In a post-financial crisis world, the lack of viable international leadership is potentially troubling. In 2013, the WEF believes, this breakdown of international coordination will go increasingly local: in such a world, governments will focus more on their domestic agendas, which will create new risks in and of itself. Most importantly, the growing vulnerability of elites makes effective public and private leadership that much more difficult to sustain. Leaders of all kinds are becoming more vulnerable to their constituents, generating more reactive and short-term governance. Whether one looks at the dismal approval ratings of the U.S. Congress or the impact that more open flows of information is having on the Chinese ruling elite, it is clear that people are becoming more and more uninspired by their governments. When it comes to unemployment, the widening disparity of wealth, or environmental degradation, highly complex or even intractable issues set politicians up for failure in the eyes of their constituents. Underperformance erodes elites’ legitimacy, making it that much harder for them to lead effectively. Against this backdrop, a host of key 2013 risks and opportunities takes shape.
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