annual forecasts

2014 Annual Forecast

3 MINS READJan 6, 2014 | 10:01 GMT
A Tesco distribution plant in December 2014 in Reading, England. In the lead up to Christmas, Tesco's busiest time of the year, 13,000 staff worked around the clock at 28 distribution centers across the United Kingdom.

A Tesco distribution plant in December 2014 in Reading, England. In the lead up to Christmas, Tesco's busiest time of the year, 13,000 staff worked around the clock at 28 distribution centers across the United Kingdom.

(Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)

Overview

After spending more than a decade absorbed in intractable conflicts across the Islamic world, the United States will finally start to catch its breath in 2014. As U.S. troops draw down their presence in Afghanistan, Washington will go to great lengths to develop an understanding with Tehran. Negotiations will face major hurdles, and a final settlement that lifts the economic embargo on Iran will be a bridge too far for 2014. However, our longtime readers probably will not be surprised by the underlying depth and sincerity shared by Tehran and Washington that will sustain this detente over the course of the year....

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Middle East and North Africa

The Middle East and North Africa is the world's crossroads. It encompasses the Arabian Peninsula, the mountains of Iran, the plains of Turkey, the deserts of the Levant, the lands north of the Sahara and all coasts in between. The story of the region, as is so often the case of places stuck between foreign players, is the story of trade, exchange and conflict. The traditional powers of the region are Turkey and Iran — Saudi Arabia and Egypt are the current Arab powers — and their competition for influence over the region's weaker states makes the Middle East and North Africa an arena of violence and instability.

Jan 6, 2014 | 16:56 GMT
The Middle East and North Africa encompasses the Arabian Peninsula, the mountains of Iran, the plains of Turkey, the deserts of the Levant, the lands north of the Sahara and all coasts in between.

The Middle East and North Africa encompasses the Arabian Peninsula, the mountains of Iran, the plains of Turkey, the deserts of the Levant, the lands north of the Sahara and all coasts in between.

section Highlights
  • The U.S. attempt to resurrect a balance of power in the Middle East through a strategic detente with Iran will be the driving issue for the Middle East in 2014. 
  • Saudi Arabia, though deeply unnerved at the prospect of its primary patron developing a relationship with its main regional adversary, will lack the power and influence to derail the negotiation. 
  • Syria will remain the main proxy battlefield between Iran and Saudi Arabia, despite multilateral efforts to negotiate a political transition.
  • The Egyptian military will use the spring election cycle to further entrench its authority and stack the government with political allies.
  • While Iran strengthens its regional position through accommodation with Washington, Turkey will look for ways to balance against Iran.
See more on this Region

After spending more than a decade absorbed in intractable conflicts across the Islamic world, the United States will finally start to catch its breath in 2014. As U.S. troops draw down their presence in Afghanistan, Washington will go to great lengths to develop an understanding with Tehran. Negotiations will face major hurdles, and a final settlement that lifts the economic embargo on Iran will be a bridge too far for 2014. However, our longtime readers probably will not be surprised by the underlying depth and sincerity shared by Tehran and Washington that will sustain this detente over the course of the year....

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Europe

To the west of Eurasia lays Europe, a region predisposed to division. It is surrounded on nearly all sides by islands and peninsulas that make it difficult for Europe to cohere. The northern half of the continent, moreover, sits on a plain whose short, meandering rivers tend to empower countries without forcing them to work with others. The southern half is situated on more mountainous terrain that has historically impeded the creation of strong, unified economies. As a result, Europe is a continent riven by pockets of distinct cultures whose differences are all too often irreconcilable.

Jan 6, 2014 | 17:52 GMT
Europe is a continent riven by pockets of distinct cultures whose differences are all too often irreconcilable.

Europe is a continent riven by pockets of distinct cultures whose differences are all too often irreconcilable.

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  • Europe will be able to muddle through another year of stagnant economic growth and high unemployment, but the political and social pressures developing on the Continent will hobble the very structural reforms needed to manage the crisis in the long run.
  • Street demonstrations will be the most obvious expression of popular anger at ruling elites, but just as important to watch will be the gradual strengthening of nationalist and anti-establishment parties.
  • EU institutions will be largely paralyzed for the second half of the year because of European Parliament elections in May and the election of a new European Commission at the end of 2014. 
  • The Franco-German relationship, which forms the foundation of the European Union, will be tested this year as tension in France escalates. 
  • 2014 will also be a significant year for European separatist movements.
See more on this Region

After spending more than a decade absorbed in intractable conflicts across the Islamic world, the United States will finally start to catch its breath in 2014. As U.S. troops draw down their presence in Afghanistan, Washington will go to great lengths to develop an understanding with Tehran. Negotiations will face major hurdles, and a final settlement that lifts the economic embargo on Iran will be a bridge too far for 2014. However, our longtime readers probably will not be surprised by the underlying depth and sincerity shared by Tehran and Washington that will sustain this detente over the course of the year....

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Eurasia

Eurasia is the world’s most expansive region. It connects the East to the West, forming a land bridge that borders Europe, the Asia-Pacific, the Middle East and South Asia. Forming the borders of this massive tract of land are the Northern European Plain, the Carpathian Mountains, the Southern Caucasus Mountains, the Tien Shan Mountains and Siberia. At the heart of Eurasia is Russia, a country that throughout history has tried, to varying degrees of success, to extend its influence to Eurasia’s farthest reaches — a strategy meant to insulate it from outside powers. But this strategy necessarily creates conflict throughout Russia’s borderlands, putting Eurasia a near constant state of instability.

Jan 6, 2014 | 18:05 GMT
Eurasia connects the East to the West, forming a land bridge that borders Europe, the Asia-Pacific, the Middle East and South Asia.

Eurasia connects the East to the West, forming a land bridge that borders Europe, the Asia-Pacific, the Middle East and South Asia.

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  • Though Russia will continue trying to build leverage in the Middle East to quietly complicate U.S. plans for the region, it will not be able to stand in the way of a U.S.-Iran deal. 
  • Moscow will try to make the most of the situation by arguing that the U.S.-Iranian negotiation has removed the Iranian military threat and thus has rendered U.S. ballistic missile defense plans for Europe obsolete. 
  • This will be a politically volatile year for Ukraine in the run-up to the presidential election slated for early 2015, and protests against the president will occur periodically throughout the year.
  • As Moscow looks beyond Europe to diversify its energy clientele, Russia will expand and deepen its relationships in the Asia-Pacific region.
See more on this Region

After spending more than a decade absorbed in intractable conflicts across the Islamic world, the United States will finally start to catch its breath in 2014. As U.S. troops draw down their presence in Afghanistan, Washington will go to great lengths to develop an understanding with Tehran. Negotiations will face major hurdles, and a final settlement that lifts the economic embargo on Iran will be a bridge too far for 2014. However, our longtime readers probably will not be surprised by the underlying depth and sincerity shared by Tehran and Washington that will sustain this detente over the course of the year....

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Asia-Pacific

The Asia-Pacific is home to more people than any other region. Centered on the western rim of the Pacific Ocean, this region includes the easternmost countries of continental Asia as well as the archipelagos that punctuate the coast. Several of these countries, most notably China, experienced rapid economic growth in the second half of the 20th century, giving the region a new sense of global economic relevance that continues today. That relevance, however, depends largely on China, a power in transition whose rise is testing the network of U.S. alliances that have long dominated the region. How effectively Beijing manages its transition will shape the regional balance of power in the decades to come.

Jan 6, 2014 | 18:41 GMT
Centered on the western rim of the Pacific Ocean, the Asia-Pacific region includes the easternmost countries of continental Asia as well as the archipelagos that punctuate the coast.

Centered on the western rim of the Pacific Ocean, the Asia-Pacific region includes the easternmost countries of continental Asia as well as the archipelagos that punctuate the coast.

section Highlights
  • China will struggle to implement reforms amid an economic slowdown, consolidate the new administration's power and assert its influence in the region.
  • Major powers will respond to China's growing influence.
  • Many Asian states will experience greater volatility because of China's slowdown, U.S. monetary policy and internal political dynamics.
See more on this Region

After spending more than a decade absorbed in intractable conflicts across the Islamic world, the United States will finally start to catch its breath in 2014. As U.S. troops draw down their presence in Afghanistan, Washington will go to great lengths to develop an understanding with Tehran. Negotiations will face major hurdles, and a final settlement that lifts the economic embargo on Iran will be a bridge too far for 2014. However, our longtime readers probably will not be surprised by the underlying depth and sincerity shared by Tehran and Washington that will sustain this detente over the course of the year....

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South Asia

Everything that informs geopolitics can be found in South Asia: challenging demographics, geographic diversity, and contentious, ill-defined borders. The Himalayan Mountains form the northern border of South Asia, whose two main rivers, the Indus and the Ganges, support the region’s great population centers. India is the region’s dominant country, home to the world’s fastest growing economy. But its rivalry with neighboring Pakistan, a fellow nuclear power and growing consumer market, has made South Asia one of the world’s most dangerous nuclear flashpoints. The region is also a testament to how militancy and militarism can undermine the regional integration needed to unleash higher economic growth.

Jan 6, 2014 | 19:50 GMT
Everything that informs geopolitics can be found in South Asia: challenging demographics, geographic diversity, and contentious, ill-defined borders.

Everything that informs geopolitics can be found in South Asia: challenging demographics, geographic diversity, and contentious, ill-defined borders.

section Highlights
  • India's looming national elections in May 2014 will consume the country's attention. 
  • Bangladesh will attempt to hold elections without a military-backed neutral caretaker government in place for the first time since the country's return to civilian rule in 1990. 
  • Taking advantage of the internal divisions already becoming apparent within Sri Lankan Tamil politics, President Mahinda Rajapaksa's administration will try to revitalize provincial economies through outside investment and infrastructure development. 
  • Afghanistan faces two primary challenges in 2014: the drawdown of NATO forces and the decision on the status of forces agreement with the United States.
  • Pakistani Taliban rebels under a new leader based in eastern Afghanistan will try to take advantage of the vacuum created by departing Western forces and the Afghan Taliban insurgency to launch a new offensive east of the Durand Line. 
See more on this Region

After spending more than a decade absorbed in intractable conflicts across the Islamic world, the United States will finally start to catch its breath in 2014. As U.S. troops draw down their presence in Afghanistan, Washington will go to great lengths to develop an understanding with Tehran. Negotiations will face major hurdles, and a final settlement that lifts the economic embargo on Iran will be a bridge too far for 2014. However, our longtime readers probably will not be surprised by the underlying depth and sincerity shared by Tehran and Washington that will sustain this detente over the course of the year....

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Americas

The Americas stretch from the Arctic Circle in Canada to the southern tip of Chile. This geographically, culturally and politically diverse region is home to the United States, a nation whose geography helped it become the foremost economic and military power in the world — an ascendance aided in part by bringing Mexico and Canada into its sphere of influence. Farther south, the nations of South America are like islands, separated by vast spaces of impenetrable mountains, rivers and jungles. Try though these countries may to integrate more closely, deeper ties such as those that characterize North America will prove elusive.
Jan 6, 2014 | 19:51 GMT
This geographically, culturally and politically diverse region is home to the United States, a nation whose geography helped it become the foremost economic and military power in the world

This geographically, culturally and politically diverse region is home to the United States, a nation whose geography helped it become the foremost economic and military power in the world

section Highlights
  • Having passed a raft of deep political, economic and social reforms in 2013, Mexico will now be faced with perhaps an even harder task: implementation. 
  • Even if the FARC reaches a peace agreement with the Colombian government in 2014, the deal's implementation will be complicated, and any agreement likely will take months or years to fully enact.
  • Despite the increasingly unstable economic situation, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro will not face a direct threat to his rule this year.
  • Three major dynamics will define Brazil in 2014: global macroeconomic instability, the World Cup and the presidential election.
  • With the economy struggling, less congressional support after midterm elections and the inability to run for another term, Argentine President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner will be in crisis-prevention mode in 2014 while continuing to prepare a succession scheme.
See more on this Region

After spending more than a decade absorbed in intractable conflicts across the Islamic world, the United States will finally start to catch its breath in 2014. As U.S. troops draw down their presence in Afghanistan, Washington will go to great lengths to develop an understanding with Tehran. Negotiations will face major hurdles, and a final settlement that lifts the economic embargo on Iran will be a bridge too far for 2014. However, our longtime readers probably will not be surprised by the underlying depth and sincerity shared by Tehran and Washington that will sustain this detente over the course of the year....

section

Sub-Saharan Africa

Sub-Saharan Africa is a study in diversity. Covering an area that spans the entire width of the continent beginning at the Sahara Desert and ending at the southernmost tip of South Africa, the region is home to countless cultures, languages, religions, plants, animals and natural resources. It’s no surprise that it captured the imagination of Europe’s earliest explorers — and that it continues to capture the imagination of current world powers eager to exploit it. And yet despite the region’s diversity, Sub-Saharan African countries have common challenges — transnational terrorism, rapid population growth, endemic poverty and corruption — that prevent them from capitalizing on their economic potential. The coming years will be critical for the region, especially as its political institutions mature in a rapidly globalizing world.

Jan 6, 2014 | 19:51 GMT
Covering an area that spans the entire width of the continent beginning at the Sahara Desert and ending at the southernmost tip of South Africa, Sub-Saharan Africa is home to countless cultures, languages, religions, plants, animals and natural resources.

Covering an area that spans the entire width of the continent beginning at the Sahara Desert and ending at the southernmost tip of South Africa, Sub-Saharan Africa is home to countless cultures, languages, religions, plants, animals and natural resources.

section Highlights
  • This will be an especially violent year in Nigeria ahead of political party leadership elections in December and national elections in April 2015. 
  • This will be an especially violent year in Nigeria ahead of political party leadership elections in December and national elections in April 2015. 
  • South African opposition parties will not attract meaningful numbers of voters beyond narrow factional supporters, resulting in a comfortable win for the ruling African National Congress and its president, Jacob Zuma.
  • While the capabilities of al Shabaab and al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb have been degraded in the groups' main areas of operation, they will remain capable of conducting guerrilla attacks.
See more on this Region

After spending more than a decade absorbed in intractable conflicts across the Islamic world, the United States will finally start to catch its breath in 2014. As U.S. troops draw down their presence in Afghanistan, Washington will go to great lengths to develop an understanding with Tehran. Negotiations will face major hurdles, and a final settlement that lifts the economic embargo on Iran will be a bridge too far for 2014. However, our longtime readers probably will not be surprised by the underlying depth and sincerity shared by Tehran and Washington that will sustain this detente over the course of the year....

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