The ancient Mayans attached special significance to 2012, possibly the end of time. That has spawned a rush of apocalyptic literature for the holiday season.
But you don't have to believe the world is about to end to realise that next year contains perhaps the widest range of political risks to the global economy in recent history.
With elections and leadership changes in the most powerful countries, Europe in crisis, ferment in the Middle East and worsening economic hardship driving unrest and discontent everywhere, 2012 could be just as volatile as 2011 if not worse.
The current year may yet carry a sting in its tail, with worries over the euro and jitters over a possible Israeli strike on Iran likely to keep financial markets and policymakers on tenterhooks all the way to the New Year.
Text: IMF managing director Christine Lagarde gestures seen during a press conference at the G20 summit in Cannes in November 2011.
Analysis: Peter Apps, Political Risk Correspondent, Reuters