Across the Sham Chun River, Hong Kong doesn't just face turmoil from protests against Beijing's political control of the special administrative region. It also faces concerns that it will lose its relevance as the gateway to the mainland as the market there opens to foreign investment as well as concerns about the city's aging population and shrinking labor pool.
Within Southeast Asia, Indonesia has cut its expensive fuel subsidies and aims to shift the funds toward much-needed infrastructure, but the country's bureaucratic roadblocks and high corruption means it struggles to attract foreign investment.
Thailand's economy has struggled since a coup d'état in May last year hurt investor confidence and weighed on the key tourism sector. Declining exports and the slow pace of planned infrastructure spending are pressuring the military government, which hasn't yet set a timetable for a promised return to democracy.
A second key theme is the surprise more than 50 percent drop in the price of oil since the middle of last year, spreading disinflation across the globe. Even with prices already at levels last seen in 2009 during the Global Financial Crisis, many analysts expect crude to get even cheaper – possibly as low as $20 a barrel – amid few signs that U.S. oil production growth is slowing.
Companies around the globe face the possibility that technology will make not just their products, but potentially also their industries irrelevant, with one-time household names like Blockbuster and Kodak disappearing from view. It's a process that's happening ever faster, with a recent Citigroup report noting that it took the telephone 75 years to reach 50 million users, but Angry Birds only 35 days.
Fossil fuels also face potential disruption, as the takeup of renewable energy picks up.