FREE ARTICLES

Agenda-Setting Foresight

Featured

Long Read Overview

Title: The Big Adjustment
Approx. Reading Time: 10 minutes
Author: Simon Tilford

Long Read

The Big Adjustment

We do not have 30 years to reach net zero. Committed emissions of carbon dioxide already take us close to 2 degrees. The transition will have to be squeezed into less time and will hence be more disruptive than commonly assumed, argues Simon Tilford. It implies a bigger role for government and less globalisation, especially of capital but also of trade; a retreat into ‘Walled Gardens’.

Read Essay

Long Read Overview

Title: The ‘Inevitability’ of a Rising China
Approx. Reading Time: 9 minutes
Author: George Magnus

Long Read

The ‘Inevitability’ of a Rising China

China could become the world’s largest economy as early as 2027. However, as George Magnus argues, size is not everything. Having the biggest economy might not amount to much more than bragging rights if China gets caught in the ‘middle-income’ trap, which the direction of political travel strongly suggests it will.

Read Essay
Briefing

Multinational Corporations: endgames?

The age of the conventional multinational corporation may be in long-term decline, as the battle between states and corporate over power, control and legitimacy of the hybrid digital and analogue worlds gains momentum.

Read Essay
Briefing

Developed Countries Risk Generational Conflict

Countries that flourish will be those whose policies are driven by the needs of all generations, not just older cohorts. Those that fail to do this risk weak economic growth and inter-generational conflict. Much of Europe is in the latter camp. The US could fare better.

Read Essay
Briefing

Emerging Policy Shocks

There is an ‘invention gap’ in meeting net-zero targets by 2050. Many inventions have yet to be made to achieve current ambitions. Until system-wide innovative breakthroughs emerge in all sectors, policymakers have few options but to take extreme action, bringing forward all possible interventions to lower the systemic risks of global warming and biosphere failure.

Read Essay
Briefing

Asymmetric Threats and Opportunities

Strategic risk managers have long grappled with complexity and radical uncertainty, with the growing realisation that speed compounds them both. The new threat is asymmetry, in everything from breakthrough technology, to military security and global warming. Foresight is a primary source of strategic advantage.

Read Essay
Recent

Long Read Overview

Title: Radical Innovation
Approx. Reading Time: 17 minutes
Author: Peter Kingsley

Long Read

Radical Innovation

What if machines can mimic human creativity and how ideas are formed in the biological networks of the brain, generating novel, patentable inventions? Ideas and inventions traded in open global marketplaces. Production localised to social and environmental benefits, with minimal costs. Peter Kingsley explores how state-of-the-art machine-aided innovation will transform everything from asset ownership, to globalisation and patent law.

Read Essay

Long Read Overview

Title: Youth Activism: the older generation ignores it at its peril
Approx. Reading Time: 8 minutes
Author: Thierry Malleret

Long Read

Youth Activism: the older generation ignores it at its peril

Ignore the younger generation’s cultural values and attitudes towards the environment and societal inequality at your peril, argues Thierry Malleret . Disillusioned and anxious, ‘generation activist’, powered by social media, will shape prospects for all political parties, industry sectors and companies. Understanding how their aspirations and imagined futures differ radically from those of the ruling Boomers and Generation Xers may itself trigger abrupt cultural change.

Read Essay

Long Read Overview

Title: Bitcoin’s a Bit Player, But Digital Currencies Are Coming
Approx. Reading Time: 8 minutes
Author: Simon Tilford

Long Read

Bitcoin’s a Bit Player, But Digital Currencies Are Coming

Bitcoin is not about to challenge established currencies and is a poor store of value to boot. However, central banks are right to worry about tech giants such as Amazon or Facebook issuing their own private digital currencies. They are all but certain to preempt this by introducing central bank digital currencies (CBDCs) and obstructing the spread of private ones.

Simon Tilford argues that while CBDCs will have various advantages, they will also concentrate unprecedented power in the hands of central banks (and by extension states). While democracies should be able to ensure accountability and privacy, the introduction of a Chinese CBDC will further hinder attempts to limit the power of the Chinese authorities.

Read Essay

Long Read Overview

Title: To Burst or Not To Burst
Approx. Reading Time: 10 minutes
Author: Simon Tilford

Long Read

To Burst or Not To Burst

Financial markets are in a bubble. Valuations are out of kilter with economic reality and risk. However, past examples provide few clues as to when the market will crash, because this bubble is different – it is happening at a time of economic gloom rather than rapid growth.

Simon Tilford argues that bringing valuations back into line with fundamentals without a major bust will not be easy. Governments will have to address the underlying reasons for weak growth and excessively low inflation. Failure to do so and central banks will have no option but to pump yet more liquidity into the system, postponing but increasing the severity of the eventual day of reckoning.

Read Essay
Briefing

The End of Dollar Dominance?

The Covid-19 crisis and its aftermath has highlighted the centrality of the dollar to the global financial system, reinforcing Chinese and European resentment at this dominance and their determination to challenge it. Change will eventually come, but it could be the US itself that calls time on the dollar age.

Read Essay
Briefing

Pervasive Drones: mass destruction?

As drones are increasingly pervasive in fields from photography to transport and agriculture, darker uses are also emerging. The integration of multiple weapons systems using autonomous drone networks may be a greater threat than conventional nuclear attacks.

Read Essay
Briefing

Breakthrough Inventions

Conventional wisdom is that foundational inventions are not only rare, but do not often change the world. Peter Kingsley argues this is wrong on both counts. Breakthroughs are emerging in ever greater numbers and achieving scale fast.

Read Essay
Briefing

The Big Squeeze

The ‘hard-to-abate’ sectors—from aviation to steel—face a decade of reckoning. Peter Kingsley argues they are squeezed between pressure to cut emissions and the consequences of their historic failure to invest in innovation to meet future needs. Expect competition for scarce future-ready assets and intense competition to ‘fill the invention gap’.

Read Essay
Briefing

The Coming Global Decoupling

The much-heralded decoupling of China and the West is yet to happen, but it will come. Geopolitics will play a part, but so will Western firms’ embrace of ESG, the bifurcation of the internet, and China’s own drive for greater autonomy. Simon Tilford argues that this will make it harder to cut global emissions of greenhouse gases.

Read Essay
Briefing

Walled Gardens Scenario: growing momentum

One of the lessons of the Covid-19 crisis is that, faced with international crises, national leaders turn inward to protect domestic security. The ideals of multilateralism may give way to ‘Walled Gardens’, a scenario in which only the existential risks of biosphere collapse bring the world together.

Read Essay
Briefing

Cyberwar: catastrophe ahead?

Cyberwar is endemic. Attacks on the US in late 2020 illustrate that basic infrastructure, nuclear installations and weapons systems are fragile. The risks of miscalculation and misjudgement are pervasive and poorly understood.

Read Essay
Briefing

Biodiversity: underestimating the crisis

Why, when we face catatrophic destruction of species and ecosystems, are we still failing to grasp the urgency and magnitude of the problem? There are signs that COVID-19 is inspiring renewed efforts, but will they be enough?

Read Essay
Briefing

Re-Inventing Decision-Making

The finance, pensions and insurance sectors have long relied on data and mathematical models to justify decisions. Risk is traded, based on projected returns. In this essay Peter Kingsley explores how in ‘edge of chaos’ environments, these culturally defined value models break down.

Read Essay
Briefing

The Battle for Water

Competition for water is intensifying thanks to rapid population growth, climate change, ever more water-intensive food production, unchecked industrial use and failure to nurture natural water ecosystems. Conflict is inevitable, including between China and India. Simon Tilford argues that the only solution is to transform how we think about and use water.

Read Essay
Briefing

From the Archive: Model Risks

Models are not reality. They are sometimes used as anchors, sometimes ignored by decision makers. Judgement in uncertainty is more about cultural context, the imagined futures of protagonists and the stories they tell. This short essay, by Peter Kingsley, from December 2017, is more relevant than ever, as political leaders struggle in an ‘age of chaos’.

Read Essay
Briefing

Hope and Optimism, Vision and Reality

Action to reduce emissions has momentum amongst world leaders, but there is little evidence of planning for the worst-case scenario—the defining feature of resilience. ‘Net Zero’ is not enough. Peter Kingsley argues that even with exponential rates of adoption of existing technologies, much depends on new inventions.

Read Essay
Top