Looking to the Future: Our Predictions for 2019

Our take on where the world is going.

GAME CHANGERS
Times change and we change with them - yet, to meet the changes we need at least some idea of what is happening and where the world is heading.

We offer our list of predictions for the coming year.

In 2019, the world's population will reach 7.7 billion. Out of context this figure means little. Together with the growing purchasing power of people in China and India, it means a shift in the world’s politics and economy to the Asia-Pacific. Arguably, this is the most dramatic change for the western civilization in five hundred years.

Although there has been a lot of talk about it, the change will come as a surprise.

This is not about the size of Asian Pacific economies per se. In 2019 it will become apparent that the very structure of the economies has changed. Dependence on the outside world will be a thing of the past, domestic demand will become the locomotive of the economy.

Greater political independence will follow. The voices of China and India in the global political arena will be stronger than ever before.

For the world’s economy it will be a difficult year. It seemed, at one point, that the trade wars were coming to an end and the storm had passed by.

Unfortunately, this is not so. Trade wars, the highest in history income stratification, the economic crisis in the European Union - these are all factors that indicate a pessimistic scenario.

Yet, we hope that lessons of history were learnt, reason will prevail and by the end of the year the situation will begin to improve.

In 2019, Russia and Japan will sign a peace treaty. This will lead to protest sentiments in both countries. However, the need to resolve the matter will force politicians to take this step.

Russia will cede southern Kuril Islands to Japan in exchange for the guarantees of their demilitarized status and joint use of the Sea of Okhotsk.

The situation around Brexit is becoming increasingly alarming which gives pro-Europe activists hope for a second referendum. Opinion polls shows that in such a case those who believe that leaving the European Union was a mistake would win.

These hopes will not come true. Theresa May’s negotiations with the opposition will fail and the country will sleep walk into hard Brexit.

Thus, the Canada Plus scenario, based on a trade agreement resembling the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement, becomes the most realistic development.

In 2019, we expect an economic crisis in the European Union due to the difficult situation in Italy. The Giuseppe Conte’s government will not succumb to EU pressure and will carry on with the populist agenda. This would put the Eurocrats in a difficult position. However, the fall of Italy is unacceptable and the EU will have to find money for Italy.

We expect some kind of escalation around Russia. This is due to the fact that the construction of Nord Stream - 2 and Turkish Stream pipelines is entering its final phase. Yet, we believe that both pipelines will be built. Also, the conflict in Syria will be over, which completes the transformation of Russia into a global energy power.

The United States will leave the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty .The decision has already been made, the only question is how to present it to the world.

In the field of technology, we predict the emergence of 5G computers. The main news, however, will not be the technological breakthrough, as remarkable as it is, but the lack of enthusiasm, and even indifference, among the general public.

In 2019 we would love to see self-driving cars on public roads. Most likely, this will not happen due to legal issues.

Internet giants Facebook and Google will have a hard time. Their position will be challenged by Amazon or WeChat, who know how to make money yet they have grown to the level of social networks in terms of the number of users. In 2019 we will see the convergence of these models.

In the restaurant market, the main trend will be a change in the menus according to how Instagrammable the food is. This trend has been evident for some time: sales data show an unprecedented growth in demand for rosé wines. Apparently, this is due to the fact that it looks better on social networks.

Next year, people will become genuinely concerned about protecting their data. We will see what we experienced in the mid-1990s when antivirus software became big business. Services such as VPNs, ad blockers, webcam protection, storage of passwords and other confidential information will no longer be a niche market for geeks but will become standard.

Published: December 18, 2018