Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : January 1st 2015 Contents JANUARY 2015 • WEEK ONE www.guardian.co.tt BUSINESS GUARDIAN
INTERNATIONAL | BG19
Even with the best will in
the world---which, in
2014, has not been con-
ing---the outgoing year
could not be regarded as
one of the planet s finest. Between war,
disease and insurrection, the past 12
months often have seemed to be a gory
relay for the apocalypse s four horse-
Look closely, though, and amid the
misery there have been reasons for opti-
mism. Whether by dint of boldness or
stoicism, there are numerous candidates
for the coveted title of The Economist s
country of the year.
This was a bad year for the very con-
cept of countries, as well as for lots of
individual nations. The pre-modern
marauders of the Islamic State in Iraq
and Syria rampaged between Iraq and
Syria, and Russian forces dismembered
Ukraine, as if borders were elastic lines
rather than fixed frontiers. Boko Haram
traduced the sovereignty of Nigeria while
the Shabab convulsed the Horn of Africa.
South Sudan, a brand-new country born
only three years ago, imploded in civil
Other territories have bravely resisted
disintegration, however. The Marshall
Islands may be sinking but, by cham-
pioning the struggle against climate
change, they at least are going down
The peshmerga of Iraqi Kurdistan, not
yet a country but perhaps on its way to
that status, repelled the jihadists of ISIS
and may have saved Baghdad.
In a different, democratic kind of con-
frontation, but in its way an equally vig-
orous one, the people of Scotland wisely
voted not to end three centuries of union
and stayed in the United Kingdom. That
would make Scotland a good candidate
for our title, except that lauding it as a
country because it chose not to become
one might seem gallingly contrarian.
Disaster has been averted elsewhere,
too. Senegal responded with alacrity to
its Ebola outbreak, as indeed did Nigeria.
Afghanistan remains one of the world s
bleakest places, but it looks a little less
bleak after a peaceful handover of power:
The Taliban are still slaughtering peo-
ple, but politically they are a busted flush.
Tiny Lebanon deserves a mention for
absorbing hundreds of thousands of Syr-
ian refugees, plus the machinations of
malignant outsiders, and continuing to
function, more or less. If the peace
process between Colombia s government
and its FARC guerrillas succeeds, it will
be a favorite for our award in 2015.
On our home turf of economics there
have been some standout performances.
Iceland and Ireland have both pulled
clear of trouble, showing that democ-
racies can, after all, implement painful
decisions when they must.
Unusually among euro-zone countries,
Estonia has kept its nose clean. Narendra
Modi s victory in India may come to be
seen as the moment the world s biggest
democracy began to realize its vast poten-
tial. We may find that out in 2015 too.
Yet there is more to life and to state-
craft than guns and GDP: witness our
2013 choice of Uruguay, for its liberal
stance on drugs and gay marriage.
Uruguay has had another strong year,
notching up a model election, impressive
growth and a grown-up welcome to six
internees from Guantanamo.
However, the two top contenders for
our 2014 title earned their kudos for dis-
plays of political maturity that, like most
great achievements, involved both leaders
and their people.
The runner-up, by a nose, is Indonesia,
the world s largest Muslim nation, where
a modern politician bested the old, mil-
itaristic regime in a fair---if rancorous---
vote. The new, reforming President Joko
Widodo has begun to nudge his country
beyond its crossroads and toward pros-
Our winner is a much smaller nation,
but we think that symbolism matters
more than size. The idealism engendered
by the Arab spring has mostly sunk in
bloodshed and extremism, with a single
shining exception: Tunisia, which in 2014
adopted a new, enlightened constitution
and held both parliamentary and pres-
idential elections; a run-off in the latter
took place on December 21.
Its economy is struggling and its polity
is fragile, but Tunisia s pragmatism and
moderation have nurtured hope in a
wretched region and a troubled world.
@2014 The Economist Newspaper Ltd.
Distributed by the New York Times Syn-
The numbers told the tale
US$19 billion: The amount in cash and stock that Face-
book shelled out in February to acquire the messaging
service WhatsApp. As we pointed out at the time, though,
the deal doesn t look so costly if it s viewed in terms of
the value per user.
US$40 billion: The value of the ride-summoning service
Uber. Whether or not the company is worth that much,
it does have an innovative, if controversial, pricing model.
55 per cent: Proportion of the supposedly secure
servers on Alexa s list of the million most widely used
websites that were vulnerable to a two-year-old vulner-
ability in the widely used encryption software library
known as OpenSSL, including 44 of the top 100. When
the flaw was found this year, many Web site operators
scrambled to address the vulnerability, but patching efforts
seemed to stall just months after the initial discovery,
and hundreds of thousands of devices could still be vul-
4.5 million: Number of members in the hospital network
Community Health Systems whose personally identifiable
information was accessible by hackers exploiting a security
bug known as Heartbleed. The security company Websense
reported that hacks on hospitals had risen 600 per cent
during the preceding six months.
2030: The year in which China promises its green-
house-gas emissions will peak. Just a few years ago it
was unclear when China s emissions, which have risen
257 per cent since 1990, would ever stop rising. But a
slowing economy and policies meant to address urban
air pollution have slowed growth in demand for coal, and
a nationwide carbon trading system is expected to come
online in 2016.
Recent research suggests that China s coal use could
peak sometime between 2020 and 2025. In November
the US and China came to a landmark agreement on
addressing climate change.
301 million: The number of smartphones shipped
worldwide in the third quarter, a 20 per cent increase
from the same period in 2013. That s according to Gartner,
which says smartphones now account for two-thirds of
the world s mobile-phone market and predicts that in
three years nine out of 10 mobile phones bought will be
24 per cent: Samsung s global share of the mobile-
phone market in the third quarter. That was down from
32 per cent a year earlier, as new competitors got more
aggressive. Xiaomi in China and Micromax in India are
finding increasing success both at home and abroad.
US$25: The cost of storing the data from one genome
each year with Google Genomics. For years we ve been
talking about the quickly falling cost of sequencing; now
cloud services like Google s could be a boon for clinicians
and scientists looking to explore many genomes at once.
Expect more endeavours on the scale of the one announced
this summer by the British government, which plans to
sequence 100,000 genomes---the largest national sequenc-
ing effort to date.
4.4 zettabytes: The amount (which can also be expressed
as 4.4 billion terabytes) of all digital information in the
world, according to a report published by the International
Data Corporation at the start of the year. The figure was
growing by around 40 per cent per year. Reuters
2014 in numbers:
shocking security stats,
and a big climate deal
The Economist's country of the year:
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