Time for my annual exercise in prognostication. Yes, the end of the year is an arbitrary time to do this, but in this one instance, with so many tumultuous changes coming down the pike, it seems appropriate. And it gives me another chance to make a spectacular fool of myself (assuming anyone ever remembers these things months later). So, lets begin, shall we?
US Economic Predictions
* Unemployment (real unemployment, not the massaged numbers the media reports) will hit 20% or more in the USA this Spring.
* Corporate Bankruptcies will hit record numbers and will include many, many major retailers, and automobile related companies, including one or more of the Big 3 (Chrysler and GM especially).
* Automotive Lobbyists will scream loudly to change the bankruptcy code to make Chapter 11 (the reorganization provisions) more corporate friendly and less labor friendly. Expect those to pass easily.
* Individual bankruptcies and foreclosures will also increase spectacularly. Do not expect much relief for homeowners, individuals and small businesses, however. Senate Republicans and Blue Dog Democrats will see to that.
* Health Care Reform will pass, but it will be too little, and provide too many bones for Big Pharma and the Health Insurance companies to be of any real benefit to most Americans. Health Care costs will continue to rise for most people.
* The Dollar will continue to drop in value relative to other currencies (the Yen and the Euro), and Gold prices will continue to rise. The Stock Market will sputter around a bit before dropping another two thousand points or so on the DOW by Summer (if not sooner).
* More Major Bank failures will occur, and will accelerate as the year goes along.
* Major pension Funds will start to fail.
* One or more major Insurance companies will cease business, and others will seek federal bailouts or bankruptcy protection.
* Several major States (California in particular) will become essentially insolvent. Congress will throw a little token money their way, but not enough to make a difference. Essential services (education, police, fire) will be cut to the bone in many localities.
* The Bush tax cuts will not expire but will be extended by Congress for up to an additional five years.
US Social and Political Predictions
* The DOJ will announce no one will be prosecuted for crimes committed during the Bush years. Henry Waxman’s committee may conduct a few investigations, but most of them will come to nothing. In any event, the media won’t cover it, and editorials will claim that any prosecutions are politically based and would prove divisive.
* Riots will break out this summer in one or more major American cities. The causes could be unemployment, food shortages, hot weather, racial animus, anger at police violence, or all of the above.
* The number of assassination threats against Obama will skyrocket. The FBI and Secret Service will break up more than one serious conspiracy. Other political figures will also see increased numbers of death threats with the risk that various politicians or other prominent leaders will be killed.
* The media will be obsessed with various “Obama scandals” such as the Governor Blagojevich case to the exclusion of substantive coverage of issues.
* Food shortages may occur later in the year, particularly of produce.
* Pakistan and India will not go to war, but there may be border incursions and various military actions by India against suspected terrorist camps in Pakistan, and reprisals by Pakistani forces. This may lead to a coup against Pakistan’s civilian government by elements of the military and intelligence services.
* The Taliban and Al Qaeda will continue to make gains in Afghanistan now that they no longer need to worry about interference from Pakistan’s military. The Karzai government’s authority will weaken further, and be limited to the area in and around Kabul.
* Israel will continue it’s ongoing genocidal actions against the residents of Gaza. None of the Arab or Western countries (including the US) will have any effect on Israel’s military attacks on the Palestinians.
* Iraq will continue to fragment along sectarian, tribal and competing political lines. The threat of an all out invasion by the Turks against the Iraqi Kurds will remain high.
* Africa will sink further into wars, genocide, famine and the spread of serious diseases such as AIDS, cholera or perhaps even ebola type viruses. Pirate attacks along the Horn of Africa will increase.
* Serious food shortages (i.e., rice production decreases) will continue in East Asia due to drought conditions.
* China’s economy will go into a serious slump as its export trade falls off and its economy’s growth comes to a virtual halt. The risk of price deflation and a serious global depression will remain high.
* Russia will continue to seek territorial expansion at the expense of it’s former Republics, and Putin’s power will become even more centralized.
* Israel may attempt a limited strike at Iran’s nuclear facilities where the centrifuges used to enrich uranium are located, as well as the nuclear power plant being developed with Russian assistance.
Climate Change Predictions
* Scientific studies and reports will demonstrate global climate change is occurring at a faster rate than expected by climate models and the IPCC. The US media will devote far more coverage to global warming skeptics and deniers in response.
* Drought conditions will worsen around the globe, including in Africa, Australia, and the US.
* Severe weather patterns leading to increased precipitation and flooding, mudslides, etc., in many areas this Spring.
* This year’s fire season will be worse than last year’s.
Well those are my predictions for 2009. What are yours?