Michael Weidokal is the author of a wide range of publications, including articles covering the latest on international economics, global politics and other future-looking subjects. Below is a sample of some of his recent articles, covering a range of topics.
To learn more about Michael's writing, or to enquire about how he can write for your publication, contact him via the Contact webpage on this website.
Selected Newspaper and Magazine Articles
The Outlook for the World in 2024
1st of January 2024
As the head of one of the world’s leading economic and political research firms, I have been making predictions on what will happen in the world in the coming year for more than 20 years. As a reminder, my ten predictions for 2023 were:
The world economy would slow, but the US economy would avoid a recession.
The war in Ukraine would not end in 2023.
Covid-19 would be treated like any other seasonal virus.
Inflationary pressures would ease, but not disappear.
The threat of popular unrest would remain high around the world.
Interest rate hikes would finally end by the end of 2023.
2024’s presidential election in the US would dominate US politics in 2023.
Labor shortages would persist.
Trust in government and technology would decline.
India would overtake China in terms of the size of its population.
As we head in 2024, we do so with a great deal of concern, as the coming year could be a pivotal moment in modern history as a multitude of technological, political, economic, environmental and social changes are dramatically altering our world.
For my predictions for 2024, I have broken them down into three broad categories (political, economy and other). While these predictions cover a lot of territory, there are sure to be some surprises in store for the world in the coming year.
Political and Security Predictions for 2024
The 2024 Presidential Election in the United States Will Sow Chaos
The 2024 United States presidential election will be the most divisive election in the US since 1968, and perhaps since 1860, and we know how that ended. Democrats will try to hold the White House with an aging president and no one in sight to replace him should his health fail. Republicans are once again led by former President Donald Trump, who is also aging while facing a myriad of legal problems that could keep him from running. If it is Biden vs. Trump, it will be a close race. However, there is a greater than 50% chance than at least one of the two front-runners doesn’t make it to the finish line.
The Year of Elections
Voters in countries that are home to more than 4.2 billion people will go to the polls in 2024, an all-time record. The most important elections will take place in India, Indonesia, Pakistan, Iran, Mexico, the United Kingdom, South Africa and the European Union. What is certain is that the trend towards right- and left-wing populism, and the increasing fragmentation of political parties and systems, will continue in the coming year.
The Decisive Year in Ukraine
While the war between Russia and Ukraine may not end, this will be the year in which the outcome of this conflict will become clear. If Ukraine cannot drive Russian forces from more of its territory, it is likely to face pressure from its Western allies to reach a settlement with Russia that could include the ceding of territory in eastern and southern Ukraine to Russia. Given Russia’s struggles in Ukraine, it would certainly agree to such a settlement.
Gaza in Ruins, Israel at Risk
Israel will fully occupy the Gaza Strip for the entirety of 2024, something that it had hoped to avoid when it withdrew from that territory in 2005. Hamas will have been decimated by Israel’s response to the October 7thattacks, but new militant groups will emerge. For Israel, Hamas’ attack and the conflict that followed will serve as a stark reminder that demographics and geography are not on their side in a volatile region.
A Tough Year for US Foreign Policy
2024 will be a difficult year for the United States and its foreign policy. First, President Biden will appear weak as the 2024 election turns his administration’s focus inwards. Second, the US will remain stretched too thin as its efforts to focus its foreign policy on countering the rise of China are distracted by wars in Ukraine and the Middle East, and by rising levels of unrest in many other parts of the world.
Economic Predictions for 2024
Slower Growth in the US in 2024
While I expected the US economy to perform relatively well in 2023, its performance was even better than expected, particularly when compared to the struggles of other major economies. In 2024, economic growth in the US will slow as consumer spending weakens, but a deep downturn will be averted thanks to the continued strength of the high-tech sector and other high-growth sectors of the economy.
Another Tough Year for the Global Economy
The global economic slowdown that began in the second half of 2022 and continued throughout 2023 will continue in 2024. China’s economy faces a number of massive demographic and financial problems that will result in slower growth in the coming year. Meanwhile, Europe’s long-term sluggishness will continue in 2024. Only some Asian emerging markets such as India and Vietnam will manage to record strong growth.
Inflation Rates Continue to Fall
Inflation rates fell faster than many economists had predicted in 2023, due largely to sharp declines in food and energy inflation. This decline will continue in 2024, although the threat of further external shocks and continued wage growth will keep inflation from falling to pre-pandemic levels before the end of this year.
Interest Rate Cuts by Late 2024
While inflation rates have fallen, core inflation (inflation excluding food and energy) has remained too high for comfort this year. As a result, the Federal Reserve and other central banks have been hesitant to cut interest rates. With inflation forecast to continue to fall, I now expect the first tentative interest rate cuts to be made in the latter part of 2024, with larger cuts to follow in 2025 and 2026.
Labor Shortages Persist
While job creation growth has slowed in late 2023, and will continue to slow in 2024, this will not alleviate the labor shortages that have plagued many sectors of the economy in recent years. This is particularly true in regions where working-age populations have stagnated or are in decline. Nevertheless, the spread of automation and artificial intelligence will accelerate in 2024, raising hopes that the threat of long-term labor shortages can be alleviated in some sectors of the economy.
Five Other Predictions for 2024
Artificial Intelligence and the Economy
If 2023 was the year in with artificial intelligence went mainstream, 2024 will be the year in which AI begins to have a major impact on the economy. This will be most notable in the workplace, as AI begins to transform entire categories of labor, some of which will be decimated by AI, and others will be blossom. Meanwhile, AI will begin to have a positive impact on productivity growth, the key to our economic prosperity in the 21stcentury.
Other Technological Breakthroughs
While artificial intelligence has dominated the headlines, other technological advancements will have a major impact on our world in 2024. For example, quantum computing will boost productivity in the coming year, but will also pose major cybersecurity risks. Sustainable technology is another field that will see major advancement in the coming year. Finally, virtual and augmented reality will continue to become a bigger part of our lives in 2024.
An Increased Focus on Climate Change
There has been a greater focus on the changing climate around the world in recent years and this will continue in 2024. As the ongoing El Nino in the Pacific Ocean is expected to continue well into next year, 2024 is likely to be another year of record-high temperatures around the world. This is likely to result in major climate-related disasters such as tropical storms, wildfires and droughts across the world, and these will have an increasing impact on the global economy.
A Debate Over Sustainability
While governments and businesses have dramatically increased their focus on issues related to sustainability, there has been a significant public backlash against efforts to promote sustainability. Recent elections around the world have shown that large segments of the voting public blame such policies for a wide range of economic and societal ills. This trend is likely to continue in 2024 and will play a major role in many of the coming year’s most important elections.
Social Divisions Will Continue to Widen
The increasing divisions with society that have emerged in recent years will continue to widen in 2024. This is due to the increasing fragmentation of modern society into groups of like-minded individuals that are increasingly isolated from other segments of society. This lack of unity will add to the political and society polarization that has emerged in recent years, making it harder to achieve a sense of unity that is needed to tackle the challenges of the 21st century.
2024 will be a pivotal year in the modern history of the world. Much can go wrong, as the wide range of threats facing the world in 2024 would be a daunting challenge for any society, let alone one as divided as ours. As such, we need to come together, both locally and globally, to deal with the challenges facing our world and to fully take advantage of the opportunities that the modern world presents. To do this, we need to regain a sense of unity, both as a country and as a world. Perhaps 2024 will be the year in which this sense of unity returns, but the signs suggest otherwise.
The Global Impact of the War in Gaza
8th of October 2023
While hearing news of clashes between the Israelis and Palestinians is all too familiar, the recent events in Israel and Gaza were something far different than what has transpired between the two sides in recent years. In fact, the scale of the attacks by Hamas on southern Israel came as a massive shock, for it was totally unexpected that Hamas had the capability to carry out such an audacious attack on Israel’s territory. Furthermore, the death toll from this attack and the Israeli response is staggering, and is certain to rise further in the coming days and weeks. The shocking nature of this attack will reverberate around the world, while for Israel, it is facing the fallout of an event that has been called Israel’s 9/11.
On the 7th of October, Hamas launched thousands of rockets at targets across Israel in the largest such barrage ever launched by that militant group. Afterwards, large numbers of Hamas fighters infiltrated Israel by land, sea and air in a shockingly coordinated ground assault on targets inside Israel, including a rave party in which nearly 300 people were killed. Furthermore, it was estimated that at least 100 people were taken hostage by the militants, many of whom were taken back to Gaza. Afterwards, Israeli armed forces fought pitched battles with Hamas militants in towns and villages across southern Israel, while launching air and missile attacks at Hamas targets inside Gaza. Now, Israeli forces are preparing for the inevitable attacks on Hamas targets in Gaza, which may include a full-blown invasion of Gaza.
It is no coincidence that Hamas decided to launch this massive attack on Israel at a time when Israel is engaged in deep diplomatic negotiations with Arab countries across the Middle East. In recent years, Israel has established diplomatic relations with a number of Arab states. Moreover, it appeared that Israel and Saudi Arabia were on the verge of establishing full diplomatic relations, something that would change the political landscape across the region. At the same time, support for the Palestinians among Arab governments, if not the Arab people, was waning. As a result, groups like Hamas have found themselves increasingly dependent upon Iran for military, political and economic support. Now, with Hamas having dramatically raised the stakes in the eastern Mediterranean, a war between Israel and Iran is a real possibility, particularly as Iran continues to advance its nuclear programs.
The impact of this new conflict in Israel will be felt well beyond the confines of the Middle East, for this war is adding to the already considerable level of destabilization and unrest around the world. Conflicts in Ukraine, Israel and the Caucasus have shown how long-festering flashpoints can quickly turn into full-blown wars overnight. Worse, there are other long-standing flashpoints such as Taiwan and the South China Sea that have the potential to cause much greater levels of disruption to international security and the global economy. This has led to a dramatic increase in defense spending around the world in recent years as many leading powers are preparing to defend their interests in a more unstable world.
Here in the United States, we are finding ourselves once again directly or indirectly engaged in conflicts all around the world. In recent decades, it has been the aim of successive administrations to lessen the role of the US in regions such as Europe and the Middle East, where the US had previously maintained a massive military presence. Instead, the wars in Ukraine and Israel have forced the United States to remain militarily and diplomatically engaged in these regions. This comes at a time when the desire of most US political and military leaders is to focus the country’s attention on Asia, as the rise of China has posed the greatest threat to the US’ leading position in the world since the Cold War. However, the US’ dominant geopolitical role in the world means that it cannot simply step away from its allies in Europe or the Middle East, forcing the US to divide its attention in an increasingly unstable world.
Much can still happen in this new war between Israel and Hamas. Clearly, Israel will launch a series of major retaliatory actions against Hamas, although the presence of dozens of hostages in Gaza may initially temper Israel’s actions there. Eventually, Israel is likely to launch a devastating attack on Gaza, one that could force that territory’s two million inhabitants to flee. Meanwhile, Israel may decide the time has come to strike Hamas’ primary backers, Iran. This would result in the most dangerous conflict in the Middle East in 50 years, one that would likely involve the United States. At a time when the US is facing a host of challenges to its global position, the last thing the US wanted to be involved in as 2023 approaches its end is another conflict in the Middle East.
Artificial Intelligence and its Economic Impact
17th of July 2023
The roll out of ChatGPT and a host of other forms of artificial intelligence has led to a dramatic increase in interest and awareness of artificial intelligence. Despite the fact that these tools had been in development for many years, the capabilities of some of these AI tools have generated shock, awe and curiosity. For example, while it took Instagram 2.5 months and Facebook ten months to reach one million users, it took ChatGPT just five days to reach this milestone. If the world wasn’t aware of artificial intelligence beforehand, it sure is now.
Given the powerful and wide-ranging capabilities of artificial intelligence, there is little doubt that AI will have a profound impact on most areas of our lives for the foreseeable future. The one area that I want to focus on in this article is artificial intelligence’s impact on the economy. On one hand, AI has the capability to solve some of the long-term problems that are facing the global economy, as well as the economy of Northeast Ohio. On the other hand, AI also has the potential to be so disruptive as to sow chaos and destruction. How we manage AI will go a great way towards determining our long-term economic future.
For years, I have been arguing that the only path to long-term economic expansion and prosperity is through higher rates of productivity growth. With population growth slowing in our region and around the world, and with trade and investment levels that are much lower than in the past, our only means of generating higher rates of economic growth will be through higher levels of productivity growth. Unfortunately, productivity growth in most major economies has been trending downwards for many decades now and there seemed to be no end in sight to this decline.
However, the emergence of artificial intelligence has raised hopes that productivity growth can be revived on the back of AI-based tools and processes. Some economists believe the artificial intelligence can eliminate many of the bottlenecks that are currently constraining productivity and economic growth. If so, AI could prove to be a positive game-changer when it comes to generating economic growth in the future.
Another factor that has been hampering economic growth in our region and around the world is the fact that labor shortages continue to worsen for most sectors of the economy. Worse, recent demographic trends indicate that these labor shortages are not only here to stay, but that they will worsen dramatically in the future. As such, this is another area in which artificial intelligence could solve a pressing economic problem, for AI could dramatically reduce the demand for labor in many sectors of the economy.
At the same time, like other new technologies in the past, artificial intelligence could create many new jobs and occupations that have not existed in the past. For example, 60% of today’s workers are in occupations that did not exist in 1940. Therefore, it is widely expected that AI will not only solve labor shortages in many sectors of the economy, but will also create a variety of new jobs that do not yet exist. Furthermore, these new jobs are likely to be much more productive than the jobs that will be replaced by various forms of artificial intelligence.
Two sectors of the economy that are expected to realize significant improvements in productivity thanks to artificial intelligence are manufacturing and healthcare. For Northeast Ohio, this presents a unique opportunity as manufacturing and healthcare are the foundations of our region’s economy. As labor shortages remain the leading constraint on growth for Northeast Ohio’s manufacturing and healthcare sectors, artificial intelligence has the potential to mitigate the economic impact of our region’s demographic decline and allow these sectors to continue to flourish in our region. In fact, artificial intelligence has the potential to completely transform Northeast Ohio’s economy for the better, possibly ushering in a new era of growth for a region that has fallen behind many of its peers in recent decades.
Many economists believe that artificial intelligence has the potential to drive much higher rates of economic growth in the coming years. Other economists believe that any positive impact on the economic from artificial intelligence will only be realized over the longer-term. Furthermore, there are many experts who warn that the spread of artificial intelligence could lead to widespread social and political unrest that could actually harm the economy rather than benefit it. Regardless, there is little doubt that artificial intelligence will transform many sectors of the global economy, including many of those here in Northeast Ohio. As such, it appears that we are on the cusp of a major economic revolution, much like the Industrial Revolution of the late 18th and early 19thcenturies. This will transform our world, and our region, hopefully for the better.