Economic nationalism is upsetting the risk management landscape by presenting challenges in once stable environments.
Economic nationalism not only has an impact domestically but presents significant risks for the global economy as well.
Political risk research firm The Eurasia Group cites “independent America” as a top risk for global stability and warns that 2017 will see a “geopolitical recession” that marks “the most volatile political environment in the postwar period, at least as important to global markets as the economic recession of 2008.”
Add to that the way other nations are turning inward and sealing their own borders in response to stalled economies, a surge in refugees or a shift in the way terror attacks are carried out by individuals, often inspired by social media.
In Europe, Britain voted to withdraw from the European Union, a.k.a. “Brexit.” In South America, Venezuela closed its borders with Brazil and Colombia.
All of this inward focus has the potential to create what the Eurasia Group calls a “G-Zero world” — a world with no global leader.
With no clear political leader, there’s also no unifying voice on security, trade or social values. There’s no coordinated response on climate change, capital flows or the internet.
With no superpower setting the agenda and global uncertainty about rising economic nationalism, the world order could fall into disarray.
“The established norms of the past 50 years quickly eroded,” said Dan Riordan, president of political risk, credit and bond insurance at XL Catlin.
“It didn’t start last week. It started over a period of time but we’re definitely reaching a different dynamic and that’s creating a lot of uncertainty,” he said.
Governments adopting nationalistic economic policies may renege on foreigners’ contracts, leaving businesses to foot the bill or renegotiate deals.
Some countries, such as Venezuela, have already seized property from foreign-owned businesses, namely natural resources such as oil, in the name of “the people.”
Global institutions may lose clout or be victimized by political retaliation.