Future Opportunities, Future Shocks

Key Trends Shaping the Global Economy and Society

Our world will change more this century than during any other time in human history. Change will happen faster than ever before. It will also affect more people than ever before.

Globalization has linked us all together, with countries, companies and individuals connected as nodes in a global system of unprecedented complexity. Economic fortunes will rise and fall dramatically. Demographic shifts will transform geopolitics and growth prospects. Technology, education and income growth will drive innovation. All of these changes present extraordinary new opportunities but simultaneously new systemic risks that threaten the entire system. Good governance will mitigate those risks and create unparalleled opportunity. Bad governance will invite chaos and crises.

Those who grasp the direction of the wind and harness its power will be separated from anyone stuck in outdated 20th century ways of understanding this new world. This report forecasts the winds of change—their direction, speed, and intensity. It provides, like most weather forecasts, cause for hope but also concern. Forecasts are not predictions. We nevertheless are confident about the key choices. The 21st century could hail an era of unprecedented opportunities for prosperity. It could also usher in opportunities for cataclysmic shocks, making the recent financial crisis a harbinger of more severe storms to come. The changes created by globalization, demographics, technology, economic growth, systemic risk, and governance will serve as a guide to 21st century businesses, investors, and governments. This report examines each of these key drivers of change.