December 26, 2023

Growth Prospects, Risks and Trends in Six Critical Sectors in 2024

The past few years have been turbulent for most companies as the pandemic, soaring commodity prices, high interest rates and political disruption resulted in profits for many and bankruptcy for some. A report published by the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) asks: Will conditions stabilize in 2024?

EIU's report provides growth prospects, risks and trends facing six critical sectors in the coming year, as inflation eases but geopolitical tensions remain high. The report argues that the biggest challenge facing businesses next year will be climate change and looks at how experimentation with artificial intelligence will give way to rapid adoption, changing corporate strategies and the nature of work.

Key findings include:
  • Climate change will drive demand in sectors relating to mitigation and adaptation. Insurers, companies and governments will struggle to price in the increasing risks.
  • EU and US regulations on environmental, social and governance (ESG) reporting will push companies to scrutinize their operations and supply chains. However, skepticism about ESG will harden in the US ahead of November’s presidential elections.
  • Corporate concerns over taxation will increase as the OECD introduces its global minimum tax rate and individual governments try to reduce budget deficits and national debt levels.
  • Geopolitical tensions and wars will complicate government and corporate responses to all of the above. Investment in supply chains, particularly for technology and the energy transition, will adapt to minimize political risk.
  • Generative artificial intelligence will disrupt a few sectors, but most companies will find ways to use AI to increase productivity.

The report also provides key global forecasts for each sector covered:
  • Automotive: The automotive industry will face another subdued year in 2024, weighed down by slow consumer spending, high interest rates and disruption to supply chains due to geopolitical tensions. The only bright spot will be the electric vehicles market, with sales expected to soar by 21% to 14.9 million unit as governments and consumers try to mitigate the worsening effects of climate change. The report notes that established carmakers will have to fight hard to hold off competition from China.
  • Consumer goods and retail: A slowdown in inflation will bolster retail volume growth by 6.7% in US dollar terms and 2% in volume terms in 2024. However, reduced savings and high food prices, worsened by the effects of climate change, will act as dampeners. The EIU also points out that high food prices will continue to cause problems in Asia.
  • Energy: Global energy consumption will grow by 1.8% in 2024, largely driven by strong demand in Asia. Despite still-high prices and unsolved supply chain disruptions, demand for fossil fuels will reach record levels, but demand for renewable energy will rise by 11%.
  • Finance: High interest rates will determine the success or failure of almost every part of the financial services sector in 2024. Though painful for borrowers, banks will enjoy strong net interest margins margins and revenue flows until margins begin to narrow mildly in late 2024. Property firms and funds, however, will suffer.
  • Healthcare: Healthcare spending will rise by 2% in real US-dollar terms, following two years of decline, as inflation eases. However, resources will remain constrained as governments try to bring down fiscal deficits and public debt levels.
  • Telecoms and technology: Geopolitics will continue to affect technology in 2024. The tech battle between the US and China will persist in areas including artificial intelligence (AI), chips and quantum technologies. AI will continue to develop, particularly generative AI, but will encounter challenges from new regulations in the EU and other major jurisdictions, as well as complications from US-China tensions.

I appreciate how the annual industry outlook provides businesses with foresight of the critical global trends and threats that will affect their sector 2024. Which trends and threats are you watching in the coming year?

Aaron Rose is a board member, corporate advisor, and co-founder of great companies. He also serves as the editor of GT Perspectives, an online forum focused on turning perspective into opportunity.

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