Four reasons that 2016 was a great year

  1. The Economy
    It’s been eight years since the Financial Crisis and let’s face it, we still haven’t recovered. International trade and automation are destroying jobs left and right, jobs that won’t come back. Inequality is soaring in all major economies. The Euro-zone hobbles from banking crisis to banking crisis and unemployment in the EU has never been higher. China is about to implode. Wages are stagnant and have been forever. The economy is a disaster.
    Or is it? The fact is, we’re doing alright. China and India are still growing fast (> 6%), keeping the world economy going. Wages in the US are actually growing at their fastest pace in years. Unemployment is falling in all major Western economies. Inequality is falling, if slowly. Even the Greek economy is growing again. These might not be boom times, but things are improving all over. Economically we’ve never done better than in 2016.
  2. War
    Ah, but peace on earth is hard to find these days. Syria, Iraq, Yemen, wars are raging in almost all of the Middle East. Sometimes it seems no country between Libya and Afghanistan remains unaffected. Russia is still meddling in the affairs of its neighbors keeping low level civil wars going. And then there is Africa with its many conflicts mostly ignored by the press but deadly all the same. Colombia rejected peace in a referendum.
    2016 mostly inherited its wars and yes, many of them seem as intractable as ever. But on balance, things have improved. The death-toll in the Middle East peaked in 2014, dropped in 2015 and seems to have dropped this year again by a bit. The war in Ukraine is ongoing and peace negotiations seem stuck. But the death toll is significantly lower than in previous years. In Africa Boko Haram, called the deadliest terror group, is all but defeated. IS is steadily losing territory. Then there is Colombia. The Colombian peace deal is historic, putting an end to a 50 year conflict that killed over 200 000 people. For now the peace holds.
  3. The Future
    But what about the things that will happen because of 2016? The consequences of Brexit and the Trump Presidency will surely be felt only in 2017, even though 2016 was the cause?
    Perhaps. Predictions are hard, especially about the future. If you take a moment and google what they said last year, you’ll get the gist. The year 2016 didn’t see an economic crash in China, Ebola as a pandemic or the break up of the Euro. Yes, Trump and Brexit appeared also in these predictions, but inevitably followed by predictions about their immediate consequence; where’s the economic panic and the civil unrest?
  4. Traffic accidents
    2016 had the safest motorized traffic since the invention of the combustion engine. Probably. It will be years before we have the numbers and even then they will be partly based on estimates. The same for life expectancy, the number of people in absolute poverty and the literacy rates. But it just doesn’t make for a very good headline: “Traffic accidents lower than ever! (Three years ago).”
    This focussing on the negative incidents over the positive long term trends is a problem. It makes a mess out of our priorities. For example, making India’s traffic as safe as Italy’s it would save more lives than getting rid of all wars.

Entrepreneur, Coding enthusiast and Co-Head of Delve a Sidewalk Labs product.

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Douwe Osinga

Douwe Osinga

Entrepreneur, Coding enthusiast and Co-Head of Delve a Sidewalk Labs product.

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