MULTINATIONAL companies have always paid careful attention to political risk in the developing world. No surprise there, given the risk premium attached to investment in emerging markets. Western businesses turn for advice to consultancies that keep a watchful eye on alarming developments in far-flung places. There is booming demand for political-risk insurance that can protect companies against shocks, be they coups in Turkey, sanctions against Russia or a debt default by Venezuela.

Now, however, firms need to pay the same attention to political risk in the developed world. Just consider the latest news from the American election trail. The woman who stands between the presidency and a hot-head who wants to tear up the world’s trading system is losing her air of invincibility, due to an unguarded comment about a “basket of deplorables”, a bout of pneumonia and a foolish decision to conceal the illness from voters.

Britain’s vote on Brexit in June was a reminder that impossibles may turn into improbables, and then quickly become fact. Businesses now face years of uncertainty as politicians thrash out the details of the...Continue reading