Nov 272014

One of the annual features in The Economist is it’s World In… edition where the magazine makes predictions on the year ahead.

For 2015 the magazine has its usual wide range predictions; some safe, some risky and some out of left field, like Papua New Guinea topping the world growth lists for next year on the back on a new LNG plant comping online.

Economy: The fastest-growing economy in the world in 2015 will be Papua New Guinea, where GDP will expand by nearly 15%. China will drop its growth target to 7% (from 7.5%). Overall, global growth will be higher in 2015 (3.8%) than in 2014 (3.2%).

Business: Singapore tops the Economist Intelligence Unit’s global business environment rankings for 2015. Watch out for Xiaomi, a Chinese mobile-phone maker, as it continues its meteoric rise and goes global. And expect a welcome return, at least in some places, to the nine-to-five culture in the

Interest rates: In the United States and Britain, where growth is relatively robust and unemployment is coming down, interests rates will start to rise in 2015, ending a long period of ultra-low rates. In the euro zone and Japan, by contrast, central banks will continue to ease monetary policy, to battle against deflation. The diverging paths of the main central banks will lead to more volatility in equity,

Statistical landmarks: It will be a year of striking “crossovers”, as America overtakes Saudi Arabia to become the world’s biggest oil producer, China overtakes America to become the world’s biggest economy (measured at purchasing-power parity) and Facebook overtakes China in terms of its

Elections: Britain will have another hung parliament after its general election in May, with David
Cameron probably remaining prime minister. But Canada’s leadership is likely to change hands in an October election, with the Liberals’ Justin Trudeau taking the helm.

The environment: A deal of sorts will emerge from the Paris summit in December 2015. Hydrogen- powered cars will hit the road, as Toyota and Honda launch the first mass-market fuel-cell models. And Australia will be in the global spotlight as the UN decides whether the Great Barrier Reef should be put on the endangered list.

Technology: “Wearable” technology will be all the rage, thanks to the launch of the Apple Watch and other devices. Virtual-reality firms will overcome the cost and technology problems that have prevented their products from becoming mass-market hits. And mobile phones will become mind-readers, thanks to “anticipatory computing”, which enables them to trawl their users’ data to predict events

Sport: Australia will win the cricket World Cup, New Zealand will win the rugby World Cup and the United States will win the women’s football World Cup.

Space: America’s New Horizons spacecraft will fly by Pluto, after a journey of nearly nine years – maybe igniting a campaign to reinstate Pluto as a fully-fledged planet from its current “dwarf” status.

Some of the predictions are obvious while others may be a bit longer term than 2015. Overall it’s an interesting range of predictions and in the next few days I’ll post an interview with two of The Economist’s editors, Vijay V. Vaitheeswaran and Daniel Franklin, justifying their forecasts for the year ahead.

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