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The forecast for 2014

2013 was a reasonably uneventful year for most of the world except for the Philippines which suffered its worst typhoon on record. And the global forecasts being made for 2014 are “more of the same.” No major calamitous events are foreseen, and 2013’s banner growth at the stock market is expected to be sustained. New York Times columnist James Stewart wrote that “in the many years that I have been surveying experts for their predictions for the coming year, I cannot recall another time when optimism about the stock market, the economy, and corporate profits was so widespread.”

Abby Cohen, the senior investment strategist for Goldman Sachs, told the press that she saw little danger of recession or an oil price spike, or tightening of the Federal Reserve, where Janet Yellen, who is known for her calming influence and skill at communication, has just taken the helm.

While the world economic order seems in good shape, a possible area of concern lies in Africa and the Middle East, where Egypt has labeled the Muslims Brotherhood a “terrorist organization,” which has driven the Islamist organization underground. Since the Brotherhood has been outlawed, rather than disintegrate under this pressure, the group has fallen back on the organizational structure that kept it alive and functioning in the days when it was banned. It is becoming more decentralized and its members have given up social work and have shifted their focus to resistance to the military-backed government – a situation that can last indefinitely, which means that Egypt will be riven by civil conflict for years to come.

The members of the Muslim Brotherhood continue to attend small weekly meetings in private homes, and carry on a recruitment campaign among the young. Their official demand remains the same – that the military take-over which ousted Brotherhood leader Mohamed Morsi, be reversed. Since they have been outlawed, members of the Brotherhood hide in safe houses, speak only briefly on their cellphones, and avoid the cafes where they formerly congregated. They are warned by their leaders not to stand around in the streets in groups, and if they have valuables such as currency or gold or precious documents, to take them to a friend or relative for safe-keeping.

Obviously, outlawing the Brotherhood has not dissolved the organization, but simply sent it underground. The only peaceful resolution to this conflict would be to allow them participation in government.