Trader Poll

Are cyber attacks, China slowdown, terrorism the big risks of 2016?

Security and political risks to rise in 2016

From an escalating conflict in the Middle East to threats of economic collapse in Greece to a fear of hard-landing in China, this year has kept business leaders and investors on their toes.

Heading into 2016, there are several ongoing political and economic issues that will likely make companies and their stakeholders nervous.

According to business risk consultancy firm, Control Risks, these include the growing threat of cyber-attacks, the commodities super-cycle, a political impasse among leaders in the United States, Russia and China, and others

In its annual RiskMap report, which focuses on significant and underlying trends in global risk and security, Control Risk's chief executive, Richard Fenning, said, "We live in an age of surprises."

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"Whether it is the see-sawing balance of economic power between the East and the West, uncertainty about the future of commodities prices, the disconcerting metastasis of IS, the ramifications of China's adjustment to its new economic reality, or an explosion in the frequency and severity of criminal cyber-attacks, successful businesses will need to prepare themselves to face tough challenges on a number of fronts," Fenning added.

One important risk factor that will weigh heavily on global markets is China's economic slowdown.

In the report, Andrew Gilholm, managing director at Control Risks' Global Risk Analysis team, and Louis Kuijs, head of Asia economics at Oxford Economics, said business leaders should not focus on extreme scenarios when it came to China. Instead, they should "focus on figuring out how a more likely 'middle' scenario could affect them."

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Also on investors' radar is terrorism as a result of ongoing conflicts in the Middle East. In November, stock markets reacted to the deadly attacks in Paris carried out by the so-called Islamic State (IS), which controls swathes of land in Syria and Iraq.

Graham Griffiths, analyst at Control Risks, wrote in the RiskMap report that three trends would determine how the threat of IS would develop next year. His forecasts include IS-inspired attacks by sympathizers in their own countries, planned retaliatory terrorist attacks, and the security threat posed by foreign fighters returning from Syria.

For this week's Trader Poll, tell us what you believe will be the biggest potential risk next year: