Political Risks in 2024 Threaten Global Business Stability

In an era of geopolitical shifts and macroeconomic transitions, businesses must navigate unpredictable challenges and capitalize on emerging opportunities, according to a Marsh report.
By: | March 13, 2024
global risks

The global business environment is becoming increasingly volatile due to systemic macroeconomic and geopolitical changes, with governments pursuing economic policies that intensify trade disruption and distortion, according to a report on the state of political risks by Marsh.

The report highlights that operational planning is becoming an unusually volatile process for multinational businesses due to unpredictable and longer-lasting conflicts. In the coming year, businesses will need to strengthen their ability to identify, prepare for, and mitigate difficult-to-predict challenges. These challenges will be influenced by specific political risks in 2024, including:

  • Over 60 elections worldwide in 2024.
  • A global macroeconomic transition.
  • Protectionist climate change mitigation and investment policies by governments.

The report also pointed to a shift in macroeconomic and geopolitical structures, with globalization and commerce-oriented policymaking being replaced by increasing regionalization, export controls, and barriers to trade and finance. This shift is driven by a renewed focus by governments on ensuring supply chain resilience, protecting national security, and delivering a successful green transition, Marsh noted.

“Businesses that have become accustomed to operating in a globalized environment must develop a renewed focus on regulatory decision-making and the direction of state-level relations. Failing to stay updated on these matters can pose significant risks to their operations,” the report’s authors stated.

Marsh said that 2024 will be the biggest election year in history, with more than 60 countries, representing at least 40% of the global population and GDP, holding elections. These elections are likely to affect international relationships and drive policy uncertainty, disrupting markets as a result.

For organizations seeking to understand the implications of elections, Marsh recommends a focus on:

  • The risk of electoral violence and the impact of AI on misinformation, which can exacerbate civil unrest.
  • The value of tracking voter turnout in “unfree” elections, where voters will have limited ability to express their will. Voter turnout could be an indicator of a country’s stability.
  • How the U.S. presidential election could influence corporate and sovereign decision-making.

The report also points out the divergent risks of a macroeconomic shift, with financial markets shifting focus from tracking interest rate increases to how central banks are navigating the transition in monetary policy and their ability to control inflation while avoiding a widespread economic downturn.

“Developed countries, including the U.S., Italy, and Japan, have seen their debts balloon since the COVID-19 pandemic, with U.S. debt making up more than one-third of the world’s total,” the report noted. “Unlike some of their emerging market peers, however, these advanced economies benefit from important debt safeguards that can limit the risks faced by investors.”

Governments will continue implementing protectionist climate change mitigation and investment policies, Marsh noted. As domestic politics compete with international priorities, contract stability and project investment returns will be at risk of disruption. In turn, these policies may also create opportunities ranging from national food security projects to water access sustainability improvements.

The report concludes that in a time of such uncertainty, businesses that understand, accept, manage, and transfer the risks inherent in the changing macroeconomic and geopolitical environment will be well-positioned to pursue growth opportunities that emerge during this period of transition.

For more information, access a full copy of the report on Marsh’s website.

The R&I Editorial Team can be reached at [email protected].

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