We don’t like to prognosticate because, well, no one knows what’s going to happen with any real certainty. History tells us that humanity’s past mistakes will likely be made again, and again. That’s not being pessimistic. It’s what experience tells us.
The intersection of future and present, by that line of thinking, is rapidly approaching. It is coming in the form of what a lot of people expect to be the next, big cyclical economic decline. Equity markets have already told us the end has come, notwithstanding the apparent underlying strength of the U.S. economy. Beyond the battering most emerging markets stocks have taken, powerhouse economies like Germany and China are slowing. The volatility we’ve seen reflects a deep uncertainty about the immediate future.
Broaden out our lens and take into account Brexit, the rise of populist political leaders around the world, and the precipitous erasing of the post-war liberal democratic world order of alliances and beliefs at the hands of an intemperate, impulsive, and reckless U.S. president, and any prediction about 2019 would seem to be dire. We, though, are optimists and tend to focus not so much on what history tells us, but on Obama’s “arcs” that move us forward.
Hence, our predictions:
Europe is Wiser Than You Think
Someone once said that British history is so interesting because there are so many books about it. Brexit is a momentous, and historic event – if and when it happens. But don’t conflate that with problems for Europe. Europe will be fine. The EU will not fall apart.
The U.S. Will Course-Correct
Trump and Trumpism, if it even exists as an ideology, is a Black Swan event. The Democrats will bring a new stability to the Congress and the anti-Trump will arise to lead the Democratic party in the coming 2020 election. The key will be wrestling down the tendency of both parties to use identity politics as a path to power. We need a unifying leader. Trump, we predict, will resign before the election even happens.
Globalization Will Persist
Blockchain by definition is about globalization, in as much as it seeks to function outside of central government control and seamlessly across borders. There are more small businesses now that operate globally than large ones and that will continue. Large corporations are globalizing by finding “micro-markets” to engage with. The back and forth of goods moving in ships and planes is important but no less so than the movement across borders of ideas, which flourishes, whether it’s to improve health and wellness or expand bank accounts.
Blockchain, Blockchain, Blockchain
Two forces will be at work, the first are the hundreds of emerging start-ups that are devising utility cases relying on the inherent transparency and “trust contract” model of the technology. The other force is Wall Street (by which we mean global financial enterprises) looking for a way to scale blockchain into something that will mint money. The two forces will intersect: some start-ups will get squashed by the big money players and others made rock stars.
The Outside-In Corporation
Trumpism has done more to inspire, and instill, social conscience than at any time since Richard Nixon and the Vietnam War. It goes beyond #MeToo, to all the women voted into Congress in the recent elections. Corporations are taking this on too. They are realizing that whatever happens within their walls will get out; and what’s happening outside their walls to people, to communities, and the environment, is important for them to pay attention to and do something about.
Montieth M. Illingworth
January 2, 2019
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