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Does economic forecasting and punditry have to be akin to the making of horror films? The anxiety may arise because the world’s impressive economic stability and prosperity has been achieved only at the cost of increased inequality. Will 2018 and 2019 witness the launch of a huge uprising by the downtrodden poor in the developing countries against the undeserving rich? Might the latter include the jet-setting plutocrats who pay 50,000 Swiss francs to make themselves feel guilty at the start of every year? Will that be Evans-Pritchard’s “settling of scores”?

Sceptics might wonder exactly what form the global jacquerie will take. With all the fissures, fractures, score-settling, protecting-and-healing and the like supposedly taking place around them, they might remind the over-excited opinion-formers of Satyajit Ray’s 1977 film, The Chess Players. The chess players in question ignored the epochal event in their immediate vicinity — that is, the British invasion and annexation of Oudh — and finished their game. (On the evening before writing this column, I played a five-minute game of chess over the internet with someone in Ethiopia. Even in the 1970s the possibility of chess in cyberspace with someone in Africa would have been regarded as the weirdest science fiction. Such are the marvels of technology amid the magic of compound interest. Anyhow scores were settled, and I lost. Perhaps my opponent in Addis Ababa wanted to come to my home in Gloucestershire and to bash me over the head, but I don’t think so. This is the real world — our friendly and cosmopolitan game of chess in cyberspace — and not the fantasy world of Davos.)
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