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Energy, Economic Growth, and Geopolitical Futures

Eight Long-Range Scenarios

Evan Hillebrand, Stacy Closson


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Eight varied scenarios, integrating a quantitative model and qualitative analysis, that examine the interplay of three key drivers over the next four decades.

This book presents eight varied scenarios of possible global futures, emphasizing the interconnectedness of three drivers of change: energy prices, economic growth, and geopolitics. Other published global future scenarios focus on only one of these factors, viewing, for example, economic growth as unaffected by energy prices or energy prices in isolation from geopolitical conditions. In this book, Evan Hillebrand and Stacy Closson offer a new approach to scenario construction that acknowledges the codependence of these key drivers and integrates qualitative analysis with a quantitative model.

The eight scenarios represent possible combinations of high or low energy prices, strong or weak economic growth, and global harmony or disharmony across three time periods: the 2010s, 2020 to 2040, and 2040 to 2050. The "Regional Mercantilism" scenario, for example, envisions high energy prices, weak economic growth, and global disharmony. To impose numerical consistency across scenarios, Hillebrand and Closson employ the International Futures (IFs) model developed by Barry Hughes. (Interested readers can download this interactive model to alter or build scenarios themselves.) Assessing the probability of each scenario, they conclude that increased U.S. energy supply and the sustainability of the Chinese growth miracle are the most significant drivers over the next forty years.

MIT Press, 9780262028899, 248pp.

Publication Date: March 27, 2015

About the Author

Evan Hillebrand is Professor of International Economics the University of Kentucky's Patterson School of Diplomacy and International Commerce. He was Staff Economist in the Directorate of Intelligence at the Central Intelligence Agency from 1972 to 2004. Stacy Closson is Assistant Professor at the University of Kentucky's Patterson School of Diplomacy and International Commerce. From 1998 to 2002, she worked in the Office of Under Secretary of Defense for Policy in the U.S. Defense Department.