After the storms of 2022, we should expect a calmer 2023

After the storms of 2022, we should expect a calmer 2023

What will this mean for the global economy? It will gradually adjust to life without Russian oil and gas supplies and that is already happening. Many predict that the current easing of oil and gas prices is a temporary lull but I’m not sure. It seems to me a gradual increase in production of gas outside of Russia will help keep prices more stable than they have been over 2022.

But expect interest rates to remain either at or slightly above current levels because although global inflation may ease during 2023, it will still remain a problem.

After all, the great COVID-19 panic that led to an estimated $14 trillion being spent on COVID-19 related measures worldwide will take a long time to wash through markets. Don’t believe incumbent politicians when they tell you inflation and rising interest rates as a function of the Ukraine war. That had some impact, but the core cause lies in the massive COVID-19 spending binge and quantitative easing by central banks. And in Australia, don’t expect Albo to stop the binge.

A wiser approach would be to legislate the Voice and see how it works

Politically, 2023 is likely to be a more stable year than 2022. The only election in Australia of great interest will be the NSW state election. That will be hard for the Liberal Party to win, but anything is possible.

Internationally the only elections of real interest will be the Turkish presidential election which is likely to be won, by hook or by crook, by the incumbent president Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Nigeria has a presidential election. That doesn’t register in the Australian media, but Nigeria is by far the most populous country in Africa, and it matters. The incumbent president is retiring because of term limits, so this will be an election to watch as it will have implications for the stability and prosperity of Africa.

In the US, two things will become clear: will President Joe Biden recontest the presidency in 2024, and will Donald Trump still be embraced by a majority of Republicans to contest the 2024 election?

Many think Biden will contest the presidency on the grounds that he is the Democrat with the best chance of winning. I’m not sure. He would beat Trump (again), but if the Republicans have any sense – and in recent times they’ve shown collectively a lack of sense – then they will run one of the other attractive candidates available such as Ron DeSantis of Florida or Nikki Haley.

By the end of the year, it will look as though President Biden is no longer credible as a candidate for 2024 and Republicans will realise that Trump could never again win a presidential election. This will trigger excited analysis of whom the new next candidates for the Democrats and the Republicans are going to be in the 2024 presidential election.

Morally repugnant racists

There will, of course, be black swan events in 2023: negative events (natural or man-made) which will have significant global consequences, and they are by definition entirely unpredictable. But globally, 2023 is likely to be a calmer year than 2022 or the years before which were consumed by the great COVID-19 panic.

As for New Year’s resolutions, perhaps all Australian public figures could commit to using more civilised arguments as we deal with one very contentious issue: the referendum on the Indigenous Voice to parliament.

This will inevitably arouse passions on both sides and it will be a test of goodwill and national maturity if participants in the debate can restrain from accusing each other of being morally repugnant, racists and even worse.

I find it very hard to make a prediction about how that referendum will go. I imagine as the moment gets closer and the debate gets hotter support for the Voice will start to decline particularly if people become uncertain about what it really will entail.

A wiser approach would be to legislate the Voice and see how it works and then, if it runs as smoothly and elegantly as its proponents say, put it to a referendum.

As for other national issues, let’s hope the name-calling can be dispensed with.

Denigrating Australia’s greatest sportsman, Don Bradman, as a racist and a “nut job” because he voted Liberal in the 1975 election, which most people did, was a new low in national discussion. I assume Phillip Adams, who led that abuse, now realises he has damaged his own reputation. But that sort of abusive partisanship should be consigned to the dustbin of history.

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