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Crystal ball  

I don’t pretend to be expert at predicting the future. In fact, I think it’s a task of delusional impossibility. Read John Lukac’s Five Days in London to understand how hard it is. If in May 1940, few (other than Churchill) had any clue what was brewing, what hope is there for us in times of seemingly far less certain auguries?

Still, it’s fun trying. The Guardian has a crystal ball competition that is very UK oriented, but probably worth a go. Whether you think economies are going to go up or down, I think I can reliably predict that 2002 will be an eventful year.

Cry for Argentina  

Events are spiralling out of control in Buenos Aires. At time of writing, 16 people have been killed in food riots. Economy minister Domingo Cavallo has resigned, and it’s looking increasingly unlikely that the government of Fernando de la Rua can survive in its present form.

Unlike the last failed government of Argentina, Raul Alfonsin’s, it isn’t hyperinflation that is spelling the doom of de la Rua. Instead, Argentina is confronted with brutal deflation. Although the protestors have cheered Cavallo’s resignation, it’s utterly unclear what comes next.

Although a lot of observers had doubts about the robustness of Argentina’s economic achievements in the ’90s, I think anyone would have been hard-pressed to foresee the extent of the collapse under de la Rua. After all, this quintessentially grey man was elected in part because of his sober, prudent character seemed such a safe bet after the fireworks of the Menem era.

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