The old world order has changed and continues to change. Economic power is moving east from the USA and Europe to China and India. If the most startling evidence of this was the financial crisis of 2008/9, followed by the recession that engulfed the mature western economies, the seeds of the change were sown much earlier. The twenty-first century has seen enormous turbulence and disruption. There have been unpredictable shocks such as the terrorist attack on the twin towers in New York in 2001 followed by attacks in London, Bali, Madrid and Mumbai and the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. The upheavals caused by the so-called Arab spring’ of 2011 have continued to affect the Middle East. There have been natural disasters like the Icelandic volcano in 2010 and the earthquake and tsunami in Japan in 2011. There have been enormous shocks to the international monetary system precipitated by the financial crisis of 2008/9 which particularly affected Iceland in 2008 and then Portugal, Ireland, Greece and Italy in 2010/11 and subsequently the entire Eurozone. There have also been some spectacular corporate failures from Lehman Brothers in the USA to Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) in the UK. Corporate integrity has come to be questioned. In the USA the unexpected failure of Enron, one of the most admired firms of the 1990s, in 2001 became a benchmark for management greed and lack of integrity. But such scandals were not confined to the USA. Parmalat in Italy became the largest bankruptcy in Europe in 2003. The Olympus scandal of 2012 in Japan led to prosecutions. Alongside this the twenty-first century has seen unprecedented volatility in just about every market from commodities to exchange rates, from stock markets to bond markets. And underpinning this volatility is the uncertainty surrounding climate change and whether we have reached a ‘tipping point’ in global warming.
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