Goodbye to an eventful 2013

A year of catastrophic climate change, war, rebellion, whistleblowers and a poignant death slips by to shape 2014 and beyond.

ANOTHER eventful year is passing us by, choked full of environmental and political milestones, whistle-blowing revelations, confusing economic trends and more natural disasters.

The year 2013 is leaving us behind; its events will affect how the world is shaped in 2014 and beyond.

The global economy did not collapse; instead there was some good news in a nascent recovery in the United States whilst the economic powerhouse of China kept steady growth (although at a now lower path of 7% to 8%).

Most European countries remained mired in austerity-driven recession or slowdown, with deteriorating social conditions, but Germany continued its good performance and took increasing flak for its perceived self-centred policies.

It was in the developing countries that the economic tide was turning, and for the worse. Their exports softened, GNP growth rates fell, and many of them (including big countries like India, Indonesia, South Africa) became exposed to volatility in financial markets and currencies.

We can expect greater vulnerability of developing countries in the new year to the “tapering” or reduction of government pumping of money in the United States.

The expected results, such as capital outflows, weakening currency and higher interest rates, can cause destabilisation or even new crises, in some developing countries.

On the political front, the big global news was the revelation by whistle-blower Edward Snowden about the mind-boggling widespread surveillance by the US National Security Agency not only of citizens around the world but also the phone calls and e-mails of prominent politicians like the German chancellor, the Brazilian president and the Indonesian president and his wife.

The story is not yet finished, as newspapers are still coming out with more revelations.

The fallout in terms of trust in the United States, and the need for global governance of the Internet, is still at its beginning stage.

The environment continued to deteriorate. The “haze” returned to Malaysia, revealing that there is yet much to be done in Asean cooperation on stopping forest fires.

by Martin Khor.

Read more @ http://www.thestar.com.my/Opinion/Columnists/Global-Trends/Profile/Articles/2013/12/30/Goodbye-to-an-eventful-2013/

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