More than three years after the collapse of Lehman Brothers prompted the worst financial crash since the Great Depression, economic turmoil looks to be driving political upheaval in what could become a particularly disruptive feedback loop.
Economic stresses - from rising food prices to worsening economic hardship in the developed world - were at the heart of many of 2011's political stories. As they intensify, political volatility, gridlock, confrontation and conflict - whether domestic or international - look set to worsen.
"It's going to get worse before it gets better," said Jonathan Wood, global issues analyst at London-based risk consultancy Control Risks. "If you look at what's been driving events this year, none of the factors has gone away and many of the economic drivers are still growing."
Presidential elections in the United States, France and Russia and the dual transition of power at the top of China's Communist Party will add to the uncertainty.
They may make it harder for political leaders to find compromises or push through tough policy choices.
Text: A protestor affiliated with the Occupy Wall Street movement sits after being arrested while protestors hold signs outside of Winter Garden Atrium, at the Three World Financial Center in New York