October 27, 2020

predictions for 2020

IMMEDIATE RELEASE 27 December 2019
WASHINGTON MERRY-GO-ROUND
Today’s Events in Historical Perspective
America’s Longest-Running Column Founded 1932
Contrarian predictions for 2020
By Douglas Cohn and Eleanor Clift
          WASHINGTON – We capsulize the essence of contrarian theory with the following: “Most people are wrong most of the time; otherwise most people would be millionaires.” Granted, this most often applies to the stock market and other economic activities, but it can also be applicable in other areas. Hence, our predictions.
          There is a growing consensus that America will face a recession in 2020 while China, our chief economic rival, will continue to thrive. But our theory says au contraire.
          China enters the new year with ongoing clashes in Hong Kong between student protestors and an increasingly brutal police force. Hong Kong is China’s cash cow, and as that former British enclave of capitalism is hamstrung by the rulers in Beijing, the nation’s economy is going to be adversely affected, and it will be China that goes into a recession.
          The media is obsessed with the looming impeachment trial to nowhere in the Senate, but for Congress, passing the USMCA, the reworked North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), is the higher priority. This combined with China’s likely recession will work to improve the U.S. economy because America buys far more from China than we sell to China, and those purchases are going to be increasingly cheaper.
          In 2020, politicians will be keeping a watchful eye on the United Kingdom to see whether Prime Minister Boris Johnson, newly energized by his big electoral win, can keep his promise to smoothly exit his country from the European Union.
          The expectation is that he will fulfill Brexit and leave the EU as promised by the end of January, but at a heavy price: the potential dissolution of the U.K.
          Northern Ireland and Scotland are determined to stay in the EU, and if that means breaking away from the U.K., that’s what they will do, what they believe they must do.
          Most people see Brexit as a sign of an EU weakening, but the contrary is likely. Spain and Poland have been threatening to follow the UK out of the EU, but Brexit is clearly appearing to be what it was from the start: a mistake. The UK faces reduced prosperity as tariffs replace free trade and visa-free movement between countries disappears. The net result will be that Spain, Poland, and any other wavering members will recognize the value of remaining in the EU.
          North Korea is the biggest problem in President Trump’s otherwise rosy view of the world. Except for Secretary of State Pompeo uttering periodic warnings that the North Korean leader isn’t living up to his promises to de-nuclearize, Trump isn’t doing anything to restrain Kim Jong Un’s nuclear ambitions.
          The “Christmas gift” advertised in North Korea’s state-run media has not yet arrived. The expectation is that it will be a long-range missile test, demonstrating to the world that the regime’s technological advances must be taken seriously.
          Iran is also taking steps to ramp up its nuclear capability, and Trump isn’t doing anything to stop that. He exited the deal President Obama negotiated to halt Iran’s nuclear program for at least 15 years, saying that wasn’t good enough. Instead, he’s settled for worse and expects his followers to take his word that it’s somehow better to have taken the cap off Iran’s nuclear program.
          For what it’s worth, and it bears repeating, a nuclear North Korea and a nuclear Iran are nightmare scenarios.
          Afghanistan is once again on the verge of being taken over by the Taliban. When the Taliban controlled the country, it hosted Al Qaeda, and 9/11 was the result. That is why we helped the Northern Alliance to overthrow the Taliban. Now, the Trump administration is seeking a peace deal with those terrorist-hosting fanatics although it will be nothing more than a surrender dressed up as peace.
          One country ends the year on a high note, in large part thanks to Trump’s indulgence of its president, Vladimir Putin. Russia’s economy is smaller than that of Italy, but with Trump’s help, Putin has played a very weak hand very smartly.
          So, as we head into the new year Putin will lessen his aggressive actions against Ukraine, his aggressive rhetoric toward the Baltic states, and his ongoing undermining of NATO. He will do so because his primary objective will be election interference to help reelect Donald Trump, the best Oval Office friend Russia has ever had.
          Douglas Cohn’s latest books are World War 4: Nine Scenarios (endorsed by seven flag officers) and The President’s First Year: The Only School for Presidents Is the Presidency.
          Twitter:  @douglas_cohn
          © 2019 U.S. News Syndicate, Inc.
          Distributed by U.S. News Syndicate, Inc.
END WASHINGTON MERRY-GO-ROUND

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