20 December 2007

Looking To 2008

Anatole Kaletsky, in the Times, predicts that the government's run of scandal, data losses and confrontation with its own backbenchers (90 day detention) will resume after the Christmas holidays: "When someone is this accident-prone, it is no accident."

The Independent looks at 10 forgotten humanitarian crises -- such as the Central African Republic, or the 500 000 people worldwide diagnosed last year with drug-resistant TB -- that will hopefully get more attention next year.

Finally, Hamish McRae, also in the Indie, tries his hand at predictions for 2008, while cautioning that, in last year's predictions, he:

cannot find a single reference, on an admittedly quick look at last year's crop of forecasts, to the possibility of a liquidity crisis. Nor was there much about the possibility of the oil price doubling or the dollar falling as sharply as it has done. There were references, including some on these pages, to the overvaluation of house prices worldwide, and some of us reckoned that the end of this economic cycle would in some way be associated with falling property prices. But I know I saw the explosive growth of the hedge funds as the major source of potential weakness in the financial system, rather than the antics of mainstream banks [...]

One of the most alarming features of the past year, alarming in particular for the emerging economies, has been the surge in the price of food, [partly due to] rising demand in China and elsewhere, including rising demand for meat. As living standards continue to rise throughout Asia such demand will probably carry on increasing. This is good news for the farmers of North America and Brazil, but it is adding to global inflation, and is particularly hard on poorer people in poorer countries. Rising food prices could bring serious disruption, social as well as economic, to the world next year.

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