LONDON, England – The World in 2020, will be a testing year ahead, The Economist predicts citing decisions to be made in the US election and Brexit, concerns over a faltering world economy and worries about nuclear proliferation. But there will be many events to celebrate such as large global sports events in Japan and Australia and exploration on Mars.
Twelve themes emerged out of this year’s publication:
- It’s judgment time. That’s doubly true for president Donald Trump; first in Congress with the Democrats’ drive to remove him from office (the Republican-controlled Senate will save him); then in a febrile election in November. It will be ugly, the artificial intelligence we consulted reckons rump will lose. Britons, meanwhile, probably will get a chance to pass judgment on Boris Johnson.
- Economies wrestle with negativity. Banks, especially in Europe, will battle with negative interest rates. America will flirt with recession but don’t be surprised if disaster fails to strike, and markets revive.
- China highlights positivity. It will claim to have met its target of achieving “moderate prosperity” by 2020. Other countries will have to work out how to position themselves, in trade and technology, between a Chinese sphere of influence and an American one.
- Sport has a jumbo year. The Tokyo Olympics will draw a huge global audience. The Euro 2020 football championship will be spread across 12 countries. Cricket hopes for a smashing success in Australia; the T20 World Cup—and in England with a new, even shorter version of the game called The Hundred.
- Worries about nukes proliferate. The five-yearly review of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty will be a fraught affair, 75 years after the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Fears of a new arms race will grow as nuclear arms-control agreements fray.
- Sustainability is all the rage. At least, talking about it is. In Kunming countries will discuss biodiversity. In Glasgow they will make pledges on carbon emissions. Business leaders will vow to support sustainable capitalism—as long as shareholders let them.
- The Gulf welcomes the world. Dubai hopes its World Expo will have a lasting impact. More awkward, Saudi Arabia hosts the G20 summit.
- Multiple missions head to Mars. America, Europe, China, and the UAE all plan missions.
- Tech has both highs and lows. The highs include flying taxis, electric supercars, and personalized medicine; the lows involve tech giants bracing themselves for more regulation, taxation and critical scrutiny. Instagram will find itself in the spotlight of controversy in this American-election cycle.
- Big anniversaries resonate, especially Beethoven’s 250th. It’s also 500 years since Raphael’s death, 400 since the Mayflower sailed to America, 300 since the South Sea Bubble burst, 200 since the birth of Florence Nightingale (the World Health Organisation has designated 2020 the Year of the Nurse), 100 since Prohibition, 75 since the founding of the UN and—while their fans gently weep—50 years since the Beatles broke up.
- A torrent of entertainment comes on stream. Television’s streaming wars intensify, as streaming opens new vistas for gamers, too. But James Bond fans will head to old-fashioned cinemas for the 25th film in the franchise. And a new national museum in Cairo will show that physical presence still matters.
- It’s the decade of…the “yold”, or the young old, as sprightly baby-boomers hit 65. For the first time, the world will have more people aged over 30 than under. The 2020s promise to be a bad decade for African dynasties, a disruptive one for countries facing separatist pressures and an exciting one for plant geneticists, who in ten years’ time aim to be drawing down carbon dioxide from the atmosphere at a global scale.