Welcome 2009, anyway

Welcome 2009, anyway

Year 2009 will be a very thorny year for me. I will need to hold on to my job. And beware of Patricia. I spent all our savings on a house. The price crashed. Now, I am broke. Most of 2009, Patricia will harangue me about my impoverished financial education.

With the global recession getting worse every month, in 2009 the world will learn new lessons. US superorator Barack Obama will be quiet in 2009. He will struggle to manage a turbulent world ravaged by recession and terrorists. He will discover that winning an election is easier than managing a turbulent world. President George Bush will bid a wistful farewell. The world may not miss him right away, but history could be kinder to him. Hillary Clinton could help wipe tears in West Asia and Africa. Her job will be tougher than Obama’s. She will spend much time flying to trouble spots across the world.

Russia will continue to be ruled by mafia oligarchies. Vladimir Putin will swim with them. China and Japan will be miserable. If they stop exports to the US, they risk unemployment. If they continue funding the US, they risk bad debts. Japan will open its immigration doors to neighbours.

India will wallow in trauma after the Mumbai terrorist attacks. There will be anger, humiliation, frustration. But little action. Pakistan’s slide into anarchy will accelerate. It could replace Iraq as the world’s biggest problem. Its government writ will not run. The army elite and terrorists will remote-control destruction.

The US will not shine in 2009. Stung by prime loans, traumatized Americans owe $11 trillion to the world, principally to China and Japan. Americans have to work hard merely to pay their debts. But Americans are losing jobs. They are walking away from homes. Credit companies are not funding them. Americans will not be able to buy Gucci, dresses made by underpaid workers in China who cannot protest under dictatorship.

When a family is distressed, common sense dictates: Cut expenses. But if the US stops spending, more people lose jobs. Americans will ruminate on their decision to dismantle local production for cheap socks and laptops from China. The US will rethink its brand of capitalism.

Though global growth could fall 2.5%, China and India will march towards superpower status and stardom.

Global recession will strangle all economies. Pensions for the old will evaporate. Middle classes may be jobless. The young will hop, skip, jump jobs. Unemployment will spiral by 20 million. Those living on less than $2 per day will grow by 40 million to 2.5 billion. We could be poorer. Multitudes will sleep hungry.

Stock and real estate markets will slumber, perhaps pick up gradually. Speculators will agonize. They deserve to.

The rich will patronize fashion, movie extravaganzas. They will moan they are not getting richer, faster. Tiger Woods may continue his hegemony. Roger Federer will struggle. Al Pacino, Robert De Niro are fading. Hopefully, we will get a few sensitive movies with new actors.

Expect no great advances in music, art, culture. Arts flourish when people are happy, have money. Shakira will shake hips and inspire us to shake a leg.

But there will be sunshine too, despite gloomy clouds. Ordinary citizens will labour in factories, offices, shops for a better tomorrow. They will ask questions of leaders, produce brighter leaders. When six billion citizens determine to build a brave, new world, no recession or terrorist can lick them.

So 2009, welcome, anyway. We will not go under. My primary battle in 2009 will be to secure Patricia’s permission to pursue a movie career. It pays better than management. And I do not have to work six days a week.

Rajendra Aneja is CEO of a food company in West Asia. Comment at otherviews@livemint.com