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The Economist: The World in 2009
November 27, 2008 7:00 PM   Subscribe

In 2009, a remarkably gifted politician, confronting a remarkably difficult set of challenges, will have to learn to say "No we can't", Guantánamo will prove a moral minefield, economic recovery will be invisible to the naked eye, governments must prepare for the day they stop financial guarantees, we will judge our commitment to sustainability, scientists should research the causes of religion, we will all be potential online paparazzi, English will have more words than any other language (but it's meaningless), Afghanistan will see a surge of Western (read: American) troops, Iran will continue its nuclear quest while diplomacy lies in shambles, the sea floor is the new frontier, we should rethink aging, (non-)voters will continue to thwart the European project -- but cheap travel will continue to buoy it -- though it has some unfinished business to attend to, and a Nordic defence bond will blossom.

The Economist: The World in 2009.

Previously: 2008, 2007.

How did we do last time around? And what will we probably be wrong about this time?


Guest contributions:

President of Brazil Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva seeks greater international cooperation and sees a growing global role for the larger emerging economies.

Queen of Jordan Rania calls for education reform.

Prime Minister of Australia Kevin Rudd calls upon mid-size powers to be creative and effective with their influence.

Prime Minister of Spain José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero emphasizes the importance of transparency and solidarity in Europe.

Prime Minister of Ukraine Yulia Tymoshenko, wedged between Russia and the EU, cites historical precedent.

Former Secretary of State of the United States, Nobel Peace Prize laureate Henry Kissinger argues America will be less powerful, but will still be the essential nation in creating a new world order.

Mayor Boris Johnson of London argues against over-regulation.


Elections to watch: Brazil, Chile, European Parliament, Germany, Indonesia, Israel, Japan.


Also: Russia will enter its first real difficult years under Putin, Brown might not make it, we won't ban nukes but we can pretend, Ontario will receive economic help from other provinces, Australians will grow ever more thirsty, and Britain needs to make stuff again.


World in 2009 blog.
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane (31 comments total) 33 users marked this as a favorite

 
I'm blind.
posted by gman at 7:20 PM on November 27, 2008 [1 favorite]


Their EU predictions are a mixed review. Interesting stuff.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 7:21 PM on November 27, 2008


I'm just commenting so the comments go further down the page than the tags.
posted by pompomtom at 7:21 PM on November 27, 2008 [1 favorite]


well the tags are great way to quickly see the challenges the world faces, no?
posted by infini at 7:31 PM on November 27, 2008


"Looks at tags"

"Looks at post'

"runs screaming toward the horizon"
posted by The Whelk at 7:37 PM on November 27, 2008 [1 favorite]


Impressive. And terrifying.

These adjectives apply to both the post and the subject of the post.
posted by AdamCSnider at 7:46 PM on November 27, 2008


Finally, there are more than 100 inmates who are considered too risky to release, but against whom there is not enough evidence to prosecute them.

Fair trial or GTFO.
posted by TheOnlyCoolTim at 7:47 PM on November 27, 2008 [7 favorites]


Wow. Its rare that I get a metafilter post so deep that I need my Christmas holidays to get through its entirety. This is benthic in scale. I look forward to the challenge, but could you maybe next time warm me up with some lolcats?
Now I got some readingz to do.

(fantastic post - immense. Like the big big bailout - I'm actually taken aback at the scale of it all.)
posted by isopraxis at 7:51 PM on November 27, 2008


This is great. We only need one post per month now!
posted by rokusan at 7:53 PM on November 27, 2008 [1 favorite]


Nobel Peace Prize laureate Henry Kissinger argues America will be less powerful, but will still be the essential nation in creating a new world order.

"You want fries with that?"

Sorrrry. Sorry.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 8:01 PM on November 27, 2008


Kissinger my ass.
posted by isopraxis at 8:10 PM on November 27, 2008


"The illegal we do immediately. The unconstitutional takes a little longer." - Henry Kissinger
posted by netbros at 8:24 PM on November 27, 2008 [3 favorites]


Finally, there are more than 100 inmates who are considered too risky to release, but against whom there is not enough evidence to prosecute them.

...and you've got a no-fly list with hundreds of thousands of names on it, of people who are far too dangerous to be allowed on a plane but who somehow haven't done anything they can be so much as detained, much less arrested for. Didn't you guys have some sort of revolution at some point, so that the local authorities explicitly weren't allowed to do this sort of thing?
posted by mhoye at 8:33 PM on November 27, 2008 [4 favorites]


scientists should research the causes of religion

The dark. There, saved them the work.
posted by Roman Graves at 8:38 PM on November 27, 2008 [6 favorites]


I'm usually a big fan of the Economist but that article on aging is not up to scratch
posted by storybored at 8:43 PM on November 27, 2008


> The second reason to carry on reading is that, oddly enough, getting predictions right or wrong is not all that matters.

I just failed! Now let me lecture (didacticizationize, +1) you about why failing doesn't matter and why you should give me another shot.
posted by shadytrees at 8:45 PM on November 27, 2008


Disaster is immediate, recovery is slow, and golden ages aren't realized until they're wiped out by the next disaster.

I don't expect Super President. I don't even expect a left-of-center president. I just expect better than what we had with Bush.

Clearly, the refrain of "One side is just as bad as the other" has been firmly laid to rest. Compare Clinton with Bush - on every front - and Clinton, the realpolotik way-right-of-center glad-hander, is the clear winner: Peace, prosperity and fruitful prosecution of terrorist enemies. (Timothy McVeigh and the Unibomber and Omar Abdel-Rahman and Aimal Kasi? Caught, tried fairly, sentenced appropriately. No special kangaroo courts or secret prisons needed.)

Clinton's worst legal blunder as president? Blow job from an intern. Bush? Torture of innocent people for being the wrong race and religion.

So, if Barack Obama is even half the President that Clinton was, he'll be twice the President Bush was. I'll take it in a New York City minute.

From what we've seen of the man's campaign to put a black man with a muslim name in the White House, the guy's got some serious skills. He may just be what we need at the moment we need it... a post-punk Washington, Jefferson, Lincoln or Roosevelt(s)... or he may be just another schlub, doing the best he can with what he has.

Either way, he's a solid step in the right direction.
posted by Slap*Happy at 9:09 PM on November 27, 2008 [2 favorites]


From the first link:
Nevertheless, frustrations will mount, especially in his own party. With an economy in recession there will be protectionist growling from Congress which needs to be firmly resisted. There will also be reams of regulation. Many of the main Democratic constituencies have waited a long time to get their man in the White House: the unions will demand new labour rules; lawyers will want liability laws; greens will wage new environmental campaigns. All of these could slow down any economic recovery.

Ugh, what a bunch of B.S. Last month Barack Obama was one of those congressional democrats demanding protectionism. And while I personally prefer Free Trade + Welfare, politically that's a no-go in this country. There is real sound economics that shows Free Trade doesn't necessarily benefit every country, but in particular it increases inequality as various groups of workers in the basic country become redundant.

Now, you could have vigorous social safety net programs to prevent those displacements from being painful, or you can have protectionism. Or you can do what we've done, which is just to screw the economically and jack up inequality.

It's amazing how so many "centrist" conservatives write crap like this. That Obama couldn't possibly do all the, *ghasp* populist rhetoric spouted during the campaign. Couldn't possibly do the things he wanted to do because the economy is fucked!

It's also so damn arrogant.

Anyway, we'll see what happens. I suspect a lot of these conservatives are going to be dissapointed, though. Not because Obama is a super-liberal, but because they are wrong about the facts. It's them who cling to ideology, not the liberals. Their ideas are abject failures. They rant about the freemarket after 10 years of near zero stock market growth followed by a once a century collapse caused by deregulated securities. But of course, we can't have more regulation!
posted by delmoi at 9:30 PM on November 27, 2008 [1 favorite]


One interesting thing about these debates on doubting Obama's abilities to effect real change due to any number of reasons thrown up by the media, opinionators etc is that they seem to overlook the very real grassroots network that he has. This is the first politician with his own flickr, twitter, facebook, linkedin, myspace et al sites, our man is a 2.0 brand as well as a MSM brand and the former came first. One assumes he was online surfing within his communities way before he became "barack obama, global phenomenon" - an example perhaps of Hugh Mcleod's global microbrand turning macro

Everything he has said since accepting his victory as the future President of the United States of America has been to point out the very real challenges ahead for everyone to pull together and rebuild the nation, the economy, the communities and the social fabric of civic society.

If we, just as an example and for argument's sake, at MeFi can go away and do something as an online community (say gift giving or even the Kansan politician's internet fund raising or some such thing) what would be the effect of a number of such communities of people, all in Obama's social network going away to do their own thing, in their own daily life and work, as part of the larger movement towards manifesting his vision for change?

Would that not then be far far larger than anything he himself can do as an individual? the network effect, I believe it might be called

what if Barack Obama was a Mefite? for argument's sake (though a part of me hopes he is and he pops up to say hello ;p)

in this scenario, woulld his lack of influence of WDC political machine or press or whathave you make any difference?

I see a 2.0 presidency ahead...
posted by infini at 9:46 PM on November 27, 2008 [3 favorites]


From what we've seen of the man's campaign to put a black man with a muslim name in the White House
Slap*Happy, I know what you're saying is appreciative of Obama but I think describing his name as muslim is incorrect. Beware conflating ethnicity with religion. You could describe Barack as an arabic-derived name, but as we know not all arabs are muslim and not nearly all muslims are arabs.

Here is a fuller description of the source of his name:
In fact, "Barack" comes from the Swahili derivative of the Arabic word meaning "blessing." According to Yale University's "Kamusi Project" -- the "Internet Living Swahili Dictionary" -- the Swahili word "baraka," meaning "blessing," is derived from the Arabic word "bariki." According to a January 12, 2004, Copley News Service article: "In an interview last week, Obama said he decided to call himself Barack -- a Swahili derivative of Arabic that means 'blessed,' as 'baruch' does in Hebrew -- after his father died." (Source)
It is best described as a semitic name:
Barack is a Semitic word meaning "to bless" as a verb or "blessing" as a noun. In its Hebrew form, barak, it is found all through the Bible. It first occurs in Genesis 1:22: "And God blessed (ḇāreḵə ) them, saying, Be fruitful, and multiply, and fill the waters in the seas, and let fowl multiply in the earth."(Source)
The same for "Hussein". You could describe it as arabic. However it is best described as a semitic name. Names and words come from language families. Not from religions. Even if some names are more commonly used in some religions than others.

posted by Sitegeist at 10:38 PM on November 27, 2008 [3 favorites]


Hussein is a very common muslim name. David is a very common Christian or Jewish one. Ram or Shanker or Pradeep are extremely common Hindu names. The virtue of common cultural and social usage implies that in outlier cases, someone named Ram maybe profess to holding the Christian faith but for sure that does make it a "Christian" name.

(feels lost in this minefield of nuance)
posted by infini at 11:10 PM on November 27, 2008


Barack and Obama are clearly african names. Hussein is clearly a muslim name, and worse! A suuni arab name! One that a DICTATOR of a TERRORIST REGIME in IRAQ had as his patronym!

Obama's race and ethnicity were clearly handicaps that would have crippled any lesser politician for city council, never mind POTUS. That kind of deep, strategic thinking and leadership in times of adversity gives me guarded optimism.

(Blind loyalty is a =republican= thing.)
posted by Slap*Happy at 11:33 PM on November 27, 2008


Clearly some people are finding this a bit of a treat, but y'know a ton of links to essentially the same place only really adds up to a one-link post. In this case to a very mainstream periodical. I find the Economist a bit meh myself, like a dull accountant uncle who thinks wearing a bow tie makes him a bit of a character - but more to the point, I know where it is.

YMMV, etc
posted by Phanx at 11:45 PM on November 27, 2008 [5 favorites]


Before you believe the predictions for 2009, glance back at a few they made for 2008, like this one. I always wondered why economists don't all quit forecasting and live off their stock picks the same way I wonder why psychics don't win every lottery.
posted by Bitter soylent at 1:25 AM on November 28, 2008


delmoi: "They rant about the freemarket after 10 years of near zero stock market growth"

Oh please. 10 years ago we were on the up leg of the dot-com boom. Of course growth compared to the previous boom is going to look terrible. The trend from Q2 2002 up until Q2 2007 was pretty much equal in growth to the first (pre-boom) part of the 1990's. This is the sort of duplicitious misuse and oversimplification of statistics that we whine at the mass media for when they breathlessly exhort the latest wave of child rape or drug abuse numbers.
posted by public at 1:49 AM on November 28, 2008 [1 favorite]


From the Guantanamo piece:
The knottiest problem will be what to do with those who cannot be prosecuted but cannot sensibly be freed—and are still dangerous.
Um, hello, no it is not a knotty problem. You either prosecute them or let them go, period. To do anything else is both immoral and illegal. If they are really that dangerous you watch them after you let them go and when they do something you can prosecute them for, you catch them and do that. End of story.
posted by localroger at 5:20 AM on November 28, 2008 [2 favorites]


I think the theme music for this post is either this or this. Or maybe both of them, alternating.

In times of strife I turn to 80s music for comfort.
posted by BeerFilter at 8:14 AM on November 28, 2008


I don't understand why anybody buys the economist when their content is entirely predictable.
posted by Pope Guilty at 2:59 PM on November 28, 2008


A single PDF would've been nice. Anyway, great link!
posted by ZenMasterThis at 4:29 PM on November 28, 2008


You saved the Nordic Atlantic Treaty Organisation for last. Rightfully so, I say, because this issue dwarfs all of the others.
posted by twoleftfeet at 4:26 AM on November 29, 2008


Oh please. 10 years ago we were on the up leg of the dot-com boom. Of course growth compared to the previous boom is going to look terrible. The trend from Q2 2002 up until Q2 2007 was pretty much equal in growth to the first (pre-boom) part of the 1990's.

To bad all that growth was totally fake.
posted by delmoi at 9:43 PM on November 29, 2008


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