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  • 2023: a year that many are facing with trepidation

  • And whilst much of the world will be tightening its belt

  • there are plenty of ways in which 2023 is set to challenge assumptions

  • from antique treasures and old-fashioned solutions, to psychedelic revelations

  • and the fate of the world’s biggest population

  • Here are five stories that may just transform the world ahead

  • In 2023 the most populous country on the planet will no longer be China...

  • ...but India

  • China’s population is peaking, while India’s has continued to grow

  • And the UN predicts that on April 14th 2023...

  • ...India’s population will overtake that of China’s

  • That is hugely significant in symbolic terms...

  • ...but what’s more important is the composition of the Indian population...

  • ...specifically the size of its working-age population

  • India has more people of working age than any other population group

  • When this happens, it can lead to what’s known as a demographic dividend...

  • ...because of the opportunity it offers for economic growth...

  • ...particularly for developing countries

  • Take what happened in China

  • The population boom under Mao...

  • ...was followed by the introduction of the one-child policy in 1979

  • This created a big working-age population with fewer children to raise...

  • ...providing the manpower for China’s extraordinary economic expansion

  • India’s demographic bulge started much later than China’s in the 2010s

  • It’s forecast to continue to around 2050...

  • ...with the biggest growth in the next decade

  • The question is, will India be able to capitalise on this opportunity?

  • A bigger working-age population in theory should mean greater productivity...

  • ...but in India, there are obstacles to its success

  • For a start, about 90% of jobs in India are informal...

  • ...which means the vast majority of workers don’t have a regular salary

  • Informal-sector workers are quite productive

  • The problem is that these are very insecure jobs...

  • ...and so when things like covid happen...

  • ...suddenly many of these workers are out of work...

  • ...so Indian government has been trying...

  • ...to set up some national pension schemes, health-insurance benefits and so on

  • But social-security benefits are quite limited for many of these workers

  • What’s more, just 20% of women of working age are actually working

  • Part of the problem is that while girls are being educated to a higher level...

  • ...it’s often not high enough to work in offices

  • So for these women in the middle of the education stream...

  • ...it’s quite difficult to find work

  • For men of the same education...

  • ...there are many jobs like truck drivers, mobile-phone repairers...

  • ...postal delivery workers

  • A lot of these occupations are not really open to women

  • Part of China’s rapid economic growth...

  • ...was due to the foreign-company factories that were set up there

  • The Indian government has been trying to mimic this

  • with a “Make in Indiacampaign to entice foreign investment

  • It’s had some success

  • In a big boost to India’s manufacturing sector...

  • ...Apple says that it plans to make the iPhone 14 in India

  • But the country’s infrastructure and the state of its workforce remain a barrier

  • The proportion of the labour force...

  • ...that has any formal training is extremely small, around 3%

  • There’s very high levels still of malnutrition, anaemia and other health issues

  • That means that a lot of people coming into the labour force...

  • ...their cognitive and physical development may have been impaired

  • The challenge for the Indian government...

  • ...is to create the economic environment to encourage...

  • ...both domestic and foreign businesses to create jobs...

  • ...so that it can reap the rewards of being the most populous country on the planet

  • 2023 could be the year that party drugs get closer to being in your prescriptions...

  • ...with three different psychedelic drugs...

  • ...in phase three trials to treat mental-health conditions

  • MDMA could even be approved to treat post-traumatic stress disorder in America

  • 2023 could potentially be a landmark year for us

  • This could be the first psychedelic-assisted therapy approved by a regulatory body

  • In any given year around 12m Americans suffer from PTSD...

  • ...and for some, like veteran Jon Lubecky, it can last many years

  • He was a participant in a phase two trial run by MAPS PBC...

  • ...which have been developing MDMA-assisted therapy since 2004

  • What are you experiencing?

  • It’s kind of weird

  • ...various periods of my life

  • The treatment combines three doses of MDMA, followed by psychotherapy sessions

  • It’s not just the MDMA, it’s not just the therapy

  • it’s the two of them working together

  • The results of our first pivotal phase three study...

  • ...saw that 67% of the people in the MDMA group no longer met...

  • ...the criteria for having PTSD

  • If MDMA does get approved for PTSD in 2023, it will be a gain for patients...

  • ...who really have limited options at the moment...

  • ...for treating this very difficult and this terrible condition

  • Psychedelics like MDMA can make therapy much more effective

  • They can dampen activity in the part of the brain that processes fear...

  • ...and release feel-good hormones and neurotransmitters like serotonin...

  • ...which help reduce anxiety and increase empathy...

  • ...making it easier for a patient to reflect on a traumatic experience

  • Psilocybin, also known as magic mushrooms, will also be in a phase three trial...

  • ...of a global study for treatment-resistant depression

  • That also has had a successful trial so far

  • After having this therapy, 12 weeks later, about one in five are in remission

  • A third drug, normally associated with nightclubs...

  • ...is also in this critical final stage of testing

  • Ketamine-assisted therapy is showing promise in helping with alcohol-use disorder

  • In the most recent study, 86% of patients were still abstaining from alcohol...

  • ...six months after treatment

  • Already offered at Awakn’s private clinics...

  • ...ketamine could eventually be regulated for general use in Britain

  • Were seeing them being hyped as cure-alls...

  • ...for lots and lots of different mental-health conditions

  • And while I’m really excited about their promise...

  • ...I do think it’s really important...

  • ...that patients have realistic expectations about what they can achieve

  • But all in all, I think what were looking at is...

  • ...2023 is going to be a really pivotal year for psychedelic medicines

  • Hello, I’m Tom Standage, editor of The World Ahead

  • To read about the prospects for the coming year in more detail

  • and get a headstart on more of the themes and trends to watch

  • take out a subscription to The Economist

  • Which includes full access to The World Ahead 2023

  • To get the best offer, click on the link. And now on with the film

  • In 2023 there’s one country which could make a global recession much worse

  • Japan

  • Japan is the third-largest economy, and it’s an important economy

  • because its financial sector is intertwined with the financial sector

  • of the rest of the world

  • Japan is the world’s biggest creditor country

  • It holds trillions of dollars of assets overseas, which means what happens here

  • has the potential to affect the world’s financial markets

  • In recent years, Japan’s central bank, the Bank of Japan

  • has been reassuringly predictable

  • keeping interest rates low thanks to its very low inflation

  • Interest rates only have to go up when inflation rises, and that just hasn’t happened

  • So for a long time, Japan defied any predictions that it would have to raise

  • interest rates or tighten monetary policy

  • To the extent of betting that it would have to do that

  • was a notorious way to lose money

  • it was a trade called theWidowmaker

  • It was always wrong

  • Even in the face of the pandemic and the energy crisis

  • the Bank of Japan held fast

  • The Bank of Japan increasingly an outlier

  • keeping its overnight interest rate at -0.1%

  • The dovish tone continues

  • Oh, boy, does it ever

  • That is, until now

  • As interest rates have risen elsewhere in the world

  • Japan has found itself exposed by the widening gap

  • The effect of that has been to make the Japanese currency

  • the yen, less attractive to international investors

  • because if you buy the yen and invest in the Japanese bond market

  • youre getting a lower interest rate, lower return

  • than if you invest in the US Treasury market

  • say, where you can benefit from those higher interest rates

  • As a result, the yen has fallen against the dollar

  • making imports more expensive for Japan

  • which pushed up the rate of inflation

  • So at the end of 2022, the Bank of Japan did something unexpected

  • It was all to do with the interest rate

  • known as the yield, on one particular form of Japanese government debt

  • its ten-year bond

  • The yield on this bond is crucial in Japan

  • because it affects a lot of economic activity

  • Often borrowing by companies and mortgages and all kinds of contracts

  • are related to long-term interest rates

  • So the idea is by keeping those interest rates low

  • you stimulate spending and growth in the economy

  • The Japanese central bank has certainly done that

  • by capping the yield of its ten-year bonds at 0.25%

  • The yield of a long-term bond moves in the opposite direction to its price

  • So in order to keep the cap in place

  • the Bank of Japan has been buying as many bonds as necessary

  • But in December 2022 the Bank of Japan increased the cap to 0.5%

  • It might seem a relatively small move

  • but it was enough to destabilise the markets