Introduction A year is an arbitrary moment. It is short, its length determined by a planet’s rotation around a sun. It is merely a moment in a longer and more complex tale in which figures who tower for a time pass by unnoticed, when the triumphs and tragedies that rivet us all fade away, all but forgotten. In that sense, forecasting what happens next year is possible only if it is viewed as one frame of a much longer movie. Our annual forecast must therefore be framed as such. For us, the story begins in 1991. Many things happened in and around that year: The Chinese economic miracle began its historic surge; the Japanese economic miracle failed; the Maastricht treaty was signed; Operation Desert Storm was launched; the Soviet Union collapsed. Since 1492, when the first global system emerged, there was always a European power at its head. That changed in 1991. For the first time in 500 years, there was no European global power. The only global power was the United States, native to both the Atlantic and Pacific oceans, the largest economy by far and the only global military power, dominated the international system. At the same time, […]

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