Analysing The Political Economy

World On The Brink Of Continuous Crisis

The events of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse in biblical terms were defined as delivering war, famine, pestilence, and death – personified as the four major plagues of humankind. The world has seemingly entered an era of continuous crisis and destabilisation as the world deals with all manner of apocalyptic events.

It seems as though somehow, we are entering significantly more dangerous times as if the Four Horseman had indeed turned up. The fracturing of our globalised world started with the US and China entering an often recalcitrant trade war. A global pandemic then accelerated all manner of problems – and two years later the world stands on the brink of disaster. Some 15 million people have died from the pandemic, a world food crisis is emerging and war is raging in Europe. The climate crisis continues unabated and record numbers of people are being displaced and becoming refugees in an increasingly hostile world.


World food crisis

The world is on the brink of a food crisis as a result of unprecedented supply disruption caused by the war in Ukraine, the head of the International Monetary Fund has warned.

Kristalina Georgieva, the IMF’s managing director, told the World Economic Forum in Davos that global “anxiety around access to food at reasonable prices is hitting the roof”.

“We have had commodity price shocks in many countries. We have seen oil prices decline, but food prices continue to go up and up,” Georgieva said. “We can shrink our use of petrol when [economic] growth slows, but we have to eat every day.”


Refugees hits global record

The number of refugees displaced by conflict and persecution around the world has risen above 100 million for the first time, pushed over that threshold by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

The United Nations high commissioner for refugees described the milestone as staggering and “a stark figure — sobering and alarming in equal measure”.

The UN said that the number of forcibly displaced people had risen to over 90 million by the end of last year, driven by violence in Ethiopia, Burkina Faso, Nigeria, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Myanmar and Afghanistan.

Only 13 countries have a larger population than the number of refugees on planet Earth or 100 million people.

Since Russia’s attack on Ukraine, a further 8 million have been displaced as refugees – a number that increases by the day.

It is estimated that World War 2 created approximately 50 million refugees.


Global Pandemic Deaths 15 million

New estimates from the World Health Organization (WHO) show that the full death toll associated directly or indirectly with the COVID-19 pandemic (described as “excess mortality”) between 1 January 2020 and 31 December 2021 was approximately 14.9 million (range 13.3 million to 16.6 million).

“These sobering data not only point to the impact of the pandemic but also to the need for all countries to invest in more resilient health systems that can sustain essential health services during crises, including stronger health information systems,” said Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General.


Globalisation Fractures

The head of the IMF warned at the start of the World Economic Forum in Davos that the global economy faces perhaps its “biggest test since the second world war”.

Kristalina Georgieva, IMF managing director, said Russia’s invasion was “devastating lives, dragging down growth and pushing up inflation.”

Gloom has descended on financial markets in recent months. Many analysts, business people and politicians think the resilience displayed in much of the economic data so far will not last.

The three-decade era of globalisation is falling apart according to company executives and investors at the same meeting. Onshoring, renationalisation and regionalisation had become the latest trends for companies, slowing the pace of globalisation, “Globalisation faces friction from nationalism, protectionism, nativism, chauvinism if you wish, or even sometimes xenophobia, and for me, it is not clear who is going to win” – said José Manuel Barroso, former president of the European Commission.


Climate: 200 Million Homeless

Reduced agricultural production, water scarcity, rising sea levels and other adverse effects of climate change could cause well over 200 million people to leave their homes and migrate by 2050, the World Bank has warned.

These new figures have been updated from Eastern Europe and Central Asia, North Africa, East Asia and the Pacific to provide a more complete overview of the potential toll from rising global temperatures.

Climate change is an increasingly potent driver of migration,” the report said. Shortages of food and water along with rising seas highlight “the urgency for action as livelihoods and human well-being are placed under increasing strain.”


Aftershocks of Wars

IRAQ – population 40 million. GDP $167billion. Estimated current refugees are 9 million. There are no current up to date numbers on poverty or starvation. There are 5 million orphans in Iraq and the same number of children living in poverty. Approximately 30 per cent of the population now live in poverty.

Afghanistan – population 39 million. GDP $19 billion. Estimated current refugees 6.1 million. Approximately 49 per cent of the population now live in poverty. It is estimated that 3 million have died in total as a result of the war in Afghanistan. 23 million Afghans face acute hunger, including 9 million who are famished, according to the UNICEF World Food Program.

Libya – population 6.8 million. GDP $25 billion. Estimated refugees 600,000. It is estimated that 53 per cent of the population live in poverty.

Yemen – Population 30 million. GDP $23 billion. Estimated refugees are unknown – as there is nowhere to go. 20 million now survive on humanitarian assistance and are on the brink of starvation, 400,000 have been killed in the war. Approximately 70 per cent of those killed are children under the age of five. It is estimated that 80 per cent of the total population now lives below the poverty line with an income equal to £1.50 per day.



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