RiskMap 2020 Special Edition

Scenarios | RiskMap 2020 Special Edition

Four scenarios for a world with COVID-19

Current state: uneven rebound


The scenarios below were developed by our global team of political risk analysts, and describe the level of disruption companies can anticipate as the pandemic progresses. The scenario that best describes the pandemic’s current state – and the global response to it – is “uneven rebound.” Under this scenario, countries fall into two groups: those that have brought transmission under control and those that have not. This scenario foresees a high level of disruption; it will harder for countries with disparate pandemic management approaches to do business smoothly with each other. We do not necessarily anticipate a sequential transition from one scenario to the next; we are monitoring a specific set of triggers for each scenario.


Prolonged disruption

Prolonged disruption

  • Pandemic spreads widely and globally as containment efforts fail to prevent international and domestic transmission.
  • International travel and migration are significantly restricted.
  • International supply chains are significantly disrupted due to business and trade restrictions.
  • Global economy enters recession.
  • Deteriorating security environment in some places due to economic situation and opposition to lockdowns.
  • Economic and social strains negatively impact political stability in many countries.
  • International and multilateral meetings postponed indefinitely.


Uneven Rebound

Uneven rebound

  • Some countries have brought COVID-19 epidemics largely under control, allowing them to lift restrictions into a “new normal”.
  • Other countries face rising cases, strained health systems, and prolonged restrictions.
  • Countries differ in their capacity to cushion economic impacts with fiscal and financial stimulus packages.
  • Global economy begins to rebound by late 2020 but many countries remain in recession.
  • The security situation worsens in hard-hit countries; foreign nationals and companies are targeted.
  • Geopolitical consequences are significant; inter-state tensions rise.
  • Significant international disputes over access to medical equipment.
  • Some international meetings and events take place in late 2020.


Fragmented rebound

Fractured rebound

  • Most countries move to reopen their economies after containing COVID-19 or under social and economic pressure.
  • Local and provincial governments periodically re-impose or tighten restrictions to manage surges of COVID-19 cases.
  • Some local or provincial health systems remain under significant pressure and lack adequate medical supplies.
  • Global growth rebounds sharply by late 2020 – but second wave risks are elevated.
  • Companies face divergent local, national, and international approaches to business operations and travel.
  • Companies voluntarily take steps to reduce the impact of COVID-19 disruptions along their supply chains.
  • Countries better able to contain and manage COVID-19 gain a geopolitical edge over those facing intermittent lockdowns.
  • Major international meetings and events remain mainly virtual.


Global rebound

Global rebound

  • Global pandemic brought broadly under control, marked by significant and sustained declines in new cases.
  • Business operations resume. Restrictions on movement of people and goods gradually relax globally. Supply chains, transport links are restored.
  • Global GDP rebounds sharply in 2021, but there are prolonged wealth, unemployment, and debt hangovers.
  • Familiar geopolitical competition resumes.
  • Security risks remain elevated until all economies resume growth and employment levels normalise.
  • Major international meetings and events resume.
  • Effective treatments and/or a vaccine are available, but access is limited within and between countries.


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