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PS Commentators' Predictions for 2022

Forecasting is always a hazardous business. But in a world of shifting power balances, technological change, and rising temperatures, no one can claim that the future is entirely inscrutable.

Project Syndicate commentators have again offered their suggestions for the most important political, economic, and policy developments to watch over the next 12 months. With the COVID-19 pandemic heading into its third year, last year’s radically different “new normal” is no longer so new. The coronavirus continues to acquire mutations and threaten economic and social stability around the world. Global temperatures – both literal and political – continue to rise. And though a deep sense of uncertainty will remain, some outcomes are as imminent as the trends underlying them are undeniable.

Daron Acemoglu

It is difficult to be optimistic about 2022. Despite all the corporate pledges and media attention focused on climate change, the COP26 conference was a failure. In 2022, we will continue to realize that greenhouse-gas emissions are not declining, and that more radical responses are needed. I worry that climate politics will significantly worsen US-China relations, which are already at a breaking point. Add the intensification of repression in China and the tensions over Taiwan and you have the makings of a prolonged bout of instability.

I also worry about polarization in America. US President Joe Biden’s $1 trillion infrastructure plan and the “Build Back Better” bill are the country’s best hopes of getting on a path toward more inclusive economic growth. Generally, such bold fiscal policies could unite the country and demonstrate that democratic politics still works for the people; yet in the current environment, the spending plans have become yet another partisan football. The next year will show whether US politics can become less dysfunctional. Much will depend on more Republicans mustering the courage to break with former President Donald Trump. Unfortunately, given Trump’s consolidation of control over their party, that seems unlikely.

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