Twelve key themes across politics, the economy, and culture that will shape the world in the coming yearPredictions for 2019 from The Economist (www.economist.com)
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LONDON — The World in 2019, the annual publication from The Economist, predicts that 2019 will be jittery, citing more populists in power from Brazil to Italy, a trade war under way between America and China and growing public wariness of technology and giant tech companies.
Daniel Franklin, editor of The World in 2019, said of the publication: “You will find a feast of forecasts in these pages. On the political front, the Trump Show moves into Series Two, now facing a Democratic-controlled House of Representatives; beyond America, countries with more than a third of the world’s population will hold nation-wide elections in 2019 – among them India, Indonesia, Nigeria and the whole of the European Union.”
Mr Franklin continued: “As for the economy, by mid-year America will be in its longest-ever expansion, but a trade war, rising interest rates and waning stimulus from tax cuts could spell trouble ahead. In short, the world in 2019 looks wobbly.”
Mr Franklin has identified a dozen takeaways for 2019:
1. The economic wind is changing
By mid-year America will break its record for its longest uninterrupted expansion, but by the end of the year it could be heading into a recession. China’s growth rate will slow down, while India’s speeds up. Post-chaos Syria will top the global growth league; at the other end will be a shrinking Venezuela and Iran. In Europe, Italy will flirt with financial crisis.
2. The markets converge
But which way? Will America’s stockmarket fall back, or the rest of the world rise? The smart bet is on the latter. America’s bosses, however, should enjoy life while they can: the good times for USA Inc won’t last.
3. Democracy has a big year
Countries with more than a third of the world’s population will hold nationwide elections—including India, the world’s biggest democracy, as well as Indonesia and Nigeria. Optimists hope this will bring the beginnings of a reversal in the global trend of recent years towards declining freedoms.
4. Brexit happens
And as Britain leaves the European Union the recriminations will intensify. The EU, meanwhile, will get a new commission, a new parliament and a new head for the European Central Bank.
5. China gets nervous about the number nine
Years ending in nine bring a clutch of awkward anniversaries that worry China’s leaders. In 2019 it is 100 years since the May Fourth Movement, a much-celebrated protest, and 30 years since the bloody suppression of student-led demonstrations in Tiananmen Square.
6. Famous figures return to the limelight
They do so thanks to their anniversaries: 150 years since Mahatma Gandhi’s birth, 500 years since Hernán Cortés arrived in Mexico and since Leonardo da Vinci’s death (the Tuscan genius time-travels to 2019 to share his observations about the modern world, and his drawings inspire our cover).
7. A new Moonrush begins
Fifty years after Neil Armstrong took his giant leap for mankind, spacecraft (some of them private) are heading back to the Moon. Meanwhile, NASA’s New Horizons probe reaches Ultima Thule, in the most distant encounter in the history of spaceflight.
8. There›s no hiding from, or for, tech
Whether it’s artificial intelligence or facial recognition, tech will be everywhere. But Silicon Valley may have peaked, and the tech giants will be in regulators’ sights in both America and Europe.
9. Big Culture makes a splash
America has the excitement of The Shed in New York (a giant new space for the arts). Germany experiences the shock of the controversial new Humboldt Forum in Berlin.
10. Statistical landmarks concentrate minds
Half the world is online, India’s GDP overtakes Britain’s, Nigeria’s population reaches 200m and in America millennials outnumber baby-boomers to become the country’s largest generation.
11. It’s the year of…
the vegan, “slow social”, gender self-ID and civil partnerships (gaining ground on traditional marriage in a growing number of countries). Thanks to the UN, it is also the year of indigenous languages. Businesses will need to be increasingly alive to social trends and the politics surrounding them.
12. The battle of 2019 begins
The fighting is between President Donald Trump and a Democrat-controlled Congress. And it will be fierce. ◊