Monday 1 December 2008

The World in 2009

The World in 2009, published by The Economist, 162pp., £5.50.

This magazine was an ideal read for a couple of long train journeys I had to do recently. It’s a mixture of comment on projected issues and events of 2009, along with some soft predictions and speculations, largely limited to politics and economics but with some popular culture references, divided into twelve main areas:

• Leaders (Barack Obama, global economy, sustainability, financial services, abolition of nuclear weapons, Galileo and Darwin anniversaries, social networking websites and privacy, the English language topping a million words – on 29 April!)

• Britain (Gordon Brown’s chances of political survival, the debate over Scotland, manufacturing renaissance, recession, economy, London).

• Europe (European Union, increased ease of travel, Germany’s election, economy in France and Spain, NATO’s 60th birthday, Silvio Berlusconi’s reforms, priorities of Spain’s prime minister, Russia’s resurgence, Ukraine’s relations with Russia, capitalism, lingering conflicts).

• United States (Barack Obama’s inauguration, Guantánamo Bay, economy, saving habits, debts of African-Americans, violent crime, opinion from Henry Kissinger).

• The Americas (Latin America economies, Cuba’s oil, clashes in Canada, Brazil).

• Asia (Asia’s economies, military surges in Afghanistan, India’s elections, post-Olympics China, Japanese politics, Australia and climate-change, Indonesia’s elections, Kevin Rudd’s hopes for Australia).

• Middle East and Africa (Iraq, a nuclear Iran, Israel’s angst, Gulf money, emerging markets in sub-Saharan Africa, digital mapping of Africa, Arab countries embracing innovations in education).

• International (multilateral diplomacy, long-shot predictions, Beijing’s giant [208m] observation wheel, claims on the seabed, museum building, ageing populations, centenary of Isaiah Berlin’s birth).

• The environment (Copenhagen conference in November, energy alternatives, eco-cities, green politics, green IT, climate-related disasters, green cars, water shortage).

• Business (the corporate crunch, India’s middle classes, no-nonsense brands, emerging economies, use of smells by retailers, Barbie turns 50, increased numbers of Chinese tourists, job prospects after the downturn, changes in healthcare, the role of chief financial officers, a good year for farmers, re-embracing globalisation).

• Finance (balance between governments and markets, microcredit, derivatives, banking misery, banking winners, the markets, currencies, the reshaping of the global financial system).

• Science (NASA’s Kepler telescope and what it will see, humans as ‘human-microbe hybrids’, gene therapy, the Boulby underground laboratory, fin-driven devices, a tipping-point in brain research).

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