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Are these unusually challenging times for business? The data says yes

August 30, 2022, 10:10 AM UTC

Good morning. 

It’s become almost a cliché to say these are challenging times for business. Black swans seem to swoop in from every direction on a regular basis—pandemic, fire, drought, social unrest, war. Resilience has replaced efficiency as the watchword of the day. 

But curmudgeons understandably ask: Wasn’t it always this way?

Well, no, it wasn’t. A new report out this morning from OnSolve, which analyzed a database of more than 14 million events over the past two years, puts some numbers on the change. From 2020 to mid-2022, the company calculates:

  • Shooting risks are up 193%
  • Transportation-related risks are up 146%
  • Crime risks are up 141%
  • Fire risks are up 118%
  • Infrastructure and technology risks are up 111%
  • National security events are up 48%
  • Extreme weather events are up 47%
  • Civil unrest is up 9%

The only good news comes in public health (down 39%). 

Why? OnSolve CEO Mark Herrington, who visited the Fortune offices last week, says: “COVID was the focus for a very long time. But now what you are starting to see is that crime and violence, transportation and logistics, the whole social infrastructure, has been incredibly stressed. You see it in every category. It’s reflective of the macro environment we are operating in, politically, socially, and the stress of the pandemic.” And then of course, there is climate. Drawing causal connections between climate change and fire or weather events is a tricky business. But clearly, something is going on.

The implications for business are significant. Risk is becoming increasingly complex, which means not just every CEO, but every CFO, every corporate general counsel, and every board member needs to broaden their skill set. These are, indeed, challenging times.

Separately, in the geopolitical risk category, a report out yesterday from the U.S.-China Business Council finds that optimism about the future business outlook in China among its members has dropped to a record low because of China’s COVID-19 containment strategy and deteriorating U.S.-China relations. You can read the full report here.

Other news below.

Alan Murray


Energy pricing

Europe’s leaders are contemplating changes to how electricity is priced. Currently, prices are based on a mix of all energy sources, so sky-high natural gas prices are pushing up the price of power coming from renewable sources, for example. European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said a proposal for “an emergency intervention and a structural reform of the electricity market” was coming soon. Wall Street Journal

Pakistan bailout

The International Monetary Fund is sending $1.1 billion to Karachi, to help Pakistan avoid default in the wake of its catastrophic floods and generally precarious economic situation. Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif had to first introduce austerity measures that could prove perilous for his government. The IMF had previously paused plans for a $7 billion bailout owing to the former government’s unwillingness to introduce spending cuts. Financial Times

Ukraine counteroffensive

Ukraine’s long-awaited counteroffensive in the country’s south appears to have finally begun in earnest, with Kyiv claiming breakthroughs in the province of Kherson. It remains to be seen if this development will break the stalemate that has characterized the past couple months of the war; at this point, Ukraine and Russia are giving contradictory accounts of its success thus far. Guardian


Mark Zuckerberg’s dreams of building a super app are starting to come true, by Grady McGregor

Musk and Twitter both subpoena whistleblower in acquisition dispute, by Bloomberg

A college dropout is now the 3rd richest person in the world behind Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos after his pivot to green tech, by Bloomberg

Nervous about recession layoffs, employees are toning down remote work and higher pay demands, by Jane Thier

Trump’s Truth Social reportedly owes over $1 million in backdated payments, by Colin Lodewick

This edition of CEO Daily was edited by David Meyer.

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