Will ‘unravelling world’ fall apart in 2019?

Pessimists will some time be right about the world turning to custard. Will they be right about 2019?

Ambrose Evans-Pritchard (SMH/Telegraph) – The dystopian view: Is this the year the world falls apart?

This is the year that mounting hammer blows to the Western alliance system and the edifice of global governance threaten to bring the old order tumbling down.

There are always threats, but most years things manage to hang together, sort of.

“The geopolitical environment is the most dangerous it’s been in decades,” warns Eurasia Group, political risk-adviser to the world’s elites, and a voice of globalist ideology.

Pax Americana is unravelling. The transatlantic concord underpinning the West since the Fifties is dying. Nato, the G7, the G20, the WTO and the EU are all in varying degrees of crisis. Vladimir Putin’s Russia has an open goal.

“Every single one of these is trending negatively. And most in a way that hasn’t been in evidence since the Second World War,” it said.

Anti-liberal strongmen are tugging away at the edges in Turkey, Brazil and Hungary. Some in the twilight zones of the democratic world are drifting -towards the Putin-Xi camp.

There does seem to be a rise in extreme right and extreme left groups. The UK and Europe are battling over a split. Donald Trump is shaking up US and world trade and diplomacy.

“US alliances everywhere are weakening. The limited trust that underpins the US-China relationship appears to be gone,” said Eurasia in its annual outlook.

The dystopian picture is grim enough even at this late stage of global economic expansion, which begs the question: what would happen in a deep recession with mass unemployment?

The world has gone longer than usual without a recession, so one may be overdue.

Eurasia Group warned that 2019 could “turn out to be the year the world falls apart” although it is not the central forecast. Denouement may take a little longer.

“Barring bad luck (like -Sarajevo in 1914?), it takes years, even decades to knock down a geopolitical order. That process of erosion is under way around the world today,” it said.

It is a world in which the gloves are coming off in cyber warfare, setting off a cycle of “action and reaction” that could all too easily spin out of control.

In parallel, a “global tech Cold War” is closing in. States are slashing -reliance on foreign suppliers wherever national security is at stake. The West is shutting out Chinese manufacturers of 5G high-speed equipment. Digital globalism is in retreat.

Donald Trump is – in Eurasia’s view – the central catalyst and accelerant for much of what is going wrong in the world. It starts at home in Washington.

“Damage is being done to the legitimacy of democratic institutions in the world’s largest economy,” it said.

Europe is in no fit state to step into the leadership vacuum as America turns its back on the liberal alliance system and nexus of shared values.

There’s no doubt that major international relationships are shakier than usual, and this could increase.

Eurasia estimates that eurosceptic/populist forces will win 37 per cent of the seats in the European Parliament next May, up from 28 per cent in 2014.

That’s quite a move but well short of a majority.

“The new body formed later in 2019 will be in crisis before it even gets to work. This year will be the one when populists gain real power on Europe’s largest stage,” it said. This before the next inevitable downturn hits. When it does come the political shock absorbers will be perilously weakened. Belt-tightening will unleash a lot of deflationary demons.

Recessions are inevitable, and the risks of the next one being exacerbated by current international turmoil must be high.

The biggest tail risk is a Sino-American showdown ending in global economic slump, bitter recrimination, and a cycle of escalation “into the kinetic space”. Eurasia says relations have already deteriorated beyond the point of no return. Nor is there any workable common ground for compromise. At stake is 21st Century technology dominance, not trade.

“Rising nationalist sentiment makes it unlikely that Beijing will ignore US provocations,” it added.

Despite the doom and gloom headline and intro:

The balance of probabilities is that the world will muddle through 2019 without any of these landmines detonating. Yet the drift of events is clear. The Western liberal order we took for granted at the end of the Cold War is under existential threat.

“We’re setting ourselves up for trouble down the road. Big trouble,” it said.

But there’s no way of knowing when big trouble will arrive. It may or may not be in 2019.

Should we have confidence that Trump, the EU, Theresa May, Putin, China can smooth the lumps out the custard when it turns? Ah, I have concerns with that lot and the way they are currently playing things.

Here in New Zealand there is little to nothing we can about it anyway, except be prudent with our own national finances and personal finances to prepare ourselves for harder times, whenever they come.


  1. acrossthespectrum

     /  January 9, 2019

    Will ‘unravelling world’ fall apart in 2019?
    Not before the AB’s win a third world cup in a row on Nov 2nd.
    Then the world can fall apart

  2. David

     /  January 9, 2019

    I think the world is getting saner, out with the war mongerers with Trump eschewing foreign adventures, great leaders being elected in Europe pushing back on the EU and Merkels hated ideas, good strong leaders in Saudi, Israel, Turkey, Russia.
    Things are finally looking up.

  3. PartisanZ

     /  January 9, 2019

    At any given time the world both IS and ISN’T falling apart …

    1917 … 1929 … 1934 (if you’re Chinese) … 1939 … 1941 … 1945 (if you’re Japanese) … 1972 (if you’re Vietnamese) … 1987 … 2008 … (if you’re Economese) … etc etc et al ad infinitum …

    IMHO the world is presently pulling away from some form of limited World Federation-style Government … and if we go too far in that ‘Nationalist’ direction history tells us we’ll have to have another ‘World War’ to get back on track …

    How can people like you David zealously want ‘globalization’ of markets and not see the need therefore for global market regulation? It beggars belief …

    Things are finally looking much the same as they always have …

    • Trevors_elbow

       /  January 9, 2019

      Because Parti…global regulation means global government with a consequent loss of democracy….its bad enough having indirect Chinese influence in NZ a worldwide governing body would be much, much worse.

      I know socialist loooove the idea of one world government but I’m not keen on an8ther USSR but this time reigning across the globe

      Answering on David’s behalf : )

      • David

         /  January 9, 2019


      • PartisanZ

         /  January 9, 2019

        I’ll try to be reasonable Trev … even though you are being childishly one-eyed …

        Ben Waimata, do you see what I mean about Righties using the word “socialism”?

        I did say “LIMITED World Federation-STYLE Government” … But “Governance” would have been a better word … because despite your unfailing support for some forms of government you seem terrified by the word “government” … I find that peculiar …

        You both admire the United States don’t you, Elbow and David?

        What is the United States? A FEDERATION of sovereign States … Right?

        Limited sovereignty is given up by each State to the Federal Governance Body for the purposes of … whatever the fuck we agree the purposes are … e.g. global market regulation … which might be ‘light’ rather than ‘heavy’ … global security …

        Our representatives to the World Federation (or a transformed United Nations) could be ELECTED … which is what? OH … democracy … that’s Right.

        [Sound of steel-trap minds shutting: CLANG!!!] … Oh well … Roll on World War Three …

        After all, war is one of the few things that keeps us all so ‘prosperous’ anyhow.

        • Trevors_elbow

           /  January 9, 2019

          UN is an example of a world regulatory body. Captured by autocratic socialists who do nothing but feather there nests and make shit worse… EU another example on a regional scale but with the same ideals…

          What you miss, how unusual, is places like China are inherently anti democratic. Always have been always will be. No world government on a properly democratic basis is possible without China completely changing its culture… Not.Going.To.Happen.

          Ps. What the post by Pete misses is what Trump has tried to achieve with his Russian policy… encirclement and neutering of China….but because its Trump its pandering to the Rus…

          • Gezza

             /  January 9, 2019

            Shit. Trev? What happened at the end?

            Christ – have the Russians or the Chinese got to him?

      • Blazer

         /  January 9, 2019

        Wall St ,Rothschilds and Co socialists these days!

        • PartisanZ

           /  January 9, 2019

          Yeah, right … and IMF, WTO & Co are not forms of World Government!

          … on behalf of Wall St., Rothschilds and Co …

  4. Alan Wilkinson

     /  January 9, 2019

    Evans-Pritchard seems to be a congenital clickbait scaremongerer. I’ve given up taking him seriously.

  5. Gezza

     /  January 9, 2019

    The Universal Declaration of Human Rights was probably the first genuine attempt to arrive at a set of human values all nations would sign up to and basically they all did.

    But it’s not enforceable, isn’t legally binding, gets routinely ignored by many countries and is criticised as too culturally Western and some provisions are ignored by many states, including some Western countries, when it’s inconvenient or, for example, conflicts with their different set of values – such a Islamic values and Sharia law.

    Any of the victors of the Second World on the Security Council (also all the world’s major arms suppliers) can veto UN resolutions signed up to by everybody else.

    Protecting national borders & economies, and maintaining cultural & national identities is still a major factor in so many countries (or trading/cultural/economic & security blocs) it’s difficult to foresee any time in the near future where any agreed form of global governance is likely to survive.

    Even if representatives to some improved form of new UN were to be brought about by another global conflagration that shocked the survivors into recognising the ways things work around the world produces seemingly endless conflicts & economic disparities & shocks were to be elected by local populations rather than nominated by their governments they would most likely be under constant popular and political pressure to protect their own national interests & end up doing so.

    While all about us lose their heads, I propose we just keep calm and carry on – and wait and see what happens, because the more the world changes the more it seems to pretty much keep being the same. We’re apes. That’s the main problem.

    • Alan Wilkinson

       /  January 9, 2019

      Would it help if you grew a tail then?

    • PartisanZ

       /  January 10, 2019

      Apes don’t choose like humans do … or have the capacity to develop their powers of choosing … You’ve fallen for a complete fallacy …

      • Gezza

         /  January 10, 2019

        The Hominidae whose members are known as great apes or hominids, are a taxonomic family of primates that includes eight extant species in four genera: Pongo, the Bornean, Sumatran and Tapanuli orangutan; Gorilla, the eastern and western gorilla; Pan, the common chimpanzee and the bonobo; and Homo, which includes modern humans and its extinct relatives (e.g., the Neanderthal), and ancestors, such as Homo erectus.

        You’ve fallen for the fallacy of arrogance we’re not Great Apes. Also how much do you know of what capacities other apes have.

        You are talking out of your ass. Leave that to the baboons.

        • Gezza

           /  January 10, 2019

          The hostility and aggression in that downtick is simply the displacement of the ape drive to dominate or resist being dominated. It’s a primal urge, particularly evident among males in the human ape species. We still have an important number of primal drives that operate within us all the time. Our capacities for imagination are an evolutionary survival mechanism which have served us well but the drive to dominate or resist domination, displaced into other areas such as politics and opinions are still there.

          The stress many humans suffer from are generated by the flight or fight response and our inability to flee or fight in the real world. It is transferred to our imaginery world.

          The reason there is so much conflict among humans is that despite our higher brain capacity we are still subject to primal urges operating all the time under the conscious radar.

          This is a big subject. Striking out in anger with a downtick in the imaginary battle of concepts doesn’t win it.

  6. Pink David

     /  January 9, 2019

    The world is great, and it’s getting better.

    • Gezza

       /  January 9, 2019

      Well, I certainly don’t think it’s getting worse, although most of what’s wrong with it in various places is still due to the humans. There’s not a lot any other life forms seem able to do about that. The planet might have to take care of the human problem eventually. Hard to know.

    • PartisanZ

       /  January 10, 2019

      Western conceit … It’s getting better for you PD, and for many others … but it’s getting worse for many people too … and it’s been real bad for a lot of people all along … and everything inbetween …

  1. Will ‘unravelling world’ fall apart in 2019? — Your NZ – NZ Conservative Coalition