Gear up for the next global catastrophe

THIS WEEK’S TOPIC: Ten years on from the 2008 global economic crisis, what do you think is the biggest risk to the world economy today?

THIS WEEK'S TOPIC: Ten years on from the 2008 global economic crisis, what do you think is the biggest risk to the world economy today?

Nick Waters
CEO, Asia-Pacific
Dentsu Aegis Network

INEQUALITY and imbalances are the biggest threats to today's economy.

The burden of recovery following the global financial crisis fell in Western countries disproportionately on those less well-off in the form of public service cuts rather than taxes on the wealthy, leading to populist politics and consequent trade confrontation.

Inequality has been increased by the widening digital divide as a small number of tech oligopolies use asymmetries of information to create further wealth for the few, but job insecurity and wage stagnation for the many.

Similarly, the flood of cheap money to stimulate the recovery has created distortions, imbalances and risks in the shadow banking system.

Danny Ong
Rajah & Tann Singapore LLP

I'M afraid that we may not have learned from past mistakes. What is notable in the last decade is that whilst bank credit boom has been arrested, that has been replaced by an unprecedented increase in cheap lending by private investors, spurred largely by loose monetary policy.

This is evident from the significant increase in global debt versus GDP, and bond issuances. With rising interest rates, lower consumer demand, and weakening of EM currencies, there's a real risk of distress across multiple sectors and geographies. I would pay close attention to highly leveraged or overvalued companies in tech and energy.

Michael Blake
Region Head & CEO, Asia
Union Bancaire Privée, UBP SA Singapore Branch

THE ten years following the Global Financial Crisis (GFC) will be remembered by the financial services industry as a decade of intense regulatory reform: from more robust supervision to greater investor protection. The measures adopted have increased the resilience of the industry and this work must continue.

However, perhaps a more fundamental legacy of the GFC will be political. Across the world, populists and protectionism have benefited from public disquiet caused by austerity policies introduced to fight the GFC. This trend, combined with the continuing structural shift to Asia, constitutes a challenge to the economic status quo which will require active investment management in years to come.

Alex Jeffrey
Head of Asia Pacific
M&G Asia

HINDSIGHT is a wonderful thing, and crises almost by definition are largely unforeseen. The last crisis caused a fundamental reassessment of the risk properties of developed market assets and even to this day we are still seeing the effects from it, particularly in equities. On a macro level, there are various risks; in particular international and domestic policy missteps particularly from the US may increase uncertainty, impact global trade, and hinder global growth prospects.

The escalating trade war may impact the growth profiles of the markets that we invest in. We are keeping a close watch on the path of rate hikes because if it is misinterpreted or mismanaged by the market, it may lead to an increase in volatility and steeper re-pricing of varying risks.

Ray Ferguson
Caber Partners

I SEE three big risks ahead, which are quite different from 2008.

Multi- and unilateralism: Unlike 2008 we have today the battle between them. Fortunately it's not a one-way street with US v China driving unilateralism with each other, whilst EU and other advanced economies are closing multiple free trade agreements with each other and emerging economies.

Emerging markets: Are at risk as US rates rise but emerging markets are not all equal. Countries like Argentina, Brazil, Malaysia, Turkey and South Africa are vulnerable given either high levels of government debt to GDP or short-term external debt as percentage of forex reserves.

Europe: A combination of Brexit causing uncertainty, lowering growth and driving inflation in the UK and worries of the rise of populist governments in EU largely led by immigration concerns.

Colin Graham
Chief Investment Officer, Multi Asset Solutions
Eastspring Investments

A DECADE ago, the Global Financial Crisis was halted by central banks introducing quantitative easing (QE) - cheap money. This event serves as a strong reminder that cheap money and low interest rates can lead to unsustainable debt burdens, and eventually a bust.

After the crisis, deleveraging should have been the top priority, but debt has instead been shunted around the system, even onto government balance sheets. New debt has also been taken on because interest rates have remained so low.

Recent manifestations of the QE/debt sustainability debate are seen in Argentina's and Turkey's currency devaluations, the latter accompanied by Eurozone bank stock price falls. With the Italian budget negotiations up next and an expected rate hike by the Fed later this month, there may be questions over whether this will be the greatest risk to the world's economy.

Vipin Kalra
Chief Executive Officer
BankBazaar International

THE global economy has been showing an upward trend since mid-2016 and the healthy performance of both developed and emerging economies indicate that this trend is likely to continue over the next few years. The 2008 crisis was a good wake-up call for everyone and progressive regulators such as the Monetary Authority of Singapore have already put in place strong regulatory reforms to mitigate, if not avoid, such an occurrence.

As such, I don't believe that issues such as rising debt in China pose a long-term risk, especially as the government is fairly autonomous and can act fast in case of any impending financial disaster. In my opinion, geopolitical tensions pose the biggest threat to the stability of the world economy.

Jeff Hurmuses
Area Vice-President and Managing Director, Asia-Pacific

WHEN the financial bubble burst, the world had Facebook, but social media, e-commerce or internet banking weren't yet a daily staple. In only ten years, the world has become a lot more connected and digitalised.

With all the benefits of being online, the world is facing a risk: cybercrime. Scams, hacking and malware are way too common, with companies being attacked and confidential data being compromised daily. The recent SingHealth breach is a clear example. Despite being one of the countries with the largest cybersecurity budget, Singapore fell victim to the biggest cyber attack of its history.

Cybercrime not only costs the global economy billions of dollars, but it also exploits the anonymity and interconnectivity provided by the internet, attacking the foundations of our modern economy and society.

Karl Hamann
Chief Executive Officer
QBE Insurance (Singapore) Pte Ltd

THE biggest threat to a global economy that has stabilised and grown since 2008 is complacency - particularly in an environment where traditional trade flows are all of a sudden in question. Policymakers and businesses need to be more cautious than ever.

Importantly, we must not forget the lessons of 2008, which showed us how major crises can catch us off guard at any time. Businesses need to pursue innovation and new opportunities relentlessly, but at the same time should remain focused on guarding against emerging vulnerabilities. Left unattended, we run the risk of derailing our economic recovery and falling into a familiar trap.

Claudia Salem
AIG Singapore

Head of Country Operations, South-east Asia

CYBERSECURITY is the risk that's top of mind for businesses and governments, as recent headlines have proven. The economic benefits gained from use of and access to data, combined with global interconnectivity, have moved cyber risk from corporate risk to potentially systemic or catastrophic risk.

This brings new challenges for business leaders and the reality is that no sector is immune to the risks of a cyber-attack. The integrity and reputation of the financial sector, which has been a major target for many years, depends on being cyber-secure.

Joanne Wong
Senior Regional Director for Asia Pacific & Japan

A CYBERATTACK on a global scale is one to watch, given how the world is now more reliant on technology. From critical infrastructures to our financial systems, we are just one step away from a highly sophisticated and organised attack that will cause rippling but detrimental consequences across the world.

Yet, we are still facing a lack of awareness and sheer complacency in developing comprehensive strategies against cyberattacks.

The threat landscape is constantly expanding and unpredictable with its actors after different objectives. The only way to contain cyber threats before they become full-blown depends on how quickly we detect, respond to and remediate the threat.

Leon Perera
Spire Research and Consulting

THE biggest risk to the world economy today stems from the divergence between the US economy and emerging market economies. The US continues to see strong growth in GDP, jobs and stock prices. The Fed is poised to hike interest rates.

Most emerging markets are seeing growth rates that are not historically high. China is slowing its growth rate. This raises the risk of capital outflows from emerging markets and exchange rate volatility as the US dollar strengthens, which in turn could trigger credit woes in some emerging markets. In light of the financial crisis in Turkey and the uncertainties surrounding the Iran nuclear deal and denuclearisation on the Korean peninsula, ''Black Swan'' geopolitical shocks cannot be ruled out.

Walter de Oude
Singapore Life Pte Ltd

IT is clear from the large amounts of global debt, geopolitical and trade protectionism and populist decision making that world economies have some peculiar foundations. None of these themselves seem recipes for disaster on their own.

The question is what then might be the catalyst for the next financial chaos? My view is that it is the growing socioeconomic divide between rich and poor. Productivity gains and automation are removing jobs for the masses, and creating high paying jobs for the few. What would all the drivers in the world do if all vehicles were autonomous? The thought scares me . . .

Richard Hayler
Senior Managing Director
FTI Consulting

TO limit the damage caused in the global financial crisis, and to facilitate recovery, we saw stimulus packages of a never-before-seen magnitude.

This included significant increases in the money supply and lowering of interest rates to record low and, in some cases, negative levels. These packages lasted far longer than anyone expected, to the point many assumed these low rates represented a new normal. I believe, in this context, that the biggest risk to the world economy today is the mispricing of risk. The asset bubbles created as a result of investors' hunt for yield will at some point deflate or burst and that could be more painful than many expect.

Amit Gupta
CEO & Founder

AS emerging technologies evolve and become more widely adopted, it's unlikely we'll have a carbon copy repeat of the Lehman Brothers demise. The technology exists today, through blockchain, that would increase the transparency of the securities industry, and would help to prevent similar instances in the future. Indeed, many stock exchanges are already trialling blockchain technology.

However, with more technology comes increased vulnerabilities - look no further than the WannaCry ransomware attack of 2017, which is thought to have cost the global economy up to US$4 billion in losses. As the Internet of Things (IoT) becomes more widespread, and technology is relied upon for even the most mundane of tasks, there are going to be more threat vectors for attackers to exploit. So cybersecurity has the potential to be the largest threat and should be front of mind for all organisations regardless of size.

Oliver Prevrhal
Managing Director
Retarus Asia

CYBERCRIME is arguably one of the key threats to economic growth in today's digital age. Over the last decade, the world has witnessed cybercriminals' increasingly sophisticated infiltration tactics, a surge in the number of exploitable vulnerabilities, and a rise in the scale and volume of cyberattacks, including Petya and WannaCry, which have wreaked havoc in a variety of industry verticals across the globe.

With Juniper Research estimating the economic impact of cybercrime to reach US$8 trillion by 2022, individuals and companies truly need to be vigilant and employ proactive measures to safeguard themselves from cyberthreats.

Ana Dhoraisingam
CEO, Singapore
PineBridge Investments

WE believe that market complacency is the biggest risk next year. Underneath the record levels of some equity indices and news of a continued cyclical recovery, tectonic shifts are taking place.

The global economy is increasingly untethered from the actions undertaken by central banks under crisis conditions ten years ago and a new generation of politicians is challenging status-quo policies. As a result, we believe that dispersion between and within asset classes will increase at a time when flows into risk asset classes and passive investments remain extremely robust. Thus, a dynamic and disciplined approach to investing is especially critical for investors.

Dileep Nair
Independent Director
Thakral Corporation Limited

THE US-China relationship is the most important in today's interconnected world. Whatever happens between these two countries has a far reaching impact on the global geopolitical and economic environment. Relations currently are acrimonious and deteriorating. A full-scale trade war is in the offing with tariffs being put up against almost a third of bilateral US-China trade. The US has even threatened to pull out of the World Trade Organisation, implying further protectionist measures against China and the unravelling of the international trading order.

Claims that China has engaged in cyber espionage will goad the US into possible cyber warfare. The spectre of an actual military clash between these nations also lurks in the South China Sea. We can only pray that cool heads prevail in Washington and Beijing so that the looming risks do not turn into a nightmare.

Stephen Keys
President, Asia Pacific & Japan, Middle East & Africa
IFS Solutions Asia Pacific

THE biggest risk is the complacency of growth. Modest, incremental growth as we have seen in recent times, has again created a certain complacency, which was one of the root causes of the 2008 crisis.

Mervyn King, former governor of the Bank of England, referred to the audacity of pessimism - that only when things look bleak do people get round to getting things done.

A watchful form of governance, grounded in realism and attentive risk management, with regular reviews and proactive measures, mitigate the need for a more audacious (and therefore risky) response to a crisis none of us can afford.

Joel Ko Hyun Sik
Co-founder and CEO
Marvelstone Ventures

THE financial crisis of 2008 stemmed from the immaturity of global financial systems and insufficient financial risk management. But if there is a new crisis brewing for the world economy, it might stem from the inadequacy of global economic systems in the face of new technologies such as AI, blockchain, and cryptocurrency.

These three technologies bring with them unavoidable disruption to traditional economic models, including employment, investment dynamics, and banking systems.

Whether these new technologies ultimately pose a threat to the world economy depends to a large extent on how well established powers handle the transition to more affordable, transparent, and decentralised systems that such technologies represent.

Craig Nielsen
Vice-President, Asia-Pacific

CYBERCRIME in 2017 cost Asia Pacific US$171 billion, and globally makes up one seventh of the total cost of all crime. Governments and public infrastructure continue to be prime targets of threat actors, as seen in the recent attacks on critical infrastructure in the region. Asia is a high-risk region with a growing mobile population, with strong adoption of cloud services, and varying regulatory and consumer practices.

The threat landscape is constantly evolving, and cybersecurity has never been more at the forefront of concerns for everyone from the boardroom to the family room. Collaboration through stronger public-private partnerships and integrated architectures is the best way to address the challenges in cybersecurity and safeguard the world economy.

David Haynes
Senior Director
LexisNexis Risk Solutions

MOBILE banking is the future, however, cyber attacks are increasing and becoming more complex, with one third of all fraud now targeting this channel, says the soon-to-be-released Q2 Cybercrime report from our company, ThreatMetrix. Even though companies, including e-commerce entities, should know their customers, it is getting harder to do so, making cybercrime and identity spoofing a significant threat.

The solution lies in companies being able to leverage information and technology that blends physical identity data with digital identity data in order to have a 360-degree view of customers so that they can stop identity fraud.

Michael Correa
General Manager, Asia-Pacific
Westpac Banking Corporation

ONE of the most critical threats to the global economy today is the failure to acknowledge and act on climate-related risks, which could trigger significant losses and instability in the financial system.

For example, natural disasters in 2017 caused overall losses of US$340 billion. Financial institutions have an important role to play in assisting the global economy transition to a low carbon economy. To this end, we were privileged to host the recent United Nations Environment Programme Finance Initiative working group meeting here in Singapore with 27 global banks, to draft new principles that will set the global benchmark for responsible and sustainable banking.

There is much more to be done, and this starts with us as individuals, championing sustainable choices in our organisations and daily lives.

Jessie Xia
Managing Director - Singapore

TECHNOLOGY has enabled people all over the world to become readily connected. Besides bringing opportunities to the global economy, it has also increased our susceptibility to threats like large-scale data theft, privacy violations, ransomware, and malicious information operations which can impair critical networks and infrastructure - these are prominent global threats already affecting millions of people each year.

The rise in connectivity calls for organisations to build robust tech infrastructure and systems as a way to prevent and minimise the impact of cyber-attacks. ThoughtWorks is committed to working closely with organisations to future-proof their success in the digital economy.

Chris Burton
Managing Director
Vistra Singapore and Malaysia

THE global economy seems to be in generally good health, and there do not seem many dark clouds on the horizon that would precipitate a 2008-style crash. The biggest threat in the next few years is the erosion of the rules-based WTO economic model that has helped global trade prosper, and substantially reduced levels of poverty.

Forces working against it include nationalist ideologies against immigration, a perceived lack of participation in the benefits by some groups, some countries subverting the rules to their own interests, others having political/economic systems that WTO rules do not readily accommodate, and a lack of sponsorship by its traditional advocates, notably the United States.

Bicky Bhangu
British Chamber of Commerce

EXCESSIVE risk-taking and an unregulated banking sector set the global economy on a course towards crisis and downturn in 2008.

Today, however, we face new types of threats that are more to do with geopolitical tensions and man-made risks. The threat of a global cybersecurity attack, climate change, increased protectionism, trade wars and fiscal structural evaluation are some of the threats we need to closely monitor.

Arguably, the global economy has been growing since the economic crisis in 2008 and one might ask if there may be a greater disconnect between the strength of the global economy and the real impact of these risks.

But if we take stock of the lessons from the 1997 Asian financial crisis and its impact on Singapore's economy, we know that in an increasingly interconnected and interdependent world, these seemingly distant risks are closer to home than we think.

We can therefore not underestimate the risks an interconnected world poses and more importantly, the risk of not acting collectively to mitigate another global economic crisis.

Dan Marjanovic
Singapore Office Country Head
Simmons & Simmons

IN its Global Risks Report earlier this year, the World Economic Forum looked at global risks 10 years post-GFC and divided them into two broad categories: longstanding vulnerabilities and new or emerging challenges.

The former category includes familiar (and related) risks that are still present but which have evolved or ''mutated'' over the period: the re-emergence of fear of asset price unsustainability (due in large part to various prolonged QE programmes); high debt-to-GDP levels, particularly in the non-financial sectors (including the well-publicised concerns over debt levels in China) and concerns over the ability of the tighter global financial system and the real economy to withstand a material sharp market correction despite the reforms in the wake of the GFC.

Of the new risks faced, I suspect one of the top risks for a majority of businesses (including the legal profession) is cybersecurity and the need to be perpetually vigilant in guarding against digital threats and cyber breaches.

This risk arises from digitisation and the speed of evolution of technologies, and we have seen recently glimpses of just how difficult it will be to effectively mitigate this very real business critical risk. Another material risk to businesses, including those in Singapore, is the flow through effect of increasingly protectionist trade and investment policies, which re-emerged in 2012 in the form of resource nationalism at the peak of the commodities boom and we are now witnessing in the form of a trade ''war'' between the world's two largest economies. An argument could be made that these sorts of risks should now be accepted as ''the new norm''.

Dolly Goh
Singapore National Co-operative Federation

A MAJOR risk today is rising household debts that could possibly jeopardise the financial stability of a country. Rising incomes and increased credit availability have boosted consumer borrowing.

However, economic changes such as increase in interest rates or unemployment could make it harder for borrowers to pay off their debts and some could resort to taking loans from loan sharks or unlicensed moneylenders. It is crucial that people, especially the young, are financially literate, and educated on the implications of consumer debt, instalment and hire purchase; and money management including investment and risk, cash flow and loans.

To get young people thinking about the social issues related to money, the Singapore National Co-operative Federation and credit co-operatives have not only gone to educational institutions to reach out to the young, but have also come together to organise a pop-up art exhibit this month called 'No Money No Talk' to raise awareness.

Maren Schweizer
Schweizer World Pte Ltd

THE biggest risk facing the world economy is protectionism. Greater protectionism can lead to conflict and slower global growth.

From a risk management perspective recent protectionism measures are in most cases like unguided missiles out of the blue. These missiles are likely to impact many other global risks.

Scenario planning to identify the vulnerabilities related to the protectionism scenarios, to develop risk scenarios, quantify financial severity and assess probability, are required.

The use of artificial intelligence to manage risk is particularly helpful when handling and evaluating unstructured and changing data to gain competitive advantage and power your company's performance.

Helen Ng
Chief Executive Officer
General Storage Company Pte Ltd

THE biggest risks to the world economy today are geopolitical tensions arising from the trade war between the United States and China, as well as the rising tide of anti-globalisation in many Western nations, which led, in part, to Brexit. These risks point to growing economic insularity, which, while boosting politicians' star ratings, are also detrimental to the global economy.

Jacinta Quah
JQ Coaching & Consulting

THE biggest risk to the world economy today is the rise of ''separation'' in the global economy - whether it is US Trump's America-first, UK's Brexit, or major economies limiting capital outflows and imports. This happens as a result of growing political influence on the economy, which then further perpetuates the political divide and instability that is happening across the globe. We must see the world as one, as our collective home rather than with a win-lose mindset.

Take empowered action, rather than wait for ''somebody'' to fix the problem. And I believe it starts with caring for our neighbours and community, which is the foundation of the progress of a nation, and that eventually fuels a thriving world economy.

Robin C Lee
Group COO
Bok Seng Group

IT seems we have not learnt from 2008, as 10 years later debt within our global financial system is incomprehensibly higher than ever. Currently, the most pressing issue is the escalation of the trade war between two superpowers, which has immense ramifications for the global economy.

Such an open tit-for-tat will inevitably heighten business uncertainty, thus affecting investments across the world, which is now filled with more trade-dependent economies than ever.

Economic risks aside, such a situation can have adverse implications for the already fragile international order. Therefore, I pray that the well-known saying ''When goods don't cross borders, soldiers will'' remains just a saying.

Annie Yap
AYP HR Group

HUMAN beings' short-sightedness is the biggest threat facing the world today. Our myopia has caused many problems that have impacted the economy negatively. Climate change is a good illustration. Climate change is mainly caused by the burning of fossil fuel for energy, and deforestation for land and wood.

Driven by profit generation, people forget that their greed will negatively impact industries such as farming and tourism, with reduced crop yields and destroyed tourist sites (eg bleached coral reefs). Policymakers and business leaders should think long-term while mitigating long-term negative impacts.

Henry Tan
Managing Director
Nexia TS

THE biggest risk to the world economy today is the increasing inward looking attitude of world leaders and citizens. The self-sufficient, self-serving '' I, me, myself'' attitude and a generation with a huge sense of entitlement.

The world today is so connected but yet so detached. We cannot be on our own on this planet. If economies close up, the world will spiral into making decisions that are protectionist and self-serving. When this attitude runs counter to the sharing economy that the business world is moving into, a dichotomy and fault lines appear and governments will find it harder and harder to regulate as businesses find ways and means to bypass the closed borders with technology.

We already see some of these phenomena emerging in such fields as fintech, blockchains and cryptocurrencies.

Tan Boon Yen
The Institute of Internal Auditors Singapore

GEOPOLITICAL risk is the biggest risk that the global economy is facing since the 2008 financial crisis. It's a combination of interrelated developments such as the Korean peninsula issues, tensions with Russia, political turmoil in Saudi Arabia, Brexit, and less predictability in US foreign and trade policies, and more.

These create uncertainties and there's no bigger fear than the unknown. Such uncertainties are more unmistakable as we see the digital economy increasingly replacing the physical world. Businesses are being disrupted by emerging technologies with increasing vulnerabilities to cyber threats and data infringement risks. Internal auditors play a role in providing objective assessments and insights, on the adequacy of the organisation's risk governance and enterprise risk management framework to identify, mitigate and anticipate new and emerging risks.

Martin Mackay
President and General Manager for
Asia-Pacific & Japan
CA Technologies

CYBERTHREATS are very real and the biggest risks to our increasingly digitalised economy. Cyberattacks on critical infrastructure and service providers, such as banks and power grids, could trigger a widespread system breakdown that will cripple our society. With the extent, sophistication and debilitating impact of these threats increasing almost unabated, cybercrime and data breaches are expected to cost businesses US$8 trillion worldwide over the next five years.

Besides their immediate and devastating impact, cyberthreats can also bring about long-term economic consequences. CA's Global State of Digital Trust Survey and Index 2018 found that more than one in two consumers in Asia-Pacific have stopped using an organisation's services because of a data breach. This loss of consumer confidence can severely undermine the growth of our digital economy in the long run.

Organisations need to recognise that cybersecurity breaches are no longer a question of ''if'' but ''when'', and we must all prepare for that eventuality. Cybersecurity must be woven into organisations' DNA, with trainings for employees, policies and technologies, such as identity and access management, being implemented to strengthen security posture. To thrive in the digital era, organisations must deliver trusted experiences while mitigating and averting the dire consequences of cyberattacks.

David Leong
Managing Director
PeopleWorldwide Consulting Pte Ltd

TEN years ago when the Lehman crisis happened leading to a financial meltdown, the cause was primarily the inter-connectedness within the global financial system. Collateralised bad assets were swapped and passed along the musical chairs until the music stopped.

The blow-up was a global financial calamity and was man-made due to bad synthetic financial products. Ten years on, the biggest threat to the global economy is bad trades between nations. Not between banks or companies too large to fail but between big countries, notably the US and China. The trade war affects every part of the economic chain, from logistics to money flows.

When two big elephants do their war dance, the grass gets trampled and casualties abound among the smaller creatures.

Lim Soon Hock
Managing Director

THE financial crisis following the Lehman Brothers debacle added strains on the banking and financial sectors through more stringent KYC (know-your-customer) compliance requirements imposed by central banks.

Banks invested an inordinate amount of resources to stay compliant, causing them to divert their attention from enhancing their businesses and improving customer service. It has not produced the desired outcomes, as despite the resources spent on compliance, much fraud, scams, money laundering, perjury, etc, still prevail. It has been more difficult in the last decade for businesses, especially SMEs, to borrow money as working capital.

The biggest threats to the global economy stemming from geopolitical tensions, trade wars, other man-made risks like cybercrime, and climate change will only make it more difficult for companies to seek financing to develop and grow their businesses. This cannot be good for the global economy.

Bitcoin was born to solve many of the monetary and financial problems associated with the current system, post-financial crisis. Fintech - with less KYC requirements and more decentralisation for asset transactions, leveraging on blockchain - took off and may well provide the counter-balance to the imminent threats, to keep the engine of the global economy throttling, hopefully at a faster and stronger pace.

Hari V Krishnan
PropertyGuru Group

THE biggest change in the last decade has been the growth of technology (including the digital industry) - it has impacted all industries (travel, music, entertainment, finance, healthcare) and economies worldwide and has not only shaken but also redefined and ousted many traditional industries. As all industries are sprinting towards being 'Future Ready' and imbibing technology to stay ahead, disruption at this speed has had and will continue to have a larger societal and economic impact.

Whether or not the latest wave of information technology has positively impacted productivity remains a hotly debated topic amongst economists. But if we do not plan to combat the negative impact this wave has created, the biggest risks are job displacement and skills mismatch - they have been a more rapid reality than we've managed to comprehend till now. It is imperative that we as nations, industries and companies plan the future course and define success by tracking the societal impact of all the technology and digital advancement we imbibe.

Ian Lee
Regional Head, Asia-Pacific
The Adecco Group

ONE of the biggest risks to world economy today is inadequate human capital management, which encompasses both the development as well as deployment of human capital. Inclusive growth faces major headwinds from talent scarcity and skill imbalances issues that are resulting from technological disruption, demographic shifts and business model changes happening across the globe.

To address these issues our education systems need to focus more on employability and continuous learning, regulatory frameworks need to be business-friendly, employment policies should combine flexibility and social protection, and societies must foster international and social mobility. In other words, human capital needs to be proactively managed just as financial capital currently is.

Zaheer Merchant
Regional Director (Singapore & Europe)
QI Group of Companies

THE financial crisis reshaped the world we live in. Presently, despite the economy having one of its longest expansions and stock indexes hitting new highs, it's evident that recovery is uneven and market gains aren't fairly distributed. There is a strong consensus that China's growing debt is the biggest risk to the world economy.

Its debt-to-GDP ratio could exceed 300 per cent within two years, and even if China's government steps in to stabilise the system, there is no guarantee that it will be able to contain it. Slowing growth and a financial crisis in China would have an immediate risk on the rest of the world. Add a dose of trade-war crises - the fact that Trump's US is trying to counterbalance China - self-protectionism, as well as EU factionalisation, and we have a global slowdown in the making. My greatest fear, over any cybercrime or risks, is a strategic war in Turkey or the Middle East. These are uncertain times in which we live.

Lynette Seah
Founder & CEO

A DECADE on from Lehman, I believe that the biggest risks to humanity aren't natural disasters or airborne diseases. Instead, man-made risks like cybercrime and geopolitical instability are fragmenting society.

In Singapore at least we should concentrate efforts on our shared values, the primary one being ''nation before community and society above self''. That civic mindset would go a long way.

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