The Digital World Faces Uncharted Waters, Too (.PDF Download)

Jan. 8, 2019
The Digital World Faces Uncharted Waters, Too (.PDF Download)

As 2018 came to a close, the economy in the United States continued to be strong (the roller-coaster stock market withstanding). Employment is officially high, but many people are under-employed and salaries and wages generally haven’t risen with the cost of living. The U.S. Federal Reserve kept the prime lending rate near zero for seven years to stimulate the economy with low-cost lending, only raising it in December 2015. Through 2017 and 2018, the rate rose to 2.25%, pushing residential mortgage rates to nearly 5% from a prior low of near 3.5%.

In China, the economy has been strong and growing, although it may be leveling off now. For Europe and much of the rest of the world, some countries have good economies while others are struggling.

While the authors’ previous annual outlooks have noted politics (click here and here), in 2018 executive action and policy influences intensified, with various forms of “social responsibility” also causing unforeseen disruption in the digital world.

A surge of “nationalism” has citizens and politicians wanting to topple the established world order. Part of the United Kingdom decided it wanted to “Brexit” the European Union (that doesn’t sound very “united”), but that may or may not take place smoothly.

Separately, the Executive branch of the United States is deep-sixing existing alliances and trade agreements, putting up walls against neighboring countries, and threatening stiff tariffs on certain goods from specific countries. This is initiated by someone who fancies himself to be a master negotiator, but may not have a good understanding of how normal business—or Washington—is run. Other countries, many with authoritarian heads of state, are responding in kind. At least Japan—very important in the electronics world—seems to be staying low-key.


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