Author Mark Richards
In our first article of 2018, we take a look at what is in store for the coming year. We have pulled together the experts’ predictions for 2018, added a couple of our own – and gone back in time to end with some worrying news…
GDP: The UK will fall a place in the world economic league table
A fairly safe one to begin with. In 2016 the value of the UK’s GDP (that is, the value of all the goods and services the country produces) was $2.65tn (£1.95tn), which put the UK just ahead of France ($2.47tn) and India at $2.26tn. But with Asian economies continuing to grow at a much faster pace than those in the West, 2018 will see India – with GDP growth above 7% in 2016 – overtake both the UK and France, bumping us down a place into sixth.
Theresa May is losing her grip on power; Donald Trump is about to be impeached and surely someone will do something about the leader of the Un-Democratic People’s Republic of North Korea… My prediction is that all three will still be in power when you sit down to your Christmas lunch in 355 days’ time: in fact, Donald Trump will be looking far more likely to win a second term in office than to leave the White House.
Angela Merkel will cobble together a coalition and remain in power, as will the expensively made-up Monsieur Macron in France. And Greece will stumble through yet another economic crisis. In politics – as in so much of life – 2018 will be the year of ‘muddling through…’
Money: Interest rates likely to rise
For most of us, 2018 is going to be another tough year. Inflation is running at or around 3% and that means ‘real’ wages will at best stand still. Interest rate rises are forecast in the US and it is likely that having had our first rate rise in ten years (from 0.25% to 0.5%) there will be another rate rise at some point in 2018 as the Bank of England looks to bring UK inflation back to its target rate of 2%.
It is also likely to be another turbulent year for virtual currency Bitcoin. This time last year Bitcoin was just breaking through $1,000. By Christmas, it was hovering around $15,000 before it fell following a crackdown by the South Korean authorities amid threats to close virtual currency exchanges. More authorities are likely to follow suit in the coming year as fears grow about Bitcoin being used for money laundering purposes. Do I think there will one day be a virtual currency that runs alongside traditional currencies? Without question. Do I think it will be Bitcoin? Let me just say that I am old enough to remember the days when the Sony Betamax was going to be the future of home viewing…
2018 will bring us the World Cup in Russia. There will be plenty of violence and racism will rear its ugly head. That nice Mr Putin – three months into his fourth term as Russian President – will be confident of a victory for the home team. Sadly he will be disappointed as Gareth Southgate’s Three Lions crush everyone in their path and beat Spain 4-0 in the final. Alternatively, England will go out in the quarter-finals and Germany will win it.
The World Cup will be preceded by the Winter Olympics, which will be held in South Korea in February. Despite tensions with North Korea, they will pass peacefully: more North Korean athletes will try to defect than will win medals.
Doom and Gloom: a turbulent time for Bitcoin?
It is very easy to be gloomy about 2018: terrorist activity will unquestionably continue, as will natural disasters. Sooner or later there is bound to be another terrorist attack that rivals 9/11 – especially given the increasing availability of technology such as drones. And the WannaCry and NotPetya attacks in 2017 show the damage that can be done to the global infrastructure by hackers, foreign government and/or terrorists.
Will we tackle global warming? I doubt it, but maybe the bad news will be balanced by an increase in spirituality and – more practically – a recognition that we cannot keep dumping plastic into the world’s oceans.
Real doom and gloom
If you are the sort of person whose glass is always half empty then these last predictions will have you muttering ‘I told you so…’ No list of predictions is complete without a word or two from Nostradamus and – according to scholars of the 16th Century French seer – there is plenty of bad news ahead in 2018. His book, Les Propheties, a collection of 942 poetic quatrains, has rarely been out of print since it was published and quatrain no. 57 makes particularly gloomy reading:
The false trumpet will provoke big disagreements. An agreement will be broken and the land of milk and honey lies on the ground
Well, quite clearly ‘the false trumpet’ is Donald Trump (at least if you are a conspiracy theorist) and the ‘land of milk and honey’ is equally clearly Israel. So was Nostradamus suggesting that Trump’s election will spell the end of Israel? After all, our French seer has already predicted that the ‘Republic of the big city will engage in military operations’ and that ‘The false trumpet will make sure that Byzantium’ – taken by scholars to be a reference to migrants fleeing to Europe – ‘Will change its laws.’
If you read on then Nostradamus suggests we are not very far from the end of civilisation as we know it, with the ‘Cossacks drinking from Rome’s fountains.’
And you were worried about England going out on penalties…
The simple fact is that the world in 2018 will be full of what Harold Macmillan famously described as, “events, dear boy, events.” Some will be good news: some will be bad news. But through the rest of this year we will be here to reflect on that news, sometimes look at it slightly differently and – above all – keep you informed and entertained.
Very best wishes from everyone at CL News for the next twelve months.