Just in Case it Matters to You
Weekly Report 17-51
HAPPY NEW YEAR. WHAT’S AHEAD IN 2018?
- FOR THE ECONOMY: “If history is any guide (and it often is), the business cycle is coming to an end. The world economy tends to tip into a recession every 8 to 10 years and the last one ended in 2009… The stock market is trading at valuation levels only seen in the late 1920s & 1990s when crashes followed both times… Recessions typically start when central banks, eager to keep economics in check, raise interest rates too far and too fast; the Federal Reserve has already begun raising rates (along with plans to unwind the enormous pile of assets acquired during this last slump) and higher interest rates foretell an end to credit cycles as indebted companies and consumers default in greater numbers – presaging big capital outflows from emerging markets and big corrections in stock markets.” While globally most forecasts are for an upsurge in economic activity (from around 2.5% in the U.S. to over 6% in China and 7% in India) and robust profit margins, “America poses the “biggest risk to rock the global boat” – from politics impeding pro-growth policies which then cause businesses to curtail hiring and spending; from the Fed raising rates too quickly; from Tax Reform falling short of expectations once the dust settles; and/or from productivity growth simply failing to accelerate. [THE ECONOMIST]
- FOR CYBERCRIME: While 5G wireless service evolves to serve billions of ‘connected’ devices, the potential for hacking and greater risk of cyberattack will dramatically increase. Intelligence analysts say that China, Russia , North Korea and Iran all have the capacity for a large-scale security breach which, beyond just economic impact, is ‘cyber-physical’ – “spilling into the real world, causing property damage and perhaps death…from a multistage intrusion campaign aimed at industrial control systems in critical infrastructure including energy, water, aviation, nuclear and manufacturing sectors… As these systems have been internet connected, little thought has been given to security, and U.S. companies are woefully unprepared, especially with natural gas pipelines and storage almost entirely unregulated in the digital realm.” [BLOOMBERG BUSINESS WEEK]
- FOR ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE: AI will increasingly continue to transform the essence of human culture, with major adverse impact on jobs – replacing professionals, bankers, insurance agents & adjusters, researchers, taxi & truck drivers, instructors, designers & creative professionals to the point where intelligence and advanced training will no longer protect job stability. Robot-to-worker ratios (now 1.6 to 1 in America) will continue to rise, and robots will very soon be creeping into many other areas of our lives – serving meals, providing health care, policing, national defense, education, and even sexual services. When computers can easily outthink and outperform us, a sort of learned helplessness is also likely to set in and the concept of ‘working’ altogether will continue losing relevance for more people.
- FOR WORK CULTURE: Employee conflict will most likely be exacerbated from unresolved political, generational and gender differences, with ‘I just can’t work well with XYZ’ issues increasingly complicating workforce management. Most organizations will allow friction to perpetuate because of workload demands, allowing conflicts to be glossed over and employees continuing to work together without finding a workable middle ground. Management’s job is to create a culture where there is no excuse for that to continue but, except perhaps for more harassment & sensitivity training, most will continue to avoid the hassle and perceived risk of failure.
- FOR HUMANITY: Transformation is coming. “The rate of human evolution is accelerating as we transition from the slow and random process of ‘Darwinian Natural Selection’ to a hyper-accelerated and precisely directed period of evolution by intelligent direction.” According to a forecast by Peter Diamandis, some eight billion people on the planet are likely to be connected online through the Cloud within seven years which, combined with Artificial Intelligence and emergence of brain-computer interface, portends potential for emergence of “a new global consciousness, leading to a new organism: the Meta-Intelligence.”
- TIPS FOR STARTING THE NEW YEAR:
The U.S. Post Office now provides courtesy advance “Informed Delivery” – daily morning email notification of what is headed to your mailbox, and for awareness of what didn’t show up. https://informeddelivery.usps.com/box/pages/intro/start.action
And a thoughtful product idea for those still wallowing in misery over the last election: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QXUlhT3-r0c&app=desktop