Ten trends to watch in the coming year

From The Economist:

If 2021 was the year the world turned the tide against the pandemic, 2022 will be dominated by the need to adjust to new realities, both in areas reshaped by the crisis (the new world of work, the future of travel) and as deeper trends reassert themselves (the rise of China, accelerating climate change). Here are ten themes and trends to watch in the year ahead.

1 Democracy v autocracy. America’s mid-term elections and China’s Communist Party congress will vividly contrast their rival political systems. Which is better at delivering stability, growth and innovation? This rivalry will play out in everything from trade to tech regulation, vaccinations to space stations. As President Joe Biden tries to rally the free world under the flag of democracy, his dysfunctional, divided country is a poor advertisement for its merits.

2 Pandemic to endemic. New antiviral pills, improved antibody treatments and more vaccines are coming. For vaccinated folks in the developed world, the virus will no longer be life-threatening. But it will still pose a deadly danger in the developing world. Unless vaccinations can be stepped up, covid-19 will have become just another of the many endemic diseases that afflict the poor but not the rich.

3 Inflation worries. Supply-chain disruptions and a spike in energy demand have pushed up prices. Central bankers say it’s temporary, but not everyone believes them. Britain is at particular risk of stagflation, due to post-Brexit labour shortages and its dependence on expensive natural gas.

4 The future of work. There is a broad consensus that the future is “hybrid”, and that more people will spend more days working from home. But there is much scope for disagreement on the details. How many days, and which ones? And will it be fair? Surveys show that women are less keen to return to the office, so they may risk being passed over for promotions. Debates also loom over tax rules and monitoring of remote workers.

5 The new techlash. Regulators in America and Europe have been trying to rein in the tech giants for years, but have yet to make a dent in their growth or profits. Now China has taken the lead, lashing its tech firms in a brutal crackdown. President Xi Jinping wants them to focus on “deep tech” that provides geostrategic advantage, not frivolities like games and shopping. But will this boost Chinese innovation, or stifle the industry’s dynamism?

Link to the rest at The Economist

14 thoughts on “Ten trends to watch in the coming year”

  1. Supply-chain disruptions and a spike in energy demand have pushed up prices.

    Demand is certainly a factor. But so are government restrictions on production, closing of pipelines, and failed reliance on green energy. The government curtails US production, then begs Russia and Saudi to make up for it.

  2. Inflation is defined as too much money chasing too low production.
    So what else could arise from a political (and unnecessary) vote-buying injection of liquidity?
    Were 70 years of Argentinean economic crises and 30 years of Venezuelan economy demolition not enough evidence that a functional economy requires a balance between productivity and liquidity? Yet we have economic illiterates arguing for trillion dollar coins, Universal Basic Income (neé negative income tax, stupid in the ’70’s, stupid today, as Norway discovered) or just plain money printing.

    We’re living in a petrie dish of stupid theories; economic, political, and social, the result of an educational system that purposefully deprecates critical thinking and ethics. The world is complicated and no place for simplistic schemes from IdiotPoliticians™ yet that is what the gerontocracy produces.
    The bill is coming due. That is the trend to watch.
    It won’t be fun.

  3. “Surveys show that women are less keen to return to the office, so they may risk being passed over for promotions.”

    Why make it a gender issue? Anyone who is “less keen” to return to the office or otherwise comply with their boss’s legal job-related desires is at risk for being passed over for promotions, or even (gasp) fired. And they should be.

    So maybe whether being promoted is important to that particular person should be one factor to consider when s/he decides whether to return to the office. It’s called taking responsibility for one’s own actions.

    • Speaking of which… did you see the NYT article yesterday?
      (not sure if pay wall for non-subscribers)
      HEAD: The Worst of Both Worlds: Zooming From the Office
      SUBHEAD: Work life for many is in a mushy middle ground, and what’s at stake isn’t just who is getting talked over in meetings. It’s whether flexibility is sustainable, even with all the benefits it confers.

      This whole Return-To-Office thing is really complex for companies, with most getting it wrong.

      • Indeed.
        Most are missing the obvious: satelite offices.
        Instead of a massive campus or glass tower site a web of smaller sites, organized by employee residence, gives them the best of both world.
        Home offices aren’t tbe only alternative to two hour commutes.
        (Good finc, btw.)

          • ‘finc’ is fumble-fingers for ‘find’.

            So with my current job, whether or not you are “working” has nothing to do with where you are, and everything to do with if you are logged into slack and can report progress towards your current goals. People who don’t, or can’t elucidate their current goals, have an issue. In many ways this is actually an improvement over “working” = “being at work”.

          • I assume he meant “find”, Felix’s normal praise when you come up with a good link. As Felix – not without justification – believes that “auto correct” is better termed “auto corrupt” he’s probably not using it, and spell check wouldn’t have caught the typo.

            • Yup.
              (Thing is, it said “find” when I hit return. But SILK does weird things on some sites, even with autocorrupt off. Like it insists I mean “tbe” instead of the. But not always. sigh.)
              BTW, the NYT is paywalled but everybody gets a few freebies a month. You just need to set up a free account.

              • Figured (“find”) but wanted to make sure I wasn’t missing out on the latest acronym creation. And I couldn’t help but think of FNAC and my early days working in Paris.

                BTW, I haven’t worked in an office since the mid-’80s.

                • My most fun years at the day job were spent at a satellite office.
                  Long story short, they had to refurbish an old building (asbestos) so somebody had to move off campus. My very smart (imperialist) boss volunteered our group as long as we got carte blanche and a budget. We were already reengineefing our computing infrasfructure so we went to town. All new office furniture, comfortable workspaces, SOA computers beyond tbe reach of centralized computing. Our productivity demonstrably grew by 10x and our cash flow by as much. Empire builders can be good bosses if they’re *your* bosses. 😀

                  (Only lasted a few years but that’s a different, unhappy story.)

                  I expect a lot of companies to realize glass towers and giant toruses are not tbe best office spaces for the company or the staff, regardless of how they hybridize.

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