After a year of political disruption and groups raising awareness on key issues, a number of recognised and fresh faces are expected to make headlines in 2018.
CNBC highlights who could shake up the system in 2018.
In November, the U.S. administration nominated Federal Reserve Governor Jerome Powell as the next central banker to take on the role of Fed chair.
Inheriting this title in February from first female Chair Janet Yellen, Powell will be scrutinized closely by markets to see if he follows suit on the central bank's current route towards hitting its inflation target of 2 percent, raising rates and unwinding the Fed's balance sheet.
Other central banks to watch out for:
- European Central Bank and its asset purchase program
- Bank of England's reaction to Brexit and U.K. growth
- Bank of Japan Haruhiko Kuroda's future as governor
When Robert Mugabe resigned as president of Zimbabwe in November, former Vice-President Emmerson Mnangagwa was sworn in as incumbent.
After the African nation dealt with around four decades of Mugabe's rule, Mnangagwa told the public that Zimbabwe was entering a new stage of democracy.
With the new leader promising to boost the economy by tackling unemployment and poverty, people worldwide will be paying close attention to Mnangagwa's actions in 2018, to see how he leads the country ahead of the country's elections, expected to happen before or during the fall.
The same goes for Cyril Ramaphosa, who's been elected as the leader of South Africa's ruling ANC party — previously lead by embattled President Jacob Zuma.
Other events to watch out for from Africa:
- Zimbabwe's 2018 election
- Egypt's 2018 presidential election
The U.K.'s Royal Family never fails to catch headlines and 2018 is no exception.
In the spring, actress Meghan Markle is set to wed Prince Harry; while the Duchess of Cambridge, Kate Middleton is expected to give birth to her and Prince William's third child.
Both events are expected to provide a boost to the U.K. economy, and could even promote tourism and retail sales.
Other monarchies to watch out for:
- Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, and its royal family
Interest in cryptocurrencies has increased dramatically over 2017, with bitcoin futures already having been listed on the Cboe Futures Exchange and the CME. In fact, in January 2017, Bitcoin hovered around $1,000, yet by year-end it had risen more than $18,500, before paring.
Where major cryptocurrencies will be headed in 2018 will be of key importance to investors and economic advisors: Will leading nations step up on regulation? What industries will become more invested in blockchain technology? Watch this space.
Other market-moving assets to watch out for:
- Dow Jones industrial average (Will the rally continue?)
- Oil prices (U.S. vs. OPEC)
Demonstrations united people and inspired other marches to bring attention to major social discrepancies, such as fighting for immigrants' rights and supporting the LGBT community. In general, people became more active in promoting equal rights, whether that was leaders or everyday individuals making statements publicly.
In fact, events such as the allegations against producer Harvey Weinstein, encouraged people to speak out against misconduct — and it wouldn't be surprising if this movement carried on into 2018.
Other advocate groups to watch out for:
- American Civil Liberties Union
- Human Rights Campaign
While the Donald Trump administration has been praised for some of its actions during its first year, like a proposed tax overhaul and tackling extremism; it has also faced a number of criticisms, including the incumbent's use of Twitter and withdrawing the U.S. out of the Paris Climate Agreement.
Whether the administration will continue on its current path, or address certain areas in 2018 is yet to be determined.
However, it's unlikely that the administration will disappear from the headlines as midterm elections, legal issues, and the country's relationship with North Korea and Russia, are set to be of key importance.
Other political events to watch out for:
March 29, 2019 provisionally marks the moment when that U.K. is set to leave the European Union, so what happens during 2018 will be crucial in terms of divorce proceedings.
While 2017 ended with EU leaders giving the green light to move Brexit talks forward, both sides faced impasses in order to reach a compromise.
In fact, even U.K. politics went through a volatile election period after Theresa May called a snap election.
However what will 2018 mean for the U.K. leader and will negotiators from each side agree on future challenging topics like trade?
Other key events for businesses to watch out for:
Twenty-First Century Fox recently announced that Disney would buy assets of the group in a deal worth more than $52 billion in stock — which if successful, could seriously disrupt the entertainment industry.
The Sky deal however remains up-in-the-air, not only due to Disney but after concerns from Britain's competition watchdog, who's set to give its verdict on Executive Chairman Rupert Murdoch's bid to buy Sky in 2018.
Other businesses and CEOs to watch out for:
- Automakers (Uber vs. London; Tesla vs. traditional carmakers; U.S. production)
- The rise of automation
- Major M&A deals
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