Stories by Steve LeVine

The world buckles: Our geopolitical forecast for 2019

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

After two years of intense pressure — the U.S. trade war with China, its brinkmanship with allies, and finally the government shutdown — the global system is showing signs of cleaving. The U.S. and the rest of the world appear to be tipping into recession, leading nations are taking each other's nationals hostage, and deadly and frequent violence is striking Europe.

The big picture: Last week we took account of our six 2018 geopolitical forecasts. Now we explain our outlook on this year. A core observation for 2019 is that the anti-establishment wave has unfolded amid a booming global economy. Now, a key question is how already-furious people will behave when economies almost everywhere begin to go south.

Off the sidelines and earning $30 an hour

Illustration: Rebecca Zisser/Axios

U.S. companies — desperate for workers despite the threat of recession — are lowering the qualifications they've previously demanded of new employees. But they are finding that many long-term jobless Americans first require training and help in the very basics — getting to work, doing so on time, and paying for any required uniforms.

What's happening: Cities across the U.S. are stepping in with "life and employment skills" classes and assistance for Americans who have been left out of the economy — former convicts, ex-drug addicts, and others at the fringes.

In a shift, Fed isn't slowing rising wages

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Just as American workers are starting to see some real improvement in hourly pay, the fear is that — as central bankers traditionally do — the Fed will put a stop to it by raising interest rates. That's because "wage growth" means inflation, according to economic orthodoxy, and inflation is the Fed's main enemy.

  • But not this time. Leading economists tell Axios that, at least in part because inflation does not seem to be accelerating, the Fed appears prepared to let the wage party continue.
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