The year 2016 will be another mystifying one. Managing terrorism and economic disparities will dominate the international agenda. However, one event is certain: the US will have a new president. Hillary may scrape through. Women across the world will rejoice on her securing the most powerful global job. Hillary may not be the preeminent candidate in times of militant radicalism and economic instability, but then the US has not produced another leader of calibre. Hopefully, Hillary will deliver more than Obama. Obama could not contain terrorism nor manage a mercurial Putin. A glorious mandate was frittered away.
The European Union will hold despite the UK’s referendum on whether to stay in it. Angela Merkel, a high-quality manager, may lose some shine. Her playing mother to refugees will exasperate Germans weary of paying for the regeneration of erstwhile East Germany. The UK’s Cameroon will wrestle for a two percent growth. Putin will be confrontational and infuriate western leaders. With a negative GDP growth, Putin should focus on the home front. Brazil’s Dilma will battle moves for her impeachment over corruption in Petrobras.
China’s Xi will toil to avoid economic stagnation. However, Chinese factories will rust till the US orders more clothes, umbrellas and shoes. China’s deceleration has triggered a global plunge in prices of oil, metals and commodities. The Middle East will deal with low oil prices, the Syrian imbroglio and Islamic State (IS) aggrandisement. Syria and Yemen will haemorrhage till peace talks succeed. Most of Africa will edge forward.
Modi will tussle with realities at home. India is agitated with swarming streets, hazardous roads and much publicised rapes. People are searching for the promised smart cities, bullet trains, jobs, etc. It takes seconds to make an election promise. It takes decades to translate them into action. Modi has no execution team. The time for oratory is over. It is time for action.
The global economy will edge forward by 3.5 percent. The US will touch a growth rate of 2.5 percent. China’s growth will decline to six percent. India will gloat with a seven percent growth, though it will be inadequate to dent poverty. The BRIC Club stands dissolved. About 795 million people across the world will sleep hungry and 663 million people will lack access to drinking water. Oil prices may languish around $ 40 to $ 50 per barrel. Producing countries Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Iran and Iraq will tighten budgets due to stumpy revenues. They may slash production.
The world is producing ample wheat and cereals. Whilst field prices are stable, retail prices will augment two to five percent. Rotten storage infrastructure and trader manipulation will lead to a five to seven percent increase in food prices in Asian countries, including India. Stock markets will go limp. Gold may lose some shine: expect a price of $ 35 to $ 40 per gram. Whilst the world will inch forward economically, the poor will limp. The disparity between the rich and the poor will widen. The rich are short of options to invest; the poor rummage for work. As much as 50 percent of the wealth of the world belongs to one percent of its population. Remedies for cancer, HIV/Aids and global warming will be discussed at global symposiums but there will be no solutions.
India prides itself on its 1.3 billion population market. Yet 400 million Indians live below the poverty line of two dollars per day. India will be the most populated country by 2020. However, no leader has the guts to advocate population control. And 2,000 girls get killed in the womb every day, just because they are girls. E-commerce and M-commerce will gain momentum. Expect people to want some time to themselves and not be connected electronically all the time. Facebook, WhatsApp, dating apps and new fashion will fascinate the young. Scientists will be thrilled with ‘three-parent-babies’ in clinics.
In a quarrelsome world, a fortnight will be ruled by excellence and glory. At the Rio Olympics in August 2016, we will admire the best athletes, hurdlers and swimmers. Their pursuit for 1,000 medals will enthral us. Keep an eye on Bolt. Do not blink when he sprints for the 100 metre gold. The world will continue battering Mr Blatter. Football is money. So, every country wants to own the game. Blatter transformed football into a global fantasia. Respect his entrepreneurship. Djokovic will reign tennis grand slams. He is nimble, skilled, determined. However, Federer will continue to have more fans and evoke admiration for his élan. India may lift the trophy at the International Cricket Council (ICC) T20 cricket extravaganza in March. Virat may make more enemies due to his aggressive (read bad mannered) game. Cricket is etiquette. If you want to play abrasive, join football.
Hopefully we will see some significant Hollywood films with Al Pacino and Robert De Niro. Perhaps Bollywood will make relevant films like Haider. Madonna is fatigued so we wait for new talent. Hopefully, artists like Bachchan and Shah Rukh will act for a living instead of selling paints, chocolates and hair oils.
So, 2016 will be plagued by militant terrorism, average growth rates and weak global leadership. We will plod through a Chinese slowdown, low commodity and energy prices, a wobbly Middle East and shameful terrorist attacks on innocents. Global leaders must bond to fight the terrorist scourge. Every human life is precious, irrespective of nationality, religion or creed.