Investors can envisiona stock market correction this year even if they think it ultimately won’t happen.
Then there’s income disparity, unemployment, liquidity issues — these are the risks we anticipate, if not expect.
But what about the other risks out there? The lesser-known unknowns?
The World Economic Forum is out with their list of global risks for 2014, and it of course includes the usual suspects of familiar problems. But the WEF also highlights a few global risks that sound like the very stuff of science fiction or action/adventure.
Here are the risks that, if realised, would be truly wacky (with commentary from the report):
1. Greater incidence of natural catastrophes (e.g. earthquakes, tsunamis, volcanic eruptions, geomagnetic storms)
“Existing precautions and preparedness measures fail in the face of geophysical disasters such as earthquakes, volcanic activity, landslides, tsunamis or geomagnetic storms, causing widespread disruptions in interconnected supply chains and communication networks.”
2. Greater incidence of man-made environmental catastrophes (e.g. oil spills, nuclear accidents)
“Existing precautions and preparedness measures fail to prevent man-made catastrophes, causing greater harm to lives, human health, infrastructure, property, economic activity and the environment.”
3. Political collapse of a nation of geopolitical importance
“One or more systemically critical countries experience significant erosion of trust and mutual obligations between states and citizens, leading to state collapse, internal violence, regional or global instability and, potentially, military conflict.”
4. Major escalation in organised crime and illicit trade
“Highly organised and very agile global networks commit criminal offences while the illegal trafficking of goods and people spreads unchecked throughout the global economy.”
5. Large-scale terrorist attacks
“Individuals or non-state groups successfully inflict large-scale human or material damage, which is particularly problematic when decentralized and widespread.”
6. Deployment of weapons of mass destruction
“The availability of nuclear, chemical, biological and radiological technologies and materials leads to major international crises.”
7. Pandemic outbreak
“Inadequate disease surveillance systems, failed international coordination and the lack of vaccine production capacity lead to the uncontrolled spread of infectious disease.”
8. Unmanageable burden of chronic disease
“Increasing burden of illness and long-term costs of treatment threaten recent societal gains in life expectancy and quality while overburdening strained economies.”
9. Antibiotic-resistant bacteria
“Growing resistance of deadly bacteria to known antibiotics inhibits the ability to control deadly diseases.”
10. Breakdown of critical information infrastructure and networks
“Systemic failures of critical information infrastructure (CII) and networks negatively impact industrial production, public services and communications.”
11. Escalation in large-scale cyber attacks
“State-sponsored, state-affiliated, criminal or terrorist cyber attacks increase.”
12. Massive incident of data fraud/theft
“Criminal or wrongful exploitation of private data takes place on an unprecedented scale.”
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