Underlying forces of global disruption that came to the fore last year are likely to continue to complicate the global economic and political environment this year. The US-China trade war may show signs of muting, but it reveals the deep fissures that can be caused by a major driver of the global economy treating its nearest contender not as a stakeholder in a common economic system but as a challenger to it. The resounding vote for Brexit delivered in the British general election results will have far-reaching implications for European regionalism in world affairs as, indeed, for Britain's global position. United States President Donald Trump's "America First" policy and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson's quest for closer trans-Atlantic relations will have an impact on the global order that will be felt in North America, Europe and beyond them.
At another level, explosive street protests in Hong Kong, Chile and France display a marked degree of distrust of domestic economic and political systems, which could feed into alienation from the global system in which nations operate. There is a popular desire to take back power violently from national economic and political elites ensconced in the global system. What is under threat is the mutually reinforcing connection between economic globalisation and liberal politics associated with a substantial property-owning middle class which benefits from both.