Sibylline Annual Forecast 2019

We are pleased to announce the publication of our Annual Forecast for 2019. This was released to our clients at the beginning of January, and is now available more widely on request. Please do get in touch for a copy below.

Now in its fourth iteration, the Annual Forecast is our longest piece, and sets out our strategic analytical views for the coming year. It complements our ASTRA model, which covers over 15,000 risks at country, city and jurisdictional levels, and forms a baseline for our regular reporting and analysis.

The Annual Forecast offers readers an unrivalled opportunity to test their organisation against a range of the most likely scenarios in 2019. As with all our work, it is designed to help answer the “so what” question for your enterprise – and, since one size never fits all, we welcome any and all follow-up discussions on the areas that are of most interest or relevance for you.

What is Covered?

  • The context for 2019
  • The Top Ten Global Strategic Themes
  • 50 regional-level scenarios, outlining triggers, indicators, drivers, warnings and likely consequences
  • Our key Cyber scenarios
  • A full calendar of key events/dates to watch
  • Implications for global organisations

What are the Main Implications?

  • 2019 will see a continuation of a lengthy period of global political realignment, driven by underlying trends including populism, economic fragility, growing population and environmental pressures and the challenging of global norms.
  • US-China trade and technological tensions, a likely constitutional crisis in Washington and turmoil in the EU will be key distractions for Western governments.
  • Jockeying for position between traditional and emerging regional powers will intensify further, against the background of a more competitive and challenging global marketplace. International businesses will therefore increasingly have to navigate complex and competing interests.
  • Major armed conflict between states remains unlikely. However, there is an increased risk of unintended escalation around key flashpoints as traditional alliances and resolution mechanisms break down further.
  • Inter-state conflict will also continue to manifest more often in the cyber domain, where escalation thresholds are lower and deniability for hostile actions can be more plausibly maintained.
  • Global supply chains will be increasingly exposed to impact from these frictions and flashpoints, while international travellers or businesses will face the risk of being used as leverage in inter-state rivalries.
  • Technology will be an increasing area of competition, with more developed states focusing on protectionist policies, while their public opposition to “big tech” will continue to grow.
  • Macro threats such as currency fluctuations, rivalry between states, shifts in policies and ongoing technically-driven change will remain more impactful than operational-level risks such as terrorism.
  • However, lower-level but more obvious threats will continue to draw greater attention and will have disproportionate impacts on colleagues, leadership and stakeholders.
  • Growth opportunities remain. However, to operate effectively in this complex environment, organisations must be agile (regardless of nationality).
  • This will require constant and dynamic situational awareness, visibility of emerging threats and the ability to make decisions quickly.
  • Team preparation through contingency planning, scenario analysis and ongoing dynamic risk communication/visibility is therefore key, informed by effective in-house understanding of “what matters” and intelligence processes that can feed meaningfully into mainstream business decision making.

Ultimately, we assess that 2019 will be a year characterised less by new seismic shocks than by flashpoints along familiar lines: Chinese assertiveness, temperamental US foreign policy and opportunistic regional powers will continue to impact business in the form of new sanctions and barriers to trade; armed conflict and terrorism will remain primarily concentrated on inter-communal fault lines where there is an overlay of geopolitical rivalry; while destabilising unrest will be increasingly prominent in areas where there is a nexus of resource stress, lack of economic opportunity and aggravating trigger events such as elections.


The format has been extensively upgraded from previous years, based on your feedback. It is optimised for display on iPads or tablet computers, although print copies will also be available by request.

As ever, please contact us with any and all observations, questions or enquiries – and we very much look forward to helping you navigate the complexities ahead.



CEO, Sibylline