Predictions for 2016

Written by  //  January 9, 2016  //  Nicholson musings and messages  //  Comments Off on Predictions for 2016

Year-end musings and predictions for 2015


Why the new year starts on Jan. 1, a terrible time for renewal
(WaPost) … despite the various options at our avail — phases of the moon, equinoxes, solstices — our new year starts during a practical dead zone in the natural world. January is no time for renewal and rejuvenation. It’s a time for hunkering down, eating stores of food, and surviving — at least for those of us in the northern part of the Northern Hemisphere.
Jan. 1 isn’t the only New Year’s Day; many religious and cultural communities also observe their own calendars. But much of the world abides by the Gregorian calendar’s solar dating system to organize civil life. And its start, on Jan. 1, is the byproduct of a political and religious history that few know much about anymore.

Quartz weekend round-up: The new year brings new beginnings—fresh thinking, honest assessments, and a general determination to do things better. This rarely lasts.
And so it goes in 2016, which within a week has already dashed many hopes for happier times. China’s persistent meddling in its markets has mostly backfired, sending jitters through global markets, especially in developing economies. The cold war between Iran and Saudi Arabia is heating up. The conflict in Syria is as horrifying as ever. North Korea provocatively tested some sort of bomb near the Chinese border. America’s social ills brought its president to tears on national television.
First impressions matter, and 2016 hasn’t made a great one. Indeed, one high-profile consultancy says that 2016 is shaping up to be “the most volatile and challenging” year in a very long time. That’s disconcerting, given how lousy last year was, in many ways.

10 Conflicts to Watch in 2016
From Syria to the South China Sea, the conflicts and crises the world will face in the coming year.
(Foreign Policy) This year’s list of 10 is weighted toward wars with the worst humanitarian consequences: Syria and Iraq, South Sudan, Afghanistan, Yemen, and the Lake Chad basin. It includes those in influential and functioning states, like Turkey, as well as those that have collapsed, like Libya. It features conflicts that are already bad but are poised to get much worse without intelligent intervention, such as Burundi, as well as tensions, such as those in the South China Sea, that are simmering but have yet to boil over. The list also considers the hopeful example presented by Colombia, where considerable progress is being made toward ending a 51-year insurgency.

What will happen in 2016?
Space explorers, genetic scientists, US voters, terrorists and hackers look set to dominate our world next year – but don’t rule out the odd pleasant surprise
(The Guardian) Never make predictions, especially about the future. So said Mark Twain, Yogi Berra or Niels Bohr – or possibly all three.
But if you must, there are really only two options: play safe and go for the obvious, or come up with forecasts so giddily optimistic that no one will take you seriously.
Using the former approach, 2016 will produce more tragedy in Syria and Yemen, an uninterrupted stream of refugees into Europe, another iteration of the Grexit crisis, deepening drought in the Chinese east and American west, and further hacking misadventure on both state and corporate levels. And an awful lot of summits to try to deal with all of the above.
Corruption will continue to excoriate three-quarters of the world’s polities – leaving the vast majority of humanity disillusioned and increasingly unlikely to vote. Ditto sport. The global economy is due another rout, probably starting in Asia

2016 will be a year of living dangerously for the global economy
As oil prices fall further, China slows and Brazil risks collapse, cracks will be papered over and the scene set for a new implosion
At some point, a recovery built on booming asset prices, weak growth in earnings and rising personal debt is going to lead to another huge financial crisis – but not in the next 12 months.
Instead, 2016 will be a year of living dangerously, papering over cracks and buying time before all the old problems resurface.
… prediction number one for next year is that both inflation and interest rates will stay lower for longer than currently anticipated. The Fed raised interest rates for the first time in almost a decade earlier this month, but will be extremely cautious about its next move. The Bank of England will hold off from its first move. Cheap money will boost both borrowing and – for a time – growth.
The next theme of 2016 will be China, where the question is not whether the pace of growth will slacken, but by how much. …
Brazil is the country to watch out for. It is the biggest economy in Latin America and in serious trouble. The economy is contracting at its fastest rate since the 1930s, inflation is above 10%, the currency has collapsed and the finance minister has just resigned. A visit from the International Monetary Fund may be unavoidable.
This is a case of history threatening to repeat itself, because the buildup to the 2008 crisis began on the periphery of the global economy. So, here is my final prediction: there will be no explosion in 2016, but a fuse will be lit.

Iran-Saudi Arabia, president Trump: 2016 is a year full of fat tail risks
(Quartz) The geopolitical landscape in 2016 is notable for the prevalence of fatter ‘tail risks’—low probability, high impact events that tend to shake global markets. By definition, these risks are highly unlikely to materialize and very difficult to predict, so by no means are we forecasting any doomsday scenarios. None of these risks will warrant mention in Eurasia Group’s Top Risks for 2016, which predicts (with impressive accuracy) the high-impact political risks most likely to materialize in the year ahead.That said, the level of risk embedded in these tails is important to note, if only because the chances of one (or more) event actually occurring is clearly higher than in the recent past. In other words, the probabilities are sufficient higher than zero to require monitoring. The sky is almost certainly not going to fall—but if it does, one of the following will probably help bring it down:
A “mega” attack on the United States
Risks emanating from the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria’s (ISIS) more aggressive global strategy—including that of a ‘mega’ (hundreds-or-thousands of casualties) terrorist attack in the United States—have sharpened following recent attacks in Paris and Egypt, as well as the ISIS-inspired mass shooting in California.
Russia-NATO conflict
… the combination of Russian, American, British and French bombs targeting a wide range of targets but only one common enemy (ISIS) is a toxic brew of tail risks.
Chinese expansionism in the South China Sea has already sparked renewed US freedom-of-navigation runs and may well prompt more, with correspondingly aggressive Chinese reactions. January’s election in Taiwan will likely bring the assertively independent Democratic Progressive Party to power, producing immediate tensions with the mainland and bringing the Taiwan issue back to the forefront of US-China relations just in time for the US presidential race. Meanwhile, the persistent threat that cyber espionage will devolve into a more physical confrontation between the two powers continues to loom.
Iran-Saudi Arabia
More intense proxy conflicts between Iran and Saudi Arabia can be expected in Syria, Yemen, Iraq, and possibly Lebanon—and a corresponding increase in the (still low) risk of a direct Iran-Saudi military confrontation. A destabilizing Saudi succession battle or a drawn-out battle for the Yemeni capital Sana’a could be the trigger, among others.
North Korea
Kim Jong-un’s opaque, totalitarian, and nuclear-armed regime is the very definition of a “fat tail” risk: high-impact events like a sustained attack on South Korea or even the use of nuclear weapons are not only possible in 2016—they are also effectively impossible to predict.
President Trump
Trump stands as good a chance as ever to win the GOP nomination and give likely Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton a run for her (or his) money. The resulting unpredictability in economic, social and foreign policy making in the world’s most powerful country is a risk to watch–if only to make sure it doesn’t materialize.

eurasia Group Top Risks 2016The Eurasia Group adds these Top Risks 2016:
The rise of technologists: A variety of highly influential non-state actors from the world of technology are entering the realm of politics with unprecedented assertiveness. These newly politically ambitious technologists are numerous and diverse, with profiles ranging from Silicon Valley corporations to hacker groups and retired tech philanthropists. The political rise of these actors will generate pushback from governments and citizens, generating both policy and market volatility.
Unpredictable leaders: An unusually wide constellation of leaders known for their erratic behavior will make international politics exceptionally volatile this year. Russia’s Vladimir Putin and Turkey’s Recep Tayyip Erdogan are leaders of an unruly pack that includes Saudi Arabia’s Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and – to a lesser but important extent – Ukraine’s Petro Poroshenko. These unpredictable leaders make our list for 2016 because their interventions overlap and conflict. One powerful, erratic leader spells trouble; four spell volatility with major international implications.
Brazil: President Dilma Rousseff is fighting for her political survival, and the country’s political and economic crisis is set to worsen in 2016. Contrary to hopes among pundits and many market players, the battle over Rousseff’s impeachment is unlikely to end the current political stalemate. Should the president survive, her government won’t gain the political boost necessary to move on the economic reforms needed to tackle the country’s growing fiscal deficit. If Rousseff is ousted, an administration led by Vice President Michel Temer won’t fare much better.
Not enough elections: Emerging markets underwent a historic cycle of national elections in 2014-2015, but this year there are relatively few opportunities for EM voters to make themselves heard at the ballot box. As slower growth and stagnating living standards stoke popular discontent, governance and stability will suffer. Historically, markets have been less volatile in non-election years, but this time will be different. By raising popular expectations, the massive income growth that most EMs enjoyed over the past 10 years has created conditions for a rude awakening.
Turkey: After a decisive victory for his AK party in late-2015, President Erdogan will now push to replace the country’s parliamentary system with a presidential one. He’s unlikely to reach his goal in 2016, but his aggressive electioneering will further damage an already battered Turkish business and investment climate. On the security front, there is little prospect of an imminent end to PKK violence, and unrelenting US pressure on Ankara to clamp down on the Islamic State will produce only modest results while making Turkey more vulnerable to new attacks by ISIS.
Red Herrings: US voters aren’t going to elect a president who will close the country to Muslims. China’s economy isn’t headed for a hard landing, and its politics will remain stable. Continued strong leadership from Japan’s Shinzo Abe, India’s Narendra Modi, and especially China’s Xi Jinping will keep Asia’s three most important players focused on economic reform and longer-term strategy, reducing the risk of conflict in Asia’s geopolitics.

Israelis, Palestinians look ahead with conflicting views
As 2015 closes during a wave of violence, hawkish Israelis in the government say their country is thriving despite criticism, while Palestinians say a lack of leadership and harsh Israeli policies point to a gloomy 2016.
Peace talks collapsed last year. In the shadow of the stalemated peace process, violence has erupted. Since mid-September Palestinians have killed 20 Israelis in stabbings, shootings and vehicular attacks, while Israelis have killed at least 129 Palestinians, including 81 said by Israel to be assailants.
Israel blames Palestinian leaders for incitement to violence; Palestinians say the attacks stem from despair of achieving independence from Israeli military rule.

Mostly, but not exclusively, Canadian
2016: 12 big events that will make news in the year ahead
Postponed provincial polls, a big birthday and the U.S. election make the list for 2016
(CBC) 2016 is a leap year, a summer Olympics year, a U.S. presidential election year and the international year of pulses.
Glad to mark May 10: Census Day on our calendar – as StatsCan returns to using the mandatory long-form census in 2016.

A happy new year for Europe?
Carl Bildt: A year or two from now, the EU will look very different.
As the European Union prepares to enter the new year, it faces an almost perfect storm of political challenges. The strategy it has used in the past – barely muddling through a series of calamities – may no longer be enough.
Of course, the EU is no stranger to crisis management. The euro crisis, for example, was widely expected to destroy it; but, after a couple of years of tough summits, the issue was more or less managed. Greece remains in poor shape, but it has retained its EU and eurozone membership. And the EU now has stronger mechanisms for economic-policy coordination.
But the situation today is far more demanding than anything the EU has seen so far – not least because of the number of serious challenges it faces. Far from the “ring of friends” that EU leaders once envisioned, the European neighbourhood has turned into a “ring of fire,” fuelled largely by the combination of Islamist terrorism and Russian aggression in eastern Ukraine.

Insiders give their top predictions for 2016
Get ready for a Ted Cruz-Nikki Haley ticket. And a GOP establishment freak-out in January.
(Politico) Donald Trump will win the GOP presidential nomination and pick Mike Huckabee as his running mate. The FBI will file criminal charges related to Hillary Clinton’s use of a home-brew email server as secretary of state. A Ted Cruz-Nikki Haley GOP ticket will defeat a Hillary Clinton-Tim Kaine Democratic ticket to claim the White House.

Barnaby Phillips: Ten predictions for 2016
What will be the biggest news events of 2015? Here are 10 predictions for what the next 12 months have in store.
(Al Jazeera) first, take a look at the predictions I made this time a year ago I think I did fairly well, although there are some obvious mistakes.
I called the Nigerian election wrong. And I failed to predict the dramatic events which have shaken Europe; the terror attacks on Paris in January and November, and the huge influx of refugees, mainly from Syria.
Anyway, here are some predictions [educated guesses might be more accurate] on what could happen in 2016.
Donald Trump will not be the Republican candidate, but whoever is will be beaten by Hillary Clinton in November.
Britain will vote in a referendum on whether to leave the EU. … the British will decide, by a narrow margin, to stay in the EU.
In Syria there are reasons to believe that 2016 may be a year of dramatic change after five years of grinding war. … I don’t know how events will actually play out through the complex and deadly web of national and international interests, but I believe ISIL will continue to lose territory in both Syria and Iraq … and that some sort of ceasefire will be signed to end the worst of the fighting in the west of the country.
I believe Spain will require another general election in 2016, after the inconclusive vote of December 2015.
In Uganda, President Yoweri Museveni will celebrate 30 years in power with victory in yet another election. His Zimbabwean counterpart, Robert Mugabe, is another ageing autocrat with no intention of going anywhere. But 2016 will be marked by fighting within the ruling Zanu-PF over the succession. Mugabe’s wife, Grace, will become increasingly assertive and powerful
Oil prices will stay low all year, much to the consternation of countries such as Nigeria, Angola, Venezuela and Russia. But what of the big Arab oil producers such as Saudi Arabia? If the commitments made at the COP21 summit in December 2015 are to mean anything, much of their precious black stuff will have to remain in the ground in the decades to come.
Looking for good news in this troubled world? Keep an eye on Cyprus, an island divided since 1974. “The Cyprus Problem” has defeated international diplomats for decades, but there are hopeful signs that Greek and Turkish leaders on the island are actually serious about reunification.

Global Conflicts 2016The Global Conflicts to Watch in 2016
Concerns about the Middle East, and especially Syria, have displaced other threats.
(The Atlantic) Consider, for example, the results of a new survey of American foreign-policy experts and practitioners by the Council on Foreign Relations’ Center for Preventive Action. Nearly 500 respondents estimated the likelihood and impact on U.S. interests of 30 potential conflicts in 2016. These conflicts were then sorted into three tiers of risk to America.
A deepening of the Syrian conflict “resulting from increased external support for warring parties, including military intervention by outside powers” was rated both highly likely and high-impact—the only “contingency” in the study to be ranked so gravely.
The countries in red below represent all conflicts that were assessed as either highly likely to occur/intensify or high-impact, meaning the contingency could threaten the U.S. mainland, spark U.S. military involvement because of mutual-defense treaty commitments, or endanger the supply of strategic U.S. resources. (The annual CFR report focuses on political- or security-related scenarios rather than economic crises, extreme-weather events, and other types of disasters; you can find the results of previous surveys here and here.)
The findings are perhaps less a forecast of things to come than a reflection of the primary concerns among experts heading into 2016. The map doesn’t necessarily depict where fighting, instability, or humanitarian suffering will be most acute; instead, it offers a sense what U.S. policymakers and crisis-managers might see when they look out onto the world, weigh America’s strategic interests, and decide how to allocate their finite time and resources in the coming year.
President Obama may believe America’s future lies in Asia, but the Middle East endures as the capital of American preoccupation. As Paul Stares, the report’s lead author, writes, “Of the eleven contingencies classified as Tier 1 priorities, all but three are related to events unfolding” in the Mideast. Several stem from the Syrian Civil War.
Among the scenarios in this high-priority tier of conflict are a mass-casualty attack on the U.S. homeland; a major cyberattack on U.S. critical infrastructure; a crisis with or in North Korea over, say, nuclear-weapons testing or political tumult in Pyongyang; increased fighting between Kurdish groups and Turkish forces, aggravated by the Syrian Civil War; a deterioration in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict; political disarray in Libya and Egypt; and Iraq splintering further as a result of ISIS advances and Sunni-Shiite violence.
Another worry appeared for the first time in the survey: “political instability in EU countries stemming from the influx of refugees and migrants, with heightened civil unrest, isolated terrorist attacks, or violence against refugees and migrants.” And this judgment was made before ISIS’s November attacks in Paris; the survey concluded the day of the rampage.

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