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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Markets

Visualizing Major Layoffs At U.S. Corporations

This infographic highlights the accelerating pace of layoffs so far in 2022, as businesses cut costs ahead of a potential recession.

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Visualizing Major Layoffs at U.S. Corporations

Hiring freezes and layoffs are becoming more common in 2022, as U.S. businesses look to slash costs ahead of a possible recession.

Understandably, this has a lot of people worried. In June 2022, Insight Global found that 78% of American workers fear they will lose their job in the next recession. Additionally, 56% said they aren’t financially prepared, and 54% said they would take a pay cut to avoid being laid off.

In this infographic, we’ve visualized major layoffs announced in 2022 by publicly-traded U.S. corporations.

Note: Due to gaps in reporting, as well as the very large number of U.S. corporations, this list may not be comprehensive.

An Emerging Trend

Layoffs have surged considerably since April of this year. See the table below for high-profile instances of mass layoffs.

CompanyIndustryLayoffs (#)Month
PelotonConsumer Discretionary2,800February
FunkoConsumer Discretionary258April
RobinhoodFinancial Services~400April
Nektar TherapeuticsBiotechnology500April
CarvanaAutomotive2,500May
DomaFinancial Services310May
JP Morgan Chase & Co.Financial Services~500June
TeslaAutomotive200June
CoinbaseFinancial Services1,100June
NetflixTechnology300June
CVS HealthPharmaceutical208June
StartTekTechnology472June
FordAutomotive8,000July
RivianAutomotive840July
PelotonConsumer Discretionary2,000July
LoanDepotFinancial Services2,000July
InvitaeBiotechnology1,000July
LyftTechnology60July
MetaTechnology350July
TwitterTechnology<30July
VimeoTechnology72July
RobinhoodFinancial Services~795August

Here’s a brief rundown of these layoffs, sorted by industry.

Automotive

Ford has announced the biggest round of layoffs this year, totalling roughly 8,000 salaried employees. Many of these jobs are in Ford’s legacy combustion engine business. According to CEO Jim Farley, these cuts are necessary to fund the company’s transition to EVs.

We absolutely have too many people in some places, no doubt about it.
– Jim Farley, CEO, Ford

Speaking of EVs, Rivian laid off 840 employees in July, amounting to 6% of its total workforce. The EV startup pointed to inflation, rising interest rates, and increasing commodity prices as factors. The firm’s more established competitor, Tesla, cut 200 jobs from its autopilot division in the month prior.

Last but not least is online used car retailer, Carvana, which cut 2,500 jobs in May. The company experienced rapid growth during the pandemic, but has since fallen out of grace. Year-to-date, the company’s shares are down more than 80%.

Financial Services

Fearing an impending recession, Coinbase has shed 1,100 employees, or 18% of its total workforce. Interestingly, Coinbase does not have a physical headquarters, meaning the entire company operates remotely.

A recession could lead to another crypto winter, and could last for an extended period. In past crypto winters, trading revenue declined significantly.
Brian Armstrong, CEO, Coinbase

Around the same time, JPMorgan Chase & Co. announced it would fire hundreds of home-lending employees. While an exact number isn’t available, we’ve estimated this to be around 500 jobs, based on the original Bloomberg article. Wells Fargo, another major U.S. bank, has also cut 197 jobs from its home mortgage division.

The primary reason for these cuts is rising mortgage rates, which are negatively impacting the demand for homes.

Technology

Within tech, Meta and Twitter are two of the most high profile companies to begin making layoffs. In Meta’s case, 350 custodial staff have been let go due to reduced usage of the company’s offices.

Many more cuts are expected, however, as Facebook recently reported its first revenue decline in 10 years. CEO Mark Zuckerberg has made it clear he expects the company to do more with fewer resources, and managers have been encouraged to report “low performers” for “failing the company”.

Realistically, there are probably a bunch of people at the company who shouldn’t be here.
– Mark Zuckerberg, CEO, Meta

Also in July, Twitter laid off 30% of its talent acquisition team. An exact number was not available, but the team was estimated to have less than 100 employees. The company has also enacted a hiring freeze as it stumbles through a botched acquisition by Elon Musk.

More Layoffs to Come…

Layoffs are expected to continue throughout the rest of this year, as metrics like consumer sentiment enter a decline. Rising interest rates, which make it more expensive for businesses to borrow money, are also having a negative impact on growth.

In fact just a few days ago, trading platform Robinhood announced it was letting go 23% of its staff. After accounting for its previous layoffs in April (9% of the workforce), it’s fair to estimate that this latest round will impact nearly 800 people.

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Agriculture

Which Countries Produce the Most Wheat?

Global wheat production is concentrated in just a handful of countries. Here’s a look at the top wheat-producing countries worldwide.

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Visualizing Global Wheat Production by Country (2000-2020)

Wheat is a dietary staple for millions of people around the world.

After rice and corn (maize), wheat is the third most-produced cereal worldwide, and the second-most-produced for human consumption. And considering wheat’s importance in the global food system, any impact on major producers such as droughts, wars, or other events, can impact the entire world.

Which countries are the largest producers of wheat? This graphic by Kashish Rastogi visualizes the breakdown of 20 years of global wheat production by country.

Top 10 Wheat Producing Countries

While more than 80 different countries produce wheat around the world, the majority of global wheat production comes from just a handful of countries, according to data from The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO).

Here’s a look at the top 10 wheat-producing countries worldwide, based on total yield in tonnes from 2000-2020:

RankCountryContinentTotal yield (tonnes, 2000-2020)% of total (2000-2020)
#1🇨🇳 ChinaAsia & Oceania2.4 B17.0%
#2🇮🇳 IndiaAsia & Oceania1.8 B12.5%
#3🇷🇺 RussiaAsia & Oceania1.2 B 8.4%
#4🇺🇸 U.S.Americas1.2 B 8.4%
#5🇫🇷 FranceEurope767 M 5.4%
#6🇨🇦 CanadaAmericas571 M 4.0%
#7🇩🇪 GermanyEurope491 M3.5%
#8🇵🇰 PakistanAsia & Oceania482 M3.4%
#9🇦🇺 AustraliaAsia & Oceania456 M3.2%
#10🇺🇦 UkraineEurope433 M3.1%

China, the world’s largest wheat producer, has yielded more than 2.4 billion tonnes of wheat over the last two decades, making up roughly 17% of total production from 2000-2020.

A majority of China’s wheat is used domestically to help meet the country’s rising food demand. China is the world’s largest consumer of wheat—in 2020/2021, the country accounted for approximately 19% of global wheat consumption.

The second-largest wheat-producing country is India. Over the last two decades, India has produced 12.5% of the world’s wheat. Like China, India keeps most of its wheat domestic because of significant food demand across the country.

Russia, the world’s third-largest wheat producer, is also the largest global exporter of wheat. The country exported more than $7.3 billion worth of wheat in 2021, accounting for approximately 13.1% of total wheat exports that year.

Russia-Ukraine Impact on Global Wheat Market

Because Russia and Ukraine are both significant global wheat producers, the ongoing conflict between the two countries has caused massive disruptions to the global wheat market.

The conflict has had an impact on adjacent industries as well. For instance, Russia is one of the world’s major fertilizer suppliers, and the conflict has led to a global fertilizer shortage which could lead to food shortages worldwide.

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