Every year, forecasters try and predict how the year ahead might look and what the risks could possibly be. 2020 threw the biggest curveball we have seen for years; however, it has given some clear insights into the key risks of 2021, and these have been laid out in The World Ahead report by Axco. A leading expert in market intelligence and data, the company is ideally placed to offer thoughts on predicting what the coming year may look like, including geopolitical risks and other issues that may change the way the world progresses.
Recovery from COVID
One of the first issues to be discussed is, of course, the recovery from the global pandemic that began towards the end of 2019 and set us in some unprecedented times. Thankfully, it appears that the worst is over; however, at the time of the report, India was still struggling to contain its outbreak of epidemic proportions. Recovery will need to come on many levels, not just from people’s health but to the economy, jobs, borrowing and more. Every country has taken significant financial hits, and, in the UK, borrowing is at an all-time high as the government has struggled to support and contain every issue as it has arisen. The forecast also includes information on how the data collected highlights potential wildcard risks and red herrings during the recovery.
Vaccine Roll Out
A critical step on the road to recovery is going to be the vaccine roll out across the globe. The UK has made a solid start, but there have been some issues with supply and demand all over the world and particularly in Europe. Of course, we continue to see the problems between nations that can afford to purchase vaccinations and those who can’t. The wealthiest states are being encouraged to donate the surplus to the third world and underfunded countries. Now that we have had a period of vaccination, enough data has been produced that demonstrates the ability to slow the spread and minimise the symptoms, so it has been worthwhile. However, as yet not enough is known when it comes to determining how effective it will be against all new strains and variants. It is looking likely to become a long-term annual booster vaccination in much the same way as we see the flu jab work. Despite a minority of people claiming that any vaccination programme was an attempt to control by the government, the uptake in the UK has undoubtedly been positive and high. The statistics currently seem to support the fact that the vaccine is effective as numbers continue to fall despite children in most areas returning to full-time education.
The report also contains plenty of information about the concerns faced across the world by climate change. The issue was pushed to the forefront before the pandemic hit but got somewhat overshadowed and, in many cases, pushed to the bottom of the schedule. Concerningly there is a triple threat looming with an increased risk of storms that proved to be devastating, failed crops and fires, and this is just for the short-term forecast. The storms are more likely to become more frequent and more severe threatening to countries that have already come close to breaking point dealing with the COVID-19 impact. This is going to push disaster preparation and management to the full and expose areas where it is simply not in place. In addition, the economic impact of some of the small islands likely to suffer has already been devastating due to a drop off in tourists who tend to be the ones that shoulder the costs. This loss of income sees countries like Fiji, Aruba and the Maldives’ set to see annual contractions of between 18 and 20%. Within the report, there are more details of this triple threat climate change as they see it, and it reinforces the need for governments across the globe to unite and bring this issue back to the top of the table now that the pandemic seems to be receding.
Also, Within the Report
Other threats discussed within the article include Biden’s foreign policy, which is termed as evolution, not revolution. Concerns are raised about Sub-Saharan Africa and the conflict risk, which is rising in many areas. In Central America, the data and subsequent analysis have led to a critical risk being pointed out that instability could well be on the horizon. Finally, suffering debts and the year ahead is discussed, with many interesting points being raised. It certainly makes for an eye-opening read, even if many of the things noted are beyond the control of the ordinary person. Axco is offering the report as a free download from their website, and for those interested in global issues, something well worth doing.