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Global Trends 2030
Brian Trumbore

For the first time in four years, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, DNI, has issued an assessment aimed at shaping U.S. strategic thinking, “Global Trends 2030: Alternative Worlds.” Following are a few excerpts, focusing on the economic end.


Individual Empowerment

Majority of world’s population won’t be impoverished.  Middle classes will expand in most countries.  As individuals move into the middle class, values will shift including possible strengthening of religious, ethnic and national identities.  But middle classes won’t feel secure: one billion workers from developing countries will be added to global labor pool, putting additional pressure on low-skilled labor.


Rapid extensions of life expectancy likely: global deaths from communicable diseases projected to drop by more than 40 percent.  Some countries, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia, will still have youthful populations, but demographic arc of instability will narrow on both east and west flanks.  “Aging” countries face the possibility of decline in economic growth.  Increased migration will spread to emerging powers.  Urbanization set to grow to almost 60 percent.

Diffusion of Power

Asia is set to surpass North America and Europe in global economic power, but there will not be any hegemonic power.  The power of other non-Western or middle-tier states will rise.  This middle tier as a group will include Europe, Japan and Russia.  China’s economy will be 140-percent larger than Japan’s; India’s will be 16 times larger than Pakistan’s.  Technology will be a great leveler, shifting the balance of power towards multifaceted networks.

Growing Nexus Among Energy, Water, and Food

Demand for resources will increase owing to an increase in global population from 7.1 billion today to about 8 billion by 2030.  Demand for food set to rise 35 percent; energy 50 percent over the next 15-20 years. Nearly half of world population will live in areas with severe water stress.  Fragile states most at risk, but China and India are vulnerable to volatility of key resources.  Main questions will be whether there will be more effective management, wider technology use, and greater governance mechanisms.


Stalled Engines

The U.S. and Europe are no longer capable or interested in sustained global leadership.  Corruption, social unrest, weak financial systems and chronically poor infrastructures slow growth rates in developing world.  The global governance system is unable to cope with a widespread pandemic: rich countries wall themselves off from many poor countries in Asia, Africa and the Middle East.  By disrupting international travel and trade, the severe pandemic helps to stall out, but does not kill globalization.


The specter of a spreading conflict in South Asia prompts the U.S. and China to intervene.  Washington and Beijing find other issues to collaborate on. Emerging economies grow faster than advanced economies, but GDP growth in advanced economies also accelerates.  Technological innovation is critical to the world staying ahead of the rising resource constraints that result from the rapid boost in prosperity.

Genie Out of the Bottle

Inequalities within countries and between rich and poor countries dominate.  The world is increasingly defined by two self-reinforcing cycles – one virtuous leading to greater prosperity, the other vicious leading to poverty and instability.  Major powers remain at odds; the potential for conflict rises.  An increasing number of states fail.  Economic growth continues at moderate pace, but the world is less secure.

The world is transforming at an unprecedented rate…

It took Britain 155 years to double GDP per capita, with about 9 million people…The U.S. and Germany took between 30 and 60 years with a few tens of million people…but India and China are doing this at a scale and pace not seen before: 100 times the people than Britain and a tenth the time.  By 2030 Asia will be well on its way to returning to being the world’s powerhouse, just as it was before 1500.

Wall Street History will return around Jan. 2 with all the yearend return figures.

Happy Holidays.

Brian Trumbore

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