The Happiest Graph on Earth

No one would expect sunshine and smiles from an organization called the National Intelligence Council. One of its main tasks is to prepare a document called "Global Trends" once every four years for the new or re-elected U.S. president, laying out likely scenarios for how the world will develop over the coming decade or two. The most recent version, published in January, is every bit as intense as you might anticipate. Its three-page preface warns that we are facing "rising tensions between countries" at a time when "Global growth will slow, just as increasingly complex global challenges impend." Worse still, while "regional aggressors and nonstate actors will see openings to pursue their interests ... Nor is the picture much better on the home front for many countries." And these are just the headings in bold face: The fine print is even more alarming.