– Preston Keat is director of research at Eurasia Group, a global political risk consultancy, and author of the forthcoming book “The Fat Tail: The Power of Political Knowledge for Strategic Investors” (with Ian Bremmer). Any views expressed are his own. For the related story, click here.
There are a number of macro risks that will continue to grab headlines in 2009, including the conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq, cross-border tensions and state instability in Pakistan, and Iran’s ongoing quest to develop advanced nuclear technologies.
These risks are real, and will not be resolved easily or quickly. But there are two other general groups of political risks that could be defining both for investors and policy makers: first, the prospect of a number of interrelated market risks in developed and emerging Europe, and second, the challenges faced by the United States regarding multilateral leadership (particularly in the area of financial regulatory reform).
Political risks have historically mattered much more in emerging markets, but political risk in the developed, industrial democracies is rising more quickly than anyone would have predicted a year ago.
Political-market risk in emerging Europe is significantly higher now than any time in the past decade. Russia and Ukraine, and even recent star “emerging Europe” performers such as Turkey, Hungary, and Romania face serious vulnerabilities in the coming year. In addition, western financial institutions based in countries like Germany, Italy and Austria are particularly vulnerable to a credit crisis in Eastern Europe, where they have large loan exposures. Russia’s growing anti-westernism, its state intervention in strategic economic sectors, and its assertive posture regarding Georgia have been widely discussed, and will remain concerns in 2009.