Fasten your seat belts for 2017

Written by Phil Published 2017-01-18 10:29:00

Readers of my blogs might recall that last Christmas was a solitary one for me, with my wife working, and various sons at various girlfriends’ houses (or lying on the bathroom floor). This year, the whole family managed to spend the festive season together in Edinburgh, doing our bit to boost wine and whisky sales and devouring a turkey that took rather less time to eat than the sixteen hours it took to cook.

Highlights of the present giving and receiving ceremony (fuelled by some excellent bubbles) were a nephew receiving his first Macbook – much to the annoyance of his Surface Pro advocating father – allowing me to extol the virtues of Apple technology over PCs (and come up with the Christmas cracker joke: ‘What computer does a Scots person use? A Macbook); and a memorable conversation with a niece who seemed extraordinarily well-versed in the world of conspiracy theories – from the more obvious moon landing and ‘do aliens exist?’ topics right through to ideas I’d never come across – such as the reason why the Titanic was sunk (apparently an insurance job).

For someone who loves reading fiction, the gift of a book entitled: ‘Prisoners of Geography – Ten Maps That Tell You Everything You Need to Know About Global Politics’ might not seem that promising. However, once started, it wasn’t put down until finished – the dogs just had to wait for their Boxing Day walk. As a clear and concise explanation of why the world is as it is, and where and why future political hotspots and conflicts will exist, the book would seem to be peerless. And, at the present time of such global political volatility, a reading of the book was a great reminder, and something of a reassurance that, despite what many of us might see as increasing, random political chaos right across the world, there are very good reasons for most of what’s happening and, therefore, there are also very real solutions available.

Of course, politics is not just about geography, it’s also about people. And in Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin we have two of the most fascinating characters to stand on the political stage in recent times. Both would appear to be dictionary definitions of the word ‘maverick’, both seem to have a great understanding of how to keep their opponents guessing as to what might be their next move and, perhaps most fascinatingly, both seem to know how to play the good guy/bad guy role. So, Putin’s aggression in the Ukraine (although totally understandable for political reasons) casts him in the role of the bad guy, and even Russia’s stance in Syria seems to have attracted adverse publicity in the western world, but if Russia and Turkey can broker peace in this troubled country, then that must be seen as a political triumph.

In the case of Mr Trump, we have yet to see what he will achieve as the US President, but his track record in the run up to the election suggests that he’s an old hand at the game of politics.

Pre-election, Mr Trump was warning some major technology companies that he would be coming after them with the antitrust laws and suggesting that Apple might like to bring its manufacturing base away from China and back to the USA. However, as reported in the New York Times recently, president-elect Donald Trump met a select group of the US’s technology leaders in mid-December, and couldn’t have been more complimentary, saying to them: ‘This is a truly amazing group of people’ and ‘I’m here to help you folks do well’. Furthermore, Mr Trump is happy to state that ‘innovation is one of the US’s key policies’.

Similar mixed messages have been given over energy and climate change issues – of some interest to the data centre industry. Although Mr Trump did back down over his suggestion that global warming was a China-invented hoax, he has gone on record as describing the US’s Environmental Protection Agency as a disgrace and promising to cut their budget, at the same time as he indicated that the USA would withdraw from the Paris Climate Agreement. That was pre-election talk.

More recently, Mr Trump has conceded the likelihood of a link between human activity and climate variability and also had a meeting with noted environmental campaigner Al Gore.

The fact that Messrs Putin and Trump seem to have some kind of mutual respect, if not admiration, worries some and encourages others. If the two can restore some of the trust between the US and Russia that has been lost over the last few years, then that has to be good news, as would be the inevitable business stability that follows.

After all, whether your business is data centres, networks, security, or storage, all you really want is a confident, stable marketplace in which to do business. Hopefully, once the Brexit negotiations start, and it seems that the UK and Europe can co-exist to mutual benefit and not seem hell-bent on mutual financial destruction; and Mr Trump takes office and proves to be neither the incompetent nor dangerous loose cannon that many imagine him to be, there just might be the blossoming of an optimistic, upbeat economic outlook.

However, if, like my niece, you’re a paid up member of the conspiracy party, then you’ll know that it’s the Illuminati that put the politicians in place and that their agenda is all about personal financial gain, whatever the expense to others. And it seems that global turmoil, as right now, is much more to their liking, than prosperity and stability for all.

I’ll have to stop writing now, as two police officers have come to my door…


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