In the second part of our 2024 Economic Outlook, members from Criticaleye’s global Community assess key watchpoints for businesses from region to region, including risks relating to climate change and geopolitics, as well as opportunities in areas such as technological disruption and cleantech.
This is what they had to say on where leaders should be focussing as the year unfolds:

Ian Wright, Co-Chair, Food & Drink Export Council
Geopolitics and climate change will continue to disrupt global supply chains 
Inflation seems to be going in the right direction and that's good, but I still think food price inflation will continue to be a lag on the overall rate of inflation for another year because of a concoction of difficult supply chain issues that haven't yet worked their way through into price.
Russia-Ukraine will continue to have an impact on wheat grain production and fertiliser. It’s already had an impact on [2023’s] crop, but will have a bigger impact [this year] because farmers won't have access to the fertiliser they need to plant at the volume that they have done in the past. So, prices will continue to rise because of the scarcity of the product. 
The impact of climate change on supply chains is also a concern. When we had the Pakistan floods in [2023], the percentage that Pakistani supply represents in the total consumption of world grain had to be found from somewhere else, so the price goes up. It's those sorts of climate change-related issues that will continue to have a serious impact on supply chains. 
One big concern would be that if Israel-Hamas expands…The prospect of a regional war is terrifying, so you've got to be very careful about what could happen. And we may yet have another Covid spike. All those things mean that 2024 looks quite uncertain, but I think it probably is an improved outlook on what we would have predicted for 2023. 
Venkataramanan Anantharaman, Non-executive Chair, Ecom Express and Board Mentor, Criticaleye
Weak economic activity in the US and Europe will have a direct bearing on Asia, while geopolitics continues to dominate risk registers
The US is likely to see a mild recession in H2 2024 with the Covid period of savings-led consumption slowing down. One big challenge in the US is its fiscal deficit and its debt to GDP ratio. This will likely restrict the government’s investment capacity.
Europe is already in a mild recession, with monetary tightening having had its desired impact on those economies. Asia will experience a lag effect from Western economies slowing down. While recent fiscal and monetary measures have seen a resurrection of consumption spending in China, I see 2024 continuing to be a struggle.
There has already been a slowdown in private equity deal flow in China, while geopolitics and President Xi’s stated intent to reduce inequality and redistribute wealth are also disincentives for foreign capital investments. That said, the West can never de-couple from China given its continued manufacturing prowess.
Geopolitics is the order of the day. We can see the US and China trying to mend bilateral ties, clearly as a result of China’s tilt to Russia. The Middle East is more complex. The Saudi-Israel pact has now been either dropped or delayed into the distant future. China will continue to make noise on Taiwan, but I don’t expect a military approach yet. North Korea will keep taunting its neighbours… Defence spending globally, though, will unfortunately see a rise.
Climate change and impact on food supply chains will have to be watched. There will be more climate change related incidents—more severe storms, flooding and such. General Insurance companies will have to revisit their underwriting policies.
On the macro front, all the large countries are running uncomfortable levels of deficits. Something doesn’t add up. One would have expected large fiscal deficits to encourage governments to tighten and reduce spending. This is not happening at the pace that it should.
Economic theories have to be re-written for the current era. 
Bridget Rosewell, Chair, FloodRe
Future-proof your organisation by gaining different perspective from the Board and executive teams
You've got to keep an eye on what's happening to interest rates. The risk is that they stay higher for longer because we get wage increases and it fuels an inflation cycle. 
The outcome of the [UK] election clearly is going to be of interest. But one of the things that I think is quite noticeable is actually how there aren't dramatically different policies between the two parties. The headline things that they're talking about aren't actually going to make much difference to a business environment and indeed to the extent they do, it seems to be much more around investment allowances and priorities... I suppose the other big regulatory question is the extent to which the power of big tech – the Microsofts, Googles and Amazons – actually gets whittled away, or not. 
A great opportunity exists within the ESG / environmental space. There are people who are investing in quite narrow, but very innovative areas like hydrogen and electricity distribution systems. There are lots of areas that need more venture capital to get off the ground.
What you need to make sure, both as a Board and a Board Chair, or indeed as an executive, is that you are trying to access a variety of perspectives. Is there someone who can look at things differently and identify opportunities that you might not have thought of, or think of things from a sideways perspective? That's what you need in times which are changing.
The idea that the future is going to be like the past is wrong. 
Pascal de Petrini, founder and President, Co-Future Pte and Board Mentor, Criticaleye
Asia will remain the engine of global growth, but elections and geopolitical tensions could put a drag on growth in the region
In 2024, despite a slowing China, Asia will remain the fastest growing region of the world economy. Elections will take place in strategically important economies like India, Indonesia and Taiwan… potentially having a regional / global impact. Trade and regulatory actions from the US (the Inflation Reduction Act) and the EU (a probe into Chinese EVs and environmental regulation) could also be a risk for Asian countries.
The real estate crisis [in China] is far from over [and] the demographics are not helping with [an] ageing population and decreasing numbers of active people [who] will not support local consumption. The US-China tensions and recent evolution in the positions of European countries on trade issues will continue to weigh on [China’s] export activities, as well as the relocalisation of supply chains.
SEA [Southeast Asia] is still attracting vast amounts of foreign direct investment as companies are keen to establish low-cost manufacturing bases outside of China, including for green technology products. Vietnam is one of the main beneficiaries and has seen a strong development in high-tech exports. Indonesia, where domestic demand is the main driver of growth, will see higher government spending in the run-up to presidential elections. India is going to be the fastest growing large economy, driven by robust domestic demand and strong growth in [the] manufacturing and services sectors. 
The China-US tensions are not going away and, in this US election year, both the Republicans and the Democrats share the same views about the challenge posted by China. The recent exacerbation of the tensions between the Philippines and China in the South China Sea increases the risks in the SEA region. The threat from the Houthis on the Red Sea shipping routes and global trade is a new consequence of the Israel-Gaza conflict. The expansion of the BRICs, with new joiners like Iran, will continue to create stress in international relationships.
Bridgette Hall, Senior Editor, Criticaleye 
Emily Jones, Senior Editor, Criticaleye 
Jacob Ambrose Willson, Senior Editor, Criticaleye