The global economy is not likely to witness another Great Recession-style collapse, despite several indicators to the contrary in recent months, according to a newly-published report by the Arab Strategy Forum in partnership with Good Judgement, a leading geopolitical and economic forecasting institution.
Titled ‘11 Questions for the Next Decade’, the wide-ranging and far-reaching findings and themes of the report, will be discussed in depth by former ministers, decision-makers and politico-economic thought leaders, including former US Vice President Dick Cheney, at the 12th edition of the annual Arab Strategy Forum in Dubai on December 9 at the Ritz Carlton, Dubai International Financial Centre.
The ‘state of the world’ style report– tackles 11 vital mega-trends and questions that will define the global social, political and economic landscape in the 10 years ahead. Unlike previous editions, this year's report looks to predict the future leading up to 2030 – a crucial time for many Middle Eastern economies whose visions are set to come to fruition by that year.
The report analyses 11 major political and macro-economic situations – or ‘mega-trends’ as the report terms them – and their likely consequences to determine where the world is headed, come 2030.
Qualitative and quantitative feedback and data was garnered for the report’s 11 sections following rounds of discussions on Good Judgement’s online platform, with a series of ‘ignition questions’ posed to ‘Superforecasters’. The ignition questions for each topic seek answers to the issues at the heart of major economic change in the years ahead.
Mohammad Abdullah Al Gergawi, president of the Arab Strategy Forum, said: “The report provides answers to the most pressing questions today; these outcomes will have a significant impact on regional and global policies. It explores a range of scenarios that will support the decision-makers of today and tomorrow to guide progress and prosperity for generations to come.
“Unlike previous years, this year's reports predict the future of the region and the world over the next decade in the context of the current events that will have a major impact. They provide an up-to-date analysis of the increasing need for decision-makers to understand future scenarios on which to base their plans.”
The list of the mega-trends, their related ignition questions, and a brief summary of the findings from the ‘11 Questions for the Next Decade’ report.
1 Mega-trend: Global Recession
Ignition Question: Will the world avoid another Great Recession through 2030?
Based on current global economic performance records and data from the last 100 years of economic cycles, the report sought to find out whether the next recession will be a repeat of the Global Financial Crisis / Great Recession (2007-2009) or whether we are likely to see a return to an earlier pattern of a brief economic downturn followed by resurgent and steady growth.
The report’s Superforecasters said there is a 76 percent chance that the world will not undergo another global financial crisis similar to the one in 2007 in the next decade.
2 Mega-trend: WTO under strain
Ignition Question: Will China, Russia, or a G7 country leave the World Trade Organization by 2030?
Considering the emerging tendency of two, or a group of countries, setting out to establish new regional trading systems, such as the US-backed Trans-Pacific Partnership or the Russian-backed European-Asian Economic Union, the report noted that such new trading entities pose a populist threat to long-established global trading systems.
3 Mega-trend: Fragmentation of superpowers, Brexit?
Ignition Question: Will China, Russia, the US, or the EU lose 0.5 percent or more of its territory or population before 2030?
After the fall of empires in the 20th century, the question lingers over whether countries and blocs will fragment in the 21st century. The Superforecasters anticipate a 5 percent likelihood that the EU will lose 0.5 percent or more of its territory or population before 2030, a 2 percent likelihood that Russia or China will, and 1 percent likelihood that the US will.
4 Mega-trend: Decline of the American Century
Ignition Question: Will the US economy be ranked 1st, 2nd or 3rd in 2030?
Despite being the largest economy in the world since the beginning of the 20th century, the US’s position as the world’s number one is under threat from the formation of a multipolar system and the emergence of several countries and regions that contribute today to the international community.
The report claims that there is a 65 percent chance that the US will still be the world’s largest economy a decade from now, and a 33 percent likelihood it will be second, after China.
5 Mega-trend: The survival of Opec in a post-decarbonized world
Ignition Question: Will Opec's share of global crude oil production remain above 33 percent in 2030?
The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (Opec) currently holds a share of about 40 percent of the world's crude oil production. But the future of the organization and its domination is likely to be called into question, with the emergence of hydraulic fracturing and new oil discoveries outside the Middle East and North Africa.
There is a 90 percent chance that Opec will supply more than a third of the world's crude oil supply in 2030. However, its fiscal revenue is likely to result in a decline in its production. Given its resilience and adaptation to multiple challenges in past decades, including wars, revolutions and global recessions, the organization is viable in a carbon-free world, but new and innovative adaptation measures are needed later, the report pointed out.
6 Mega-trend: Cyberattacks
Ignition Question: Will a cyberattack shut down a major infrastructure system in a G7 country for 1+ days before 2030?
The Superforecasters see a 66 percent likelihood of a cyberattack shutting down a major infrastructure system in a G7 country for at least one day before 2030. Outside of the G7, there are countries perhaps more vulnerable. “It will be worth monitoring these situations as harbingers of larger-scale attacks elsewhere. For instance, in the Philippines, government hearings recently raised concerns that China could remotely ‘turn off power’ in the country,” the report noted.
7 Mega-trend: Eastern Mediterranean gas fields
Ignition Question: Will Lebanon be involved in a major military conflict by 2030?
After the discovery of the East Mediterranean gas fields off the coast of Cyprus, Lebanon, and Egypt, questions have arisen over whether the East Mediterranean gas fields will enhance the stability of the region or pose a security risk. The report said there’s a risk that offshore gas fields could escalate tensions between nations over disputed drilling rights, but potential energy revenues are worthwhile and will lead to a strengthening of the region's economic stability, as well as the internal stability of the concerned countries and reduce risks of war.
8 Mega-trend: The Iran regime
Ignition Question: Will Iran have a Supreme Leader in 2030?
Following signs of regime fatigue in Iran, coupled with the unrelenting pressure of strict US economic sanctions since its formation in 1979, there has been speculation that the intensity of the sanctions could lead to a collapse of the Iranian regime. However, the report stated that “sanctions are more likely to lead to behavior change than regime change”, and could see Iran come to the negotiating table with a different approach.
9 Mega-trend: Water Scarcity
Ignition Question: Will water scarcity cause a deadly conflict between Jordan & Israel, Egypt & Ethiopia, or Turkey & Iraq before 2030?
Water scarcity is unlikely to drive any regional conflict in the Mena region over the next decade, the report stated. There is a small, 1 percent chance of a conflict on the flow of water between Jordan and Israel, according to the Superforecasters. Meanwhile, the chance of a conflict between Egypt and Ethiopia or Turkey and Iraq during the next decade will reach 3per cent.
11 Mega-trend: Nuclear proliferation
Ignition Question: How many nuclear powers will there be in the MENA region in 2030?
The Superforecasters overwhelmingly agreed that Israel will remain a nuclear power, that Iran and Saudi Arabia are the two states most likely to make attempts to join the club.
The report warns as a caution that any MENA country that pursues the nuclear route may risk provoking unrest in the region. Israel has repeatedly said it will attack Iranian facilities if it believes the regime in Tehran is about to cross the nuclear weapon threshold.
11 Mega-trend: China-US tech war and peace
Ignition Question: Will a ‘splinternet’ - with one Internet led by the US and one led by China - be avoided as of 2030?
The Superforecasters offer an 80 percent chance that a ‘splinternet’ - one Internet led by the US and one led by China — will not be in place by 2030. “Information will continue to flow across global networks, even as other types of political or ideological information will be blocked,” the report pointed out.
This article has been amended from its original source.
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