For others, the Middle East remains the most important area to watch for potential disruption to the global economy.
Almost a year after the beginning of the "Arab Spring" democracy movement, the region remains in political flux with untested Islamist parties winning power across north Africa and Syria's uprising slowly turning towards outright civil war.
After the fall of several veteran Western-backed Arab rulers, the withdrawal of US forces from Iraq is seen as the latest sign of the diminishing influence of Western powers in a region they dominated for some 200 years.
In the resulting vacuum, regional powers such as Turkey, Saudi Arabia and an isolated and perhaps more erratic Iran appear in increasingly open confrontation.
Western intelligence estimates that Iran is moving closer to a viable nuclear weapon have a shorter timeline, and some analysts say 2012 could be the year when Tehran's enemies decide to go beyond covert sabotage with a military strike that could spark retaliation against oil supplies in the Gulf.
"The bigger wild card out there is an Israeli attack on Iran's nuclear facilities and elements of regime control," says Thomas Barnett, chief strategist of political risk consultancy Wikistrat, saying neither the Israeli nor the Iranian leadership looks inclined to back down. "The setting here is scary... something has got to give in this strategic equation."
Image: A demonstrator enters a slogan-covered structure opposite the Houses of Parliament in London December 5, 2011.