Ian Bremmer: Winners and Losers in a G-Zero World

2014 WBF Ian Bremmer  016Few businesses are today immune to the many risks that transcend borders in the global marketplace. Business executives in this volatile and fast-moving world need to understand the factors that will potentially determine success or failure.

Ian Bremmer is one of the world’s shrewdest analysts of political economy and the risks and opportunities associated with today’s rapidly changing geopolitical landscape. As founder of the Eurasia Group, the leading global political risk research and consulting firm, no one is better qualified than Bremmer to help business leaders navigate the uncertain waters in which they are operating today. Bremmer believes that changes in the geopolitical landscape are resulting in a lack of global leadership that has the potential to provoke uncertainty, volatility, competition, and, in some cases, open conflict.

There are three challenges to how the world conducts business that are structural and are not going to change any time soon. 

The United States has become less interested in providing global leadership.

  • The President was elected for domestic skills. Obama was not elected for his foreign policy acumen.
  • Energy Revolution. Americans do not believe conflict in the Middle East affects them, and that it is not a useful use of American resources.
  • Divisions in Congress. Little interest in passing legislation that might promote a more active American role on international trade and immigration.
  • Divide between US rich and poor. Most American do not believe US-led globalization benefits them because their income has been flat for decades.
  • Hangover from Iraq. Americans don’t believe the war was worth the cost in dollars and lives.

The United States’ allies are more divergent in their interests.

There has been a change in their interest in supporting U.S. global policies. “A Germany led Europe is harder for the Americans to engage with than a France or Brittan led Europe.” The Germans are more interested in economics than security issues and geo-politics. Multilateral coalitions and policies are not of much interest to them. “It’s hard to say the Americans are leading from behind when the allies are further behind,” said Bremmer.

Emerging markets are changing the economic and geopolitical world order.

The emerging market footprint presence is becoming so much greater, especially China. Emerging markets are not following the United States and Europe. Instead they are acting in what is in their own economic best interests. This is especially true for China, who instead of responding to international cries for sanctions against Russia, is actively exploiting business opportunities without competition. China is also actively involved in Iraq. The emerging markets are not allied with the United States politically or economically.

Geopolitically, the United States is in fantastic shape, so this policy of withdrawal is a smart market response. Said Bremmer, “In a world where uncertainty is small, the economists win.” Economists go for the growth. The US is not about short-term growth right now, but its stability and resilience promise long-term growth. When the geopolitical mix leads to massive uncertainty, stability is very attractive.

“Economies in the world that are more stable and resilient will look comparatively more attractive; that is a reason why we’re going to continue to see comparatively better bets on the United States going forward,” stated Bremmer. Because of the political chaos in the world, the U.S. is a good bet – even with its recent down economy. International investors are looking to invest their money into opportunities in the United States were the political climate is stable.

“When volatility grows, when uncertainty grows, when the geopolitical mix has led us to a world order where we can no longer predict or map the way we could 10 to 20 years ago, then you don’t desire growth. Then you desire stability and resilience.”



William Flamme

William Flamme

William Flamme is ExecuNet's Marketing Content Manager, where he is responsible for developing engaging career, job search, and leadership insight and delivering executive-level content across the various properties under the ExecuNet brand. Prior to joining ExecuNet in 2008, Will earned a master's degree in education and taught fifth grade and sixth grade. As a teacher, he deepened his appreciation for the written word and mastered skills necessary for managing writers who sometimes view deadlines as homework.

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