Cyberwarfare, Populism Among Top Concerns at Milken 2018

Fears of Russian information meddling, nuclear weapons proliferation rising.

Cyberwarfare and populism are key “black swan” events keeping investors and policymakers up at night, leaders admitted at the annual Milken Institute Global Conference.

A massive cyberattack could be devastating, said Colony Northstar’s Founder and Executive Chairman Thomas Barrack. Should that take place, he said with dismay that he’s “not sure what happens.”

Rep. Ed Royce (R-California),, the House Foreign Affairs Committee chairman, also feared cybersecurity breaches and Russian meddling could harm the democratic process in Eastern Europe. Such a prospect, he said, “is very concerning.”

“Indeed, worldwide Russian efforts in this regard need to be effectively countered, and it’s been many years since we’ve done anything effective,” he told Reuters.

Royce also expressed concerns regarding increasing nuclear weapons and cited a need for push-back from social media against Russia, saying that Moscow must “feel the price for doing this.”

Another top concern among the leaders was the increasing populism in the West.

Peter Mandelson, a former European trade commissioner and British first secretary of state, expressed his concern that politics in the West were “bust.” Such a situation “generates populist nationalist pressures on government and regulators, draws them more into the economy, onto the backs of businesses and makes decision-making by investors and businesses much more difficult,” he said.

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