Does ‘The Economist’ Magazine Predict the Future?

'The Economist' cover for 2019.

'The Economist' not only forecasts the economic situation, but also seems to predict the future in an eerily accurate way. (Image: via The Economist)

The Economist

The Economist magazine was founded in 1843 and publishes economic and political news. Currently, the average weekly circulation is as high as 1.44 million copies and it is considered a fairly influential magazine. Amazingly, this magazine not only forecasts the economic situation, but it also seems to predict the future in an eerily accurate way!

People initially did not pay much attention as there are countless media making forecasts. It was not until the outbreak of the pandemic at the end of 2019 that people started to notice the significance of the publication. Let’s take a closer look at the forecasts depicted in the magazine’s 2019 cover edition that was launched in November 2018. 

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Leonardo da Vinci’s Vitruvian Man

At the end of each year, the cover of The Economist magazine appears to carry predictions in the form of pictures to illustrate the possibility of the New Year’s upcoming events. Formally, the magazine published photos on its cover, but on November 22, 2018, coinciding with the 500th anniversary of Leonardo da Vinci’s death, The Economist published his Vitruvian Man on its cover, as well as the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse and a variety of other images.

The magazines also depicted images of Trump, Putin, and a Chinese panda alluding to the major world events that occurred in 2018. For instance the US-China trade war and the Russia–United States summit. However, a few unreasonable notions surrounding some images have been uncovered. For instance, on the evening of December 22, 2018, Indonesia’s Anak Krakatoa volcano erupted, triggering a 13-meter-high tsunami that caused the death of 437 people.

Coincidentally, there was an image of a volcano surrounded by smoke, the moon directly above, and a satellite recording the cause of the tsunami. Remember the magazine was published in November 2018 and the tsunami occurred in December. 

Another anomaly on the cover consisted of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, who are seen as harbingers of the Last Judgement. Many people wondered why The Economist would have such bizarre symbolic images to welcome the arrival of the New Year. Notably, one of the Horsemen had been changed to the Statue of Liberty, and it appears to be wearing a mask.

It was not until after the outbreak of the pandemic at the end of 2019 that people understood why the Statue of Liberty was wearing a mask. Furthermore, the Four Horsemen were traveling from east to the west, also coinciding extremely well with the direction of the spread of the coronavirus.

Worried about all the coincidences, many people began to pay attention to The Economist, and not surprisingly, on November 5, 2019, the 2020 edition once again published interesting prophecies.

The eye chart

In the November 2019 issue, the cover depicted an eye chart. At the forefront, we can see the words “The World in 2020.” On the chart, we see that only two words are colored “2020” and “vision.” The magazine used the eye chart to represent “vision.” The word “vision” is already suggesting that the future can be seen through the chart. At the end of 2020, the world realized that the chart captured many major events.

Let’s examine the order of words found in this eye chart that depict these major events. After “2020,” we see the words “Trump” and “exit.” By year’s end, Trump had lost the presidential election to Biden. After “exit” we also see “AI.” Famous entrepreneur Elon Musk’s foray into artificial intelligence has led him to combine AI with the human brain. Musk successfully implanted a chip into the brain of a pig in August 2020. The word ‘Tokyo” appears to represent the Tokyo Olympics.

Next, the words “Mars” and “climate” appear. Climate change was seen to be the cause of the bushfires in Australia, California, and Siberia, while China, Japan, and India were experiencing severe flooding. “Xi,” “recession,” and “Modi” appear next referring to the pandemic’s severe effect on these economies. “Expo” refers to the cancellation of the 2020 World Expo due to the pandemic.

The Economist
In the November 2019 issue, the cover depicted an eye chart. (Image: via The Economist)

We see “SDGs,” which stands for the 17 Sustainable Development Goals that were set up in 2015 by the United Nations General Assembly. At the time, several world powers came together to agree on the 17 interlinked global goals, including no poverty, zero hunger, decent work, and economic growth, and life on land. If you read all the goals carefully, you will see that “sustainability” is something stressed a lot. Some people think that the premise of sustainable development is to reduce population growth, which then falls in line with the rumored CCP’s vision of the new world.

In significantly smaller text, the word “vision” is shown in a different color, which serves as a reminder that there is more important information contained here, such as the word “rat.” 2020 was the Year of the Rat and after the outbreak of the pandemic, people had a second interpretation of the word “rat.” Some people thought that “rat” could have represented a plague. 

With the covers of The Economist in 2019 and 2020 predicting futures one after another, it has forced people to pause and think. Does the magazine have the ability to make an incisive analysis of the future or is our future manipulated by an invisible hand? Regardless of the reason, it is worth looking into simply based on its accuracy. 

The slot machine

Let’s continue to reveal the analysis of the 2021 edition of The Economist. Perhaps the future can be changed? This time, on the magazine cover released in November 2020 was the picture of a “slot machine.” Does this imply that our future is a “bet”? If this is the case, the slot machine displayed on the cover is likely to be our future. 

There are seemingly random pictures on this year’s cover, but the fact is that each picture represents a special meaning. Their appearance and positioning are the results of a very detailed design. The “second column” of the machine depicted on the cover has no afterimages, thus the images displayed in this column will no longer change.

The remaining three columns are designed to display afterimages that cleverly portray a slot machine still in motion. We can even use the direction of the afterimages to determine that the machine is turning “from the bottom to the top”. This is a very important indicator because it helps to determine the “sequence” of the picture occurrence.

The Economist magazine cover page.
On the magazine cover released in November 2020, was the picture of a ‘slot machine.’ (Image: via The Economist)

In the second column, there are two arrows on the side pointing to the image of Biden. In November 2020, Biden became the 46th US president. The image of a split American flag depicts the supporters of Trump versus supporters of Biden. The TikTok symbol refers to the U.S. banning its use in the country. These were all factual events. However, the fourth image of a nuclear bomb above Biden’s head is illustrated here.

Do they predict a possible nuclear altercation or does it represent the Australia-U.S.-UK alliance to build nuclear-powered submarines recently announced in September?

Two further recurring pictures on the slot machine are the question marks and viruses. Next, we see images of the Chinese flag and above it, a wind turbine followed by the money symbol. This could be interpreted as the place where the pandemic first appeared, and the virus spread through the air or wind. China is also one of the largest populated economies in the world, so the virus would spread very fast. 

Further images are of a little yellow person wearing a red face mask. Above this is a syringe filled with a green-colored vaccine. Generally speaking, green represents the meaning of natural ecology and environmental protection. If it is used in medical treatment, especially inside a syringe, it mostly represents something toxic. Having this color appear in a syringe on the cover of The Economist is very unsettling. In addition, there is currently a certain percentage of people who have had serious side effects due to the vaccine. So some people are refusing to be vaccinated. This seems to marry up with the magazine’s prediction once again.

Next are images of a video camera and above it, a tree engulfed in flames. During the pandemic, lockdowns occurred, so the workforce and various enterprises conducted meetings via online video conferencing. Last year, due to the greenhouse effect, unprecedented high temperatures were recorded in many parts of the world with many damaging bushfires. The pattern of fire appears again in the 2021 magazine. Does this imply that there will inevitably be fires again this year?


Instead of asking why The Economist magazine can predict the future, it would be wise to reflect on the problems created by human beings. For example, in the face of virus transmission, are we cooperating with the issue of wearing masks? When the world is in chaos, do we think rationally without creating panic and understand the importance of peace? Maybe when we start to pay attention to the disasters indicated by these pictures, we can be winners of the game. 

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