The latest McKinsey Week in Charts

Go your own way

Only once since 2005 had the US recorded 340,000 new business applications in a month. Then came COVID-19. Since June 2020, every single month has at least matched that level. And the momentum is positive. The first five months of 2021 saw an average of 472000 new business applications a month, many more than in the last five months of 2020 (410000). New businesses with a high propensity to hire additional workers were even more numerous.

To read the article, see “Trends that will define 2021 and beyond: Six months on,” July 21, 2021.

Brand loyalty is on the wane

Across ASEAN (and other parts of the world too), consumers proved much more willing to try new brands during the pandemic. Stock-outs were the biggest culprit in Thailand and the Philippines.

To read the article, see “Five areas of growth for digital marketing in ASEAN,” July 15, 2021.

Growth to the rescue

World governments have taken on significant debt to fight COVID-19. But problems from a debt overhang are not inevitable. After World War II in the United States, and in many other examples over time, the debt burden was reduced by driving nominal growth, not by cutting debt.

To read the article, see “Looking beyond the pandemic: Could the world economy gain more than it lost to COVID-19?”, June 14, 2021.

Space tourism, you’re go for launch

Two billionaires soared into suborbital space in separate trips this month, ushering in a new era of space exploration for private citizens. Richard Branson reached the edge of space first, on July 11, in a rocket operated by Virgin Galactic. Jeff Bezos’ suborbital flight followed nine days later in a shuttle operated by his business, Blue Origin. If test flights continue to go smoothly, commercial trips to space—for those with the financial means to book a seat—are on the horizon.

To read the commentary, see “Wall Street to Mission Control: Can space tourism pay off?”, May 12, 2021.

Et tu, e-tail?

Digitally forward retailers are expanding their lead over laggards. Retailers with a strong omnichannel presence were in an ideal position to capitalize when the COVID-19 pandemic forced consumers to make many of their purchases online. Companies that didn’t prioritize e-commerce may not catch up.

To read the article, see “Why retail outperformers are pulling ahead,” July 8, 2021.

Houston, we have a problem

Two new McKinsey surveys reveal a stark contrast. More than three-quarters of C-suite executives report that they expect the typical “core” employee to be back in the office three or more days a week. But about the same proportion of employees would like to work mostly from home. Hybrid work is shaping up as a contest of wills.

To read the article, see “It’s time for leaders to get real about hybrid,” July 9, 2021.

Open season

Regulators worldwide have encouraged open banking. The UK regulator has gone furthest; as a result, as of December 2020, the UK had issued some 200 licenses for open-banking APIs, or application programming interfaces—shortcuts that make it easier for software developers to build new applications. EU countries, which were initially less directive about API specifications for developers, have not issued licenses at the same pace.

To read the article, see “Financial services unchained: the ongoing rise of open financial data,” July 11, 2021.