The Covid pandemic has been the most significant shared global event since the Second World War and it has delivered a profound shock to economies, healthcare systems and political structures around the world. Business and economic commentators have spent much of the first two years of the 2020s talking about its impact.
But what next? Other economic challenges have emerged that threaten to be just as important. The forces shaping economies before the pandemic did not go away. 2019 was the worst year for global growth since the 2008 financial crash, and the headline illusion of post-pandemic growth may turn out to be a rebound rather than a recovery. Global economic growth may yet return to the sluggish pace of the 2010s.
Two tidal waves we have known about for some time will break this decade:
- The 2020s will see the ageing of populations start to show up in the declining proportions of working-age people in developed economies. Some countries will see a fall in absolute numbers.
- This will also be the decade in which government climate change targets start to have an impact, as buildings, transport and industrial processes are reconfigured for Carbon Net Zero.
- The extent to which the actual physical effects of ongoing climate change will have an impact on businesses is still difficult to call, although the projections of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change suggest that it will be significant.
The political climate will be no less volatile, neither internationally nor in the domestic politics of most major economies. The shifting balance of power between the US and China is dramatically reshaping trade and diplomatic relationships. Potential flashpoints could lead to significant disruption of business and supply chains.
Businesses still repairing the damage of the early 2020’s must turn their attention to the next set of challenges. Scanning the environment and anticipating them will be critical. At a time when you will be at an advanced stage of thinking about budgets and plans for 2023, our guest speaker, a prominent economic commentator, will give us a timely perspective on how the economic environment of 2023 and beyond might develop.