During the last six months of 2014, oil prices kept rolling down to its ebb, effectively showing a 50% tumble by year end, with OPEC rejecting demands to cut production to deal with what the West thought was a crisis.
To me, that was the only silver lining of 2014, an otherwise grim year when:
- religious fanaticism took a fearsome dimension with ISIS (the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, now simply called IS) going on a rampage, luring militant Muslims from across the world into its ranks. The result: violence and a brutal beheading spree — all in the name of religion.
- terrorism continued to destroy normality, including the Taleban’s attack on a school in Pakistan and a lone wolf holding people hostage in Sydney – both in the last month of the year
- air crashes and sea disasters resulted in the loss of thousands of lives, possibly one of the worst for Asian travel (Air Asia, 2 tragedies involving Malaysian Airlines, for instance)
- Layoffs were rampant and across the board with hundreds of thousands of job losses with no company being an exception, Cisco, IBM, HP, TCS, etc. Layoffs extended beyond the tech sector.
- the Ebola scare started to grip the world
- Russia faced increasing alienation over the Crimean annexation. The Rouble took a mighty fall even as the US dollar and stock markets posted record spikes.
- The Congress was routed in the Indian parliamentary elections, Narendra Modi’s BJP ascended to the throne and talk of a Hindu Rashtra by 2021 emerged.
Wearable Devices Flounder: Technologically, the much-touted wearable contraptions (Google Glass, Smart Watch, etc) did not take off in any big way – thankfully so.
I am not sure about any breakthrough medical advances in 2014 with curative power that could bring cheer for patients beyond palliative care. But Google’s cancer detection pill and glucose-detecting contact lens sound interesting.
- The US and the West thought the falling oil prices would have a catastrophic effect on the economy. I do not buy that logic – when did we see tumbling prices trigger a recession? The US was only trying to protect its own Shale interests in asking OPEC to cut production.
It is worth noting that when oil prices kept soaring in the earlier years OPEC did not raise production.
There can be no deniyng, nonetheless, that the consumer who will stand to gain from lower prices. Is the Western world with the people or with businesses?
Personally, I lost my mother on September 7, 2014!
I would think this was yet another forgettable year the world has seen!
G Joslin Vethakumar