As a new year dawns, we remain in the depths of a ’geopolitical recession’ warns Eurasia Group

The top ten geopolitical risks for the year ahead are dominated by ”a small group of individuals has amassed an extraordinary amount of power, making decisions of profound geopolitical consequence with limited information in opaque environments”. This is according to the latest risk report from Eurasia Group.

These developments are driving a disproportionate amount of the uncertainty in the world today, it warns, with Putin’s increasingly desperate actions at the top of the list of concerns.

“Nuclear saber-rattling by Moscow will intensify,” warn the report authors, Ian Bremmer president and Cliff Kupchan chairman at Eurasia. “Putin’s threats will become more explicit; he’s likely to move tactical nuclear weapons closer to Ukraine—and publicise it—and we could see an increase in the alert status of Russia’s nuclear arsenal.

Meanwhile, the consultancy sees risks in three areas stemming from Xi’s China in 2023. The ill effects of centralised decision-making on public health are now on display, it states, warning as many as one million citizens will die from the snap decision to lift all COVID restrictions.

A second area of concern is China’s economy, where ”Xi’s drive for state control will produce arbitrary decisions and policy volatility”.

A final risk area is foreign policy, where Xi’s nationalist views and assertive style will drive Beijing’s relations with the world. “Xi isn’t looking for a near-term crisis, given the scale and immediacy of economic challenges at home,” state Bremmer and Kupchan. “But ‘wolf warrior’ diplomacy will nonetheless intensify as diplomats channel Xi’s bold rhetoric, often at the expense of effective engagement…

”The last time a Chinese leader had this much power to pursue such a misguided policy agenda, the result was widespread famine, economic ruin, and death.

”While another Cultural Revolution or Great Leap Forward is unlikely given the size of China’s educated urban middle class, Xi’s consolidation of power will take China at least a few steps backward this year.”

The report’s top ten risks are:

“It is not the end of democracy (nor of NATO or the West),” continue Bremmer and Kupchan. ”But we remain in the depths of a geopolitical recession, with the risks this year the most dangerous we’ve encountered in the 25 years since we started Eurasia Group.”