Pessimism prevails in many published polls as the year unfurls. The World Economic Forum says 54% of the 345 global policy makers, academics and business leaders it polled expect a geopolitical disruption with global repercussions in the next year as compared to 36% who said so three months ago. Bankers in a Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association Economic Roundtable survey say the European debt crisis, regulatory uncertainty and Washington's political impasse have lowered their outlook on 2012 U.S. economic growth to 2.2% from 3.1%. The students of the dismal science polled by the National Association for Business Economics forecast U.S. GDP growth at a more optimistic 2.4%. Meanwhile, more than 90% of the execs surveyed by the Association for Financial Professionals expect more earnings uncertainty over the next five years, with 70% predicting regulatory risk will impact earnings, while 57% cite supply chain disruptions.

Treasury & Risk's poll this month confirms that finance execs are fretting over the European debt crisis, with 39% concerned about treasury management or banking in Southern Europe. But companies still plan to expand internationally: in the U.S. and Canada (34%), Latin America (31%) Southeast Asia and the Pacific (24%), and Brazil and China (22% each). Acknowledging such rising prospects, President Obama recently aired plans to speed up the tourist visa process for foreign visitors, especially from China and Brazil.

Of course, the 900-pound dragon is China—its GDP for 2011 rose 9.2%, says China's National Bureau of Statistics. This month's cover story examines China's recent financial liberalization and the major economic, cultural and political headwinds it now faces—and what that could mean for business. Happy New Year or Xn Nián Kuài Lè.

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