Global stock markets are taking a pause, as they consider the potential impact of any move by the US Federal Reserve to curb bond-buying, and a slowing European economy. The Ebola threat looms. The war on Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) is approaching. Oil prices are falling, hurting producer nations.
What of Asia?
As 2014 starts winding down, it is time to ponder what lies ahead for this region.
With strong leaders emerging in Asia's biggest economies - China, Japan, India and Indonesia - there is the promise of fresh waves of reform that could set the stage for the next growth impetus. Presidents Xi Jinping and Joko Widodo, Prime Ministers Narendra Modi and Shinzo Abe are all part of a new breed of politicians who are focused on building national strength and delivering better living standards to their people.
There are also plenty of potholes - bilateral tensions between China and Japan, India and Pakistan. In Indonesia, where Mr Joko was sworn in as President just this week, political opposition to him in Parliament is already taking on new shapes.
These are the themes that will be discussed by a stellar cast of speakers at this year's Straits Times Global Outlook Forum, to be held on Nov 21 at Shangri-La Hotel. Sponsored by ANZ Bank, the event will start with a keynote speech by Professor Kishore Mahbubani, diplomat and dean of the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy, followed by a presentation on the perils and promises for Asia by ANZ chief economist Glenn Maguire.
Other speakers include renowned editors T.N. Ninan of India and Endy Bayuni of Indonesia and Singapore-based academics Li Mingjiang and Lam Peng Er, experts on China and Japan, respectively.
Said Straits Times editor Warren Fernandez: "New leaders in Indonesia and India offer much hope, even as the challenges the region has to grapple with become ever more pressing and complex. Our ST correspondents around the region are all experienced Asian insiders. They will be able to bring considerable insight into where the countries they cover might be heading, both politically and economically, in the years ahead."
The ST Global Forum, now in its third year, has become a key event in the Singapore calendar. Last year, a sell-out audience of more than 300 people heard Foreign Minister K. Shanmugam speak on the subject, Will 2014 Be A Year Of Living Dangerously For Asia? The theme proved prescient since bilateral tensions rose significantly this year in the East and South China Seas, and continue to simmer.
Speakers will focus on the question: 2015 And The Promise Of An Asian Resurgence. They will be joined on stage by three top area experts from The Straits Times newsroom - news editor Peh Shing Huei, author of a book on China, where he served as bureau chief; Indonesia Bureau chief Zakir Hussain, and Tokyo- based senior economics correspondent Fiona Chan. The audience will get plenty of opportunity to put questions to speakers and discussants.
"We are pleased to be able to assemble some of the best minds in Asia at this forum," said Straits Times foreign editor Ravi Velloor, who will moderate the forum discussions.
"As new worries rise on the global horizon, naturally the question on everyone's mind is: 'Where should I put my money? Should I worry about my safety?' This is a unique opportunity for our readers to not only hear directly from top experts but also engage them."