Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Chicago Economic Forecast 2010

As always, the real attraction of these events is not the economic component, which has the predictive value of a thrown dart. It's Marvin Zonis's always fascinating political run-down, which regularly contains information about the current state of the world that I can't recall having heard anywhere else. This is the most concise briefing on political trends you're going to find anywhere.

After a ruling by the independent Supreme Court, the Government has abandoned attempts to extend an amnesty for 8,000 government employees, among whom is President Zardari. He responded by transferring key presidential powers to his prime minister, beginning with control over the country’s nuclear arsenal.

As a flood of court suits take shape in 2010, Zardari will transfer more powers to his prime minister in hopes of remaining as president. But he will fail and be driven from office in 2010.

The two most likely successors are the Prime Minister, Yousaf Raza Gilani, and Nawaz Sharif, the head of the Pakistan Muslim League. Gilani, of course, is already in power while Sharif is supported by Saudi Arabia, which sees Sharif’s Islam as an improvement over the Taliban. His coming to power would stimulate the further Islamicization of the country.

The military has the deciding vote. The Pakistani armed forces have ruled the country directly for a majority of its years of independence and its indirect influence remains nearly as strong. The current chief of staff, General Ashfaq Kayani succeeded to his post when President Musharraf surrendered that office in November of 2007. A “soldier’s soldier,” he ordered the military out of politics and supported the democratic process that brought Zardari to power. But General Kayani’s term of office will expire in November 2010 and he is expected to retire. His successor will be less inclined to keep the military out of the political process. In this turbulent political atmosphere, Zardari will be out, Gilani in and the military back.

...So, for 2010, what? The risky call for 2010 is that we will finally see the end of Osama Bin Laden and Ayman Al Zawahiri, his sidekick. Pakistani intelligence knows their whereabouts and the US and Britain will put on a full court press to have them killed.

No comments: