Two Wars, 50 Elections: The Economy Faces Rising Geopolitical Risks

The attacks on crucial shipping traffic in the Red Sea straits by a determined band of militants in Yemen — a spillover from the Israeli-Hamas war in Gaza — is injecting a new dose of instability into a world economy already struggling with mounting geopolitical tensions.

The risk of escalating conflict in the Middle East is the latest in a string of unpredictable crises, including the Covid-19 pandemic and the war in Ukraine, that have landed like swipes of a bear claw on the global economy, smacking it off course and leaving scars.

As if that weren’t enough, more volatility lies ahead in the form of a wave of national elections whose repercussions could be deep and long. More than two billion people in roughly 50 countries, including India, Indonesia, Mexico, South Africa, the United States and the 27 nations of the European Parliament, will head to the polls. Altogether, participants in 2024’s elections olympiad account for 60 percent of the world’s economic output.

In robust democracies, elections are taking place as mistrust in government is rising, electorates are bitterly divided and there is a profound and abiding anxiety over economic prospects.

A ship crossing the Suez Canal toward the Red Sea. Attacks on the Red Sea have pushed up freight and insurance rates.Credit…Mohamed Hossam/EPA, via Shutterstock
A billboard promoting presidential elections in Russia, which will take place in March.Credit…Dmitri Lovetsky/Associated Press

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