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The World Macroeconomic Risk Map in 2020

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This Markets in a Minute Chart is available as a poster.

Macroeconomic Risk by Country

This Markets in a Minute Chart is available as a poster.

The World Macroeconomic Risk Map in 2020

In times of crisis, risk is thrown under the microscope and former assumptions are reassessed.

From the political climate to the flow of international trade, the impact of COVID-19 has destabilized macroeconomic conditions in many jurisdictions globally.

The above Markets in a Minute chart from New York Life Investments is a macroeconomic risk map of 241 countries and regions as global economies shift.

Measuring Risk

Data for the risk map comes from Euler Hermes, and it scores macroeconomic risk primarily based on the following categories: political risk, structural business environment, commercial risk, and financing risk.

The political risk category, for example, takes into account the concentration of power in a country. It also assesses the degree of independence of national institutions and social cohesion.

In total, a country’s macroeconomic risk profile is determined, representing the broad risk of non-payment of companies within a country.

Highest Macroeconomic Risk

Given the sheer weight of the current economic climate, which countries have the highest macroeconomic risk?

CountryRisk Level
🇦🇫 AfghanistanHigh Risk
🇦🇱 AlbaniaHigh Risk
🇦🇴 AngolaHigh Risk
🇦🇷 ArgentinaHigh Risk
🇦🇲 ArmeniaHigh Risk
🇦🇿 AzerbaijanHigh Risk
🇧🇩 BangladeshHigh Risk
🇧🇧 BarbadosHigh Risk
🇧🇾 BelarusHigh Risk
🇧🇿 BelizeHigh Risk
🇧🇴 BoliviaHigh Risk
🇧🇦 Bosnia and HerzegovinaHigh Risk
🇧🇮 BurundiHigh Risk
🇨🇲 CameroonHigh Risk
🇨🇻 Cape Verde IslandsHigh Risk
🇨🇫 Central African RepublicHigh Risk
🇹🇩 ChadHigh Risk
🇰🇲 ComorosHigh Risk
🇨🇩 Congo (Democratic Rep Of)High Risk
🇨🇬 Congo (People's Rep Of)High Risk
CubaHigh Risk
DjiboutiHigh Risk
Equatorial GuineaHigh Risk
EritreaHigh Risk
FijiHigh Risk
GabonHigh Risk
GambiaHigh Risk
GeorgiaHigh Risk
Guinea (Rep Of)High Risk
Guinea BissauHigh Risk
HaitiHigh Risk
IranHigh Risk
IraqHigh Risk
KazakhstanHigh Risk
KyrgyzstanHigh Risk
LaosHigh Risk
LebanonHigh Risk
LiberiaHigh Risk
LibyaHigh Risk
MadagascarHigh Risk
MalawiHigh Risk
MaldivesHigh Risk
MaliHigh Risk
Marshall IslandsHigh Risk
MauritaniaHigh Risk
MoldovaHigh Risk
MongoliaHigh Risk
MontenegroHigh Risk
MozambiqueHigh Risk
Myanmar (Burma)High Risk
NauruHigh Risk
NepalHigh Risk
NicaraguaHigh Risk
NigerHigh Risk
NigeriaHigh Risk
North KoreaHigh Risk
PakistanHigh Risk
Papua New GuineaHigh Risk
SeychellesHigh Risk
Sierra LeoneHigh Risk
Solomon IslandsHigh Risk
SomaliaHigh Risk
South SudanHigh Risk
Sri LankaHigh Risk
SudanHigh Risk
SurinameHigh Risk
SyriaHigh Risk
TajikistanHigh Risk
Timor LesteHigh Risk
TogoHigh Risk
TongaHigh Risk
TurkmenistanHigh Risk
UkraineHigh Risk
UzbekistanHigh Risk
VenezuelaHigh Risk
YemenHigh Risk
ZambiaHigh Risk
ZimbabweHigh Risk

Argentina’s soaring inflation is estimated to reach 40.7% in 2020. Coupled with a poorly-timed debt restructuring, its economy is anticipated to shrink 12% over the course of the year. Yet for all its hardship, the country managed to send COVID-19 relief money to its citizens in just three days.

Meanwhile, countries including Venezuela and Bolivia are at steeper risk, compounded by their heavy reliance on commodity exports, such as oil.

Medium to Sensitive Risk

Overall, roughly 100 jurisdictions live within this mid-range risk threshold.

CountryRisk Level
🇦🇼 ArubaMedium Risk
🇧🇼 BotswanaMedium Risk
🇧🇷 BrazilMedium Risk
🇧🇬 BulgariaMedium Risk
🇨🇳 ChinaMedium Risk
🇭🇷 CroatiaMedium Risk
🇨🇾 CyprusMedium Risk
🇩🇴 Dominican RepublicMedium Risk
🇸🇻 El SalvadorMedium Risk
🇬🇷 GreeceMedium Risk
🇬🇹 GuatemalaMedium Risk
🇭🇺 HungaryMedium Risk
🇮🇸 IcelandMedium Risk
🇮🇳 IndiaMedium Risk
🇮🇩 IndonesiaMedium Risk
🇯🇴 JordanMedium Risk
🇰🇼 KuwaitMedium Risk
🇲🇦 MoroccoMedium Risk
🇳🇺 NiueMedium Risk
ParaguayMedium Risk
PhilippinesMedium Risk
QatarMedium Risk
RomaniaMedium Risk
RwandaMedium Risk
Saudi ArabiaMedium Risk
ThailandMedium Risk
Trinidad & TobagoMedium Risk
AnguillaMedium Risk
BahamasMedium Risk
BruneiMedium Risk
ChileMedium Risk
ColombiaMedium Risk
Costa RicaMedium Risk
French PolynesiaMedium Risk
Hong KongMedium Risk
IsraelMedium Risk
LatviaMedium Risk
LithuaniaMedium Risk
MacaoMedium Risk
MalaysiaMedium Risk
MauritiusMedium Risk
MexicoMedium Risk
MontserratMedium Risk
PanamaMedium Risk
PeruMedium Risk
PolandMedium Risk
PortugalMedium Risk
Puerto RicoMedium Risk
SloveniaMedium Risk
United Arab EmiratesMedium Risk
UruguayMedium Risk
AlgeriaSensitive Risk
Antigua & BarbudaSensitive Risk
BahrainSensitive Risk
BeninSensitive Risk
BhutanSensitive Risk
Burkina FasoSensitive Risk
CambodiaSensitive Risk
Cook IslandsSensitive Risk
Côte d'IvoireSensitive Risk
CuracaoSensitive Risk
DominicaSensitive Risk
EcuadorSensitive Risk
EgyptSensitive Risk
EswatiniSensitive Risk
EthiopiaSensitive Risk
GhanaSensitive Risk
GrenadaSensitive Risk
GuyanaSensitive Risk
HondurasSensitive Risk
JamaicaSensitive Risk
KenyaSensitive Risk
KiribatiSensitive Risk
LesothoSensitive Risk
MicronesiaSensitive Risk
NamibiaSensitive Risk
North MacedoniaSensitive Risk
OmanSensitive Risk
PalauSensitive Risk
RussiaSensitive Risk
SamoaSensitive Risk
Sao Tome & PrincipeSensitive Risk
SenegalSensitive Risk
SerbiaSensitive Risk
South AfricaSensitive Risk
St. Kitts & NevisSensitive Risk
St. LuciaSensitive Risk
St. MaartenSensitive Risk
St. Vincent & The GrenadinesSensitive Risk
TanzaniaSensitive Risk
TunisiaSensitive Risk
TurkeySensitive Risk
TuvaluSensitive Risk
UgandaSensitive Risk
VanuatuSensitive Risk
VietnamSensitive Risk

As Russia contends with sanctions and counter-sanctions with the West, its political conditions face greater risks. Alongside this, increased involvement in the Syria crisis also factors negatively.

On the other hand, Indonesia’s strong banking system and solid fiscal policies are met with interest rates that fall around 4%. This means that its central bank has leeway to lower interest rates to help spur growth.

Lowest Macroeconomic Risk

As the dust begins to settle, which countries are positioned with the least risk?

France’s high quality education system and diversified economy provide key strengths. Sweden, also with a highly educated population, is cushioned with solid public finances. Also, its R&D spending is among the highest globally.

Meanwhile, Japan, Taiwan, and South Korea have favorable factors at play.

CountryRisk Level
🇦🇸 American SamoaLow Risk
🇧🇲 BermudaLow Risk
🇻🇬 British Virgin IslandsLow Risk
🇰🇾 Cayman IslandsLow Risk
🇨🇽 Christmas IslandLow Risk
🇨🇨 Cocos (Keeling) IslandsLow Risk
🇨🇿 Czech RepublicLow Risk
🇫🇰 Falkland IslandsLow Risk
🇫🇴 Faroe IslandsLow Risk
🇬🇮 GibraltarLow Risk
🇬🇱 GreenlandLow Risk
🇬🇺 GuamLow Risk
🇮🇪 IrelandLow Risk
🇮🇹 ItalyLow Risk
🗾 JapanLow Risk
🇲🇹 MaltaLow Risk
🇾🇹 MayotteLow Risk
🇳🇨 New CaledoniaLow Risk
🇳🇫 Norfolk IslandLow Risk
Northern Mariana IslandsLow Risk
Pitcairn IslandsLow Risk
San MarinoLow Risk
SlovakiaLow Risk
South KoreaLow Risk
SpainLow Risk
St HelenaLow Risk
St. Pierre Et MiquelonLow Risk
Svalbard & Jan MayenLow Risk
TaiwanLow Risk
TokelauLow Risk
Turks & CaicosLow Risk
US Virgin IslandsLow Risk
Wallis & FutunaLow Risk
AndorraLow Risk
AntarcticaLow Risk
AustraliaLow Risk
AustriaLow Risk
BelgiumLow Risk
BES Islands (Bonaire, St Eustatius, Saba)
Low Risk
Bouvet IslandLow Risk
British Indian Ocean TerritoryLow Risk
CanadaLow Risk
DenmarkLow Risk
EstoniaLow Risk
FinlandLow Risk
FranceLow Risk
French GuianaLow Risk
French Southern TerritoryLow Risk
GermanyLow Risk
GuadeloupeLow Risk
Heard and McDonald IslandsLow Risk
LiechtensteinLow Risk
LuxembourgLow Risk
MartiniqueLow Risk
MonacoLow Risk
NetherlandsLow Risk
New ZealandLow Risk
NorwayLow Risk
ReunionLow Risk
SingaporeLow Risk
South Georgia/Sandwich IslandsLow Risk
SwedenLow Risk
SwitzerlandLow Risk
United KingdomLow Risk
United StatesLow Risk
US Minor Outlying IslandsLow Risk
Vatican CityLow Risk

How about the U.S.? Backed by the world’s reserve currency, its strengths rest on its diverse GDP and low interest rates. However, the implications of high corporate debt—climbing to $10.2 trillion—weighs significantly, not to mention increasing political fragmentation.

As central banks in wealthy countries press ahead, the end of stimulus packages still seems like a distant prospect. Together, rich nations are projected to borrow a combined 17% of their GDP in this year alone. This, matched with low inflation, is helping to defend economies from collapse.

Still, it raises a key question—is this necessary for a sustainable global recovery ahead?

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Markets in a Minute

Infrastructure Megatrends: The Clean Energy Transition

Governments are keen to make the transition to clean energy, but what will it take to get there? In this chart, we examine two scenarios through 2050.

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Infrastructure Megatrends: The Clean Energy Transition

Demand for clean energy is ramping up as a majority of countries target 2050 as the year to achieve net-zero emissions. But how much will this all cost?

According to the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), upwards of $100 trillion is needed to build a system capable of keeping global temperatures from rising above 2C° (3.6F°).

In this Markets in a Minute chart from New York Life Investments, we take a closer look at the outcomes of such a massive endeavor.

Investment Required to Reshape Global Energy Markets

The IRENA believes there are two scenarios for how the clean energy transition plays out by 2050.

Their first scenario involves a total investment of $95 trillion (112% of global GDP in 2020) and is based on current policies and targets. Despite the lofty amount, this scenario is expected to fall short in achieving the goals set by the Paris Agreement.

Their second scenario involves a more ambitious set of targets, as well as a 16% larger investment of $110 trillion. Thanks to economies of scale, this scenario will reduce carbon emissions much further and keep the global temperature rise below 2C° (3.6F°).

The estimates behind these two scenarios are outlined in the table below.

 Current SituationScenario 1 ($95T in investment)Scenario 2 ($110T in investment)
Renewable Share in Electricity Generation26%55%86%
Electrification Share of Final Energy20%30%49%
Energy-Related CO2 Emissions (gigatonnes)34gt 33gt
9.5gt

How Do We Get There?

For scenario 2 to become reality, significant changes would need to be made across the entire economy.

For starters, the IRENA estimates that 1.1 billion electric vehicles will be on the road by 2050, up from 8 million in 2019. The resulting need for charging infrastructure is reflected by Scenario 2’s higher share of electrification (49% vs 30%).

Government subsidies around the world would also need to be adjusted, with much less money flowing to fossil fuels. The chart below provides a roadmap for these adjustments—on the left is the dollar value of subsidies, and on the right is each segment’s share of the total.

Government energy subsidies

Fossil fuel subsidies in the U.S. are facilitated through tax cuts, and are estimated to be worth around $20 billion per year. This may change very soon, as the Biden administration has signaled its intention to eliminate these subsidies as part of its 2021 tax plan.

With Great Change Comes Great Opportunity

The demand for clean energy is expected to kick-off a monumental transformation of the world’s infrastructure.

For investors, gaining exposure to this megatrend may combine attractive return potential with positive environmental impact. In fact, many listed companies in the utilities sector are establishing themselves as leaders in this regard.

Consider Enel, an Italian multinational with activities in Europe and the U.S. The firm has directed capital towards renewable energy since 2015 and is now the world’s largest player in renewables with 46GW of installed capacity across solar, wind, and hydro.

Further developments are planned, and Enel expects to grow its earnings (represented by EBITDA) at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 5%-6% over the next decade.

To learn more about the opportunities surrounding clean energy, consider this infographic on the global sustainable recovery.

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Can Foreign Currencies Act as an Inflation Hedge?

To determine if foreign currencies were a good inflation hedge, we looked at their performance relative to U.S. inflation over the last four decades.

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Inflation Hedge

This infographic is available as a poster.

Can Foreign Currencies Act as an Inflation Hedge?

Inflation is like corrosion. Initially, it can make investment returns less attractive. Over time, it can significantly eat away at an investment’s value. For U.S. investors looking for an inflation hedge, holding foreign currencies may be one option.

But just how effective are they at managing inflation risk? In this Markets in a Minute chart from New York Life Investments, we look at how the performance of foreign currencies compared to U.S. inflation rates over the last four decades.

How to Hedge Against Inflation

Inflation reduces the value of a dollar over time. To manage this risk, investors look for returns that are higher than the inflation rate. For example, a currency that appreciates 6% during 2% inflation may be considered a relatively good inflation hedge.

What makes a currency appreciate? A currency will perform well against the U.S. dollar if investors consider the issuing economy to be strong. This is because foreign investors will look to purchase investments in the applicable currency, driving up its demand.

Foreign Currency Appreciation vs. U.S. Inflation

Here is how the four largest non-U.S. reserve currencies have performed from 1981-2020. We measured a foreign currency’s appreciation against the U.S. dollar using annual exchange rates. U.S. inflation was measured by the percentage change in the average consumer price index for all urban consumers. Neither metric was seasonally adjusted.

YearAverage U.S. InflationEuropean euroChinese yuanJapanese yenBritish pound
20201.2%1.9%0.1%2.1%0.5%
20191.8%-5.6%-4.5%1.3%-4.7%
20182.4%4.4%2.2%1.5%3.5%
20172.1%2.0%-1.8%-3.2%-5.2%
20161.3%-0.2%-5.7%10.2%-12.8%
20150.1%-19.8%-2.0%-14.5%-7.9%
20141.6%0.1%-0.2%-8.3%5.1%
20131.5%3.2%2.6%-22.3%-1.4%
20122.1%-8.3%2.4%-0.2%-1.2%
20113.1%4.8%4.5%9.2%3.7%
20101.6%-5.1%0.9%6.3%-1.4%
2009-0.3%-5.7%1.7%9.4%-18.4%
20083.8%6.9%8.7%12.2%-8.0%
20072.9%8.4%4.6%-1.3%7.9%
20063.2%0.9%2.7%-5.6%1.3%
20053.4%0.1%1.0%-1.8%-0.7%
20042.7%9.0%0.0%6.7%10.8%
20032.3%16.5%0.0%7.4%8.1%
20021.6%5.3%0.0%-3.0%4.2%
20012.8%-3.1%0.0%-12.8%-5.3%
20003.4%-15.4%0.0%5.2%-6.7%
19992.2%N/A0.3%13.2%-2.5%
19981.5%N/A0.2%-8.2%1.2%
19972.3%N/A0.2%-11.3%4.7%
19962.9%N/A0.4%-15.8%-1.1%
19952.8%N/A3.1%8.0%3.0%
19942.6%N/A-49.5%8.0%2.0%
19933.0%N/A-4.7%12.4%-17.6%
19923.0%N/A-3.5%5.8%-0.1%
19914.2%N/A-11.3%7.2%-0.9%
19905.4%N/A-27.2%-5.0%8.2%
19894.8%N/A-1.0%-7.7%-8.7%
19884.1%N/A0.0%11.4%7.9%
19873.6%N/A-7.8%14.1%10.5%
19861.9%N/A-17.6%29.4%11.6%
19853.5%N/A-26.3%-0.4%-3.0%
19844.4%N/A-17.6%0.0%-13.4%
19833.2%N/A-4.4%4.6%-15.3%
19826.2%N/A-11.0%-12.9%-15.8%
198110.4%N/A--2.7%-14.8%

Note: The euro was created in 1999, which is why annual appreciation data against the U.S. dollar is not applicable prior to 2000. The Chinese yuan / U.S. dollar foreign exchange rate was not available for 1980, which is why annual appreciation for 1981 is unavailable.

The Best and Worst Inflation Hedges, Historically

Based on available data, here is the percentage of time each currency’s annual appreciation was greater than the U.S. inflation rate.

European euroChinese yuanJapanese yenBritish pound
43%18%48%33%

The Japanese yen acted as the best inflation hedge, with its annual appreciation beating U.S. inflation 48% of the time. Demand for the safe haven currency has historically been strong for three main reasons:

  • After the Japanese banking crisis of the late 1990s, the government introduced a number of policy measures. This helped Japan enter the global financial crisis with a relatively stable banking system.
  • Japan is the largest creditor nation, meaning the value of foreign assets held by Japanese investors is higher than the value of Japanese assets owned by foreign investors. In times of market uncertainty, the money of Japanese investors tends to return home—driving up demand for the yen.
  • To take advantage of near-zero interest rates in Japan, investors conduct “carry trades” where they borrow funds in Japan and lend or invest in countries where returns are higher. During turbulent markets, investors may unwind these trades, furthering demand for the yen.

The Chinese yuan has been the worst inflation hedge, with the yuan’s appreciation beating U.S. inflation only 18% of the time since 1982. This is perhaps not surprising, given that the yuan was pegged against the U.S. dollar in 1994 to keep the yuan low and make China’s exports competitive.

In 2005, China moved to a “managed float” system where the price of the yuan is allowed to fluctuate in a narrow band relative to a basket of foreign currencies. This shift led to the yuan appreciating against the U.S. dollar in some years.

The Risks of Currency as an Inflation Hedge

As the chart makes clear, investing in foreign currencies can be very volatile. Not only can currency depreciation lead to losses, there are additional factors for investors to consider such as geopolitical risks.

Of course, the effectiveness of foreign currencies as an inflation hedge depends on their attractiveness relative to the U.S. dollar. If a country is also affected by the factors causing U.S. inflation—such as an increase in the money supply—its currency could be negatively affected.

Given the uncertainties associated with this strategy, investors may want to consider foreign currencies alongside other asset classes to help manage inflation risk.

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