According to the Eurasia Group, a consultancy founded by Ian Bremmer, the global geopolitical environment is right now the most dangerous that it has been for many decades. So what is likely to impact on businesses, regional economies and society during 2019? There are around 10 areas of concern for us all.
There used to be an Australian band called The Bad Seeds, but we’re not talking about them. What the term ‘bad seeds’ means in this instance, is this: decision makers are so obsessed with an array of global crises in a world without trued global leadership, that they are allowing a range of future risks to take root and germinate, but these future risks are the ‘bad seeds.’ For example, the future of the European Union, the WTO and the relationship between Russia and China are negative.
The US leadership used to try and keep things smoothed over, but with Trump in office that approach has been dumped. Expect to see more confrontations between the two, especially in the areas of technology, economics and security.
The US is going to exert its use of cyber power more seriously this year. However, it’s likely to backfire on it rather than create a system of global deterrence.
Populism in Europe
Europe is holding elections in May and it is likely that we will see more eurosceptics win seats. We have seen the rise of eurosceptics in the last two years, the UK and Italy being two prominent examples. These populists blame Brussels for their domestic problems and now they are winning support at home by promising to flout EU rules, or leaving the EU. They will win more seats and undermine the ability of the EU to function.
US domestic politics
The government has been closed down since before Christmas 2018. This year will bring more chaos and volatility to US domestic politics.
There will be a reduced level of investment in driving technological development. Eurasia Group believes this will be driven by concerns about security, privacy and economics, as leading countries “put up barriers to protect their emerging tech champions.”
The new Mexican president Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador –or AMLO—wishes to improve Mexico by taking it back several decades. His strategy includes more spending and poor policies that are more interventionist. While Mexico was ahead of other Latin American countries, expect to see it look more like them this year.
Putin wants Ukraine to be within Russia’s sphere of influence. It is likely to interfere in Ukrainian elections this year, which will pose a problem, for Ukraine and leaders in the European Union who will have to decide how to respond.
This year Nigeria is about to hold one of its biggest and most fiercely contended elections since the country became a democracy in 1999. Neither of the two leading candidates have anything to offer the country, or policies that will reduce its problems.
At the time of writing, the Parliament at Westminster is about to vote on the Withdrawal Agreement negotiated by Prime Minister Theresa May. Neither those who want to leave the EU, nor those who want to remain in the EU like it. Nobody knows what will happen when the deal is most likely voted down, but it is going to be an even bigger shambles in the UK throughout 2019 and that will affect the rest of Europe as well.