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What Will Keep You Awake in 2020?

Concluding our end-of-year series, we asked a number of regular BRINK contributors from different backgrounds what business risk they are most worried about in 2020.

The negative implication of political unrest on business, specifically cross border M&A, in my case. — Matthew Flug, Senior Underwriter, Ambridge Partners

If change comes too slowly, Africa’s youth will lose patience and could rise up in dangerous protests. The hope and optimism that surrounds the new governments in Angola or Ethiopia could fail, leading to violence in either nation. — Melissa Cook, Founder and Managing Director, African Sunrise Partners LLC

As the global technology and business landscapes become increasingly complex and interrelated, intangible risks are becoming increasingly mission-critical and expensive. — Jason Sandler, Vice President, Marsh’s Financial and Professional Liability Group

Increasingly nationalistic governments of left and right alike are seeking to blame globalization and open economies for all of society’s ills. Global trade is now at great risk from accelerating tariff — and non-tariff — barriers. — Peter Schechter, Podcast Host, Altamar: A Global Affairs Podcast

In 2020, bad news will travel even faster as customers become even more wired and dangerous, and hence, a company’s credibility will become one of the most important competitive advantages you can have. — David X Martin, CEO and Expert Witness, David X Martin, LLC

The biggest risk would be the supply and price of oil and gas (both piped and liquefied natural gas). This has a huge impact on producing and consuming countries as well as on global trade more generally. — Li-Chen Sim, Assistant Professor, Contemporary Russian Politics, Zayed University

(1) Navigating an increasingly complex technology landscape, (2) supply chain and innovation disruptions from rising geopolitical instability and the effects of climate change and (3) data privacy issues. — Sofiane Boukhalfa, Senior Project Architect and Managing Director, PreScouter

Given the dramatic increase in data breaches, the most significant cyber risk to any business is not having a clear understanding of their cyber risk profile — Mike Orosz, Founder and Principal, Octosecure

Energy transition, geopolitical risks, and their impact on human rights and the human condition. — Maeva Charles, Partnerships and Technical Director, Datamaran

People seem unaware that targeted behavioral manipulation is a routine part of social media platforms.

The diminishment of U.S. leadership in the international economy and the failure to make progress on climate change agreements. — Gary Gereffi, Director, the Global Value Chains Center at Duke University

The open, rules-based international order is increasingly under threat, which undermines the international business environment. — John West, Executive Director, the Asian Century Institute

As a small business, it’s an increasing compliance nightmare for me. For my clients (investors, private equity and industry associations), it’s growing regulatory risks of doing business in India, including those at sub-national levels. — Ritesh Kumar Singh, Former Assistant Director of the Finance Commission for India, Chief Economist, Indonomics Consulting

Climate change is here and the impacts are already bigger than people realize. Where is the U.S.’s next California in the global food system; where is every other country’s next “California,”? What is the next feed crop? Will aquaculture growth keep ahead of fishery declines? And what happens to all the smallholders who won’t be able to keep producing cash crops but have no place to move? — Jason Clay, Executive Director, the Markets Institute, the World Wildlife Fund

A looming economic slowdown. — Steven Raj Padakandla, Assistant Professor in Economics, the Institute of Management Technology, Hyderabad

The disintermediation of traditional banks. — Barrie Wilkinson, Co-Head of Digital Transformation, Partner, Oliver Wyman

Probably how we will handle artificial intelligence in all areas of intellectual property law. Right now, the problems and issues are not well-formulated by policymakers or scholars. I worry that the issues won’t become clearly understood until we get into repeated legal disputes — Justin Hughes, Former Senior Adviser, the Undersecretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property, Professor of Law at Loyola Law School, Los Angeles

The biggest threat to prosperity would be a collapse of the rules-based multilateral trading system, which has helped to bring hundreds of millions of people out of poverty and has allowed corporations to make more efficient use of the world’s resources, thereby greatly benefiting workers and consumers alike. — John Weekes, Former Canadian Chief Negotiator on NAFTA

(1) The ability to alter geopolitical order through disinformation campaigns on minimally regulated social media and online information platforms. People seem unaware that targeted behavioral manipulation is a routine part of social media platforms. (2) National security, civil liberty and privacy risks posed by data aggregation from smart devices (the IoT universe) and commercial remote sensing satellites. — Anne Toomey McKenna, Distinguished Scholar of Cyber Law & Policy, Penn State Dickinson Law and Institute for CyberScience

The geopolitical consequences for economies, investments, and company performance as a result of unresolved political and economic issues. — Michelle Tuveson, Chairman and Executive Director, Centre for Risk Studies at the University of Cambridge Judge Business School

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