Sunday, January 15, 2017

The World in 2015

The World in 2015

The year was marked by IS flexing its muscles and driving thousands of Syrians to abandon their homes and seek refuge in Europe. Angela Merkel opened her heart and Germany brought down the Berlin wall once again, and agreed take a million asylum seekers.  The British took 166 in the last one year and said that they may admit 52 more - one for each of the territories they had colonized. "We know the hardship and loneliness that goes with staying in a country other than your own and hope that the Syrians will be able to find asylum in their own land," said the British spokesperson.  

China aborted its one-child policy by declaring that couples can now apply for a second child permit without having to pay a fine. The move, experts say, is driven by a scarcity of labor, which could lead to more productive countries like India to steal manufacturing jobs from China. India in the meanwhile launched a 'made in India' campaign, proclaiming a desire and ability to make more than just babies. The fact that Microsoft and Google appointed Indian born and made executives as their CEO’s gave some respectability to the claim of  "made in India” .

Saudi Arabia decided to allow women to contest in council elections, but is yet to allow them behind the wheel. Saudis feel that driving vehicles is a more important (it also drives their economy) and delicate task and women first need to get hands on experience in councils, before they step their foot on the pedal. So far, Saudi women only have experience in driving the Saudi men up the wall, and given the state of the men's thinking, it seems they have done this with considerable success.  

American politics took an interesting turn as Donald Trump emerged as the front runner Republican presidential candidate. Trump tried to take a lead over rival candidates through exhibiting expertise in female anatomy and immigration issues. In his view,  a fool proof way of ensuring communal and racial harmony and that everyone gets an equal chance is when everyone is white, rich and Christian. There is no need to grapple with the challenges of moving ahead, when everyone is already ahead, he said.

Guns caused a lot of blood shed in America, and Barack Obama led the cry for restricting the access to guns. However, the gun loving citizens were outraged, proclaiming a gun is not an instrument of killing, but an instrument of self-defense. The giun lobby went ballistic, and fired several defensive shots including saying, "guns don't kill, people do". Donald Trump heard it and raised a cry to ban people instead of guns, starting with Muslims.  

China banned the communist party members from playing golf and stick to ping pong, saying  that just because both are played on green surfaces is not an adequate justification to indulge in the luxury sport and that cadres will face a handicap in their further promotions if they  are found playing golf. They also said that arguments such as practicing "drive" may help  in driving the country forward or tackling ”slice" could provide coaching to aid in slicing costs are not acceptable or credible excuses for playing the game.

The Chinese yuan was included in the basket of currencies used by the International Monetary Fund to constitute SDR.  Moving from being a basket case country to becoming an important part of the IMF basket is a Great Leap Forward that Mao Zedong would perhaps have desired, but not anticipated.  

Banking continued to be in news in 2015, with Indonesia launching a floating bank, which is anchored in the sea, as an assurance against any liquidity problems. However there was a liquidity crisis in sperm banks in Chin
a, caused by premature withdrawal of stimulus.

China won its first Nobel Prize in science when Tu Youyou ( a name which caused considerable intrigue, particularly in  India ) won the award for her discovery of artemisinin, a traditional Chinese medicine that can cure malaria.   

Climate change was on everyone's mind as Global leaders gathered in Paris and used third degree measures to persuade each other to a pledge that we should not let the world to heat up by more than two degrees from pre industrial times. China's strategy to mitigate the greenhouse effect through a pollution shield which reflects back the sun's heat is being actively studied by other developing countries like India. In the meanwhile the demand for self changing last digit car number plates was surging, as Delhi was planning to launch an odd-even number car plate scheme to ease the traffic and the pollution.  

Meat eating was conclusively proven to be as harmful for consumers as for the animals it comes from, as scientists declared that red meat, particularly processed meat can cause cancer. In India the danger was more clear and present as bovinity  triumphed over sanity, and Prime Minister Modi's silence on the issue was widely considered as udderly unacceptable.

Pfizer, the maker of Viagra, took Botox maker Allergan to its bosom. Dismissing the allegations that the merger is merely a face-lift, the company representatives said that it  will allow them to offer a nicely packaged,  self-contained system of stimulus and stimulated and capture large parts of the market. In another stimulating merger AB-InBev merged with SABMiller creating the world’s largest tipple provider.

Commodity producing countries suffered as China slowed down because of misplaced policies such as insisting that construction of an airport should require that an airplane actually must fly into it and not just over it. Similarly construction of bridges now requires an actual sighting of stream of water and cannot be initiated  as a possible insurance against seasonal floods. Six Successive rate cuts in China flowed by but with little result and the year ended with the US Fed increasing the interest rate by 25 basis points as it saw that the US economy was recovering, and it was a good time to try to derail it again.  
Oxford Dictionaries declared that their word to the year was not a word at all, but an emoji - face with tears of joy - an apt metaphor for the times we live in, perpetually wondering whether to laugh or to cry.

Written by Ashok Sethi

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