The Fog of Policy: Looking Ahead to 2016

Every year, The Economist releases a publication dedicated to predicting the year ahead. I’m building a small collection of them. The trick, I’ve learned, is to actually wait a year to read them. Before the fact, predictions can be entertaining. After the fact, they’re even more so – and they’re a good reminder that the world is full of the unexpected.

The World in 2015 barely, but correctly, predicted that the Federal Reserve would raise interest rates last year: it finally did so in late December. Hydrogen fuel cells, which could be used to power cars, alas, did not become the “fuel of the present.” Virtual reality arguably did come a bit closer to becoming “a real a business”, but they were wrong in forecasting that no government would win a majority in Britain’s general election: the Tories did and Mr. Cameron was returned to power.

Perhaps it was more telling that there was no talk of the upcoming migrant crisis in Europe, and that their rundown of possible Republican candidates for US President failed to mention the man of the hour: Donald Trump.

"Predictions are hard - especially about the future."

“Predictions are hard – especially about the future.”

Predicting the future has always been, to a large extent, a fool’s game. (The Economist knows this – one of their best columns in their yearly issue takes a look back at what they got wrong in the last year.)

So instead of telling you what the world will look like in 2016, I’m going to try to sketch  out what The Fog of Policy will be up to.

First of all, I’m hoping for a more regular publishing schedule with better organized breaks. You should expect weekly pieces, with a brief late summer break, and the occasional supplement. Over the next few months, I’m also going to be working on some slight layout and formatting changes (tell me if you have any ideas). And I’m hoping to work on some long format analysis, similar to what I did when I looked at gun control.

Out in the world, I have no concrete ideas about what 2016 will bring. I’m sure I’ll be discussing the general election – maybe we’ll even be looking at a brokered convention. ‘Radical Islam’ is likely to remain a hot button issue (and I’m working on two pieces dealing with Islam that should be out soon as well as a look at current-day South American royal family).

It’s easy to make predictions about how what’s happening today will play out tomorrow, and easier still to get those predictions wrong. The hard thing is imagining the unexpected. So that’s my prediction: 2016 will be filled with the surprising and the unexpected.

(For example, we might find a whole new planet in our Solar System. How cool is that?)

Follow Pedro on Twitter @IamPedroA.

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