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The world will face serious economic and political problems in 2008,
The world will face serious economic and political problems in 2008, with the consequences far from predictable, said a report released by the World Economic Forum (WEF) on Thursday.

"Uncertainty about the short- and medium-term future is as high as it has been for a decade," read the introduction of the WEF's Global Risks 2008 report.

Global Risks 2008 assessed risks in a wide range of economic, geopolitical, natural, social and technological areas. It singled out the liquidity crisis in financial markets, the soaring prices of basic foodstuffs, vulnerabilities in cross-border energy supply chains and tensions in Iran and Afghanistan, as well as the ongoing Iraqi conflict, as the most serious immediate areas of concern.

It also noted that these problems could have a negative effect on the international community's efforts to tackle "other, less immediate, global risks."

"Action to mitigate climate change, for example, may be put in danger should the global economy weaken substantially - even though many of the political, economic and investment decisions which will shape the future path of global climate will need to be made in the next five years," said the report.

One of the most dramatic risks highlighted in the report was that "International terrorists mount multiple attacks with conventional and chemical (but not nuclear) weapons, causing significant economic and human losses and exacerbating the retrenchment from globalization."

These pivotal problems will be a focus of discussions by business leaders and public policy-makers at the WEF annual meeting in Davos on January 23 through 27.

The report is based on input from a network of more than 100 top business leaders, decision-makers, scientists and other leading academics convened throughout 2007 as part of the WEF's Global Risk Network.

Global Risks 2008 was published in cooperation with insurance-based services providers and risk, strategy and human capital consultancies, such as Citigroup, Marsh & McLennan Companies, Swiss Re, the Wharton School Risk Center and Zurich Financial Services.


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