It was the Great Rejection – 2016 was when people in Britain and America chucked out the traditional way of running their respective countries. This year we’ll learn whether we have started a global revolt and whether we have made ourselves richer, poorer, safer or more vulnerable.
Fog will hang over the new political and economic landscape for a while yet. But we should be in no doubt that there has been an earthquake and we are living through changes to our lives and livelihoods more important even than the momentous transfer of economic power from the state to the private sector by Thatcher and Reagan in the 1980s, and the consequent collapse of communism.
Now in some ways the timing of the revolt against the Establishment was odd, because those on lower incomes in Britain and America – angry that their earnings had gone nowhere for years – voted to throw the old guard out the window just when their living standards were beginning to improve. But there was a prevailing sense that the way we’ve been running the global economy for 30 years will only ever enrich a plutocracy and no one else, and enough was enough.
What Trump, Farage and Boris Johnson did so brilliantly was to feel and express the pain of the dispossessed many. People like me may have hated their wilful disregard of facts and their illiberal tropes (yes, you Boris). But the only truth that matters now is that they won.
Which is why our own new Prime Minister Theresa May has set as her priorities reining in the excesses of the private sector, controlling immigration and frantically trying to reform the economy so that we produce more for less and wages could rise year after year.
It will be at least ten years before we know whether that vote to leave the EU will make us richer or poorer. My view is our earnings will be less than they would otherwise have been over that time, as we will struggle to grow fast enough in new markets to replace trade we will lose with the EU.
To put on my old economics editor’s hat, we will be poorer in 2017 than we would have been without the referendum result.
That is because the pound collapsed as a direct result of it and is pushing up inflation.
Those who run our biggest companies tell me they will start to put up prices in a more significant way – for the stuff we all have to buy, such as food – in lumps between now and the middle of the year.
The price of imported electrical items could rise by as much as a fifth. So our earnings will go less far. Will the economy actually shrink, will we enter recession? I doubt it.
Funnily enough, Trump could ease the short-term Brexit pain with his promise to deliver the mother of all government borrowing and spending splurges, to renew America’s crumbling infrastructure and build that notorious Mexican wall.
The US remains the world’s biggest economy and the biggest national market for our companies, so a Trump boom could help. That said, the bigger any debt-fuelled spending splurge by Trump turns out to be, the greater the danger of a disastrous bust in a few years (sorry).
So 2017 will be neither economic armageddon nor party time. And unless inflation starts to accelerate in an uncontrollable manner, which is unlikely, interest rates won’t start to rise until 2018.
It is not just the economy at a crossroads. The relationship that will matter perhaps more than any other for our peace and stability will be between Trump and Vladimir Putin. The Russian leader will be more adventurous in his interference in the Middle East, the states of the former Soviet Union and around the Baltic, to test whether Trump’s commitment to Nato is as lukewarm as it seems.
But if there is to be a second Cold War it will be between the US and China – under its most autocratic leader since Mao in President Xi Jinping…
Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/debate/article-4079270/Thought-2016-turbulent-Trust-revolution-just-beginning-true-cost-Brexit-backlash-France-new-cold-war-2017-set-far-bumpier-writes-ROBERT-PESTON.html#ixzz4UViO9M32
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