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A world ordered for decades by globalization and geoeconomics has quickly become a world grounded in geopolitical risk. Accumulating shocks such as the COVID-19 pandemic and the Russia-Ukraine conflict have persisted, significantly reorganizing global structures and relationships in 2023.

The world economy is in a precarious position, with impending economic downturns in the US and Europe, and China experiencing its slowest growth in years. While US policy is to compete responsibly with rival superpowers as it pursues its own interests. Geopolitical tensions are increasing.

Energy and climate change continue to be politically polarizing issues, with global progress notably lacking on the climate transition. However, the recent energy price shock in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine should catalyze decarbonization efforts, and the Inflation Reduction Act provides significant renewables incentives and investment opportunities in the US.

The global response to COVID-19 is another polarizing topic with countless economic and social consequences. Among those consequences is a move toward rethinking globalization as countries look to de-risk.

Cyberattacks are becoming more frequent and severe, and are increasingly being used as a tool of statecraft. The human and financial impact of attacks continues to rise in line with the increasing digitization of critical infrastructure.

Finally, sovereign debt levels are rising to record highs, while sovereign credit quality is on the decline. The number of sovereigns in default has increased. Several factors threaten to spark the worst sovereign debt crisis in almost half a century, and exports are falling in nine of the world’s 10 largest economies, stoking concerns of global fragmentation.

In this article, we set out some of the likeliest and most impactful geopolitical risks of 2023.

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