Top 10 Economies To Watch In 2024

Kurt Davis Jr.
7 min readJan 16, 2024


…The bellwether economies for 2024…

The article was originally published in “The Musings Of A Politics Junkie & Closet Economist.” To read more, please visit the website.

2024 could be a year of optimism (or fret) depending on your views on elections. Voters in more than 50 countries will go to the polls this year.

“It’s the economy, stupid” — the infamous phrase from former U.S. President Bill Clinton’s presidential campaign — may reign supreme this year for most elections. And consequently, in a globally connected world, this can mean watching other economies across the globe.

Below are the top ten bellwether economies to watch in 2024.


Can China fix the real estate sector and strengthen the Chinese (shadow) banking sector?

Did the Chinese 2023 experience resemble a replay of the U.S. economy in 2008? The 2008 Great Recession was caused by the bursting of a housing bubble followed by a collapse of U.S. shadow banks — financial institutions that act like banks — that were both generally unregulated and without the capital cushion required at traditional banks. The Chinese real estate sector today — much bigger than 2008 — has a shadow banking problem, underscored by the recent Zhongzhi Enterprise Group Co. bankruptcy filing which followed the company’s admission of being “severely insolvent” with a $36.4 billion shortfall. The upside to the Chinese crisis today is that the creditor pool is significantly Chinese and foreign creditor exposure is nowhere near the levels observed in 2008 to the U.S. Still, China must quickly find a solution to a predominantly internal problem that weighs on the overall economy (with growth slowing to 5.2%). A weakened Chinese economy may excite some China critics, but China is too big to stay weak too long without a greater spillover to other economies.


India sees an opportunity and chases after it…

In a world of superlatives, one economic debate focuses on whether India passes China — India is the 5th largest economy and China is the 2nd largest economy in the world. Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi rightfully sees an opportunity to challenge China with an entrepreneurial population that exceeds 1.4 billion and an economic engine alongside it (with growth projected above 6%). A couple banks, including Barclays and HSBC, have done the math on what growth India requires to replace China as the biggest contributor to the world’s growth. The conclusion is the country requires significantly more investment to get to that level…thus the ultimate focus (after the 2024 elections) will be on turbocharging investment across the economy.

Saudi Arabia

Steadily but surely towards 2030 Vision…

Saudi Arabia is another country that sees opportunity. Oil revenue continues to fund the kingdom’s ambition despite a price drop and budget deficit in 2023 — the average Brent price per barrel dropped to below $80 in 2024 after averaging above $82 in 2023 and above $100 in 2022. Nonetheless, Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund (PIF) invested $31.6 billion across 49 deals in 2023, and the messaging from the kingdom is spending will continue as the country pushes toward its Vision 2030 economic transformation goals. As hosts of the Asian Winter Games in 2029, Expo 2030 in Riyadh, and FIFA World Cup in 2034, officials are keeping their eye on the ball. Pun intended. This is not all sports spending (despite the news splash with Cristiano Ronaldo and LIV golf) as PIF spent significant money on construction, aircraft leasing, gaming, and renewable energy.


What will the presidency of Javier Milei teach us?

Argentina has become synonymous with hyperinflation. The economy battled nearly 100% inflation in 2022 and nearly 200% in 2023. Newly elected President Javier Milei cannot exactly turnaround the Argentine economy overnight, yet the Argentine population may have that expectation. Investors (and politicians) will be examining Milei’s every move and the responses within the economy and from the voters for any indication that the country’s distorted economy is on the mend. Also, can the Milei administration privatize state entities to the benefit of the country?


Can Kenya balance the books in 2024?

News that Kenya would consider load shedding — scheduled power outages to manage demand on the grid — to address the frequent blackouts experienced in 2023 sent shock waves across the African investment community. Kenya is a leader in renewable energy with more than 70% of its power from sources, such as geothermal, hydro, and wind. Actis, which was one of the leading investors in renewables in Africa, however, did close its office in Kenya. President William Ruto’s administration has introduced tax proposals to strengthen the country’s ability to repay its debt but rising inflation and the high cost of living continue to hamper the economy and the proposed tax hikes. A sovereign default could create an unprecedented economic downturn for the country with potential regional spillover. Ruto’s team knows this and is being honest with the public about efforts to avoid it.


Commodities and sanctions…how will it all play out?

The War in Ukraine will continue to dominate the conversation. The Western sanctions imposed against Russia in response to its invasion of Ukraine were designed to destroy the Russian economy and cut it off financially (and politically) from the rest of the world. Yet, Russian officials (and central bankers) have proven resilient in managing the economy. The budget deficit seen at the beginning of 2022, as result of advanced payments for the war, largely disappeared by the end of 2023 with Russia circumventing the oil price cap (and related sanctions) and raking in significant income from commodities. It is expected that the U.S. and Europe will try to introduce new sanctions (and tighten existing ones) thus the focus will be on how Russia adapts to the changing economic environment. Russia (alongside other OPEC+ members) will continue to be a big driver of commodity prices.


Chancellor Scholz has to manage expectations at home and within the EU…

Germany did not have the best 2023. The country has been beset by a downturn in global demand, energy woes, and an unexpected court decision striking down a big part of Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s budget — the federal constitutional court ruled that €60bn allocated to the German climate transformation fund was illegal. Scholz is focused on supporting the German economy (especially via energy investments) and supporting Ukraine against Russia but faces structural and financial limitations with both causes. He accordingly will have to right-size German ambitions to match available funding while not getting too distracted by European Parliament elections in June.


Nearshoring, immigration, border security, and a presidential election…tough mix?

Mexico is a political and economic conundrum. The country has benefited from “friend-shoring” and the changing dynamics between the U.S. and China with Mexico passing China as the U.S.’s top trading partner. Even if relations improve between the U.S. and China, U.S. officials (irrespective of president) will likely continue to focus on shifting business to countries that are politically aligned and geographically close to the U.S. Mexico (and Canada) remain in the pole position to benefit under the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA), which was the trade agreement that replaced NAFTA in 2020. Yet, Mexico and the U.S. struggle to resolve issues on immigration and border security. A Mexican election in June (and American election in November) introduces political uncertainty into the equation. For now, in Mexico, the ruling party candidate Claudi Sheinbaum is expected to win with some analysts predicting (or hoping) that she may be easier to work with than the current President Andrés Manuel López Obrador.


Lula is in the driving seat with commodity prices again funding Brazilian ambition…

Brazil is another country that has quietly benefited from the “new” U.S. and China dynamic alongside the war in Ukraine and now turmoil in the Middle East. Booming commodity prices was a gift to President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva in his return to the presidential office at the start of 2023. The numbers should continue to benefit trade and bolster Brazilian coffers under Lula’s more state controlled economic model — the bigger uncertainty centers on how Lula and Brazil utilize the “good times.” Lula always has big ambitions and will likely leverage political capital, such as the G20 Presidency in 2024 and an expanded BRICS group, to elevate Brazil’s standing on the global stage. Lula also needs to prepare the country for COP30 in 2025…he will be courting investors for the next 18 months.


Does Chilean rate cuts set a precedent for the rest of Latin America?

Chile will continue rate reductions in 2024, after announcing a 75-basis point cut in December last year and signaling another cut by the end of January this year. The quick pace of easing in 2024 should be welcomed by Chileans as domestic demand lags and unemployment remains high — Chilean officials saw growth stagnate last year but expect growth to be above 2% this year. If policymakers can achieve their 3% inflation target, it is expected other countries in Latin America will try to emulate the Chilean approach. So far so good as inflation continues downward…President Gabriel Boric would appreciate the positive news after a couple failed attempts to rewrite the constitution.

The article was originally published in “The Musings Of A Politics Junkie & Closet Economist.” To read more, please visit the website.



Kurt Davis Jr.

Investor, Advisor, Writer / Speaker, Council on Foreign Relations, Chicago Booth MBA, UVA JD, Avid Traveler, Foodie, Politics Junkie & Closet Economist…