16 January 2020   Leave a comment

The consulting group, Verisk Maplecroft, publishes an annual report entitled Political Risk Outlook, and the 2020 report has just been released. The report quantifies what we have been posting about recently–that civil unrest seems to be increasing globally. According to the summary of the report:

“Our quarterly Civil Unrest Index reveals that over the past year 47 jurisdictions have witnessed a significant uptick in protests, which intensified during the last quarter of 2019. This includes locations as diverse as Hong Kong, Chile, Nigeria, Sudan, Haiti and Lebanon….

“The number of countries rated extreme risk in the Civil Unrest Index has also jumped by 66.7%; from 12 in 2019 to 20 by early 2020. Countries dropping into this category include Ethiopia, India, Lebanon, Nigeria, Pakistan and Zimbabwe. Sudan, meanwhile, has overtaken Yemen to become the highest risk country globally.

“An ‘extreme risk’ rating in the index, which measures the risks to business, reflects the highest possible threat of transport disruption, damage to company assets and physical risks to employees from violent unrest. Most sectors, ranging across mining, energy, tourism, retail and financial services, have felt the impacts over the past year.

“The resulting disruption to business, national economies and investment worldwide has totalled in the billions of US dollars. In Chile, the first month of unrest alone caused an estimated USD4.6 billion worth of infrastructure damage, and cost the Chilean economy around USD3 billion, or 1.1% of its GDP.”

The forecast of the report is that these protests are likely to continue, and even to increase in number, in 2020:

“The pent-up rage that has boiled over into street protests over the past year has caught most governments by surprise. Policymakers across the globe have mostly reacted with limited concessions and a clampdown by security forces, but without addressing the underlying causes. However, even if tackled immediately, most of the grievances are deeply entrenched and would take years to address. With this in mind, 2019 is unlikely to be a flash in the pan. The next 12 months are likely to yield more of the same, and companies and investors will have to learn to adapt and live with this ‘new normal’.”

It remains to be seen to what extent these protests have common roots. All civil unrest is unique to each country, but the protests in 2019 all seem to grow out of concerns about corruption. Most governments have a miserable recent record of addressing that issue. When governments fail to stop corruption, the only real alternative for citizens is to take to the streets.

Posted January 16, 2020 by vferraro1971 in World Politics

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