quarterly forecasts

2018 Fourth-Quarter Forecast

4 MINS READSep 9, 2018 | 18:03 GMT
Stratfor's 2018 Fourth-Quarter Forecast explores what the coming months ahead will bring, looking at international affairs through the prism of geopolitics.
(ANDREAS GEBERT/ZACHARIAS ABUBEKER/RONALDO SCHEMIDT/LARS HAGBERG/PETER MACDIARMID/JORGE SILVA/AFP/Getty Images/Wollertz/Shutters

Overview

With an eye on every corner of the world, our global forecast for the final quarter of 2018 shows little respite for careworn countries, trade agreements under strain, trouble ahead in emerging markets, little progress in resolving conflicts and broad shifts in alliances....

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Global Trends

In today's world, nations are becoming increasingly interconnected by air, land, sea and cyberspace. As globalization has knitted countries and continents closer together, the borders of the map and the barriers of geography have been rendered, in some ways, obsolete. Now events in one region can more easily have consequences in another, at times even rippling across the globe. We explore those with the greatest impact on international decision-making during the forecast period below.

Jul 24, 2018 | 16:59 GMT
section Highlights
  • The United States will pile more tariffs on China, targeting $200 billion worth of imports, and may ramp up the pressure further after midterm elections in November as trade negotiations stall.

  • While the successful renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement will mitigate the U.S. administration's threat to impose tariffs on automobiles and auto parts in North America, the European Union will probably fail to avoid the measures.

  • A steep decline in Iranian oil exports, along with looming production disruptions in countries such as Libya, Nigeria, Venezuela and Iraq, will constrict global oil supplies, prompting the White House to try to coerce Saudi Arabia to dig dangerously deep into its spare capacity.

  • U.S. unilateralism in tariff and sanctions policy will push regional powers such as Turkey to pursue ties with non-Western states and drive world powers such as Europe to reclaim their economic sovereignty.

With an eye on every corner of the world, our global forecast for the final quarter of 2018 shows little respite for careworn countries, trade agreements under strain, trouble ahead in emerging markets, little progress in resolving conflicts and broad shifts in alliances....

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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.

Sep 9, 2018 | 18:30 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.

With an eye on every corner of the world, our global forecast for the final quarter of 2018 shows little respite for careworn countries, trade agreements under strain, trouble ahead in emerging markets, little progress in resolving conflicts and broad shifts in alliances....

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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.
Sep 9, 2018 | 20:39 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

With an eye on every corner of the world, our global forecast for the final quarter of 2018 shows little respite for careworn countries, trade agreements under strain, trouble ahead in emerging markets, little progress in resolving conflicts and broad shifts in alliances....

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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.

Sep 9, 2018 | 21:23 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.

With an eye on every corner of the world, our global forecast for the final quarter of 2018 shows little respite for careworn countries, trade agreements under strain, trouble ahead in emerging markets, little progress in resolving conflicts and broad shifts in alliances....

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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.

Sep 9, 2018 | 17:38 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.

With an eye on every corner of the world, our global forecast for the final quarter of 2018 shows little respite for careworn countries, trade agreements under strain, trouble ahead in emerging markets, little progress in resolving conflicts and broad shifts in alliances....

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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.

Sep 9, 2018 | 14:39 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.

With an eye on every corner of the world, our global forecast for the final quarter of 2018 shows little respite for careworn countries, trade agreements under strain, trouble ahead in emerging markets, little progress in resolving conflicts and broad shifts in alliances....

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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.

Sep 9, 2018 | 21:17 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.

With an eye on every corner of the world, our global forecast for the final quarter of 2018 shows little respite for careworn countries, trade agreements under strain, trouble ahead in emerging markets, little progress in resolving conflicts and broad shifts in alliances....

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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.

Sep 9, 2018 | 21:56 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.

With an eye on every corner of the world, our global forecast for the final quarter of 2018 shows little respite for careworn countries, trade agreements under strain, trouble ahead in emerging markets, little progress in resolving conflicts and broad shifts in alliances....

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