Archive for December, 2021

Top 10 Predictions for 2022

Tuesday, December 21st, 2021

While we were all hoping for a more normal 2021, unfortunately that did not happen. The drama started early in the year – January 6th to be exact – and continued with Omicron and dysfunction on full display in Washington as the year ended.

I am trying to be as optimistic as I can as I look forward to 2022, but I honestly see another year of turmoil ahead. Hopefully, amidst whatever transpires, we can each find some peace and tranquility within ourselves and with loved ones.

Here we go (and as always – this is what I think will happen – not necessarily what I want to happen):

11 – I am adding an 11th prediction because I don’t know if this will happen in 2022 or not – but I wanted to be on the record with my prediction in case it does. Donald Trump will NOT run for re-election. While he will probably extend the drama for as long as he can to maintain his grip over the party, he could surprise us all and announce something before the end of 2022 (he has already said that he will wait until after the midterm elections). This will likely become a 2023 prediction.

10 – Speaking of the midterm elections … The Republicans will retake both the House and the Senate. It will be close in the Senate, because it is a very difficult path for the Republicans, but they will emerge with 52 seats. The House will not even be close, and the Democrats will lose more seats than they ever have in a midterm election.

9 – The primary season leading up to the midterms will be the ugliest yet – within both parties, the extreme factions of each party will pull farther apart. On the Republican side it will be the MAGA wing v. the so-called RINO wing, and on the Democratic side it will be moderates v. liberals. Trump-supported candidates will not do as well as expected and neither Herschel Walker or Dr. Oz will win Senate seats (although Walker might become the party’s candidate).

8 – The January 6th commission will continue to be stymied by witnesses who refuse to testify (and delay), but they will release a report before the election, sensing that a Republican majority will disband the committee. There will be some damning evidence presented against former President Trump and some of his allies, but overall reaction will be muted (given the partisan divide); two members of the House will resign because of their roles in the planning. No prosecutions will take place in 2022.

7 – Former President Trump will be indicted in NY State for business-related irregularities at the Trump Organization, and perhaps for tax evasion . And speaking of Trump, little or no progress will be made in launching his new media platform (True Social).

6 – The pandemic will become an endemic – it is something that we are just going to have to live with. Annual boosters will become necessary, and by the end of the year one will be developed that will also include the flu so that only one shot per year will be necessary. This should be developed by the fall. Other named mutations will occur, since much of the world remains unvaccinated, but the US will not shut down. (Even if the government tried, many people would not heed it, and I think the government knows that.) Continued lockdowns in some parts of the world, including Europe may continue, but so will protests and eventually the realization that we must live with it will proliferate and the number of  lockdowns will decline.

5 – On the international front, the US will continue to be pressured to impose sanctions on Russia over Ukraine, but will continue to resist and no invasion will take place. Relations with China will remain tense but I don’t see a serious deterioration or any major blow-ups over Taiwan. China will be focused at home and continue to crack down internally as Xi continues to amass more power. The Olympics will be postponed because many athletes will not be able to get there. Talks with Iran on a nuclear deal will continue, but no new deal will be reached. The coalition government in Israel will fall, and Netanyahu will become Prime Minister again. Macron will lose the French election in a shocker, and Boris Johnson will survive a no confidence vote.

4 – Inflation will remain high throughout the year, another factor that will hurt the democrats in the midterm elections. The Fed will raise interest rates two times during the year, not three as previously announced, as global economic growth will be slower than expected. The supply chain issues will continue to work themselves out and thing should be back to normal on this front by late summer. But with continued worries over Covid, the labor markets will continue to be unstable, with employers (retail, restaurants) continuing to have problems hiring.

3 – The economy will chug along at a moderate pace, hampered by the labor issues mentioned above. Consumer confidence will be hampered throughout the year by higher prices, but gas prices should come down by mid-year. The hybrid work model will continue to become permanent, and many companies will adopt a flexible model of allowing employees to work from home at least a few days a week. A much smaller Build Back Better Bill will pass, but the bitterness caused by the delay, coupled with the impending elections, will make this the only major piece of legislation passed in 2021.

2 – The word of the year in the stock market will be volatility in light of the ongoing uncertainty caused by Covid variants. But company fundamentals remain strong, as companies have been able to pass costs on to consumers. There will be a 10% correction during the year, perhaps in response to Fed tightening , but this is a normal part of any stock market cycle, and the markets will end up modestly for the year – but less than 5%. Cryptocurrencies will continue to gain in popularity, and they will continue to be extremely volatile, but will end the year higher overall.

1 – Finally, my Achilles Heal the past few years, sports. Georgia will win the college football national championship, capping off an undefeated year and sadly beating my Wolverines. Predicting who will win the Super Bowl is a tough one, because as of now I see a lot of mediocre teams. But since I have to make a prediction, I am going to go with the Kansas City Chiefs. Baylor will win the NCAA basketball tournament. The Phoenix Suns will be NBA champs, and the Minnesota Wild will win the Stanley Cup. Finally, the Los Angeles Dodgers will reclaim their place as baseball champions.

How Did I Do? Review of Top 10 Prediction for 2021

Thursday, December 9th, 2021

Before I bravely (or stupidly) try to predict what will happen in 2022, let’s take a look at how I have done so far this year. New comments are bolded. Pretty happy with how I did – especially given the fact that I never imagined that January 6th and the Delta variant would control so much of the 2021 narrative. But that’s what makes this fun!

I should have my head examined for even making predictions for 2021. I should probably just say that there will be a lot of uncertainty and leave it at that.

But that wouldn’t be fun – would it? So here I go again. As always, please keep in mind this is what I think will happen – not necessarily would I would like to see happen.

10 – President Trump will leave office and the White House on January 20th (he might in fact vacate the WH before that date) and Joe Biden will become our 46th President. Trump will not concede and he will not attend the inauguration. He will quickly associate himself with a right-leaning media organization (Newsmax, One America Network or Rush Limbaugh as examples) to either produce his own show or be a frequent guest. He will also explore starting his own media empire. His talk of running again in 2024 will fade as the year progresses but his influence within the GOP will persist. This was pretty accurate. He did not associate himself with any news organizations (but was a pretty frequent guest on Fox), but late in the year he did announce the creation of his own media platform called Truth Social. His influence has definitely not waned, and he is still talking about 2024, although he recently said that he would not make an announcement until after the midterm elections. 

9 – President Trump will pardon his children and many of his close associates (Rudy) before he leaves office (some of these might take place in 2020 after this is posted), but he will not attempt to pardon himself. While the Democrats in Congress will not begin a large number of investigations into Trump and his allies in an attempt to cool the partisan atmosphere in Washington, expect NY State to quickly and vigorously investigate The Trump Organization and the President’s other business dealings. Partially right on here. I think if not for January 6th, he would have gone ahead and pardoned his children. Who could have predicted what happened on that day? Partisanship has definitely not cooled! And the fight over his taxes with NY State continues.

8- I went back and forth on this one, but made a last minute decision to predict that the Democrats will win the two Georgia Senate seats and essentially take control of the Senate with Kamala Harris being the tie-breaking vote. Why did I change my mind? Because I just read that more people have already voted by mail (December 21st) than did in total in the November general election. Such high turn out favors the Democrats as does President Trump’s continued criticism of Georgia election officials, which could lead to low turnout on the Republican side. Ironically, Susan Collins (who almost lost her re-election bid) and other moderate Senators like Mitt Romney and Lisa Murkowski will yield more day-to-day power than Majority Leader McConnell, as their willingness to work across the aisle will give them powerful leverage in determining the success/failure of Biden’s agenda in such an evenly split Senate. I was right on the Senate races and while the Republican Senators did help negotiate and pass the bi-partisan infrastructure bill I did miss how the most powerful Senators would be two Democrats – Manchin and Sinema – and they would make life hard for their own leaders more than the opposition!

7 – The Senate will block at least two of Biden’s nominees, but the Secretary of Defense will be confirmed with a waiver. There will be another major stimulus bill passed within the first 60 days of the new administration and a major infrastructure bill will pass in the first half of the year. Given the small House majority, however, there will not be a major tax bill passed; any changes will be smaller and more targeted. Efforts will also be made early in the year in reestablishing our international standing and willingness to reengage with the rest of the world, especially with fears of a Taliban resurgence in the face of recent U.S. troop withdrawals from the region. Pretty good here. Austin was confirmed, nobody was blocked but at least one nominee took her name out of contention faced with opposition. Stimulus was passed, as was infrastructure eventually (but not in the first half of the year). Biden did make early gains on the international front, but the sloppy Afghanistan withdrawal made some allies question us. Taliban fears panned out quicker than anyone imagined.

6 – There will be one or two additional new Covid-19 vaccines approved in the first quarter, and everyone who wants to be vaccinated in the U.S. will be able to be by the end of June. The Biden Administration will increase overall confidence in the vaccine and herd immunity will be reached in time for the start of school in the Fall. (Trying to be optimistic and realistic here.) Life will not get back to near normalcy, however, until at least January 2022. Conditional approval was actually given to three vaccines and everyone was able to get a vaccine. What I did not anticipate was the hesitancy among so many and that the issue would become so politicized (but I should have in today’s world!). Herd immunity was not reached but most schools were able to reopen. And life is certainly not yet fully back to normal, although things are looking up, at least in the U.S. Of course until Omicron appeared and chaos reigned once again as the year ended.

5 – Executive orders will make rejoining the Paris Climate Accord and the World Health Organization early highlights of the Biden Administration, but entering into a new deal with Iran will prove to be more tricky. I don’t envision any new deal (or modification of the existing one) during 2021. There will be little progress with North Korea, and the two leaders will not meet.The U.S. will sign a trade deal with the UK. Was correct about everything but the U.S. and the UK signing a trade deal in 2021. Nuclear talks did start again near year-end, but no visible progress has been made yet.

4 – Biden’s efforts to re-engage with our allies should help lesson NATO clashes. Tensions with Russia will rise, especially in light of the recent evidence  of ongoing hacking, and I expect some significant new sanctions will be put into place. Relations with China will be tense as well, fueled by the Trump administration’s late 2020 exit from the Open Skies Treaty, but I expect less trade war rhetoric and fewer sanctions. There will be continued progress with Israel and other Middle Eastern government normalizing relations, but I expect fewer U.S. concessions to make this happen. Relations with Israel will remain good, but I don’t expect Biden and Netanyahu to have a close relationship. The leadership succession plan in Germany will finally become clearer. Boris Johnson’s popularity will continue to decline, especially after his botched handling of Christmas, but he will survive the year as leader; he will not, however, learn how to use a comb. Mixed bag here. Relations with Russia and China remain cool, but not much progress has been made in the Middle East and of course Netanyahu is no longer in office (at least for now).  The succession to Merkel has been messy, and taken longer than anticipated, though it did happen in early December and while Boris Johnson’s popularity did increase during the Fall, it began to wane again near year-end when stories emerged that there were Christmas parties in 2020 at Downing Street in violation of Covid rules. 

3 – The economy will go into another mini-recession early in the year because of the delay in passing a stimulus bill until late Q42020 and the lingering effects of this new strain of Covid-19. As more people get vaccinated, however, and the spread of the virus slows post-holidays, the economy will pick-up quickly IF there is another stimulus bill and a comprehensive infrastructure bill. If either of these efforts stalls, the recession will be longer and deeper. In any case, economic growth should pick-up in the last quarter of the year as the travel and entertainment sectors begin to recover. The outlook for these industries remains bleak, however, as it will be years before things are back to near normal. Wrong on the recession and the economy has done well even with the delay in passing the infrastructure bill. Travel and entertainment have picked-up as the economy has opened, but I completely missed three other black swans – longer-lasting inflation, labor shortages and growing issues with global supply chains. That is what makes this fun – what will next year’s surprises be?

2 – The stock market will continue on its upward trajectory, but as always it is a market of stocks – and industry performance will vary significantly. The stay at home trend is here to stay even when herd immunity is reached. More people will be working remotely, and people have gotten used to the new normal. I don’t expect to see people running back to gyms and entertainment venues when they have invested in equipment at home. As a whole the market will be up 3% – 5% for the year, with technology stocks continuing to perform well even with a somewhat struggling economy. Bitcoin and others cryptocurrencies will continue to become more mainstream in what is quickly becoming a cashless society amidst concerns over touching objects in public. Cash has not become as obsolete as I thought that it would, while cryptos did continue an impressive run before pulling back in December. People have rushed back to gyms and entertainment venues in part because the Delta variant made the pandemic last longer and people were so desperate to get out! Offices have delayed reopening in many cases and many companies will remain remote or be hybrid. The market’s remarkable comeback continued until Omicron brought back late-year volatility. As I right this, optimism is picking up again as it appears that current vaccines (with a booster) are still effective against the latest variant.

1 – Finally, sports – which has been my achilles heel for the past few years. Ohio State will win the college football national championship with an asterisk, since they only played six games. This was my second last minute change. I originally had Ohio State, then switched to Clemson because I didn’t think the Buckeyes looked so good against Northwestern. BUT I just read that Saban and Swinney both ranked OSU out of their final Top Four. This will serve as a great motivator for Ohio State and they should have most if not all of the 20+ players that were out of the last game back. Revenge is a great motivator (in my humble option it is ND that should have been left out of the top four). The Kansas City Chiefs will beat the Green Bay Packers in the Super Bowl. Gonzaga will win the college basketball national championship. The following teams will repeat as champions – the Los Angeles Dodgers in baseball, the Tampa Bay Lightening in Hockey and the Los Angeles Lakers in basketball. Once again – I was pretty bad here once again! Clemson won the college football title – OSU didn’t even make it to the final. The goat proved me wrong again, but you have to admire his greatness. Baylor beat Gonzaga – I was so close. And of course those predicted repeats did not happen.