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underlying trends that are shaping our world today

Page history last edited by Brian D Butler 8 years, 7 months ago


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Underlying Trends that are Shaping our World Today


Welcome to our ongoing discussion of global "macro" trends that we think are the most important to keep an eye on.  We are interested in global trends, how they happened, and in predicting their likely outcome... We like debates, and we are interested in Global Issues, so we welcome a variety of viewpoints.  Inclusion of material on this website definitely does NOT equal endorsement of ideas.  


Trends we consider: political, economic, financial, social, international

Trends we do NOT consider: local trends, consumer trends, marketing trends, fashion trends (better to find another website for these :-) 


Outside-the-box thinking welcome!   Some of these potential trends may seem statistically unlikely to occur in the short term (if at all), but if they were to happen, they could cause massive global disruption to the financial and economic systems, so they are worth discussing, and taking a closer look at.  In a world where the un-thinkable seems to happen with a greater frequency, it makes sense to start looking at the "worst case" scenario, and figure out how to (a) protect yourself, and (b) position your company / portfolio / career... to profit from ongoing trends.


Community involvement:  This document is dynamic, so any of our community is welcome to contribute, and to help shape our views of these important developments.  Please log in to our wiki, and feel free to comment...



Table of Contents:



Potential Trends - 2012

  • Rising importance of China, coupled with moves by China to "internationalize its currency".  This could have a major impact on the global imbalances issue (previously discussed in depth here at GloboTrends), and also potentially on The US Dollar and it's reserve currency status (possibly affecting the US' ability to borrow money cheaply in own currency at long duration).   
  • Europe and global credit crisis.  Expect continued attention in 2012 on the Euro, GreeceDebt crisis.
  • The "Arab Spring" will continue to shape global political debates and regional policy. As we watch events unfold in the region, we welcome contribution to our page on Trends in the Middle East and Arab states.  
  • Political instability and risks 2012 and beyond:  See the excellent CFR-sponsored discussion with a panel of experts: "What to worry about in 2012
  • Rise of purchasing power in emerging markets, but at the same time... income inequality  and unemployment  became hot topics in many of the developed economies (Questions: How do you see these trends related?" And, "Do you think the reaction to income inequality, as manifested in the "occupy wall street" movement, will have an effect on the US Presidential elections?")
  • Booming emerging markets leads to rise in prices of commodities such as High Oil Prices, and fears about "energy security".
  • Continued trend toward "urbanization", especially in emerging markets...and fears about climate change as the rising middle classes in Brazil, China, India (etc) look to purchase automobiles, and become drivers for the first time.
  • Continued changes to the rules that govern international Finance  - leading to increased financial system regulation (and the problems, unintended consequences due to continuing financial deleveraging)
  • Philosophical debate will continue... about the role of the state.  Look for more discussion about "State Capitalism vs. Liberal Capitalism", which will affect policy throughout the emerging-market world (and in Europe!).  Expect this to be a theme (perhaps back-lash) during the US presidential elections.
  • As the world's population crosses 7 billion, expect more debate about agricultureurbanizationcommodities and more...
  • Tax the rich?  Class warfare on the rise?  consider this headline from August 2012: "FRANCE: President François Hollande's vow to impose a 75 percent tax (NYT) on the portion of anyone's annual income above a million euros ($1.24 million) has prompted many French companies to study contingency plans to move high-paid executives out of the country."



Trends (2012) identified at Davos Economic Forum:

     "The report identified the following as important trends facing the global agenda in 2012:


Read more:

http://reports.weforum.org/global-agenda-survey-2011/ "We asked Global Agenda Council members to identify the most important global trends that will likely impact the global economy, society and environment in the next 12-18 months. This presentation highlights the key findings of the survey."

Outlook on the Global Agenda 2012 



"The IMF sees several risks ahead: the euro crisis and fiscal austerity in the rich world, upheaval in the Middle East and the possibility of a hard landing in countries, such as China, which have seen exceptional credit growth.See article from the Economist»



Trends in-depth:


1. Global center-of-gravity shifts toward the East:


"In a new study on the economic impact of urbanisation the McKinsey Global Institute, the research arm of the eponymous consultancy, has attempted to calculate how this centre of gravity has moved since AD 1 and how it is likely to move until 2025. Although the underlying maths (which involves weighting the approximate centre of landmass of a country by its GDP) has to be taken with a pinch of salt, the calculations show that the centre is rapidly shifting east—at a speed of 140 kilometres a year and thus faster than ever before in human history, according to Richard Dobbs, one of the authors of the study. The main reason for this is rapid urbanisation in developing countries, in particular China. As people are moving into cities many are becoming richer, driving further economic growth. Most of this growth will not occur in much-hyped megacities, such as Mumbai or Shanghai, but in what the authors call "middleweight cities".   Read more from the Economist here





2.  Rise of Asia on global stage: 

"The region’s economic performance over the past few decades has been nothing short of remarkable. Asia now accounts for about a third of the global economy, up from under just a fifth in 1980. This trend has been reinforced by the crisis, with the emerging market powerhouses leading the global recovery" Dominique Strauss-Kahn, Mar 31, 2011.  



3.  Food prices are rising globally:

"Food prices around the world have been rising sharply....In January, the wholesale cost of food hit its highest monthly figure on record, according to the UN's Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). Prices were higher than their peak in 2008, when a food crisis prompted riots and demonstrations around the world."   BBC April 2011


"Soaring food prices worldwide and a greatly increasing global population have given way to the growing value of farmland in many countries. In the United Kingdom agricultural land prices have increased substantially this past year and many land investments have doubled in value. The country of China has recognized the trend of growing farmland prices and over the past years has targeted more than 20 million hectares of land in Africa for investment hoping land prices there will rise like other places across the globe. Many countries have followed China’s lead as Africa currently has the cheapest arable land in the world.... Land has sold at such high values around the world that some people have even argued that farmland may be the next financial bubble similar to the housing market collapse. Despite this speculation, others claim that farmland will remain a valuable asset due to the simple fact that food production must increase 70 percent by 2050 to satisfy global population growth. A global trend for years has involved land-poor countries purchasing farmland abroad in order to protect themselves from food supply scarcity. If farmland values continue to rise, these increasing prices will have great effects on land investments between land-poor nations and developing countries rich with land." source: GlobalEdge, Feb 2012







4.  Oil prices are on the rise (again):

"oil prices are also edging up, reaching their highest level in two years."   BBC April 2011



5.  Health care costs set to rise significantly:


Healthcare costs are rising faster than levels of available funding. The rising cost of healthcare cannot be met with current levels of public funding, raised via taxation and insurance. The main drivers of rising healthcare costs in Europe are:

  • Ageing populations and the related rise in chronic disease.
  • Costly technological advances.
  • Patient demand driven by increased knowledge of options and by less healthy lifestyles.
  • Legacy priorities and financing structures that are ill-suited to today's requirements.
  • The future of healthcare will be shaped by seven separate, but interconnected, trends.  Read more here: http://www.businessresearch.eiu.com/future-healthcare-europe.html-0 





6.  Other Global Macro trends we are watching include:


More Themes we are looking at:

  1. Global Economic Recovery (see Credit crisis 2007-2009 FOLDER)
  2. Low interest rates, cheap money
  3. Fear that recovery might be derailed by:
    1. inflation
    2. increased oil prices
    3. Egypt & Mideast unrest
    4. Japan earthquake -- leads Germany to shun Nuclear energy -- "The disaster in Japan revived German concerns over nuclear power. Angela Merkel announced a three-month moratorium on a plan to extend the lifespan of the country’s 17 nuclear-power plants, and said that seven facilities built before 1980 would be temporarily shut. The European Union announced plans to test the safety of all nuclear plants in the 27 member states and China suspended approvals for new nuclear facilities."  The Economist.com.   Nuclear power after Fukushima Will it go into reverse? Read more
  4. Low interest rates impact on Emerging markets
    1. rising inflation
    2. result of dollar peg (dollar bloc) strategy of many emerging countries
    3. likely to continue after Japan earthquake as central banks stimulate economies
  5. Other Trends: 
    1. rise in risk aversion
    2. "dollar-bloc" countries continue to keep their currencies undervalued vs the dollar





Global Issues & Great Debates





Charts, Graphs


To coincide with the Rio+20 conference, the Guardian recently posted very interesting presentation showing interesting global trends.  Some of these slides are shown below.  Please visit the Guardian site here to see the full report from Kiln:


















Related pages from GloboTrends




Older Trends Reports - by year


See our year-by-year TRENDS reports here:




Trends by Topic

  1. consumer trends
  2. demographic trends
  3. predicting trends in foreign exchange rates
  4. education trends  
  5. Packenham model to predict policy changes








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