We’ll see you next week for another discussion on the global business environment as we sit down with Ofir Angel to discuss international taxation, Israel, and the Middle East.
The large-scale shift to telework brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic is prompting businesses around the world to explore new avenues to engage with clients and friends. Harris Bricken is no exception, and we are proud to announce our new podcast series: Global Law and Business, hosted by international attorneys Fred Rocafort and Jonathan Bench.
In Episode #20, we discuss:
- The role of the World Bank in global development and how to access a career in international development.
- How the World Bank, as a lender of last resort, classifies countries and balances a country’s financing needs with its geopolitical and other risks.
- Key risks in infrastructure finance in developing nations.
- Key trends in PPPs, project finance, and infrastructure finance pre-, during-, and post-Covid.
- How developing nations are faring through Covid and their prospects for recovery.
- Reading, listening, and watching recommendations from:
- The World Bank’s PPP Blog article “COVID-19 and Infrastructure: A Very Tricky Opportunity” by Richard Abadie
- The Financial Times and The Economist
- “How China Controlled the Coronavirus” (The New Yorker), by Peter Hessler
- “Coronavirus Stalks Southeast Asia’s Once-thriving Unicorns” (Nikkei Asian Review), by Shotaro Tani, Wataru Suzuki, and Peter Guest
If you have comments on this episode or if you’d like to suggest topics for future episodes, please email globallawbiz [at] harrisbricken [dot] com.
And please follow Fred and Jonathan on social media to stay informed on upcoming guests and topics:
- Fred Rocafort (Twitter: @RocafortFred) (LinkedIn)
- Jonathan Bench (Twitter: @jonathan_bench) (LinkedIn)
- Global Law and Business Twitter: @globallawbiz
Note, the opinions expressed are solely Prajakta Chitre’s and do not express views or opinions of the World Bank Group as an institution.
This podcast audio has been transcribed by an automatic transcriber.
Fred Rocafort 0:07
Global law and global business go hand in hand, but never seem to keep pace with each other, developing and developed nations wax and wane and their importance in the global stage. While consumption and interconnectedness both increase, laws and regulations change incessantly, requiring businesses to stay nimble. How do we make sense of it all? Welcome to global law and business, hosted by Harris Bricken International Business attorneys. I’m Fred Rocafort
Jonathan Bench 0:34
and I’m Jonathan Bench. Every Thursday, we take a bite sized look at legal and economic developments and locales around the world as we try to decipher global trends in law and business with the help of our international guests. We cover continents, countries, regimes, governance, finance, legal developments, and whatever is trending on Twitter. We cover the important the seemingly unimportant, the relatively simple and the complex.
Fred Rocafort 0:59
We hope you enjoy today’s podcast. Please connect with us via email and social media to comment and suggest future topics and guests.
Jonathan Bench 1:16
Today we are joined by Prajakta Chitre a senior Infrastructure Finance specialist at the World Bank in Washington DC, where she works on Infrastructure Finance ppps, public private partnerships and guarantees. Her focus at the World Bank is to advise on and structure World Bank risk mitigation instruments in the form of guarantees to mobilize private capital for strategic infrastructure projects in emerging and developing markets. These include projects that involve the expansion of energy supply, state owned entity reforms, water supply, and the development of critical transport infrastructure to client countries. Prajakta has worked on transactions around the world more recently in Vietnam, the Philippines, Croatia, Kenya and Angola, as well as in what the World Bank classifies as fragile conflict and violence inflicted states, such as Malawi and Liberia. projector holds a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration from Georgetown University and an MBA from the George Washington University. projected thank you for being with us today.
Prajakta Chitre 2:17
Thank you, Jonathan. Thanks for having me.
Fred Rocafort 2:20
Prajakta, Welcome to the show. Could you please start off by describing your career trajectory and expand on what you do currently at the World Bank?
Prajakta Chitre 2:29
Sure. And then thank you as well, Fred, for having me. Good to speak to both of you. So my career trajectory really started in Infrastructure Finance. I’ve been working in the field for about 12 years now. And it started at a consulting firm here in DC actually called Parsons Brinckerhoff. It was a part of a large engineering firm, and I believe it’s now called WSP. And that’s really where I got my my introduction to What this world of Infrastructure Finance is all about the the work I did focused a lot on North America and a lot of developed markets. So it was it was a really interesting time when I was there to be working on it. It’s also my kind of inspiration for working in this space also started with my upbringing. I grew up in the Middle East, and a little island called Bahrain. And I grew up there at a time where the country was growing quite rapidly. And so I saw firsthand the critical role infrastructure development can play in the development of a country and a country’s economy and just bettering the lives of its citizens and its people so it really, you know, is inspired from quite a quite a young age and it’s quite close to home and so when I graduated undergrad, I got a job it is working in this space, and after a few years of working PV and getting amazing experience there I went to business school with Jonathan, where I met Jonathan at GW and used education I got at GW and the global kind of the global knowledge I kind of developed while in school to transition into a to the World Bank where I do something very similar. I work in Infrastructure Finance at the World Bank, but focusing on developed and developing markets been by developed I mean mostly emerging markets. The World Bank, in case you’re not familiar is a is one of the largest international financial institutions in the world. And it provides sources of funding in the form of loans, credits and grants, as well as knowledge to developing countries. We have about 189 member countries And within the World Bank itself, there are five institutions. There’s the International Development Agency, which focuses on the world’s poorest countries. And then the ibrd, the International Bank for Reconstruction development, which assists middle income and credit worthy poor countries. So my work, as Jonathan mentioned in the intro is is really spans across across the field of Ida and ibrd countries. The The objective of our work at the World Bank is always to keep in mind, our long term commitment to reducing poverty, increasing shared prosperity and promoting sustainable development. And this is quite critical as we provide financing policy advice and technical assistance to government that we keep these in mind.
Jonathan Bench 5:49
So when you’re checking in with your client countries, are you typically interacting with a finance level minister, sub minister, I mean, but who are you typically talking to when you’re checking in?
Prajakta Chitre 6:01
Sure so the World Bank as a whole our clients. So So one thing I didn’t mention earlier is that the World Bank Group has also has the IFC, which is International Financial Corporation meego, which is a multilateral and insurance guaranty agency. And an IFC and miga are what we see as liaising more with the private sector. The World Bank itself, our clients are, as you rightly said, ministers of finance and as well as ministers of infrastructure or economic planning or development, whatever the line ministry is that actually undertake some of the the works related to infrastructure development.
Jonathan Bench 6:44
So how does the world bank balance country’s financing needs with geopolitical or other country risks? I’m really curious how countries are classified in terms of needs and risks.
Prajakta Chitre 6:55
Right, so as I mentioned, we have two major categorizations countries and those are what come under Ida and the International Development Association and ibrd, the International Bank for Reconstruction development, and we kind of classify them into these two buckets. Either countries are much poorer and below a specific GDP per capita threshold and the financing terms to those countries is more what we call concessional or just cheaper for lack of a better word, then, then say ibrd countries which are middle income and or creditworthy poor countries. So those are the two broad categorizations I think the second part of your question was also around balancing financing needs with geopolitical risks. So the World Bank is what we call the lender of last resort. So we go into countries with Where other financing may not go be present where private financing may not may not be present, where there may be a greater need for policy support. And so we kind of balanced the the geopolitical risks we look at risk slightly differently in the in the sense that we’re not looking at credit risk all the time. When we look at countries we’re looking at kind of balancing the needs of the country with how we can support it. And that support comes from advisory it comes from directly financing investments. We we have projects and the most in the riskiest environments perceived to be the riskiest environments all over the world, it Afghanistan, in countries that are emerging from conflict, and so we don’t really kind of shy away from geopolitical risks. Something else to keep in mind is that the World Bank has been we see ourselves a development partner in a lot of these countries. So, we, we’ve been on the ground for a long time, we have offices and over I think over 130 countries. So we have on the ground presence and we have had so sense for a number of decades even. And so it’s, we really approach this as a partnership, working side by side with the government for to achieve their development objectives.
Fred Rocafort 9:28
We know that infrastructure development is a big hurdle for emerging and developing countries. What are some of the key risks when it comes to Infrastructure Finance?
Prajakta Chitre 9:39
I think before answering this question, I’d like to back up a bit on something that I missed a bit in my intro. So the World Bank, as I mentioned before, typically provides assistance in the form of loans, credits and grants to member countries. More recently, however, there has been more of a focus on the critical role that private sector can play In bridging the gap between investment needs and capital available in the development of infrastructure assets, I think the last I saw was that this gap is about 65 to 100 billion per year in Africa alone. And so it’s quite sizable. So there is a recognition and more focus of the World Bank that on engaging with the private sector and bringing in not just financing, but also expertise in construction and efficient service delivery. And then that brings me to the risk because we know that you know, the missing link between attracting a lot of this capital into the environments that I mentioned before that do have significant geopolitical risks, economic risks and political risks, attracting the private sector are commercial lending into these environments in a in an efficient manner. And this is really where my work has been focused. So some of the key risks that we that we really look at in Infrastructure Finance specifically, are obviously the top line is going to be the political risk and the ability to simply be able to adhere to contracts and have contract enforceability, then construction risks. So when a project is in construction, what are some of the risks surrounding the fact that the actual infrastructure asset can even be built? This is has to do with land acquisition and resettlement of people that are already there. various environmental risks are critical. This is something the World Bank focuses on a lot and it’s very, very important to look at environmental and social safeguards as well. Operational risks the ability to operate The project successfully supply risk. So when it comes to an energy project, say it’s a power plant is your source of energy there and can you access it off taker risk? again in, in the context of an energy project, it’s who’s buying the power? And typically, those tend to be state owned entities. So it’s starting to look at, okay, well, what’s the risk of the of the off taker of the state owned entity? repayment risk, which is really the ability to repay commercial lenders. And then you have currency risk, which is currency fluctuations. Typically, you know, as we know, in countries tariffs are in one currency. And oftentimes debt can be in another so it’s how do you mitigate that kind of that difference? And then, just be resolution, which comes down to, again contract, enforceability, arbitration, and things like that. So what is what’s the risk that dispute resolution takes longer or you know, payments are not made?
Jonathan Bench 13:17
This is the financial lawyer and me talking. So, when we are thinking about drafting these instruments, what is, say a typical loan instrument? What, I’m sure the interest rate must be capped at something right. I mean, that’s, I don’t know, if it’s by statute or just by kind of goodwill, right. I mean, typical banks you have are going to be subject to usury statutes, we can’t have super high interest rates, but in in this type of, you know, global lending to you know, from from the World Bank to sovereign nations, what is the typical interest rate spread on a, you know, on some kind of infrastructure loan,
Prajakta Chitre 13:54
It varies. It varies and it’s not, I mean, These aren’t project finance loans. These are you know, we’ve, as you said, we’re lending to sovereign and we have specific rates to sovereigns that are at various levels. And the World Bank Treasury website has a lot of that information. I can speak to kind of my role at the bank, which is we my team structures a very specific instrument, which are called World Bank guarantees. And we use this instrument to catalyze private sector investment and commercial financing into into countries in an improved public services. So, from a guarantees point of view. We’ve been doing this structuring this instrument for 20 years and mobilized about $42 billion in commercial capital. So these are this is not World Bank funding. That’s lending into these projects. It’s more like World Bank guarantees that we’re writing to support commercial lending. And, you know, this the supports as as I mentioned before energy projects, transport, even sovereign financings and, and sub sovereign corporates, as well. So when we’re when we’re structuring these instruments, we there, they also follow the same pricing principle as world bank loans. But when we’re structuring them, we’re really trying to dig into each of the individual risks. And the various layers of support required to get the deal over the line, which we we said make the deal bankable and to attract commercial lending at a rate that’s affordable to the project. I think one thing to keep in mind is that when we’re doing these projects, we’re always our fundamental goal is to make sure that ultimately, this is affordable for the end user. There’s no point in building a huge power plant that’s going to be you know, that yes. support a lot of people but in a cost prohibitive way and increase tariffs to the point where people can’t afford it. And so it’s very important to keep in mind, the end user is really the individuals at the end of at the end who are turning on the lights and paying for the service, or if it’s a road who are driving on the road, and paying for that service. So that’s, that’s quite critical. So as we’re structuring our instruments and World Bank guarantees, which is what I’ve been involved in for the past six years, it’s really to bridge play this role in between backstopping some of the risks that the private sector sees, to enter some of these markets, as well as to really help the government get the fairest deal in terms of risk allocation and pricing as well. So we we have one leg in each in each world, and a way to to be able to create the right balance. Because at the end of the day, it’s all about balance. It’s all about bringing the right investment, bring the right financing, at the right price with the right safeguards at the right cost to the consumer and at the right, at the most fair kind of risk balance in between the private and public sector. I know that doesn’t fully answer your question.
Jonathan Bench 17:21
No, I think that was I think it was a great explanation because I am very familiar with the world of SBA financing in the local, you know, in our US business environment. And so that’s exactly how I understand the SBA works right. As the SBA doesn’t lend the funds directly, it facilitates the loan, it provides the guarantee behind a business loan, to entice the private sector to engage in lending to borrowers who might otherwise be less than attractive to commercial banks. So it made at least for my brain, it was a great explanation.
Prajakta Chitre 17:52
Yeah, and it’s the World Bank guarantees they’re slightly different in the sense that we really get into the weeds You know, we’re looking at the state owned entities, we’re looking at the government it comes the level of rigor and analysis that goes into it and the safeguards required goes is the same level as if we were directly lending into the project ourselves. So it’s quite a quite a comprehensive analysis and for me personally, it’s been a huge learning experience on how the world views a lot of these instruments over the last you know, that I’ve been working on and a lot over the last six to eight years. So it’s, it’s quite detailed.
Jonathan Bench 18:35
And so are you in the group that also works to with the on the lender side or is there another division of the World Bank that deals more you know, more outward facing to the lenders, not so much with the countries?
Prajakta Chitre 18:47
Yeah, so the lender so the World Bank is set up in a very unique way and that we we primarily, focus of the World Bank’s to primarily provide loans, credits and grants The majority of our portfolio is lending. And the way those teams are set up are with sectoral focus and regional focus. So you will have energy teams focusing on East Asia and Pacific focusing on East Africa, West Africa, Europe, Central Asia, and South Asia, and Latin America and the Caribbean. And so you have you have the geographies and within those geographies you have sector teams looking at one team looking at transport one and energy, one on digital development etc. And there they there are the teams that are really leading the focus and working closely with the clients. And then you also have our country management units that drive the relationship with the client and play a very critical role in in working closely with the clients on the ground and understanding the needs. So it’s really a partnership between all of these various parts of the bank that look at the country relationship, understanding the sector’s and a lot of detail. And then you have and then when it’s when it’s a guarantee operation or private sector operation, then you have my team that comes in and supports the structuring of the instrument and sometimes in negotiations with the private sector, as well. And then on the other side, you have IFC and miga, who who work more on the private side, so they’ll come in as lenders or they’ll syndicate loans from from commercial banks and mega provides insurance, so they’ll do pri cover as well. So there’s, it’s, it’s a large organization with a lot of kind of cross cutting collaboration, so to speak, with different teams, different expertise. And so we’re not really split between lending and guarantor. I mean, the whole institution is kind of a lender But we’re split by expertise.
Jonathan Bench 21:02
Interesting. Thank you. So what are some key trends that you’ve seen in PPP project finance, Infrastructure Finance, pre COVID versus now when when much of the world is still very much dealing with COVID?
Prajakta Chitre 21:15
Yeah, um, it’s pre COVID. You know, we saw a huge interest of the private sector in in lending to developing countries and lending to project finance transactions and, and really trying to get their get their foot in the door on new markets, as well as existing markets for them. And there’s a lot of new lenders coming into that space, especially as you see economies growing. And then also as maybe yields and develop markets are a bit lower. They You know, there’s a there’s this hunt for yield in emerging markets. I think what COVID has highlighted really, I mean, one COVID With the lockdowns globally, with a huge focus obviously on health and the and the response to the pandemic, there has been a drop in demand for a lot of services. Such as you know, energy transport, not as many people are driving or as many factories and businesses are running. There’s a huge need for water to ensure people can wash their hands. And not just any water, chlorinated water that’s safe and disinfecting and clean. And so it’s there’s a huge demand for that, combined with me with a lower propensity to print to pay for those services. So it’s a huge, I think what we’ve seen as how, how fragile economies can really be and how lockdowns of you know, just a few weeks can have such a detrimental impact to people’s lives. And that’s globally obviously, you’ve seen it in the United States and we’ve seen it everywhere. I think from where I come from, as I mentioned earlier, when we’re structuring a lot of the instruments, a lot of the work I do has to do with taking a look at the, the various risks that I mentioned earlier, because in providing guarantees, and backstopping certain government obligations or certain government risks, the World Bank ends up taking them on so we have a responsibility to look at these risks, risks very closely. And to also be able to, you know, see how to properly mitigate them and see what are our appetite as well. And in doing so, we look at we go into a lot of detail. We look at projects, from the perspective of the macro situation, a political situation, and really do a full financial analysis on the off taker and understand where they’re heading. And I think what COVID has highlighted is that it’s important I mean, not just for us as the World Bank, but for lenders and investors to really go back to the fundamentals and look at the core fundamentals of the project. So understanding how this project fits into the broader macro fiscal context of the country, what’s the political situation like and the implications of that? It’s no longer just about the project economics themselves. As you know, in project finance, the project revenues are ring fenced for the project itself. But I think what COVID has shown is that’s not enough. We really need to be able to have an assessment of the fundamental issues and the fundamental risks and the impact they could have in the project because these are 30 year 20 to 30 year engagements sometimes. And so it’s really taking along with you and digging into each Each individual kind of risk component and an understanding that and from our point of view, this looks at, as I mentioned a sound off taker. So what’s your sob? Like? What are their financial is like a strong governance system. So how are projects governed and decided and how, how is an SOC governed? What’s their board like? sound financial management procedures to make sure any funds dedicated to a project are secured, that there’s a sound legal framework and contract enforceability. And just, you know, really going into the details. So I think what COVID has has highlighted is just that fundamentals are, are super important and cannot be ignored when taking a long view.
Fred Rocafort 25:56
How do you see COVID impacting both the credit worthiness Some developing nations and their growth prospects. You think the pandemic will have a long term detrimental effect? Do you see countries generally rising to the challenge relatively soon? Or do you think it’s going to be a mixed bag in that regard?
Prajakta Chitre 26:15
So coming out of COVID, I believe your question was around the impact of COVID on various countries. And I think it’s going to be a mixed bag. I think what we’re seeing is the impacts of COVID are revealing themselves now globally. And I think a lot of our client countries are struggling, even more so than they were before. I think one thing that may happen at the end of COVID, and this is maybe just me being optimistic, is that there may be a greater interest in investing in infrastructure to, to a sense, in essence of restart the economy. I think we’ve seen that many times before. economic downturns and it could be the same now. And I think this could be an opportunity to focus on. As I mentioned before, a more fair risk allocation. Project structuring that’s more efficient, ensuring affordability to to individuals, and also have a greater focus on projects which are sustainable in the long run both financially and environmentally, and support economic resilience. So, while I think there’s, we have a ways to go from what it looks like until things are quote unquote, back to normal or back to pre COVID levels, but I think this could be an opportunity to, to start to think about how can we take a longer view on the sector and what can we be doing and how can we be structuring kind of projects to be sustainable, not just for the next five to 10 years, but for 3030 years,
Jonathan Bench 28:04
I’m gonna throw you a curveball question. I think you I think you’re up to it because it’s it’ll it’ll be a personal answer. But let me ask you this projector. What advice and I’m extremely impressed with the type of work you’re involved in at the World Bank. And I had no surface understanding before but understanding much more deeply. Now, after our conversation today. What advice do you have for young professionals, young young people who want to get into a career to help developing nations in this in this way? I mean, how, what I’m sure it’s not easy to get into the World Bank, and there are probably other worthy organizations you could work for as well. So do you have any kind of general career advice for young people who say, this is this sounds like exactly what I want to be doing in my career when I finish school or you know, in 10 years when I’m through school and have been through my first job?
Prajakta Chitre 28:53
Yeah, that’s a good question. And there’s so many elements to them. I think I’ll first start off by saying is But the World Bank is a is a great place to work. It’s it’s very challenging, and it’s very exciting. And we’re really at the forefront of a lot of things and and but there’s also in saying that there’s also a lot of other organizations that are doing great work. I know there’s also in the private sector, there’s a lot of commercial banks and investment banks and and infrastructure funds that are involved in working in emerging markets and developing countries. And so there’s there’s a lot of avenues. So I think my first piece of advice is that there’s a lot of avenues to get into the space into financing infrastructure in developing countries, there’s a lot of ways you can go about it. And so to really be clear on where where do you want to be Each place has its pros and cons and being able to understand those. I think the second thing is keeping in mind to be a very good listener and be very open minded. The World Bank over the last, you know, since its incorporation has really worked to build the trust of clients, and worked across countries and a very, it’s a very diverse organization with, as I mentioned, 189 member countries, stuff from I think over, over 60 or 70 countries, maybe even more. And it’s, it’s really important to be to be open minded, and to, to be open to learning. And I think, at least in my personal view, I’ve been at the bank for eight years now. And I think I learned something new every single day. And so to be open to that, and being incredibly patient, because I think we have to remember is that a lot of countries around the world, I think developed or developing, but more so in developing markets. There’s also a lot of change sometimes times a lot of political upheaval. And sometimes projects take some time to, to go through the internal political systems to get approved. There’s a lot of things that need to be assessed and analyzed and looked at. So patience is, is key. And I think if you don’t have a passion for the work, it’s it can be very, very difficult to to manage all of that. So my key piece of advice would be to be very patient, to be open minded, to also do a lot of research into what expertise you bring. And to me, especially at the World Bank, it’s important to have some knowledge of the sector you’re going to be in before you join so that you can add value from day one as well. I will say the best piece of advice I got when I was at the bank is is actually was in my head. The first interview I had, when I was fresh out of a fresh out, we’re actually in MBA. And it was something that I carry with me because I think honesty is so important. And the one thing my, my first manager at the bank told me was that it’s very important to be honest about what you don’t know. And it’s okay to not know. And I think that’s an important piece of advice students need to hear because oftentimes, you’re kind of grilled and you have to know the answer. But it’s important to be very honest about what you don’t know. And then go back and learn it. Because it’s, you know, we have to be honest with our clients, we have to provide them with the best advice. And so if you don’t know something, it’s better to admit what you don’t know rather than pretend like you know something. So I think my I think I have covered everything and work hard and be ready to, to travel around the world. Hopefully, once again, we can all do that.
Fred Rocafort 33:03
Sticking with the concept of knowledge. We like to finish our podcasts by asking our guests for recommendations in order to provide our listeners with a little bit of extra wisdom from them. Do you have any recommendations for us?
Prajakta Chitre 33:16
So the two things that I read on a daily basis are both the Financial Times and The Economist. I think from a global kind of economics point of view, both of those publications provide a good insight into what’s going on. I know, our president has written a lot of pieces for the Financial Times and there’s a lot of op eds and interviews and articles about the World Bank, in the FT so they cover a lot and the economist as well. I think I’ve been reading that for no more than a decade to to get a real Good view into the, you know, global political economy. And just what’s happening in a lot of countries around the world rather than having it doesn’t. What’s great is that there’s no one singular geographic focus. They’re quite, quite varied. So those are the two, two pieces I would really point to. I read a lot of fiction too, just because why not? So I, in terms of like a real nonfiction kind of academic piece, I can’t really point to one but I would definitely suggest ft in the economist to readers. One more resource that I’d like to recommend and it’s kind of a shameless plug for the World Bank is the World Bank’s PPP blogs. I think one of your previous recordings, looked at the piaffe website that PPP ief website, which they think is a great resource, but the other blog that it’s very interesting on it Infrastructure Finance VPS and especially COVID-19 is the World Bank’s either the PPP website itself was the world bank.org public private partnerships, or world bank.org slash ppps are blogs dot world bank.org slash pbps. And I did recently read a really good article on their blog on there that was written in may actually. So it’s quite, quite timely and quite relevant on COVID-19 and infrastructure, a very tricky opportunity by Richard Abadi, so that I found was it was very candid and very, very open. And it was it was a really good read, and it’s a quick read. So I would recommend the World Bank blogs as well because they’re a great way to to just get some very candid views from experts in the field.
Fred Rocafort 35:55
certainly nothing wrong with a little fiction in the mix. Jonathan What about you?
Jonathan Bench 36:01
I came across this article in the Nikkei Asian review called Coronavirus, stocks Southeast Asia’s once thriving unicorns. And it is a great article very long form, the Nikkei Asian review does a great job of doing these long form articles. And it delves in deeply into, you know, the formerly and still promising companies in Southeast Asia. You know, this, there’s no China at all here. So I think it’s that’s why I especially enjoyed this because we know there’s a lot going on in China, but Southeast Asia continues to battle with China for more and more, more and more market share more and more attention from the world. And so, this particular article goes in a little depth on, you know, Uber trying to get into Southeast Asia versus grab and then and then go jek in Indonesia, with the company called smooth right in the middle, it’s rented cars, Uber drivers initially in Southeast Asia. So a fascinating way to look. Another aspect of how business is done. Very much from the promising companies that are often tech based and are trying to wrangle in, you know, the diverse economies in Southeast Asia to emerge as the ones that are that are going to be the ones, you know, to win out, basically. And I thought especially interesting. In this article that I learned in that the venture capital companies are telling their portfolio companies they basically said, Hey, you gotta adjust your business plans, hold on to your cash reserves. You need to build a runway for another year and you may have to make some cost cuts. So basically, for a lot of companies, the VC money it hasn’t dried up but it’s it’s on standstill while they say we got to make sure you’ve got proof of concept and so, the idea that now they have to actually chase their profitability and if they can be profitable in Coronavirus, and miss the Coronavirus, then they will really be the winners on the back end as well. So, interesting article, Fred, what do you have for us?
Fred Rocafort 37:56
So there’s an article that actually has been recommended extensively and but but I feel that it it is worth echoing that that recommendation once again I I did so on LinkedIn and I’ll do do so again here and it’s it’s called the how China controlled the Coronavirus but but what’s really exciting about this article for me and I think for a lot of the people who recommended it is is the author Peter Hassler, whom I consider to be quite possibly the best author when it comes to to China, I think, you know, going back more than a decade, I’d say, this is this is a guy who has really in my view, then getting it right in terms of capturing a lot of the a lot of the newer ones. And I remember when I was living in China, reading some of the things that he had And thinking, Okay, this is the closest I’ve seen to what I would would say about about China, right? He just he just manages to hit the, the right nodes. There’s obviously other other writers who do a very good job, but it’s great to see hustler writing, once again about about China. This article came out in the New Yorker pretty recently. But I would go ahead and extend the recommendation to all of his China writings he has, I think three books about China could be could be wrong about that he might have he might have published something else. But his first one is called river town. It’s real classic, and it has to do with his experiences in the Peace Corps, teaching in Sichuan Province. And again, this latest piece of his is really an example of how he writes and Then and it’s it’s a perfect addition to his existing body of work regarding China. So again, how China controlled the Coronavirus by Peter Hessler in the New Yorker. I don’t have the exact date, but if you Google it, you will, you will be able to find it without any problem.
Jonathan Bench 40:21
Prajakta, we want to thank you for being with us today. We appreciate your time and your insight. We certainly learned a lot from you and hope to be able to catch up with you again later for another episode where you can catch us up with what’s going on and in the World Bank and what you’re seeing around the world. Hopefully, when you’re traveling around the world, again, like we all hope to be doing.
Fred Rocafort 40:40
We’d like to have you on the show again.
And thank you so much, Jonathan and Fred for having me. This was this was my first podcast actually. So thank you for making it wonderful and it was a really interesting conversation. I really enjoyed your questions. So I’d be happy to be on again as well. As we navigate these very challenging times.
Jonathan Bench 41:04
We hope you enjoyed this week’s episode. We look forward to connecting with you on social media to continue to discuss developments in global law and business. and tune in next week for another episode. We’ll see you then.
Transcribed by https://otter.ai