The World in 2016

From the editor

“The future ain’t what it used to be,” said Yogi Berra, and that’s true for this publication. Our first edition, The World in 1987, looked ahead to thawing relations between Ronald Reagan’s America and Mikhail Gorbachev’s Soviet Union. This time, in our 30th, we worry about an aggressive Russia and a muscle-flexing China—and explore things that were unheard-of three decades ago, such as m-commerce, fintech and three-parent babies.

To mark our 30th year, we have a special section on different ways of looking into the future. Contributors include a Canadian novelist, an American trend-spotter, an innovative Israeli designer-of-tomorrow and Australia’s favourite astrologer. Online, at, you will soon be able to click on an extended cover image to browse our selection of articles from all 30 editions.

As for 2016, the year can be summed up in three words: woes, women and wins. Woes will sadly abound in the Arab world, as people keep flooding out of Syria and other ravaged places; Europe’s handling of the migrant crisis will remain woefully inadequate. On the economic front there will be little to cheer: the performance of emerging markets, including a slowing China, will be disappointing, and will hold back global growth. Partly as a result corporate profits will also disappoint.

Women, meanwhile, will be at the heart of many of the biggest decisions of 2016. Investors will be watching for rate rises at Janet Yellen’s Federal Reserve. Hillary Clinton will be the candidate to beat in the race for the White House. Germany’s chancellor, Angela Merkel, will be at the forefront of the European Union’s response both to the migrant drama and to Britain’s demands in advance of its in-or-out referendum on EU membership. And Brazil’s president, Dilma Rousseff, faces a battle to resist impeachment.

Ms Rousseff will be hoping that some big wins provide a welcome distraction, as Rio stages the Summer Olympics. A carnival of sport awaits around the world. America has Super Bowl 50, France hosts the Euro 2016 football tournament and cricket-crazy India will win out in the T20 World Cup in March.

Other themes for 2016 range from the ocean to space and from cybercrime to religion. In this respect, at least, the future is just as it used to be: ripe for a feast of forecasting.

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