Crises make reputations — or destroy them. One of the lasting outcomes of the 2008 financial crisis was the casting of the world’s bankers as villains for their part in the collapse of the banking system. Today’s health pandemic is of a different magnitude, and big business is not at fault. What matters, though, is capitalism’s response to the crisis.

Companies will be split into two camps: those that treated staff and others well, and those that tried to take advantage. Before the coronavirus gripped economies, business leaders had promised to espouse a new, more caring type of capitalism. No-one could have foreseen today’s devastating health and financial emergency, but if business leaders do not step up now, will they ever? It is early days and many businesses have already stepped up, but villains have also emerged; it is too early to say whether their gaffes will be remembered.

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