q3. But this isn’t saying anything about the state of China’s recovery—it stems from the GDP calculation method most reports for China cite. China started reporting seasonally adjusted quarterly GDP only in 2011, and many observers are skeptical this methodology works well. Hence, pundits usually report China’s GDP growth rate on a year-over-year basis—that is to say, the current report compares Q1 2020 to Q1 2019; next quarter’s will compare Q2 2020 to Q2 2019. If Q2 2020 output rebounds rapidly, the change would be very apparent when compared to Q1 2020, when GDP fell swiftly. Yet that improvement will be nearly invisible in a Q2 2020 – Q2 2019 comparison, as the GDP base in calculation was higher in the latter. That math could obscure even a strong rebound.

Keep these reporting differences in mind as other major economies announce Q1 GDP in the coming weeks. Besides the year-over-year comparison, countries may also report GDP changes on a quarter-over-quarter basis (seasonally adjusted GDP in the current quarter versus the prior). Some also announce annualized growth rates—what the quarter-over-quarter growth rate, compounded, would equate to if it persisted for a full year. The UK and many economies in Europe primarily cite quarter-over-quarter growth while the US and Japan use annualized growth rates as their standard. (Hence, European Q1 or Q2 GDP drops may look far smaller than American or Japanese, although they may not be.) Some methods provide more granular detail, but no single reporting method is inherently better than the other. Instead, they tell you different information. But those nuances may get lost in headlines, so prepare yourself now and don’t base country-to-country comparisons on mismatched growth rates.


[i] Source: National Bureau of Statistics of China, as of 4/20/2020.

[ii] Ibid.

[iii] Ibid.

[iv] Ibid.

[v] Ibid.

FISHER INVESTMENTS ® MARKETMINDER DIGEST

Note – DealStreetAsia: The Week That Was

April is almost over and it already feels like we have been stuck in 2020 for way too long. While the world is not out of the woods yet, this week brought us some big announcements — all unarguably in the works for months before COVID-19 happened — to switch things up a little.
Big deal 


This week, Facebook announced a $5.7 billion investment in the digital platform of India’s Reliance Jio after reportedly encountering hiccups due to COVID-19. The announcement, coinciding with a tanking of the global oil market, could not have been timed better by Mukesh Ambani, one of Asia’s richest billionaires who has built his Reliance empire on oil.

The massive commitment includes the companies’ plan to rally forces and use WhatsApp to connect and transact with India’s 30 million neighbourhood grocery stores, which have served as the country’s lifeline during an unprecedented lockdown. The Reliance-Facebook combination, say experts, will be one to reckon with in a post-COVID India.

Q1 report card   


Startups in Greater China collected almost $8.65 billion in the first quarter of this calendar year, according to DealStreetAsia data. The total was shored up by the dealmaking highs of March, which alone saw transactions worth over $6.13 billion.

Consultancy firm Bain expects the virus to continue impacting dealmaking in Greater China through the second quarter of 2020, with a revival expected in the second half of the year.

Meanwhile, in Southeast Asia, startups announced transactions worth $2.9 billion in Q1, compared with a mere $955 million in the fourth quarter of last year and a 3 per cent increase from the first quarter of last year. A closer look at the data shows several signs of weakness, including fewer dollars allocated per funding stage.

Real estate investors are keeping busy 


GLP this week announced making the final close of a 15 billion yuan (around $2.1 billion) China fund that will invest in modern logistics assets in the country. The fund was launched in November 2019. Six of its seven institutional backers are new GLP investors.

Australian logistics developer Logos Group reached the first close of its fourth China logistics venture at $800 million after securing the backing of Ivanhoe Cambridge, Dutch property fund manager Bouwinvest, and an unnamed GCC-based investor.

ESR Cayman announced it was partnering Dutch pension administrator APG and Canada Pension Plan Investment Board to set up a $1 billion joint venture to invest in South Korean logistics real estate. The venture will focus on developing an industrial and warehousing logistics portfolio in Seoul and Busan.

Singapore sovereign wealth fund GIC Pte and data centre firm Equinix Inc have established a new joint venture worth more than $1 billion to build three data centres in Japan for the cloud computing market.

Facing headwinds


Hong Kong-headquartered English language training brand Wall Street English is understood to be looking to shut down its flagship China operations. The venture, which is backed by Baring Private Equity Asia and CITIC Capital, has previously faced allegations of predatory business practices.

STOQO, an Indonesian marketplace for small restaurant and hotel owners, has shut shop after enduring a serious setback to its business from the COVID-19 outbreak. The company had raised Series A funding from Monk’s Hill and Accel Partners India in 2018.

Singapore-based fashion platform Zilingo and Indian food delivery unicorn Swiggy are the latest startups to cull their workforces. Zilingo has confirmed trimming its global workforce by 5 per cent, while Swiggy is reportedly planning to lay off around 500 cloud kitchen staff.

Budget hotel booking platform RedDoorz has had to invoke the force majeure clause in Indonesia, telling its partners in the country it was unable to fulfil its existing contract obligations due to COVID-19 and offering alternative arrangements instead.

Indonesian fintech startup Akulaku has been suspended by global marketplace Mintos over late payments on about €4.7 million ($5.1 million) of loans. Mintos allows loan originators like Akulaku to raise funds from investors on its platform to disburse loans in their home markets.

Spotting opportunities in times of COVID-19


As startup valuations get eroded in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, China’s Qiming Venture Partners is ready with a billion-dollar war chest and a back-to-fundamentals approach to pick up “rare gems” in the market, said partner Helen Wong in an interview.

Malaysia’s state-backed investment firm Ekuinas sees an opportunity amid the current market volatility for businesses to pick up distressed assets and seal mergers and acquisitions, its chief told us.

Genevieve Heng, the co-founder of Myanmar-focused private equity firm Anthem Asia, sees COVID-19 as an inflexion point for many startups in the region to scale up, especially in sectors like education and healthcare.

If nothing else, the coronavirus pandemic will serve as a lesson to startups, says Indian venture builder GrowthStory‘s K Ganesh. For now, they should focus on conserving cash, said the promoter of BigBasketPortea Medical and HungerBox.

Finally


A string of layoffs announced at companies in Southeast Asia has not soured everyone’s startup dreams, according to this story; some former employees are taking it in their stride. Experts, however, warn companies to use these extreme measures only as the last resort.

That is all from me this week. Stay safe and healthy.

Deepshikha Monga
Editor, DealStreetAsia
deepshikha@dealstreetasia.com