Our world has changed beyond all recognition in the past few months. It has been an unwelcome catharsis, thanks to the coronavirus. We have lost too many good people and loved ones in a tragedy playing out on a world stage. Global industrial production has been stopped in its tracks, billions around the world are facing an uncertain future and the risk of a deep depression should not be discounted. Individuals, communities, frontline health workers and governments globally are making huge sacrifices to turn the tide on the pandemic. Everyone needs to do their bit. At a time when the world’s weak and vulnerable are being hardest hit, the thorny issue of fat cat pay comes rushing to the forefront again. Are wealthy bankers, highly paid chief executives and the super-rich doing their bit to fight the crisis? After last week’s shocking US employment figures, with 10 million Americans filing jobless claims in the past fortnight alone, it is quite clear the coronavirus knows no bounds and respects no borders. Covid-19 does not discriminate between rich and poor, but there is a world of difference between how different sectors of society will cope. There are universal problems, the prospect of lockdown, isolation, loneliness, low or no pay all doing untold damage to mental health, consumer confidence, economic well-being and future prosperity. Among the grim news, it was dismaying to see, among investor circulars recently doing the rounds, advice suggesting a “once-in-a-generation chance of ‘supernormal returns’” from the crisis. Far from being an opportunity for brazen profit, it should be a chance to help fellow mankind in its darkest hour. Wealthy nations need to help world’s poorest to avert pandemic catastrophe CEOs may be highly prized captains of industry, key creators of wealth and employment, but they also play a vital role leading by example. The gulf between top executives and their company workers looks unsustainable in the long run for what might be considered ideal industrial relations. In Britain, the chief executives of FTSE 100 companies receive 117 times the annual wage of the average UK worker. Where workers are now bearing the brunt of the crisis by way of lay-offs, shutdowns and pay cuts, there is a very strong case for CEOs to share their part with reduced compensation packages or higher taxes – or even both. Working together, top executives and workers can help stave off the crisis in capitalism. Every small effort counts. It has been heartening to see well-paid English Premier League football stars expressing a willingness to support Britain’s hard-pressed National Health Service rather than bail out their wealthy clubs with 30 per cent pay cuts. Meanwhile, affluent Premier League clubs are looking at ways to help support the smaller, struggling teams in the Football Association. It is a microcosm of what should be happening on the world stage, those that are able to, assisting the less well-off. It’s not just a case of domestic wealth redistribution from rich to poor, but major nations looking outwards to find ways to help struggling economies around the world. Emerging markets are crying out for debt assistance and multinational aid as the crisis bites and the slowdown in world trade hits home. It is time for the superpowers like China and the US to work in harmony and combine resources. Around the world, workers are taking huge pay cuts, losing their jobs and taking considerable hits to their disposable incomes. Meanwhile, governments are taking up the slack and ramping up major stimulus efforts to slow the onset of recession, with packages worth up to between 10 and 15 per cent of gross domestic product, according to World Bank estimates. Major sacrifices will be needed, begging the question: who pays for it all? Major sacrifices will be needed, begging the question: who pays for it all? Initially it means more debt issuance, but at some stage the burden will have to fall on higher taxes, especially for the super-rich. Marginal rates of taxation must rise and tax breaks reined in for wealthy individuals and multinational corporations. A level playing field is long overdue which curbs tax avoidance, restricts offshore tax havens and ends banking secrecy. The global flow of dark money must be stemmed, through closer official scrutiny. A more transparent world is a prerequisite for a fairer society. There is an urgent need for a rebalancing of global values. Neoliberalism is on its last legs, fiscal austerity is over and it is time for a much more caring capitalism to save the world. David Brown is chief executive of New View Economics Sign up now and get a 10% discount (original price US$400) off the China AI Report 2020 by SCMP Research. Learn about the AI ambitions of Alibaba, Baidu & JD.com through our in-depth case studies, and explore new applications of AI across industries. The report also includes exclusive access to webinars to interact with C-level executives from leading China AI companies (via live Q&A sessions). Offer valid until 31 May 2020.