I had not looked at last year’s predictions since I posted them, so I was a little surprised by how many of them turned out to be right. The prediction about Trump and Republicans pushing through a big tax bill was pretty spot on. Trump has also attacked the regulatory code as I predicted. I did predict the GOP would do some rollback on ObamaCare, which did not happen, other than repeal of the mandate. I was also right on the climate change stuff. Trump has reversed Federal policy on climate change and faced little resistance.
I did not get the China stuff right. Of course, it is hard to know as the ChiComs are good at hiding their systemic trouble. The fact that no one is talking about China’s economy these days suggests the boom times are over, so maybe I was just a year early. I missed on the Middle East stuff, but there is no shame in that. I did hit a home run on the gene editing prediction. I was also prescient on the alt-right in-fighting. In fairness, which was so obvious I cannot take credit for that one. Pretty much the only thing they do well is squabble.
So, what are the signs telling me this year?
The Trump agenda will trundle along with the negotiations over DACA amounting nothing, as the Democrats find that there is no constituency for the program. Instead, it will be allowed to expire and Trump will be painted as the bad guy, but no one will care, including Trump. Instead, the focus will be on the infrastructure bill, which will turn into a massive Christmas tree that both parties get to decorate. In that bill will be some sort of second chance provision for DACA, along with money for that wall and other immigration items.
On the domestic political front, the Mueller investigation will keep taking on water as it becomes clear that the real issue is not Russian meddling in the presidential election, but FBI meddling in the election. Trump may even appoint a new special prosecutor to dig into the FBI, Uranium One and the DOJ shenanigans. This will begin to spill into the midterms, as the Republicans figure out that this is a chance for them to blunt Democrat gains. The Democrats will pickup some seats in the House but lose some seats in the Senate.
This will be the year that gene editing in health care moves to center stage. Researchers in California used a new technique in 2017 to alter a patient’s DNA in an effort to treat a metabolic disease called Hunter syndrome. Health care is about to make a tremendous leap forward with respect to treating genetic disorders. Similarly, micro-technology is about to revolutionize medical testing with trackable pills that collect information about a patient throughout their day. The morality of new medicine starts to get serious attention.
One of the consequences of the big GOP tax bill will be the impact it will have on Europe’s not so robust economy. The disparity in corporate tax rates was a boon to Europe, but now the roles are reversed and companies will begin to repatriate cash and jobs to the United States this year. This will put more pressure on the EU and on pro-EU parties, as the nationalist parties are just starting the become organized. This will also cause the Brexit negotiations to fail and it will bring down the Theresa May government.
At the same time, the various nationalist parties on the Continent will continue to grow their support due to the intractable migrant problem and the establishment’s inability to formulate a coherent response. Emmanuel Macron will push through a set of immigration reforms that will legitimize the nationalists parties and increase demands for reform in the rest of the EU. Even more frightening to the European establishment, Sebastian Kurz, the new Austrian Chancellor, will start talking with the Visegrád Group about cooperation.
While electric car sales will continue to grow, they will remain a toy for the upper middle-class. The real growth in electric vehicles will be at the lower end. Electrically assisted bicycles, self-balancing one wheel scooters, powered skateboards and hi-tech mobility scooters for old people will become the next big thing. Electric cars face all sorts of obstacles, but new battery technology will open the door for micro-travel devices that are relatively cheap and meet the demands for old people and urban residents.
The much anticipated IPO of Saudi Aramco will not be done publicly. Bankers in London and New York have been maneuvering to get what many think will be the biggest IPO ever. Instead, the Saudis will opt for a private offering and it will not be the trillion dollar event everyone expects. This will lead to speculation about the stability of the kingdom and questions about the future of the House of Saud. Saudi Arabia is basically a hedge fund with a country attached. Aramco’s stock price will be the measure of Saudi health.
Finally, the New York Yankees will be the first team in baseball history to lose all 162 regular season games. The embarrassment will cause city officials to evict the team, forcing them to move to New Jersey. The enormity of this sporting catastrophe will be eclipsed by the sudden bankruptcy of the English Premiere League. The death of professional football in England will have a domino effect, resulting in the collapse of all professional football leagues, even the NFL, which is a different football.
That is it for this year. It has been another great year for the blog, adding tens of thousands of new readers and many new commenters. I appreciate everyone taking the time out of their day to read and respond. It has also been a great start to the podcast, despite the fact I have done little to promote it. As has been the case with the blog, the podcast audience grows by word of mouth. I appreciate everyone posting links on social media and recommending me to their friends and enemies. I genuinely appreciate it.
Happy New Year to one and all.