We asked a selection of Penguin authors what they expect to see happen in the world in 2014. Here are their revealing, surprising, and sometimes alarming responses.
Chris Anderson, author of The Numbers Game
“I’m curious and mildly excited about the prospect of the Indian Super League. I could go either way – either spark serious interest in football in India, or become a kind of 1970s North American Soccer League. Either way, I’m curious to see how it will develop.”
Lindsay Bareham, author of One Pot Wonders
“Food trends for 2014 are avoiding food waste, eating seasonally, treating ourselves to artisan food whilst exploring cuisines that are high on vegetarianism. It will become smart to learn how to cook cheaper, old fashioned cuts of meat and discovering inexpensive alternatives to cod. I foresee a return to planning the week’s menu, using leftovers cleverly, slow cooking and cooking in one pot to save on fuel as well as time and washing up. I also predict an increased awareness of global food production, GM foods, food safety, the effect of global warming on our food production, more on-line food shopping and an awareness of ‘you are what you eat’, to paraphrase the great chef Anthelme Brillat-Savarin.”
Alain De Botton, author of Religion for Atheists
“In 2014, capitalism will at last be redesigned so that the externalities of the market are properly factored in. Some things will get a lot more expensive, but then there will be surprising dips in expenditure in other areas. The idea of a living wage will take hold everywhere. Wealthy people will agree to give away a lot more of their profits in exchange for what they wanted all along but weren’t able to get any other way: respect and dignity. Companies addressing our true needs, rather than vain desires, will make the largest profits. Psychotherapy will become one of the world’s leading industries, as people recognise the value of introspection: and the field will overtake car making in value on stock exchanges. Cities will start to be redesigned to look as beautiful as Bath, Edinburgh and San Francisco. Organised religion will give way to a worship of the sanctity of the earth, a veneration of our ancestors and a humility before the mysteries of the universe.”
Ha Joon Chang, author of 23 Things They Don’t Tell You About Capitalism
“Economics as a discipline is entering a turbulent phase. In the last couple of decades, the dominant free-market school of economics has played a role similar to that of Catholic theology in Mediaeval Europe – justifying whatever is going on as ‘the best of all possible worlds’. Since the 2008 global financial crisis, free-market economics has been exposed to a wide range criticisms, but it has coped remarkably well, considering the mess that it has created. However, things may be changing for it and 2014 could be an important year. In several universities in the UK, the US, and elsewhere, economics students have organised themselves to demand a teaching curriculum that is pluralistic in approach, broader in its scope, and more real-world-oriented than what they are offered now. Moreover, many employers of economics graduates are expressing dissatisfaction with the ‘products’ they are buying from economics departments – bright young men and women with high competence in mathematics and statistics but with little understanding of the real world. Free-market economists are now forced to contend with ‘market forces’, which they praise so much except when it impinges on their job. It would be interesting to watch – and very important for the future of our economic management – how these economists who so love market forces will respond to them.”
Danny Dorling, author of The 32 Stops
“The most sensible prediction is that 2014 ends much the same way as 2013 did and not that differently to how 2015 will end, but nobody remembers sensible predictions and occasionally something momentous does take place. The 2008 financial crash was one of those somethings. There is no good reason as to why 2014 might not be the year of a very British crisis, bit one which would also make ripples worldwide. Ask yourself what is holding up the value of Sterling?
“A run on Sterling could cause a second great banking crisis, just six years after the first great post war crisis of 2008. If it occurs numerous commentators will come out of the woodwork claiming they foresaw it. In retrospect, of course, the pound was massively over valued given the UK rising national debt. The super-rich of the world take the biggest hit through the decline in the value of their London property investments. The financial and political repercussions around the world that result from the global super-wealthy drawing back and regrouping are staggering. At a trivial level many football clubs search for new owners. More seriously, several coups take place as regimes backed by the very rich are weakened. In the UK the North/South divide narrows. ‘It can’t happen’ they might say, just as they did before.”
Phillip Hook, author of Breakfast at Sotheby’s
“Contemporary art will continue to get more expensive; there will be more market focus on Basquiat and Koons than on Boucher and Titian.”
Conn Iggulden, author of Wars of the Roses: Stormbird
“It is my fervent hope that the Scottish referendum in 2014 will reject breaking up the most successful union the world has ever known. Over three centuries, the people of the United Kingdom produced the largest empire in history, defeated Nazism and created the modern world as we know it, or at least the institutions and culture of the ‘West’. It is a union that predates the founding of America and I would be heartbroken if it ended. It’s true the English and Scots tend to irritate each other at times, but it’s difficult to think of neighbouring countries that don’t. The simple truth is that all the parts of the union bring something to the table – and make a whole far greater than the parts. Arguments over the pound, oil, taxes and the like are almost irrelevant. Of course an independent Scotland could be made to work! No problem is insurmountable and it has always been a country punching far above its weight for clever men and women. Yet I think of all those who have given their lives for this United Kingdom and I don’t want my children to see it broken apart.”