After an awful year, we are seeing promising signs that the coming year could be a more convivial one. Even accepting that we live in a world that frequently delivers all manner of shocks, we can reasonably expect a better year. A new US president brings hope that political relationships will be reset so that we get greater predictability and stability in big power relations. The worst effects of the pandemic are likely to be over by the middle of next year, allowing the world economy to get back on its feet. Then, ordinary citizens of the world could enjoy the benefits of the many new technologies that are taking off and presenting us with a range of exciting new products and services.

The age of great unravelling
But, first, a reality check.

The past year has served as a warning for anyone who makes predictions. The Covid-19 pandemic has made a mockery of economic forecasts. Sadly, the pandemic shock may not be just a one-off. After all, the world seems prone these days to big shocks — just look at the series of crises we have been shaken by in recent years, including the global financial crisis and the European sovereign debt crisis.

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