The World In 2014–Britain and Europe


Every year at this time, besides the personal planning I do for the coming year, I relax and read the Economist’s Double Holiday Issue and look through their special report The World in 2014.    I am taking notes on the various articles during the next few days to see what The Economist predicts will be the most significant global events that will take place in the coming year.   The reason why I’m doing this is not just to gain an understanding of these events before they happen, but to preserve a record so that next year at this time, I can look back and see how well the events were (or were not) predicted.

A.   BRITAIN

Scotland will vote on whether to remain a part of the United Kingdom in the summer of 2014.    The Scottish National Party, led by Alex Salmond, is pushing for independence.    However, the majority of Scots don’t want independence, but rather more powers for their country, which was the direction the country had been quietly heading on anyway.

The British economy will face an upturn, but with high employment holding workers wages down.     The coalition government between the Conservative prime minister David Cameron and his Liberal Democrat deputy Nick Clegg will complete its fourth year in May 2014.

B.  GERMANY

The parliamentary election at the end of 2013 was messy.   A small majority of Germans voted for center-right parties, but these were balanced by the three left parties, leaving Mrs. Merkel to broker the stalemate between the left and right.     The main problems to be dealt with will be the euro crisis and the transition of the economy to run on renewable forms of energy.

C.  FRANCE

The Socialists will face increasing discontent due to lacklustre economic growth and a 16-year high in the unemployment rate.    The biggest political upset will come from the gains made by the far-right National Front party headed by Marine Le Pen.

D.  SPAIN

The five-year double dip recession will end, but the recovery in jobs and household incomes will lag.    If this lag continues, the centre-right People’s party currently in power may be in trouble in 2015.

E.  ITALY

The longest recession since the second world war should end in 2014, with a miniscule growth rate of 0.2%.   It will take until 2015 for the recovery to really feel like it has taken hold.

F.  TURKEY

The brutal police crackdown that occurred in late May 2013 has caused the reputation of the prime minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, to suffer irreparably.    In order for him to become president, he will have to hand power to somebody else, probably to Mr Gul, a much more popular figure.   This political turmoil will come during a time of economic difficulty for Turkey.    If these problems weren’t enough, there will be spillover from the civil war next door in Syria.   Turkey will probably be in a mood to try new leadership under Mr Gul to handle these problems.

G.  RUSSIA

How long will Putin’s rule last?    There were mixed signals from Mr. Putin on whether he would stop his slide towards authoritarianism.    The problems with the economy will continue, with annual growth down to 1.5%.   His strategy was to divert the people’s attention with various nationalist, anti-American, xenophobic and homophobic movements.    It will remain to be seen whether Russia gets an international PR boost from the winter Olympics in February 2014.

The main foreign policy issues will be the easing of diplomatic tension with the west over the fate of Syria’s Assad regime, and the reaction to Ukraine’s decision to have closer ties to the European Union.   One thing is for sure:   Russia will not be easy to deal with internationally, no matter what happens at home.

 

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