Happy new year, 2016. Let us stay positive and optimistic this year and the succeeding years. On this note, I am reposting 9 of the 16 reasons given by Daniel Hannan, a Conservative Member of the European Parliament (he blogs at www.hannan.co.uk), and I added the 10th reason, with two charts from Human Progress.
16 reasons to be cheerful about 2016
By Daniel Hannan @DanHannanMEP
1 January 2016
Iain Martin closed the old year with 15 reasons to be cheerful about 2015. Let me open the new one with 16 reasons to be cheerful about 2016.
- The world will be richer. According to the IMF, global GDP will increase by 3.8 per cent in 2016, up from 3.3 per cent in 2015. It’s easy, when you’re sitting at a computer screen in a developed country, to say “GDP isn’t everything”. But, in most of the world, 3.8 per cent growth means vaccines and schoolbooks and clean water and bicycles and electricity.
- The world will be cleverer. IQ is rising by around three points a decade. There are various explanations as to why: better nutrition, smaller families, a greater propensity to abstract reasoning in post-agrarian societies. Whatever its cause, the trend shows no sign of slowing. As well as getting better at using our brains, we know more. We now have a better understanding of evolution than Darwin, a better understanding of economics than Hayek – not because we are brighter than those titans, but because we are a click away from information beyond their imagining.
- Humanity will become interconnected. In developed countries, we will benefit from the spread of social media and Uber and Airbnb. But the real breakthrough is in poorer countries, where the challenge has been getting Internet access at all. Various schemes are now underway to bring the world online, including a plan by Google to use balloons. It’s worth noting that these networks are developing because of the profit motive, not because of state aid.
- Energy will be cheap. Some analysts expect the price of oil to continue to slide, perhaps to as little as $20 a barrel. Others forecast a slight recovery. But no one thinks it will return to the three-figure sums that we recently took for granted. Cheap energy isn’t just good news for consumers. It also means cheaper production costs, and a competitive lift to the entire economy.
- Despots will be weaker. Which countries stand to lose most from the plummeting oil price? Russia, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Venezuela. And populist socialism will peak.
- Poverty will fall. According to the World Bank, fewer than ten per cent of the world now live in extreme poverty, defined as $1.90 a day or less. That figure has fallen by more than two thirds since 1990, as previously closed economies joined the global market system. The total eradication of extreme poverty now looks not just feasible but likely.
- India will become a global power. The world’s largest democracy is, for the first time, becoming an active international sponsor of democracy.
- The world will be greener. The Paris Conference marked a shift toward achievable carbon targets embraced voluntarily by nation-states – a far more realistic policy than the previous idea of rules enforced by a global bureaucracy. But there is more to environmentalism than global warming. Indoor cooking fires, which are arguably the most noxious pollutant of all, are being dispaced. More agrarian land will be “rewilded” in 2016, as modern farming leads to greater yields from the same acreage. More species will be taken off the endangered list.
- The world will be healthier. It looks as though we have seen the last case of polio in Africa, and the disease may be eradicated from its last hideouts in Afghanistan and Pakistan this year. Yaws and malaria may not be far behind; even measles and rubella are on their way to extinction.
- Food world prices will continue to stabilize, if not decline. Here are 3 charts to support this optimism.
After peaking in early 2011, Vietnam rice price has declined. One more reason why rice protectionism in the Philippines should end and allow the poor to have more access to cheaper rice from our neighbors in East Asia.
Overall world food prices have increased in the past decade. The massive conversion of food output to biofuel is partly responsible for this. Corn and other crops were used to feed cars and trucks, not people. By 2013, prices have stabilized and mildly declined.
We have entered a world of rising prosperity, rising food security, rising human freedom. Not abruptly but slowly and surely. Happy new year, once again.