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The World in 2019

The World in 2019

12 themes for 2019 highlighted by editor Daniel Franklin in his introduction to The World in 2019, a publication of The Economist.

Daniel Franklin is the author of ‘Megatech: Technology in 2050’ presented at the British Embassy in Tokyo at a seminar and reception co-hosted by Gideon Franklin Ltd.

Going into 2019, the world looks wobbly. From Brazil to Italy, more populists are in power, the global economy is more fragile than it was a year ago, the markets are jittery, a trade war between America and China is under way, technology (and giant tech companies) arouse growing angst and the rules-based international order is under threat. That makes this a tricky time for predictions, but also an intriguing one.

What do The Economist’s journalists and our guest contributors foresee for the year ahead? Here are a dozen takeaways.

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 (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.