The Vocal Hub: A Reflection on the 2016 Financial Year

2016 has undoubtedly been one of the most politically and socially tumultuous years we have experienced in our short lifetimes. It’s worth taking a look at what has happened in the realms of politics, finance and global economy this year, in order to understand the repercussions these events will have in the coming year, 2017. These events may also impact the rest of our lives.

The election of Donald Trump in the United States, on 9th November, was a triumph for the alt-right. His rancorous campaign went against every diplomatic rule in the book. He railed against the establishment and vowed to protect manufacturing jobs that had been weathered away by the 2008 financial crisis, and President Obama’s subsequent economic policies. The world waits to find out how many of Mr. Trump’s promises will actually become reality. He will be inaugurated on 20th January 2017.

As a result of Mr. Trump’s election promises, which include boosting manufacturing jobs and reducing ties with China, the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) were broken before they had even begun.

The United Kingdom also faces an uncertain future after Brexit; 52% of those of who voted in the EU Referendum on whether to Remain or Leave, voted for Britain to exit the European Union. David Cameron resigned as prime minister, and the value of the pound fell to a 31-year low, and continues to do so. The Bank of England cut interest rates for the first time since the financial crisis. Theresa May was voted in by the Conservative Party as his successor. Ms. May and her government have yet to clearly state the kind of agreement that Britain will be pushing for when Article 50 is triggered, which is meant to be in March 2017. Article 50 will result in a two-year leaving process for the United Kingdom.

Rodrigo Duterte was elected president of the Philippines after promising to kill criminals and urging people to attack suspected drug dealers. Close to 6,000 people have been lynched since he took office.

The Islamic State lost territory in Syria after the Bashar al-Assad regime, with the help of Russia, bombed rebel territory and indiscriminately killed civilians. IS also lost ground in Iraq, where government troops launched an offensive attack to retake Mosul. Assad’s crushing regime may have helped to combat IS, at the expense of running Syria to the ground, killing scores of civilians and producing a “modern-day Holocaust”, as some commentators have described it. As recently as two days ago, Russia and Syria are looking to hold a ceasefire with rebel groups who agree to it.

Despite losses in Syria and Iraq, IS claimed responsibility for attacks on the airport in Brussels, which killed 32 people; as well as a jihadist attack with a lorry that ran over 86 people in Nice. In Orlando, an IS-inspired gunman killed 49 people at a gay nightclub, which was considered the US’ worst attack since 9/11. IS terrorists also killed four people in a rampage in Jakarta.

Voters in Italy voted against constitutional reforms that would have given the existing federal government, and prime minister, Matteo Renzi more law-making powers. Mr. Renzi promptly stepped down.

Oil prices sank to their lowest level in January 2016. Oil-exporting economies such as Saudi Arabia were put under pressure, until OPEC eventually agreed to cut output in order to ease the worldwide glut and lift prices.

2016 also saw the introduction of the self-driving car. Tesla piloted a problem that resulted in one death of a self-driving Tesla vehicle. Google’s autonomous car project drove two million miles. Uber is also piloting a fleet of self-driving cars.

In July 2016, a coup attempted by factions of the Turkish army was defeated when people protested in favour of Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s government. Mr. Erdogan took the opportunity to round up 150,000 opposition supporters and arrest them or bar them from working.

Twitter was frequently rumoured to be the target of a takeover, after it was supposedly on the road to bankruptcy. Measures by its CEO, Jack Dorsey, to become more involved in product development, seems to have saved Twitter for now, even though it is disabling it’s Vine service. Yahoo ended up selling its core business to Verizon. Yahoo was also a victim of a major hack that compromised one billion accounts.

India’s sudden “demonetization” measure resulted in the cancelling of 500 and 1000- rupee notes, in order to clamp down on tax evasion and black money. The move was highly criticized across the world, and left India’s poor population finding it difficult to buy food and make financial transactions.

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