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From Site Selection magazine, May 2024

Silver Linings Playbook Revisited

by Adam Bruns

o believe things are going to work out, or not to believe. That is the question.

You’ll have to forgive this former poetry and theater major. Writing this on Shakespeare’s 460th birthday, I can’t help but ask, “Is it indeed nobler ‘to suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune or to take arms against a sea of troubles, and by opposing end them?’ ”

That question was not asked by Kearney for its 2024 FDI Confidence Index or by DHL for its 2024 Global Connectedness Index. Then again, it was.

Despite the proverbial geopolitical, humanitarian and economic “headwinds,” the DHL report finds globalization to be as resilient as ever and the Kearney survey sees an uptick in investors’ net optimism. Led by the United States in No. 1 position, followed by Canada, China, the UK and France, the Kearney FDI Confidence Index resonates well with this year’s Global Best to Invest Rankings in this issue, where the United States, the UK, Germany, Canada and Ireland lead the way. Moreover, says, Kearney, “a striking 88% said they were planning to increase their FDI in the next three years — 6% more than last year.”

How, in a year when half the world’s population is headed to the polls and conflict seems to rule the day, is that possible? Investors do not have their heads in the sand: Kearney says 85% of corporate respondents anticipate FDI decisions will be influenced by geopolitical tensions and most expect a more restrictive regulatory environment to increase risk. Nearshoring is a popular hedge. But the positive outlook remains.

Ever since the pandemic, Kearney says, “investors are determined to find silver linings in the face of adversity.”

Which leads to another club of countries found in our index and others: Those perennially satisfied nations such as Australia, Sweden, Denmark, Switzerland, the Netherlands and Finland. All six of them (with Finland No. 1) are in the Top 10 in the World Happiness Report released this spring by Gallup, Oxford and the UN. The United States didn’t even make the top 20. But that doesn’t mean companies aren’t happy to invest here.

“It’s significant that even though we have political polarization on display right now, we have this tremendous vote of confidence from investors around the world,” said Erik Peterson, a partner at Kearney. “They’re willing to say, ‘Look, there are a lot of other significant elements with respect to return in the U.S. that may supersede elements we see.’ In my view, it shows an upside.”

Hamlet never saw the upside, as “the native hue of resolution” got “sicklied o’er with the pale cast of thought,” causing “enterprises of great pith and moment” to “lose the name of action.” But enterprises today are taking action with their dollars, people and technology. In the process, they might even be making their investors, employees and communities as happy as the happiest nations.

After all, said Prospero, “We are all made of dreams.”

Adam Bruns
Editor in Chief of Site Selection magazine

Adam Bruns

Adam Bruns is editor in chief and head of publications for Site Selection, and before that has served as managing editor beginning in February 2002. In the course of reporting hundreds of stories for Site Selection, Adam has visited companies and communities around the globe. A St. Louis native who grew up in the Kansas City suburbs, Adam is a 1986 alumnus of Knox College, and resided in Chicago; Midcoast Maine; Savannah, Georgia; and Lexington, Kentucky, before settling in the Greater Atlanta community of Peachtree Corners, where he lives with his wife and daughter.


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