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Monday, 22 December 2014

The World in 2015: Shocks and Anxiety

Forecasting is a dangerous game. At the back end of 2013, your blogger wrote on what to expect in 2014. The politician did so, not with the confidence and ability of a witch doctor but with careful considerations on current affairs. Many of the forecasts were right; off course, there were many occurrences that no one could foresee. Reflections on 2014 should be personal, so this year, this blog is at it again. Here is what to expect in 2015. 

Africa will continue to be the dark and unpromising continent, with South Sudan being the biggest disappointment. The fight to contain the Ebola pandemic will continue. Fighting in troubled spots will persist. Boko Haram, a militant Islamist group in Northern Nigeria, will continue to make the north east of the country ungovernable. As the country goes to polls in February, elections will almost likely not be held in that part of the country. This will have implications on the legitimacy of the elected president – with the opposition disorganised, the incumbent is likely to retain his seat. Widespread corruption in Nigeria and South Africa will see both countries nose dive into further decadence. Is this the year Mugabe retires?

2015, unlike 2014, won’t be a year of political shocks and economic shifts. The antecedents of the occurrences in the year have mainly started to show: reminiscent of the late 1990s. As early as February, American-Cuban relations should be normalised and by late summer, Havana might become a Cancun. President Obama, with less than two years in office, will take bolder foreign policy moves, perhaps in Africa and in the battle against ISIL.

The general elections in the United Kingdom are almost likely to produce a hung parliament and possibly a second general election: a re-enactment of 1974. But it also means that political parties will have to prepare post-election manifestos in order to accommodate the political realities of coalition governments. From September, the London underground will start running 24hrs at the weekends and the government will definitely miss its immigration targets.

In the rest of Europe, there will be jump-starting economies - hostages to fortune - in the Euro-zone. It has to be the year something gives, when this grinding stagnation is curtailed! With elections in Greece in January, Spain in December, that would be the politics of EU in 2015, against the backdrop of growing anti-EU sentiment. Despite dwindling oil revenues, but with $400 billion in foreign reserves, Russia will continue to flex its muscles in respect of eastern Ukraine.

National happiness will be elusive in Syria, as the country continues to boil and Iraq overtakes Libya to be one of the most dangerous places on earth – both countries are in despair. Israel will go to the polls; Binyamin Netanyahu will be hoping to win a majority, he might. Recognition of the state of Palestine will gather momentum, but will be short of actual statehood.

The pace of events will cause some anxiety and excitement. With Turkey’s Erdogan increasingly looking like a Sultan, hopes of the country joining the EU would no longer be on the table. Argentina would bid farewell to Mrs Kirchner when they hold their general elections in October. Investors will be hoping for market-friendly reforms from whoever wins the presidency. Oil prices will likely fall to less than $50 unless OPEC cuts production. It is not likely to rise till mid-2015. However, it would be amazing to see at what price oil-dependent countries would base their national budgets on; especially those with a dab of foreign reserves. 

One thing is certain, there will be a new iPhone, iPad and Andriod operating system; many other forecasts are not so direct.