Anticipating Global Challenges: Insights into the Outlook for 2024

With the complexity of global dynamics, 2024 promises to present a set of challenges, both geopolitical and economic, which will necessitate a heightened level of preparedness among credit management professionals.

In this interest piece, we explore six major challenges we expect to influence the direction of our world in the upcoming year, each which brings forth its own set of complexities and opportunities for businesses worldwide.

Challenge 1: Adapting to the Shifting Global Economic Landscape

Four years after the onset of the global pandemic, the international economic environment remains uncertain. Inflationary pressures persist, particularly affecting emerging markets, while advanced economies implement monetary policy to combat inflation. A noteworthy trend towards de-globalisation is beginning to emerge, with countries increasingly looking toward self-sufficiency. China’s economic slowdown also presents further challenges, prompting concerns about its impact on global supply chains and financial markets.

Challenge 2: Steering Through Democratic Governance Challenges

Democracy, the fundamental pillar of many nations, faces unprecedented trials across the globe. With over 50 countries and regional entities preparing for pivotal elections, including the highly anticipated U.S. presidential race, the importance of these democratic processes cannot be overstated. The UK General Election, to take place by Jan 2025, will deliver its own outcomes with opinion polls showing at the time of writing that the Conservative Party, in power since 2010, is heading for one of its biggest ever defeats. But it is expected that whoever wins the general election will confront tough decisions on tax and spending amid high interest rates, low business investment, and stagnant economic growth. Additionally, the outcomes of elections in India and Indonesia, among others, are poised to shape regional and global dynamics in significant ways.

Challenge 3: Addressing China’s Economic Slowdown

China’s economic slowdown, coupled with rising unemployment and real estate issues, extends global economic risks. President Xi Jinping and his government face a blend of domestic and foreign pressures, impacting international markets. His decisions wield substantial influence on investor confidence, trade patterns, and global growth trajectories. As China addresses its economic challenges, global stakeholders are monitoring developments closely, acknowledging the interconnectedness of the global economy and China’s pivotal role within it.

Challenge 4: Manoeuvring Amidst Geopolitical Conflicts

Armed conflicts and shadow conflicts (disinformation campaigns, efforts to subvert elections and domestic politics) have reshaped geopolitical dynamics, fuelling tensions with far-reaching implications. Organisations need to effectively navigate this uncertain geopolitical landscape, by preparing for potential disruptions to supply chains, assessing the vulnerability of assets in conflict-prone regions, and establishing communication channels to respond swiftly to emerging threats. Additionally, companies may need to reconsider their geopolitical risk exposure and diversify their supplier base to mitigate the impact of geopolitical tensions on their operations.

Challenge 5: Securing Natural Resources Amidst Competing Interests

The pressure on supply chains intensifies as the competition for natural resources and commodities increases due to geopolitical rivalries and the shift of countries from primarily resource extractors to resource consumers. Part of this is simple supply and demand, of course. Countries that were once primarily based on resource extraction — such as China, India, and Brazil — have developed their own industries and are now becoming resource consumers, putting additional pressure on global resources. Combine this with a rush into the resources required by new green energy infrastructure, which includes a plethora of rare earth metals, and it becomes clear why the fight for natural resources and commodities is picking up.

Challenge 6: Embracing the Era of Artificial Intelligence

The pursuit of dominance in artificial intelligence reshapes economic and strategic landscapes, with global powers vying for control over AI technologies. Regulatory frameworks play a crucial role in shaping the development and deployment of AI, with data and expertise emerging as critical resources in this race for innovation. At the organisational level, the adoption and successful implementation of AI-based systems holds the potential to confer significant competitive advantages. By integrating AI technologies into various facets of operations, companies can streamline processes, enhance efficiency, and gain valuable insights from data analytics. In confronting these challenges of 2024, credit managers must possess a diverse skill set encompassing financial acumen, geopolitical awareness, data analytics proficiency, and adaptability. Collaboration with cross-functional teams and a proactive approach to risk management are essential for organisations to successfully navigate the evolving global landscape.

Kerry McKevitt
Founding Partner
The Order to Cash Laboratory

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