Predicting what the future holds is nearly always a risky pursuit. We can examine and dissect events past, trends and patterns, but do we ever really know what is to come?
We do in one case: America will elect a new president in 2016, ending President Barack Obama’s second term. And experts agree overwhelmingly that the world will continue to be plagued by the threat of terrorism.
But what about the global economy? Gun violence? The Iran nuclear deal? Europe’s migrant crisis? Some of the world’s most pressing issues will be stubbornly familiar and hard to remedy; others are likely to emerge as new challenges in a new year.
Obama’s Legacy: A Work In Progress
Karlyn Bowman – Forbes
When the Pew Research Center updated a question that Gallup previously asked about other presidents, 44 percent said the Obama administration’s accomplishments would outweigh its failures, while 50 percent felt the opposite. In comparison, more people said the Bush administration would be defined by its failures….
Overall, Obama’s disapproval rating has been higher than his approval rating for almost all of the past two years in CNN/Opinion Research Corporation polls. Nationally, his approval ratings hover around 45 percent. This middling overall rating derives from assessments of Obama’s handling of two core issues: foreign policy and the economy. Americans initially liked Obama’s efforts to pull the US back from hot spots around the globe. But they don’t appear to like the results….
And what about views on what some call his signature achievement, the Affordable Care Act? Though close, opinion of the law has been more unfavorable than favorable in most of the monthly Kaiser Family Foundation’s surveys taken since the law’s passage in 2010.
The World Economy in 2016: Watch China
Sebastian Mallaby – Council on Foreign Relations
Next year, like this year, the chief uncertainty in the world economy will come from China…. Already it has slowed dramatically. After averaging almost 10 percent growth between 2006 and 2014, it grew by 6.8 percent in 2015 and is forecast to grow by 6.3 percent in 2016…. But the real worry is that China’s slowdown could easily beget a further slowdown. This is why China is the most obvious source of upset for the world economy next year.
The best bet for 2016 is that China will opt for procrastination, and that the procrastination will work…. The country that has powered global growth for more than a decade could turn out to be the source of the next global economic shock.
New Year’s Resolutions on Terrorism: Panic, Politics, and the Prospects for Honesty in 2016
Anthony H. Cordesman – Center for Strategic & International Studies
Terrorism is all too real and no one can deny that it repeatedly ends in tragedy. At the same time, it needs to be kept in proportion.
The real world risks of terrorism in the United States fall short of virtually any other common cause of injury, death, and economic loss. To put these risks in perspective, the number of deaths from terrorism in the United States since 9/11 have been so low that Americans may well face a higher cumulative probability of dying from traffic accidents, food poisoning, crime and other causes if they celebrate a single New Year’s Eve than they do from terrorism over an entire year.
Americans are far more likely to die of obesity than terrorism over any given year – some estimates of the difference in risk make obesity 5,000 to 20,000 times more lethal during the period from 2012 to 2015. Every major disease is a more serious risk, violent crime is a far more serious risk, and even being struck by lightning is a higher risk….
The United States does face a real threat from terrorist attacks both on U.S. soil and abroad, but it cannot meet this threat through partisanship, panic, and prejudice.
The New(s) Campaign
Kenneth T. Walsh – US News & World Report
Trump, a billionaire real-estate developer, says he is largely financing his own campaign…. But he is also plowing new ground because he has based his effort so far not on paid advertising or a huge staff – which saves him money – but on free media. He has been able to generate endless news coverage in the mainstream media almost at will and is a huge presence on social media, including Twitter and Instagram….
Democratic pollster Geoff Garin, who advises a political action committee supporting Clinton, told me, “Trump’s use of social media is more to drive coverage than it is to organize and rally his followers…. Nobody has used it as well as Trump.” Adds Garin: “Any idiot can insult someone in 140 characters but up until now nobody’s made that the signature of their campaign. Whenever Donald Trump insults someone, whether in social media or traditional media, it becomes a story.”
A New Year’s Quiz
Bill Whalen – Forbes
Here’s my (hopefully not-so-lame) attempt at giving you a few items to mull over in what should be an eventful year both here in America (a presidential election) and around the globe (geopolitical and economic uncertainty on pretty much every continent).
1) After a downward turn in 2015, the Dow in 2016: a) breaks even (change of no more than +/– 1%); b) enjoys a larger but modest upward tick; c) takes off again ala 2014’s bullish run; d) goes deeper into red territory.
2) The most compelling foreign policy story in 2016 not related to ISIS, the Middle East or domestic terrorism: a) escalating tensions between Russia and the Baltic nations; b) China and Japan constructing artificial islands and arguing over real ones; c) the rising economies of India and Brazil (the latter hosting the Summer Olympics; d) U.S. and Russia at odds over Arctic territorial waters, transit routes and energy resources.
Obama’s Foreign Policy Neverland Invites Three New Crisis in 2016
Tom Rogan – National Review
…[H]aving digested the Obama administration’s 2015 foreign-policy review and its Twitter hashtag (#2015in5words), I conclude that the quote is equally applicable to American foreign policy….
My New Year’s Eve advice: In early 2016, the U.S. must compel Iran’s compliance with the nuclear deal. More specifically, if Iran continues playing games, we should take the suggestion of General James Mattis, former commander of U.S. Central Command, and initiate a blockade.
Regardless, we must remind ourselves that the ayatollah and his hardliners need the deal far more than we do.
President Obama likes to pretend that American leadership can offer only two courses: his way or total war. But he is wrong. The chaos of 2015 shows what happens when America’s active diplomacy is not backed by strength.
A Rational Forecast for 2016
Richard W. Rahn – The Washington Times
There will be a major disruption in the global oil market, leading to higher prices, and this is why. The Russians and the Iranians are both taking major economic hits to their respective economies due to very low oil prices….
President Vladimir Putin has already shown that he will go to great lengths to suppress potential oil and gas competitors. In the period from 2010 to 2014, he succeeded in stifling potential gas competition in Europe by indirectly bribing European politicians to disallow fracking and other production in their own countries….The reduction in potential competition and the resulting higher prices greatly benefited the Russians….
Iran will let the world know that it has a nuclear bomb while publicly denying it. The Iranians clearly understand they may be at risk of retaliation if they announce they have a nuclear bomb after President Obama leaves office, but if the world thinks they have the bomb before Mr. Obama leaves, nothing will be done.