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Forecasting the Future: Global Trends and Alternative Worlds

There is nothing to fear about a changing world, says the US President’s National Intelligence Council (NIC). The group has just published a paper called: Global Trends 2030: Alternative Worlds. It undertakes the generally useless exercise of trying to predict what the world will look like more than two days into the future; 18 years in this case.

One humorous and ironic fact about the report? There’s a quote at the beginning from none other than John Maynard Keynes. In 1937 – a year after he published his landmark book The General Theory of Employment, Interest and Money, Keynes wrote, ‘the idea of the future being different from the present is so repugnant to our conventional modes of thought and behaviour that we, most of us, offer a great resistance to acting on it in practice.’

The NIC must have put that at the beginning of their report because they are forecasting that America’s future, and the world’s, are going to be a lot different than the past. The future has to be different than the past, by definition. But the NIC avoided making the point that the US future will be qualitatively worse, in no small measure due to adopting Keynes’ view of deficit spending to boost aggregate consumption.

Still, it never hurts to think about ‘alternative’ scenarios in the future. The NIC says there will be four ‘Megatrends’ that shape the next twenty years: individual empowerment, the end of US hegemony, a demographic shift of power from the West to the East, and resource and energy scarcity. You’ll find a graphic overview of the report’s conclusions below. There’s a lot to talk about there, but we’ll save it for another day.

Global Trends 2030
Click here to enlarge

Dan Denning
for The Daily Reckoning Australia

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Dan Denning
Dan Denning is the Editor-in-Chief of The Daily Reckoning Australia and the author of 2005’s best-selling The Bull Hunter (John Wiley & Sons). He began his financial publishing career in 1997 as a small-cap analyst. From 2000 to 2005 he was the managing editor of Strategic Investment, where he recommended gold and warned of the US housing bubble. Dan has covered financial markets from Baltimore, Paris, London and, beginning in 2005, Melbourne Australia, where he is the Publisher of Port Phillip Publishing. To follow Dan's financial world view more closely you can subscribe to The Daily Reckoning for free here. If you’re already a Daily Reckoning subscriber, then we recommend you also join him on Google+. It's where he shares investment research, commentary and ideas that he can't always fit into his regular Daily Reckoning emails.

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