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Hardcover | $37.00 Short | £30.95 | 248 pp. | 6 x 9 in | 12 figures, 38 tables | March 2015 | ISBN: 9780262028899
eBook | $26.00 Short | April 2015 | ISBN: 9780262328715

Energy, Economic Growth, and Geopolitical Futures

Eight Long-Range Scenarios


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.

About the Authors

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.


“...the alternative worlds imagined by Hillebrand and Closson are useful starting points for a whole host of intriguing conceptual exercises, teaching and learning opportunities, strategic planning processes, and additional investigations into specific topics. This book clearly can be utilized as a valuable and engaging tool for both undergraduate and graduate students in a range of disciplinary fields, along with scholars and researchers working in interdisciplinary programs. If applied to its fullest potential, this book could also serve as a jumping-off point for other related scenario planning efforts. In the end, perhaps the book’s most valuable impact could be in helping to expand a reader’s thought processes, suggest new lines of inquiry, and stimulate new ways of approaching about the complex, vexing challenges facing the world today.”—Futures


“Top-drawer scenario builders map a unique array of ‘big picture’ global outcomes shaped by energy prices, economic growth, and global harmony. Better still, they give the reader tools to build her own scenarios. An essential reference for experts concerned with geopolitical and geoeconomic futures.”
Gary Clyde Hufbauer, Reginald Jones Senior Fellow, Peterson Institute for International Economics
“The way the authors have integrated the International Futures model into scenario analysis is very instructive and amounts to a useful methodological contribution to the literature on scenario analysis. As an energy economist, I also appreciate that the book adds to the usual energy market forecasting exercises that take economic growth as exogenous to the energy markets and ignore political factors.”
Peter Hartley, Mitchell Professor of Economics and Rice Scholar in Energy Studies at the Baker Institute, Rice University
“Evan Hillebrand and Stacy Closson have written an interesting and original book in which they analyze several different scenarios for economic growth, energy prices, and international conflict over the next forty years in an engaging and accessible style. I recommend this book to anyone who wishes to understand the range of possible futures.”
James Morrow, Professor of Political Science, University of Michigan