John Richards’s Predictions for 2012
Since our previous predictions have proved fairly accurate, I am going to stick my neck out and give some fairly specific best-guesses for the next year. I must give the health warning that these are only extrapolations of present trends, and do not take account of currently unforeseeable events – which, of course, always occur.
First, the good news: the world as a whole should avoid a full recession in 2012 – emphasise the word should. All the bad news should not be allowed to obscure the fact that global business is growing, albeit slowly. Recovery from 2008 should not be expected to be spectacular, but it ought to continue, so long as everyone keeps their heads.
Alas, the bad news is that they are unlikely to keep them in Europe. The latest scheme to save the euro, FU (Fiscal Union), does not address its underlying problems. I predict the euro will survive, but not in its current form. Sooner or later, its weaker members must leave the single currency, for their own good as much as the euro’s. Yet there will be more time and money wasted before the EU’s leaders are forced to accept this obvious truth.
I can also see no end to the economic stagnation of the United States. Political gridlock will continue until the November elections. President Obama will then be re-elected fairly comfortably – not because he offers any solutions, but because he has more money, because he retains the uncritical support of most of the mainstream media, and because his Republican opponents look more and more like a suicide cult.
The second terms of re-elected Presidents are usually disappointing: it seems unlikely that Obama II will come up with a real vision for America’s economic recovery given that there has been no sign of such a vision so far in Obama I. Mr Obama was elected on a platform of Change; his probable re-election will mean No Change.
However, there is now more to the global economy than the old Western Powers. A sign of the times is that Brazil has just overtaken the UK to become the sixth biggest economy on Earth. This is not a negative reflection on the UK – where the outlook is not too bad so long as the British can keep their distance from the euro debacle – but one more indicator of the massive power shift that is taking place in the world. That may be bad news for the moribund economies of the West, but good news for the rest of the planet, and for those American, British, and European businesses who see what is happening and look for new opportunities where the growth is.