Visualized: A Global Risk Assessment of 2022 and Beyond
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Visualized: A Global Risk Assessment of 2022 and Beyond

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2022 Global Risks Horizon

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Visualized: A Global Risk Assessment of 2022 and Beyond

Since the start of the global pandemic, we’ve been navigating through tumultuous waters, and this year is expected to be as unpredictable as ever.

In the latest annual edition of the Global Risks Report by the World Economic Forum (WEF), it was found that a majority of global leaders feel worried or concerned about the outlook of the world, and only 3.7% feel optimistic.

Ever year, the report identifies the top risks facing the world, as identified by nearly 1,000 surveyed experts and leaders across various disciplines, organizations, and geographies.

What global risks are leaders and experts most concerned about, and which ones are posing imminent threats? Let’s dive into the key findings from the report.

Methodology for WEF’s Global Risk Assessment

In the survey, respondents were asked to compare 37 different risks, which were broken down into five categories: economic, environmental, geopolitical, societal, and technological.

To get a sense of which risks were seen as more urgent than others, respondents were asked to identify when they believed these threats would become a serious problem to the world, based on the following timeframes:

  • Short-term threats: 0-2 years
  • Medium-term threats: 2-5 years
  • Long-term threats: 5-10 years

By categorizing global risks into these time horizons, it helps provide a better idea of the problems that decision makers and governments may have to deal with in the near future, and how these risks may interrelate with one another.

Short-Term Risks

When it comes to short-term threats, respondents identified societal risks such as “the erosion of social cohesion” and “livelihood crises” as the most immediate risks to the world.

TimeframeCategoryThreat% of Respondents
0-2 years🟢 EnvironmentalExtreme weather31.1%
0-2 years🔴 SocietalLivelihood crises30.4%
0-2 years🟢 EnvironmentalClimate action failure27.5%
0-2 years🔴 SocietalSocial cohesion erosion27.5%
0-2 years🔴 SocietalInfectious diseases26.4%
0-2 years🔴 SocietalMental health deterioration26.1%
0-2 years🟣 TechnologicalCybersecurity failure19.5%
0-2 years🔵 EconomicDebt crises19.3%
0-2 years🟣 TechnologicalDigital inequality18.2%
0-2 years🔵 EconomicAsset bubble burst14.2%

These societal risks have worsened since the start of COVID-19. And as emerging variants threaten our journey towards normalcy, the pandemic continues to wreak havoc worldwide, with no immediate signs of slowing down.

According to respondents, one problem triggered by the pandemic is rising inequality, both worldwide and within countries.

Many developed economies managed to adapt as office workers pivoted to remote and hybrid work, though many industries, such as hospitality, still face significant headwinds. Easy access to vaccines has helped these countries mitigate the worst effects of outbreaks.

Regions with low access to vaccines have not been so fortunate, and the economic divide could become more apparent as the pandemic stretches on.

Medium-Term Risks

A majority of respondents believe we’ll continue to struggle with pandemic-related issues for the next three years. Because of this, the medium-term risks identified by respondents are fairly similar to the short-term risks.

TimeframeCategoryThreat% of Respondents
2-5 years🟢 EnvironmentalClimate action failure35.7%
2-5 years🟢 EnvironmentalExtreme weather34.6%
2-5 years🔴 SocietalSocial cohesion erosion23.0%
2-5 years🔴 SocietalLivelihood crises20.1%
2-5 years🔵 EconomicDebt crises19.0%
2-5 years🟢 EnvironmentalHuman environmental damage16.4%
2-5 years🟡 GeopoliticalGeoeconomic confrontations14.8%
2-5 years🟣 TechnologicalCybersecurity failure14.6%
2-5 years🟢 EnvironmentalBiodiversity loss13.5%
2-5 years🔵 EconomicAsset bubble burst12.7%

The pressing issues caused by COVID-19 mean that many key governments and decision-makers are struggling to prioritize long-term planning, and no longer have the capacity to help out with global issues. For example, the UK government postponed its foreign aid target until at least 2024. If countries continue to prioritize themselves in an effort to mitigate the impact of COVID-19, the inequality gap could widen even further.

Respondents also worry about rising debt levels triggering a crisis. The debt-to-GDP ratio globally spiked by 13 percentage points in 2020, a figure that will almost certainly continue to rise in the near future.

Long-Term Risks

Respondents identified climate change as the biggest threat to humanity in the next decade.

TimeframeCategoryThreat% of Respondents
5-10 years🟢 EnvironmentalClimate action failure42.1%
5-10 years🟢 EnvironmentalExtreme weather32.4%
5-10 years🟢 EnvironmentalBiodiversity loss27.0%
5-10 years🟢 EnvironmentalNatural resource crises23.0%
5-10 years🟢 EnvironmentalHuman environmental damage21.7%
5-10 years🔴 SocietalSocial cohesion erosion19.1%
5-10 years🔴 SocietalInvoluntary migration15.0%
5-10 years🟣 TechnologicalAdverse tech advances14.9%
5-10 years🟡 GeopoliticalGeoeconomic confrontations14.1%
5-10 years🟡 GeopoliticalGeopolitical resource contestation13.5%

Climate inaction—essentially business as usual—could lead to a global GDP loss between 4% and 18%, with varying impacts across different regions.

Experts also pointed out that current decarbonization commitments made at COP26 last year still aren’t enough to slow warming to the 1.5°C goal set in the Paris Climate Agreement, so more action is needed to mitigate environmental risk.

That said, efforts to curb climate change and solve long-term issues will likely have negative short-term impacts on the global economy and society. So risk mitigation efforts need to be in place as we work to reach net-zero and ultimately slow down climate change.

Risk Mitigation Efforts

People’s thoughts on risk mitigation were gauged in the WEF survey. Respondents were asked to identify which risks our world is most equipped to handle, and which ones they believe we’re less prepared for.

Global Risk Mitigation Efforts

“Trade facilitation,” “international crime,” and “weapons of mass destruction” were risks that respondents felt we’ve effectively prepared for. On the flip side, “artificial intelligence” and “cross-border cyberattacks and misinformation” are areas where most respondents think we’re most unprotected against.

As society becomes increasingly reliant on digital infrastructure, experts predict we will see an uptick in cyber attacks and cybercrime. New AI-enabled technologies that offer ransomware-as-a-service allow anyone to engage in cybercrime—even those without the technical knowledge needed to build malware.

How Do We Move Forward?

Based on the findings from this year’s survey, WEF identified five lessons that governments, businesses, and decision-makers should utilize in order to build resilience and prepare for future challenges:

  1. Build a holistic mitigation framework: Rather than focusing on specific risks, it’s helpful to identify the big-picture worst-case scenario and work back from there. Build holistic systems that protect against adverse outcomes.
  2. Consider the entire ecosystem: Examine third-party services and external assets, and analyze the broader ecosystem in which you operate.
  3. Embrace diversity in resilience strategies: Not all strategies will work across the board. Complex problems will require nuanced efforts. Adaptability is key.
  4. Connect resilience efforts with other goals: Many resilience efforts could benefit multiple aspects of society. For instance, efficient supply chains could strengthen communities and contribute to environmental goals.
  5. Think of resilience as a journey, not a destination: Remaining agile and vigilant is vital when building out resilience programs, as these efforts are new and require reflection in order to improve.

The next few years will be riddled with complex challenges, and our best chance at mitigating these global risks is through increased collaboration and consistent reassessment.

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Made in America: Goods Exports by State

The U.S. exported $1.8 trillion worth of goods in 2021. This infographic looks at where that trade activity took place across the nation.

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Made in America: Goods Exports by State

After China, the U.S. is the next largest exporter of goods in the world, shipping out $1.8 trillion worth of goods in 2021—an increase of 23% over the previous year.

Of course, that massive number doesn’t tell the whole story. The U.S. economy is multifaceted, with varying levels of trade activity taking place all across the nation.

Using the latest data on international trade from the U.S. Census Bureau and the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis, we’ve visualized the value of America’s goods exports by state.

Top 10 Exporter States

Here are the top 10 American states that exported the highest dollar value worth of goods during 2021. Combined, these export-leading states represent 59.4% of the nation’s total exports.

RankStateTotal Exports Value% share
#1Texas$375.3 billion21.4%
#2California$175.1 billion10.0%
#3New York$84.9 billion 4.8%
#4Louisiana $76.8 billion4.4%
#5Illinois$65.9 billion3.8%
#6Michigan$55.5 billion3.2%
#7Florida$55.5 billion3.2%
#8Washington$53.6 billion3.1%
#9Ohio$50.4 billion2.9%
#10New Jersey$49.5 billion2.8%
Top 10 States$1.04 trillion59.4%

Texas has been the top exporting state in the U.S. for an incredible 20 years in a row.

Last year, Texas exported $375 billion worth of goods, which is more than California ($175 billion), New York ($85 billion), and Louisiana ($77 billion) combined. The state’s largest manufacturing export category is petroleum and coal products, but it’s also important to mention that Texas led the nation in tech exports for the ninth straight year.

California was the second highest exporter of goods in 2021 with a total value of $175 billion, an increase of 12% from the previous year. The state’s main export by value was computer and electronic product manufacturing, representing 17.8% of the total U.S. exports of that industry. California was also second among all states in exports of machinery manufacturing, accounting for 13.9% of the U.S. total.

What Type of Goods are Exported?

Here is a breakdown of the biggest U.S. export categories by value in 2021.

RankProduct GroupAnnual Export Value (2021)Share of Total Exports
1Mineral fuels including oil$239.8 billion13.7%
2Machinery including computers$209.3 billion11.9%
3Electrical machinery, equipment$185.4 billion10.6%
4Vehicles$122.2 billion7.0%
5Optical, technical, medical apparatus$91.7 billion5.2%
6Aircraft, spacecraft$89.1 billion5.1%
7Gems, precious metals $82.3 billion4.7%
8Pharmaceuticals$78 billion4.4%
9Plastics, plastic articles$74.3 billion4.2%
10Organic chemicals$42.9 billion2.4%

These top 10 export categories alone represent almost 70% of America’s total exports.

The biggest grower among this list is mineral fuels, up by 59% from last year. Pharmaceuticals saw the second biggest one-year increase (45%).

Top 10 U.S. Exports by Country of Destination

So who is buying “Made in America” products?

Unsurprisingly, neighboring countries Canada (17.5%) and Mexico (15.8%) are the two biggest buyers of American goods. Together, they purchase one-third of American exports.

RankDestination CountryShare of U.S. Goods Exports
1🇨🇦 Canada17.5%
2🇲🇽 Mexico15.8%
3🇨🇳 China8.6%
4🇯🇵 Japan4.3%
5🇰🇷 South Korea3.7%
6🇩🇪 Germany3.7%
7🇬🇧 United Kingdom3.5%
8 🇳🇱 Netherlands3.1%
9🇧🇷 Brazil2.7%
10🇮🇳 India2.3%

Three Asian countries round out the top five list: China (8.6%), Japan (4.3%), and South Korea (3.7%). Together, the top five countries account for around half of all goods exports.

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Visualizing Global Income Distribution Over 200 Years

How has global income distribution changed over history? Below, we show three distinct periods since the Industrial Revolution.

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Global Income Distribution

Visualizing Global Income Distribution Over 200 Years

Has the world become more unequal?

With COVID-19 disrupting societies and lower-income countries in particular, social and economic progress made over the last decade is in danger of being reversed. And with rising living costs and inflation across much of the world, experts warn that global income inequality has been exacerbated.

But the good news is that absolute incomes across many poorer countries have significantly risen over the last century of time. And though work remains, poverty levels have fallen dramatically in spite of stark inequality.

To analyze historical trends in global income distribution, this infographic from Our World in Data looks at three periods over the last two centuries. It uses economic data from 1800, 1975, and 2015 compiled by Hans and Ola Rosling.

Methodology

For global income estimates, data was gathered by country across three key variables:

  • Population
  • GDP per capita
  • Gini coefficient, which measures income inequality by statistical distribution

Daily incomes were measured in a hypothetical “international-$” currency, equal to what a U.S. dollar would buy in America in 2011, to allow for comparable incomes across time periods and countries.

Historical Patterns in Global Income Distribution

In 1800, over 80% of the world lived in what we consider extreme poverty today.

At the time, only a small number of countries—predominantly Western European countries, Australia, Canada and the U.S.—saw meaningful economic growth. In fact, research suggests that between 1 CE and 1800 CE the majority of places around the world saw miniscule economic growth (only 0.04% annually).

By 1975, global income distribution became bimodal. Most citizens in developing countries lived below the poverty line, while most in developed countries lived above it, with incomes nearly 10 times higher on average. Post-WWII growth was unusually rapid across developed countries.

Fast forward just 40 years to 2015 and world income distribution changed again. As incomes rose faster in poorer countries than developed ones, many people were lifted out of poverty. Between 1975 and 2015, poverty declined faster than at any other time. Still, steep inequality persisted.

A Tale of Different Economic Outputs

Even as global income distribution has started to even out, economic output has trended in the opposite direction.

As the above interactive chart shows, GDP per capita was much more equal across regions in the 19th century, when it sat around $1,100 per capita on a global basis. Despite many people living below the poverty line during these times, the world also had less wealth to go around.

Today, the global average GDP per capita sits at close to $15,212 or about 14 times higher, but it is not as equally distributed.

At the highest end of the spectrum are Western and European countries. Strong economic growth, greater industrial output, and sufficient legal institutions have helped underpin higher GDP per capita numbers. Meanwhile, countries with the lowest average incomes have not seen the same levels of growth.

This highlights that poverty, and economic prosperity, is heavily influenced by where one lives.

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