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News round up

Forecasting the future

Many believe the world is getting harder to predict. But that hasn’t stopped international publications from trying to forecast the year ahead. Here we round up some of the predictions making headlines around the world. 

In October, the International Monetary Fund downgraded its global growth forecast to 3.7%; 0.2% lower than its earlier forecast. Delivering the news, Maurice Obstfeld, IMF chief economist, cited disruptions in trade policies as the reason. The IMF is also forecasting that China and the US will both grow slower than initially projected.   

Most major economies are likely to see decelerating activity – predicts the Bank of America Merrill Lynch. Its forecasting GDP growth of 1.4% in Europe and Japan and 4.6% in aggregate among emerging markets, which it believes will prompt monetary and fiscal stimulus measures.

BlackRock is forecasting anxiety, with markets nervous a global downturn is coming and China-US frictions at the forefront of everyone’s minds.

In the world of technology, Forbes predicts that “robots will change jobs for the better.” Rather than being worried about humans losing out to robots, Forbes suggests human’s superior emotional intelligence means humans will remain relevant: “robots will be our friends, not our enemy.”

While The Economist predicts Apple has a 75% chance of remaining the world’s most valuable company, startups are grabbing more headlines than ever. Kairos has released its list of 50 world-changing startups. From healthcare to housing, these small businesses are coming up with innovative, sustainable solutions to some of society’s biggest problems.

There are plenty of changes predicted inside the office too. The Washington Post argues that 2019 will be the year workplace email tapers off. Collaboration platforms like Microsoft Teams and Slack are more popular than ever.

Four of the world’s biggest democracies have elections scheduled for 2019. In February, Nigerian president Muhammadu Buhari will face 78 opposition candidates. Although still expected to win, India’s prime minister Narendra Modi is in the midst of a tougher competition than many were predicting, after his party was defeated by the Congress Party in three state elections last month.

Jair Bolsonaro was sworn in as Brazilian president on 1 January 2019 and BNP Paribas think this will lead to an acceleration in the country’s GDP growth. There are also elections in Thailand, South Africa, Argentina and Canada.

In August, French President Emmanuel Macron will host the G7 leaders in Biarritz – the group’s 45th summitThe G20 will meet in June in Japan. The 20 participating countries represent 80% of global gross domestic product, and as well as the global economy, the meeting is likely to cover development, climate change and employment.

Before these meetings, the World Economic Forum (WEF) Annual Meeting will take place in Davos-Klosters, Switzerland on 22-25 January. This year the theme is Globalization 4.0: Shaping a Global Architecture in the Age of the Fourth Industrial Revolution and the WEF has published its overview.

The Financial Times argues that the UK will not leave the European Union. Two years since the referendum, the UK parliament has not been able to agree on a way forward and many think this will lead to a second referendum - and a different result.

Thinking about leaders, The Economist predicts that there is an 85% chance Elon Musk will not remain the CEO of Tesla, while Donald Trump has a 35% chance of being impeached. This year, emperor Akihito will be the first Japanese monarch to step down from the role in 200 years. The Straits Times expects his predecessor, Naruhito, to be the most modern and global looking emperor ever.

The International Telecommunication Union (ITU) report that by the end of 2019 the world will achieve 50% internet use. An important reminder that we’re not set to reach 100% global internet adoption for years, perhaps decades.

In sport, France will host the FIFA Women’s World Cup and the US, the current champions, look like everyone’s favourites. In September, New Zealand is expected to win its fourth Rugby World Cup in Japan, but could it be Ireland’s year?


By Fiona Woollett Senior Executive, Global Communication, Grant Thornton International