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Happy New Year?

The bleak prospect of a third year battling COVID-19 is only one of several issues confronting the world as 2021 draws to a close. Rather than holding out hope of a return to a chimerical pre-pandemic “normal,” it is time for policymakers to seek new ways of addressing persistent and urgent problems.

In this Big Picture, Bill Emmott of the Global Commission for Post-Pandemic Policy sees the pandemic, climate change, lost public trust, and geopolitical tensions as interlinked crises, requiring more holistic thinking and novel strategies to make up for current shortcomings in global governance. Similarly, Ngaire Woods of the University of Oxford’s Blavatnik School of Government shows why rebuilding trust will be critical to confronting tough challenges in the domains of work, politics, public health, and economic policy.

The economic and financial market outlook for 2022 is particularly uncertain. But Jim O’Neill of the Pan-European Commission on Health and Sustainable Development thinks that even if the recent surge of inflation proves transitory, the persistence of ultra-loose monetary policies makes little sense. Nouriel Roubini agrees, but warns that central banks’ policy normalization, together with mounting geopolitical and systemic risks, means that next year may be more difficult for economies and markets than 2021 was.

But it is not only investors who will be apprehensive in 2022. The British-Turkish writer Elif Shafak notes that the proliferation of digital technologies, accelerated by the pandemic, has melded a surfeit of information and a lack of wisdom, leaving people desperate for meaningful human connection and a sense of political agency.

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