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PS Commentators’ Predictions for 2021

With the arrival of more competent and steady leadership in the US, the rollout of COVID-19 vaccines, and momentum behind policies to address climate change, there are certainly grounds for hope at the start of the new year. But if 2020 taught us anything, it is that we still have a lot to learn about risk in a globalized world.

With all due caveats after a year that upended so many earlier predictions, Project Syndicate commentators have offered suggestions for what to watch out for in the 12 months ahead. Uncertainty may be an abiding fact of life, but that is no reason to throw up our hands and let the future wash over us. As many of the contributions show, the arrival of COVID-19 vaccines and prospects of an economic recovery in 2021 offer grounds for hope. We should also expect renewed momentum behind efforts to address climate change. Similarly, the eagerly awaited change of political leadership in the United States will bring new opportunities for global cooperation, but only to those who are ready to seize them. The task, as always, will be to leverage what we do know while remaining ever mindful of our own epistemic limits.

Yuen Yuen Ang

I expect 2021 to be a year of slow recovery, sowing the seeds of further disruption. Across post-pandemic economies, the rich will have become richer and the poor poorer, preparing the ground for even more populist pressure in the coming years. The US and China will behave less confrontationally toward each other, but their competition will intensify nonetheless.

Helmut K. Anheier

As US president, Joe Biden will confront a Republican Party that has lost its moral compass and stands in grave danger of succumbing to the temptations of an authoritarian movement. Complicating matters further, Biden’s own Democratic Party has misread the electorate once again (although it retook the Senate, it lost seats in the House of Representatives), and may now be wishing for quick fixes and a fast return to pre-Trumpian times. As such, it has offered only a partial vision of how to heal a divided country. Completing that picture will be essential, because America’s problems are too deep and longstanding to be wished away. One hopes that civic unrest and violence will not drag down American society even more while the COVID-19 pandemic continues to take its terrible toll.

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