At this time in the year, it is good to sit back and reflect on what's gone on, and what the future seems to hold.
A special welcome to my musings on this occasion to readers from Prunay le gillon, Oxford and New York....and Russia.
The IMF and the OECD have formed the opinion, based on current performance and factors at play that will either enhance or slowdown the performance, to suggest that they see stable but moderate growth for most nations. This is on the positive side, nevertheless, and certainly good for most people.
The factors at play in the main are the war in Syria and the unhappy situation in Ukraine, and Russian involvement in both regions. The annexation of Crimea and the conflict there by the Russian 'rebels' unleashed the economic and trade sanctions by the U.S. and Europe in protest, and Russia too have imposed their own sanctions against the West in reprisal, bringing about renewed fears of a Cold War. Incursions into U.K. airspace by Russian fighter jets were uncordially and swiftly guided out at once.
There seems to be a lot of trade affected (some figures suggest about $24 billion annually) over Ukraine, multilaterally between the U.S., Germany, Ukraine, and Russia. It has seen the effects on the currency and card transactions for Russia, as well as the fall in the value of their Rouble, and the economic impact, which suggests possibly another quarter in which the figures may be low, technically meaning that Russia could be in a recessionary scenario. Here I am suggesting swift amends by Russia on the situation in Ukraine, where Kiev after all is their great and very useful brother-nation, wherefrom the gas is transhipped into Europe. Russian generosity and goodwill towards Ukraine can of course pay off for themselves, and might help avert the recessionary scenario. Of course, it would be good for the Western nations too, then they can resume normal trade with Russia, and so many jobs in import-export, shipping, transportation, catering, production, manufacturing, etc, could be restored in all the trading partners. And it would bring happiness to people who enjoy eating the delicacies from other lands, and wearing garments made in the latest styles overseas. A nation that has made rapid steps towards democratisation under the fair and enlightened leadership of Mr Putin surely can see their way to some extraordinary goodwill on the situation in Ukraine? I hope so, and pray for that.
I was very happy to read the world leaders are getting together to discuss the possibility of bringing the mad war in Syria to a close. It seems a very complex war, with lots (it seems) freelance armies, each with their own agenda. After the Yazidis fled (they numbered around 700,000), the Shia'as were made to flee, now even the Sunnis have started to run, all wishing to find home and hearth in Germany or some other EU nation. The 2 million camped as refugees in Turkey and Lebanon and other nations cannot feel happy, away from the comforts of their own homes and homelands. It is a very tough struggle for survival for these people, who seem to have made this exodus of Biblical proportions, fleeing Syria, now seeking the mercy of entry and shelter into the European nations. A blessed solution will be the halt of conflict in Syria itself, and the rehabilitation of all these people in their own lands. It just seems physically impossible for the European nations to house them or provide for them for any length of time. The best the European nations can do, now as in the foreseeable future, is to continue to provide extraordinary aid to Turkey and Lebanon and other nations to be as hosts to all these displaced people. And being in the warm nations will be good for their health; in the cold in Europe, it will be difficult, affecting their health. If all the warring factions in Syria could show some understanding and mercy, and be good to themselves, and bring the war to an end, it would be fair and entitle them to blessings of Allah. I cannot imagine our Heavenly Father looking at the whole situation and not shedding plentiful tears. (I personally believe that Armageddon - and, inter alia, Jihad - must have been cancelled by Divine Decree ; some bloody conflicts that had been foreseen in the 1990s did not happen, thank God. It is also great news for the world that Ebola has been contained, whose contagion and spread was one of the biggest fears just a little while back. I sing God's praises together with our friends in West Africa on this. Amen.)
On the positive side, the resumption of trade and lifting of sanctions against Iran after their historic nuclear deal augurs well for everybody. What can be more pleasing than to see these very cultured people enjoy the medicine, clothes, food, confectionery, motor cars and scientific developments from the Western nations in exchange for their Oil wealth? Similarly the lifting of sanctions against other nations would create a happier picture, if those nations too foster an agenda of peace. Peace is the atmosphere in which humanity can enjoy life; it seems God and Mother Nature have provided each and every nation ample resources to use and innovate and exchange with other people.
The lowish Oil price for the meantime could be a great gift for the developing nations, if their currencies have not been adversely affected by the strength of the dollar or the British Pound. If there is some favourable adjustment, then those nations could make good use of Oil at an affordable price and turn their pace of progress. It may be in the gift of the developed nations to enable them in this.
I pray for that.
The Oil producing nations may have problems balancing their books once they have used up the surpluses kept aside from their incomes. Their self-interest and survival will dictate some common-sense policy as regards the production and the price. When this dawns on them collectively is only known to God. Reducing incomes would impact their trade, and impact the globe. My suggestion is a stable Oil price, which would have the added benefit of helping the fracking and shale producers resume their activities.
On current polling in the U.S., it seems Ted Cruz is catching up with Donald Trump. In the meantime, most polls (with the exception of Fox News, who are oh so biased in favour of the Republicans, it seems) indicate Hillary Clinton having most support. Here in the U.K., the bookies give odds of 4/5 on for Mrs Clinton becoming the next President of U.S.A. (They were quoting 7/2 Marco Rubio and 8/1 Donald Trump). Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio are certainly going to give Mr Donald Trump a run for his money, and by the time there is a clear nominee for the Republicans, there will be a wide stretch between them and the Democratic contender. At this stage, I believe Mrs Clinton is most likely to make it to the White House this time. The continued success of Obamacare and the perceived liking of the American people for the Democrat policies convinces me more. If the Tea Party were in charge, by now probably there would have been sequestration cuts or a government shutdown, and who really wants that?
Hopefully the world leaders will guide policies for peace and stability everywhere, and favourable trade policies so all nations can benefit. I am inspired by Lord Rama's words : "Where there is peace, there shall be prosperity".
Wishing you a Happy New Year, full of joy and peace and good health.
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