Key Global Risks for Businesses
The Dun & Bradstreet Global Business Risk Report (GBRR) ranks the biggest threats to business based on each risk scenario’s potential impact on companies, assigning a score to each risk. The scores from the top ten risks are used to calculate an overall Global Business Impact (GBI) score.
Our latest GBI score increased to 315 in Q2 2022, following a marked worsening in the risk environment, indicating that the outlook for doing cross-border business remains challenging.
Global Business Impact Score
Global Business Risk environment has deteriorated over Q1 2022
In Q2 2022, Dun & Bradstreet’s GBI score increased to 315, up from 297 in Q1 2022 but lower than the recent highs of 332 experienced in Q2 and Q3 2020, due to the pandemic taking hold. Although the GBI score is below the peak levels seen in 2020, it is above the long-term average of 269.8; businesses operating cross-border continue to face high levels of uncertainty.
Our top ten risks are based on the expertise of Dun & Bradstreet’s team of economists, who monitor 132 countries - accounting for over 99% of global GDP. They assess the key risk scenarios emanating from their region or pan-regionally. The Global Business Impact (GBI score) of each risk scenario is calculated by combining an assessment of: (i) the magnitude of the scenario’s probable effect on the global business operating environment, on a scale of 1 to 5 (where 1 is the smallest impact and 5 is the largest); and (ii) the likelihood of the event/s happening (out of 100). The maximum GBI score for each of the ten risk scenarios is 100, and therefore the maximum possible score for the overall GBI is 1000. In the report, each risk scenario is categorised into a broad Risk Theme for both the purpose of tracking and ease of presentation.
Supply-Chain Shocks, Geopolitics and Inflation Feature Among Top Risks
Of the top ten risks identified for this quarter, supply-chain disruption is the most pertinent one for the global risk environment. This risk has worsened over the quarter, as two closely associated risk scenarios- the Russia-Ukraine conflict and China’s Covid-19 strategy- materialized over the past few weeks.
The Russia-Ukraine conflict scenario, which was highlighted as a key risk in the last two editions of GBRR, is playing out. What should worry businesses from here on is a risk of further escalation, which could take distinct forms, each with its own set of challenges for business. We are now tracking this risk under the theme titled ‘Russia-Ukraine conflict escalation’.
Global inflation, which was our top concern before the beginning of 2022, has now become entrenched. With the Fed rate hike cycle underway, the key question moving forward is if the world will get more of this inflation without growth. We are tracking this under a new theme titled ‘A brush with Stagflation’.
Top Ten Risk Themes
Cyber vulnerability entered the list of our top ten worries in the previous quarter. This was driven by rapid digitalisation and higher geopolitical tensions. Cyberspace is seen as an effective way of gaining strategic advantage in ongoing geopolitical competitions. This risk has worsened, as geopolitical competition between Russia, China and the West has intensified.
Entering its third year, the Covid-19 pandemic continues to remain an important risk theme. The role of vaccines, new and experimental rules of inoculation, and the pursuit of zero-Covid by some countries means that supply-side bottlenecks, growth scarring and rising prices will continue to feed a yawning gap among global populations. However, more recent evidence suggests that countries and businesses are finally becoming adept at dealing with surging cases. This may not remain true if a new, more deadly variant emerges, but for now, we have lowered the risk from this scenario.
Similarly, the risk of fragmentation that we are tracking under the theme of EU politics has passed two significant tests over the past few weeks - a swift agreement on collective action against Russia over its invasion of Ukraine, and the French Presidential elections, where the centrist leadership thwarted a strong challenge from the far-right to hold on to power. A failure on either would have been a significant blow to EU unity. There is nothing to say the next test would not reverse this, but for now, the evidence supports that this risk is more benign than it was previously.
Inflation: Hard Landing Ahead?
For over a decade following the global financial crisis, central banks in developed markets have been grappling with a lack of healthy price increments. The pandemic disrupted that dynamic, with consumer and producer prices hitting multi-decade highs. These price rises are now entrenched by the conflict in Europe. The US Fed has begun tightening but is playing catch up with runaway prices.
There is a rising risk that the Fed may find it hard to engineer a soft landing for the economy. In fact, with real interest rates remaining in the negative territory, the risk of a more drastic monetary policy action down the road increases. At the same time, consumption baskets have been hit where it hurts the most. Food prices were a key trigger for the Arab spring movements. We could see protests in countries where the social contract is based on ensuring a certain degree of welfarism. Implications will be political suppression, social stability, or even higher levels of public debt. Sustained price rises remain a common driver of at least two risks in our list of ten risks:
1. A brush with Stagflation: With the US Fed embarking on tightening as an afterthought, the chances of a policy mistake are high. At the same time, Europe is likely to witness an output shock. Emerging market sovereigns and corporates will see a sudden surge in their debt servicing costs as international liquidity recedes and domestic rates rise to keep the risk premium intact. As we see defaults rise, nascent growth recovery will be at risk. Amid job losses and rising prices, parts of the world may experience what stagflation looks like. This is a key risk with a GBI score of 36.
2. Political polarisation: A combination of food and fuel inflation, together with a significant rise in long-term unemployment may prompt anti-government protests, especially in authoritarian countries. The street protests in Kazakhstan and Sri Lanka at the start of 2022 may herald more such unrest ahead. Businesses should prepare for more such disruption to economic activity. Such protests would be even more disruptive if they were to hit economically-important urban centres. Additionally, high prices eating into people’s incomes could turn incumbents facing elections in emerging markets into populists, worsening public debt and increasing policy risks for businesses. The GBI score for this risk is assessed as 30.
What This Means for Businesses
Dun & Bradstreet’s Global Business Impact score for Q2 2022 shows that the risks confronting businesses remain elevated, with the score rising significantly from Q1 2022. All risks- except for two - resurgent Covid-19 waves and EU politics - have either worsened, or stayed at the same levels, with some new risks emerging on the horizon. Geopolitical conflicts and attempts to control the spill overs of the pandemic and supply-chain shocks while mitigating the impact on business activity, sovereign finances and societal tensions have elevated risks, illustrating how unexpected events can suddenly worsen the risk environment for businesses operating cross-border.
The Q2 2022 score highlights that business decision-makers need to have contingency plans in place for the sudden disruption of seemingly-secure supply chains and increase awareness of geopolitical developments. Furthermore, the geographical spread and diversity of the impacts in our top ten underline the importance of taking a broad approach to mitigating these risks.
Top 10 risks
|Ranking||Risk||Risk Scenario||Likelihood of Event (%)||Global Impact (1-5)||Global Business Impact Score (1-100)|
|1||Supply chain difficulties||The disruption to food, energy and fertilizer supplies due to the Russia-Ukraine conflict continues to hit economies around the world, forcing commodity exporters in Asia, Africa and LatAm to impose and persist with their own export and price controls. In addition, intermittent closure of ports and factories in China means supplies from the global factory remain broken, extending goods and commodities shortages well into 2022. Lead times remain long and unpredictable, producer prices remain high and consumers suffer a blow to their purchasing power.||75||3.5||53|
|2||Russia-Ukraine conflict escalation||As Ukrainian resistance proves stronger than anticipated, President Putin is faced with a choice to either escalate or back down. With no diplomatic off-ramp, escalation follows. It could take two forms - intensification, including the use of tactical nuclear weapons, or expansion of the war theatre to target NATO members, creating a refugee crisis to increase social instability, targeting western supplies to Ukraine or bolder cyberattacks on government and private infrastructure.||55||4.5||50|
|3||A brush with Stagflation||Price rise expectations come unhinged and developed market central banks struggle to play catch up with inflation. In Europe, output loss from difficulty in securing energy supplies leads to a sharp growth slowdown. Mass layoffs follow. In the US, hopes that supply strains will ease are dashed and through the coming months, the risk of a monetary policy induced hard-landing builds up. Unemployment starts rising and businesses are forced to scale back investments in anticipation of an eventual demand slump brought about by a painful but necessary, sharp hike in Fed interest rates.||45||4||36|
|4||China’s economic slowdown||China's insistence on zero tolerance to Covid-19 necessitates sealed borders and business disruptions. Economic policy support is ramped up, but proves inadequate in the face of newer challenges from the global economy, lockdowns and sustained property sector distress. It becomes increasingly clear that the lowest growth target in three decades will not be met. Asian markets and commodity-dependent economies feel the pain.||60||3||36|
|5||US-China competition||China's tacit support to Russia in retaining trade ties and ambivalence to North Korea's renewed missile program worsens its ties with the West. The US deploys secondary sanctions on some Chinese tech entities, with a view to further decouple technologically. China retaliates with strong rhetoric; concerns about its military maneuvers vis-a-vis Taiwan Region and in the South China Sea keep tensions in the region high.||40||4||32|
|6||Political Polarisation||Business disruptions resulting from public protests increase as elevated food and energy prices intersect with Covid-19 fatigue. Cost of living issues dominate political discourse around the world. In food importing developing countries of Africa and LatAm, frustrations simmer and erupt on the streets as incumbents facing elections and autocratic regimes watch on nervously. Implications will be political suppression, social instability or even higher public debt.||60||3
|7||Climate policies||The energy crunch and soaring prices of gas and oil split countries in two groupings - one doubling down on fossil fuels and others doubling down on renewables. Confusion over the direction of energy policy in Europe and Asia leaves businesses in the lurch on investment decisions. Backtracking on climate commitments and differential trade treatment based on climate action becomes yet another cause of geopolitical strain.||45||3||27|
|8||Cyber vunerabilities||Confusion over the use of coal and the direction of energy policy in Europe and Asia leaves businesses in the lurch on investment decisions. Backtracking on climate commitments and differential trade treatment based on climate action becomes another cause of geopolitical tensions.||50||2
|9||Resurgent Covid-19 waves||New variants of Omicron and rising cases continue to make headlines across cities and regions. Governments avoid domestic lockdowns if swelling numbers do not translate to higher hospitalisation. Tourism-dependent economies continue to hurt, China finds credence in its containment approach, and business uncertainty remains high with the possibility of existing and new variants disrupting economic activity intact.||30||2||18
|10||Politics in the EU||Despite a loss for Marine Le Pen, the big takeaway from French presidential elections are the gains her far right party was able to make against the incumbent President Macron. Other populists will be watching. In the meantime, differences over energy security, lack of coordination over response to Russia and sustained frictions between Brussels and Poland/Hungary continue to strain European cohesion, threatening to undo the remarkable cooperation shown in the face of Russia-Ukraine conflict.||20||3.5||14|
How Dun & Bradstreet can help
Dun & Bradstreet, a leading global provider of B2B data, insights and AI-driven platforms, helps companies around the world grow and thrive. As this report highlights, risks are ever evolving in terms of types and geographies and can also be unexpected. The impacts are felt across the business spectrum - from sole proprietors to multi-national corporations. What is different is the magnitude to which these businesses are affected. The key to sustain, grow and thrive during these times is to leverage data to turn risks into opportunity. We recommend that business leaders:
- Assess macro- and micro-level risks to maximise profitability with data, insights and automation
- Monitoring country, sector and counter-party risks through reports such as this one can help businesses create better strategic plans to limit payment delinquency, guide cash-flow management decisions, and strengthen supply chain resilience.
- D&B Finance Analytics and D&B Risk Analytics help automate some risk decisions, as well as accelerate supplier due diligence and help with compliance screening.
- Keep pace with fundamental changes in your industry
- The pandemic has accelerated changes that were already underway, such as remote working, the expansion of e-commerce and an increase in cashless transactions. Staying connected to meaningful changes is crucial in a climate of ongoing volatility and uncertainty.
- Maintain an integrated global perspective
- A global view enables mitigation of emerging cross-border risks, and the ability to grasp growth opportunities, wherever they are, in a timely way.
- Dun & Bradstreet’s Country Insight Solutions provide forecasts and business recommendations for 132 economies, allowing businesses to monitor and respond to economic, commercial and political risks in the markets in which they operate.