World on the Move: Consumption Patterns in a More Equal Global Economy
By Tomas Hellebrandt and Paolo Mauro
Peterson Institute for International Economics, 2016, 166 pp.
Every four years, the U.S. government’s National Intelligence Council (NIC) addresses in a report the important global economic, political, and societal developments it believes are likely to occur in the near term (the next five years) and the longer term (the next two decades). This year’s edition makes for a sobering read. It foresees slower global economic growth and increasing public disappointment with the ability of governments to ensure prosperity or even provide basic public goods such as education, health care, and security. The threat from terrorist organizations will increase, further undermining public confidence. Over the longer period, outcomes will depend to a high degree on demographic changes, the effects of which the report declines to specifically forecast, offering instead a number of imaginative potential scenarios—some negative, some positive.
In their book, Hellebrandt and Mauro also make projections about the next two decades. Their forecasts are bolder than the NIC’s and are built on specific predictions about demographic change and economic performance in many countries. Interestingly, they foresee a trend toward greater income and wealth equality as poorer countries grow more rapidly than developed ones. The book focuses especially on what the authors deem to be likely increases in the purchasing power of urban populations and middle classes, the ways in which the demand for food in emerging markets will rise (and change), and a growth in demand for many forms of transportation within and between cities.