In 2016, the world lost iconic celebrities and change-makers like Prince, David Bowie, Sharon Jones and now Carrie Fisher. Tragedies like the Orlando shooting, the death of black men at the hands of police, the shooting of five Dallas police officers, the attack in Nice and the war in Syria and destruction of Aleppo and its people have made headlines.
Britain voted to divest itself from the European Union, America saw a divisive presidential election campaign, and the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) agreed to cut oil production.
But what’s to come in 2017?
Stratfor, an Austin-based global intelligence agency, answers that question in its annual forecast for the next year. Rodger Baker, the agency’s vice president of strategic analysis, says Stratfor looked at global trends and disruptors to those trends. They broke their predictions down by region.
The report calls the U.S. the world’s only superpower, noting that it’s not so super as of late. Baker says that the country is at a point where other countries are rising up to that status, although the U.S. is still the default largest single power.
“But [the U.S.] really doesn’t necessarily have a way to balance everything going on in the world at the same time,” Baker says. “Where it’s dealing again with a lot of its own domestic issues, that’s starting to lead the United States to pull back from its perceived role as the arbiter of international events.”
Baker says the recent election of Donald Trump as incoming president will also affect the United States’ relationship with other world powers.
“One of the biggest implications, really, is how all of the other countries in the world are not quite certain what the direction of the Unites States is going to be,” he says. “Therefore really trying to position themselves in a way that’s going to give them the most options.”
China also plays a powerful role in the world – and has been already at the center of some of Trump’s focus. Baker says they’re nearing a major milestone where current President Xi Jinping will be naming his successor.
“We’re looking at a continued consolidation of power but we’re also looking at a country with rising nationalism, a rising sense of internal economic inequality,” Baker says. “This is a country that’s facing a major internal structural change at the same time that it’s potentially dealing with a more assertive and aggressive United States in its China policy.”
Stratfor is predicting the European Union will dissolve, something they’ve been predicting since its inception.
“The structure of Europe is just one in which the differences are too great,” Baker says. “As seen in the global economic crisis, it was very clear that what’s good for Germany is very bad for Greece.”
Baker says the forecast also looks closely at crude oil prices. They’re expecting a moderate recovery, driven in part by the constraints OPEC has decided to put on its countries.
“This will bring some relief to some of these OPEC countries, but it also may provide the space for the United States to start expanding again its own domestic production,” Baker says. “That may be accelerated also by changes in energy policy by the incoming [U.S.] administration.”
Baker says the Middle East is one other important region to watch, in particular how it will be shaped by potential changes in the U.S.-Russia dynamic.
Post by Beth Cortez-Neavel.