2020 was certainly a roller coaster for a social scientist, full of surprises. Let me not once again bemoan the increasingly coordinated attack on all sources of vitality in Western civilisation, but look ahead and openly wonder about what 2021 will bring in terms of 7 specific questions.
- Will China impose tariffs on Australian iron ore by the end of 2021?
- Will face masks be compulsory anywhere in the West by the end of 2021?
- Will the Scottish parliament in 2021 vote for another independence vote?
- Will sports stadiums be restricted to be less full than before anywhere in the West by by the end of 2021?
- Will any of the top 10 US Big Tech firms be broken up by the government in 2021?
- Will there be a civil war anywhere in the world with more than 1 million deaths in 2021?
- Will Australia have abandoned any quarantine requirements for all foreign flights by end 2021?
Over the fold I explain the major developments each of these questions relates to and where I think the balance of probabilities lies on each of them
Will China impose tariffs on Australian iron ore?
This of course goes to the question of the decoupling between the Australian economy and China, which now seems a near certainty in the medium run (5-10 years). The specific question basically goes to the question how quick the decoupling will happen: iron ore is the single biggest main export earner of Australia and something like 80% of it goes to China, making up almost 60% of all exported iron ore in the world. China basically would not be able to source so much iron ore elsewhere by end 2021, certainly not as the expected world economic recovery will mean increased demand. In such a situation, tariffs would only hurt domestic Chinese iron ore users. So the economics of the situation would lead one to say ‘no’, but the politics of course goes the other direction as the imperatives in Australia will be to heat up the dispute with China, thus leading to a ‘yes’. On the balance of probabilities, I am going to say ‘yes’, but it is a very close call and I don’t expect a high tariff, more a symbolic tariff meant to encourage Chinese businesses to find alternative suppliers.
Will face masks be compulsory anywhere in the West by the end of 2021?
This goes to the question of the degree to which the covid-policies will be wound back in 2021. By that time the entire population of the West can be vaccinated, though that is unlikely to mean the end of waves of corona(or other similar viruses) sweeping through the populations, as they have done for generations. So the real question is whether some degree of the madness of 2020 will still be there end of 2021, egged on by a medical-industrial complex that benefits from it. I am going to say ‘yes, somewhere in the West’, though for the UK expect it to be ‘no’.
Will the Scottish parliament in 2021 vote for another independence vote?
This is a Brexit-related question. In the current deal, Northern Ireland has, in an economic sense, left the UK and is now part of the EU. The Scottish nationalists will no doubt use that reality to say that they too should now be independent, particularly as the Brexit deal almost guarantees continued problems with exports to the EU if Scotland was to remain in the UK. The political question is whether the pressure is enough in Scotland for the parliament to vote to have another referendum. Since the Scottish economy has been particularly badly hit by the disastrous choices of its own government and that of the UK, I am guessing it will want to have a big distraction. So I am going to say ‘yes’, but again it’s a close call.
Will sports stadiums be restricted to be less full than before anywhere in the West by end 2021?
This is of course another question on the speed of normalisation in the post-covid world. Since sports stadiums pack tens of thousands of individuals they are a prime place for the spread of infectious diseases and thus a key industry for the medical panic mongers to point to. On the other hand, top sports is big business that is very popular, so whether they will remain forced to have few attendees will be a question of political pressures. On balance, I think that in quite a few countries in the West stadiums will still be heavily restricted by the end of 2021.
Will any of the top 10 US Big Tech firms be broken up by the government in 2021?
This goes to the reality that Big Tech is killing off small and medium sized businesses everywhere in the world, but particularly in the US where there is hence a lot of political pressure to break up some of the biggest firms, essentially along the lines of the break-up of Standard Oil in 1911. In terms of the economic merits, I think the US would be better off breaking up some of these firms, but politically I look at team Biden where you see lots of Big Tech executives, so I do not think it is going to happen. Big Tech now is an integral part of the US government.
Will there be a civil war anywhere in the world with more than 1 million deaths in 2021?
This goes to the question how much social pressure has been created by the covid-mania of 2020. Given the widespread impoverishment in many parts of the world, the break-down of education and health services, I am reasonably confidant there are going to be quite a few civil wars heating up. The question is though whether those are going to be bad enough to lead to a million deaths, which is a number one can only envisage in places like India, Nigeria, Egypt, and other big countries. Perhaps Afghanistan. Whilst I do think there will be some nasty conflicts breaking out, a million deaths in one country in one year is a lot, so I am going to say ‘no’.
Will Australia have abandoned any quarantine requirements for all foreign flights by end 2021?
This goes to the question of normalisation in Australia, a country that is extremely dependent on open borders. The quarantine policies have been extremely costly to the Australian economy and its social fabric, killing off tourism, international students, family visits, business travel, skilled migration, etc. The federal government will be desperate to re-start as much of that as possible, but of course the covid-maniacs will want to exert as much control as possible and thus loudly call for remaining quarantine rules, not merely on people who are sick but on anyone. I am going to guess the covid-maniacs will get their way and that there will thus remain blanket quarantine rules, though only for arrivals from particular countries.