Mathew J. Burrows

  • Borders vs. Barriers: Navigating Uncertainty in the US Business Environment

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    For the first time since the global financial crisis, every major economy in the world is projected to grow, and President Trump says the US is “open for business.” As of early 2018, business leaders have been generally buoyant. The Global CFO Survey conducted for this report found CFOs to be optimistic about the economic outlook for the US; 61% of respondents indicated they are confident or extremely confident about investing in the US, and 71% expect continued improvement in the US business environment in the next one to three years.

    Get beyond those exclamation points, though, and you start to see the question marks and concerns — about global shifts in power, a potential wave of protectionism, and warnings that business leaders and policymakers should be “on guard” for the next recession and that global growth may be masking systemic financial, social and geographical risks. Economic volatility and policy uncertainty in the first quarter of 2018 have only increased those concerns.

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  • Top Risks of 2018

    Risks are not predictions, but many of the threats posed to global security and stability highlighted in early 2017 have unfortunately materialized over the past year.

    Despite Chinese President Xi Jinping’s attempts to try to fill US shoes as it walks away from the world stage and defend globalization at last year’s World Economic Forum, it is clear the international community is drifting toward a “leaderless world.” China has taken a selective “a la carte” approach to filling the vacuum as Washington retreats from trade deals and plays hard to get with traditional US allies.

    As the United States turns inward and a multipolar world takes hold, liberal values—their endurance constituted a major risk in 2017—have certainly retreated. However, one bright spot in this regard has been Europe. In early 2017 the risk of an imploding Europe posed a major concern, though happily that did not happen. Still, European Union (EU) reform appears to be slowing down.

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  • Western Options in a Multipolar World

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    No one can know the future. China and Russia—who are currently challenging, albeit in different ways, the Western liberal order—face difficulties at home and could become inward-focused and disengaged. Nonetheless, almost thirty years after the end of the Cold War, geopolitics looks like it is poised for another turn of the wheel that may not be as favorable to Western interests.


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  • Burrows and Burwell Quoted in World Economic Forum on the Future of Europe

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  • The Retreat of Western Liberalism: A Fireside Chat with Edward Luce

    In The Retreat of Western Liberalism, Edward Luce makes a larger statement about the weakening of Western hegemony and the crisis of liberal democracy—of which Donald Trump and his European counterparts are not the cause, but a deeply alarming symptom. Luce argues that the erosion of middle-class incomes has eaten away at liberal democratic consensus, resulting in today’s crisis. Unless the West can rekindle an economy that produces gains for the majority of its people, its political liberties may be doomed. 

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  • The Prediction Game: Data Science Firms vs. Pollsters on Sunday’s French Presidential Election

    Pollsters used to have the monopoly on predicting electoral outcomes. But startups that use data science, machine learning, and artificial intelligence have been crowding into that market and in several cases besting the pollsters at their own game. Brexit and Donald Trump’s electoral victory confounded pollsters, but were forecast by several of the data science firms. As we head toward the second round of the French presidential election on May 7, we wanted to review how the new startups come up with their forecasts and compared their predictions with pollsters. So far, the accuracy award went to French polling firms for being stop-on in their predictions of the Macron victory in the first round.
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  • Burrows Quoted by CNN on Geopolitical Risk

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  • Our World Transformed: Geopolitical Shocks and Risks

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    No one can be complacent about geopolitical risks these days. The shocks and surprises of the past few years show how easily assumptions about liberal markets, international relations, conflict, and democracy can be shaken. Geopolitical volatility has become a key driver of uncertainty, and will remain one over the next few years.


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  • Our World Transformed: A New Futures Study on Geopolitical Risks

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    Geopolitical volatility is the new normal and is not going away anytime soon.

    While the news features the rise of protectionism everyday, an energy crisis due to a conflict in the Middle East or the spread of water and food insecurity, could equally disrupt the world. Should any of these situations deteriorate further, the impacts would be earth shattering for how the world governs and does business.

    A new Atlantic Council study, released today, looks at the implications of these global risks on global gross domestic product (GDP), extreme poverty, middle-class growth, and country instability. This report tests the proposition that global risks are increasing faster than global growth.

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  • Is Brexit Good for the EU?

    The United Kingdom’s decision to leave the European Union (EU) has strengthened solidarity among the bloc’s other twenty-seven member states, David O’Sullivan, the EU’s ambassador to the United States, said at the Atlantic Council on March 29.

    “The debate around Brexit has strengthened support for the European Union elsewhere around Europe,” according to O’Sullivan. “If anything, it has joined the rest of us more closely together.”

    On March 29, British Prime Minister Theresa May officially triggered Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty beginning the process of taking the United Kingdom (UK) out of the EU.

    O’Sullivan said that the prospects of Brexit, the UK’s departure from the EU, triggering a domino effect among other European nations is “most unlikely.” While populist forces in other countries with upcoming elections—such as France and Germany—seek to capitalize on the challenges facing the Union and introduce division, O’Sullivan asserted, “I remain remarkably optimistic about the future of Europe, the future of the European Union.”

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