Archive for December, 2023

Top Ten Predictions for 2024

Thursday, December 28th, 2023

While I was hoping that the world wouldn’t get any more chaotic in 2023, that indeed has not been the case. From an unexpected war in Gaza, to the unceremonious “firing” of the Speaker of the House, to a near-coup in Russia. Let’s not forget multiple indictments and a civil conviction of a former President – all of which are actually bolstering his re-election campaign – and the highly unusual expulsion of a Congressmen by the House of Representatives.

And now we enter the all-important Presidential election year which all but assures that things will not normalize (whatever that even means anymore). I really should have my head examined for wading in here, but I can’t resist a challenge! Here we go (and as always – this is what I predict will happen – not necessarily what I want to happen).

(Things are moving so fast and furious these days I waited until the last minute to publish this as some of my predictions in draft form were already becoming outdated! Under number two I had predicted that Kevin McCarthy would not run for re-election – he beat me to the punch!)

10 – Joe Biden will be re-elected President of the United States. While the odds seem stacked against him today, and while I would love to predict that we won’t have the universally hated Biden-Trump rematch, we will. There is a long time between now and election day. Trump’s recent misstep over calling for the unpopular (even among Republicans) repeal of Obamacare, to his increasing blunders in speeches, to his talk of a one-day dictatorship, show that there is plenty of time for Biden to gain momentum. At the end of the day, concerns over Biden’s age will take a back seat to the prospects of a second Trump term.

(I am going to add a caveat here because, as mentioned above, the world is moving at warp speed right now and both candidates are older and facing other issues which may negatively impact or even end their runs. In the highly unlikely event Trump is not on the ballot, Nikki Haley will be the Republican nominee and she will win the Presidency. On the flip side, if something happens to Biden, the Democratic nominee will be Gavin Newsom – by reason of default – and he would beat Trump but lose to Haley.)

9 – The Republicans will recapture the Senate, while Democrats will retake the House. There are just too many Democratic seats up in 2024 in the Senate. West Virginia will almost certainly go to a Republican, and Democratic seats in states like Ohio are truly up for grabs. In a bright spot for Democrats, Ted Cruz is going to lose to Colin Allred in the Texas Senate race. On the House side, the Republicans have shown themselves to be unable to govern effectively, and many of the gains from the last election, particularly in New York State, will be lost. It won’t be a huge majority for the Democrats though – probably between 5 and 10 seats. The right wing of the Republican party will also gain seats within their caucus heading into the new Congress in 2025.

8 – There will be one short government shutdown in either January or February (when the two short-term continuing resolutions expire), but it will only last a few days. TheRepublicans will likely be blamed for the shutdown, and they will want to minimize the negative press in an election year and will quickly compromise; by forcing a shutdown they are just trying to make a point of showing how fiscally responsible they are so that they can use the issue to campaign on. Mike Johnson will survive as Speaker through the election, although his popularity will continue to decline within the Republican Caucus. (New leadership elections won’t take place until early 2025 so no predictions yet – but as an early hint to my 2025 predictions – there will be a lot of leadership changes in the next Congress.)

7 – There will be an agreement in early January which provides funding to Ukraine and Israel and will include a compromise on the border (but the legislation will not be as strong as the majority of Republicans would like to see). Since it is an election year, no other major legislation will be enacted into law. The focus, other than the election, will be on how to deal with, and regulate, Artificial Intelligence (AI), and how to reign in Cryptocurrencies in light of the recent collapses of a number of Crypto exchanges. The House will continue its investigation of President Biden, which is now an official Impeachment inquiry, but it will not go to trial. The Republicans will realize by mid-year that the issue is hurting them in the polls and they will quietly put it aside to focus on the election.

6 – Turning overseas, Benjamin Netanyahu will lose his job as Prime Minister of Israel and be replaced by Benny Gantz. I am not sure if there will be any post-mortem on what happened on October 7th in 2024, but if there is, Netanyahu will shoulder most of the blame for the lack of preparedness for the attack. The Israeli ground offensive will end early in the year and troops will withdraw from Gaza before mid-year, as Israel will recognize that any continued occupation brings with it diminishing returns. Some international or UN peace keeping force will move in as a temporary solution (pressure from the U.S. will force Israel’s hand here) as the world tries to find a way to have the Palestine Authority take over (either in its current form or more likely in some kind of makeover so that it is not perceived as being corrupt). While tensions will remain high in the region, and flareups in the West Bank and in the North will continue, no further war will begin – none of the parties can really afford it. Iran-backed rebels will also pull back from their attacks on ships in the Red Sea as the U.S. will used continued military force to deter them.

5 – 2024 will indeed by the year that Putin loses power in Russia (and possibly his life). The change in leadership will finally lead to a cease fire and negotiations that will end the war, as the Russian people have lost patience for the war and the new leadership will realize that they simply can’t win in any case. Russia will withdraw its troops from Ukraine but remain in Crimea – so by the end of 2024 we will basically be back to where we were before this senseless and costly war.

4 – North Korea will continue to be provocative , but other than saber-rattling, will pose no real threat to the rest of the world. China will once again be consumed by domestic economic issues, so there will be no invasion of Taiwan. In fact, the fall of Putin will actually help bring the U.S. and China a little closer and may even bring the return of the Pandas! Trudeau will continue to lose support in Canada; while I don’t see an early election, it will become clear that his future as leader is in doubt. Ditto for Macron in France, whose popularity will also continue to fall. There will be a general election called in the UK (the PM could wait until mid-December to call an election, which would mean that the election would take place in early 2025, but I don’t think he will wait that long) and Labor will regain power.

3 – While it will be close, and the data is mixed and hard to read, I think that the U.S. will avoid going into recession in 2024. The U.S. Federal Reserve (Fed) will not raise interest rates again, and in fact there will be three interest rate cuts during the year. The stock market will end the year up less than 5%, with good economic news at home being counterbalanced by global geopolitical uncertainty. AI stocks will continue to outperform, but will not perform nearly as well as they did in 2023. There will be continuing trouble in the commercial real estate market, but the residential real estate markets will pick-up as interest rates go down.

2 – Miscellaneous people thoughts: Elon Musk will continue to do what he does – be provocative and controversial. X will continue to lose advertisers and subscribers, and its very existence will be called into question by year-end. By then, I’m not sure anyone, including Musk, will really care. Trump’s Truth Social will file for bankrupcy. And speaking of Trump, he will be convicted at least once as he campaigns throughout the year. Tucker Carlson will not be Trump’s running mate; in fact, he will end up picking someone pretty mainstream (Sarah Huckabee Sanders, perhaps?) not someone from the MTG/Gaetz side. Jim Harbaugh will leave Michigan for the NFL. And the romance between Taylor Swift and Travis Kelce will end (sorry).

1 – Finally, my achilles heel in recent years, sports. This is what I wrote in my first draft of this blog on 12/2 before the season’s final games: “I just can’t see Georgia going undefeated for three straight years. And I know if I pick my Wolverines I will jinx them, so I am going to go ahead and predict that the Washington Huskies will win the national championship and keep my fingers crossed that I am wrong.” Now that the games are over and the four teams have been selected, I am going to switch to the Alabama Crimson Tide winning it all. The San Francisco 49ers will win the Super Bowl (I am sticking with this pick even though they lost badly to the Ravens on Christmas Eve; even if this becomes the Super Bowl match-up, it’s hard to beat the same team twice).  Purdue will win the NCAA basketball tournament. The Milwaukee Bucks will reclaim the title of NBA champs, and the New York Rangers will win the Stanley Cup. Finally, the Los Angeles Dodgers will win the World Series. ( I actually drafted this last prediction before they signed Ohtani.)

How Did I Do? Review of my Top 10 Predictions for 2023

Friday, December 1st, 2023

Time to review how I did with my 2023 predictions (comments in bold). Given where we are, 2024 predictions are going to be pretty hard!

I thought that 2022 would be a more normal year – but it hasn’t been. From Russia invading Ukraine, to China once again locking down as the rest of the world reopened, to the overturn of Roe V. Wade, to the unexpected midterm election results, to ….

Black swan events are becoming more common. So, this year, rather than hope for more normal times, I’m going to go with the assumption that the world’s craziness will continue – and make some seemingly outlandish predictions; who knows, some of them might even come true!

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

10 – Donald Trump will not be a candidate for President by the end of 2023. I don’t think he really wants to run – witness his lackluster announcement – and many Republicans seem ready to move on, at least for now, as DeSantis gains momentum. He will also be indicted at least once if not twice in 2023; he thought that running again would shield him from prosecution, but I don’t think that that will be the case. Some undisclosed illness will probably be the reason for dropping out so that he can save face. Once Trump drops out, headlines will be dominated by questions about Biden’s future (I am assuming he announces early in the year that he is running), and whether he will be challenged in the Democratic primaries, or decide to withdraw himself since the Trump threat will be gone. What has resulted from what I got right here and what I got wrong is a great example of where our politics stands today. Trump was not indicted once or twice – he was indicted four times. But rather than force him out of the race, it has helped him increase his lead, at least with his MAGA Republican base, and fundraise. Biden did indeed announce his bid for reelection and he shows no signs of changing his mind in the face of increasing concern – even among Democrats – about his age. No serious challenges have emerged.

9 – Kevin McCathy will become Speaker of the House, but will be ousted by the end of the year. I’ve been going back and forth on this one, but I think he ultimately gets it simply because nobody else really wants it, and he seems willing to give up almost anything to get it; in fact, he will have to give up so much to get to 218 that he will effectively be a leader with no power from the start. Got this one exactly right – although I didn’t think he would last as long as he did. He had to give up so much to even get the job – which lead to concessions that doomed him from the start. And while the Democrats could have saved him, they didn’t trust him to keep his word.

8 – There will be no major legislation passed in 2023 (other than related to regulation of Cryptocurrencies), as the Republican-lead House will focus on Hunter Biden and impeaching Mayorkas and perhaps others. It will be the revenge tour for the January 6th Committee and the Trump impeachments. Grid lock and anger in Washington for sure. Pretty accurate here. There really was no major legislation that became law – the House passed a lot of bills that were never voted on or approved by the Senate. Definitely gridlock and anger (both between the parties and within the parties). Lots of focus on Hunter, still talk about impeaching Mayorkas and of course the Republican inquiry into impeaching Biden.

7 – Elon Musk will no longer be involved with Twitter on a day-to-day basis by the end of the year. This has been in the news of course this past week as I make these predictions, as he lost his own on-line poll about remaining as CEO. He already seems to be vacillating on his promise to name a new CEO – every day brings a change. I believe that this back and forth will continue for a while, so I decided to leave it in my predictions. He still may own the company (I wouldn’t be surprised either if he sells or it goes bankrupt), and even if he steps away he will never truly give up all control, but I think he will come under increasing scrutiny and pressure from the shareholders of Tesla and he will be forced to name new a CEO eventually, even this person is just ultimately a puppet. This is a tough one because while he did name a CEO, he is still by all accounts running the show, and running what is now called X into the ground. The new CEO is indeed a puppet and has had some pretty disasterous interviews which kind of confirm that she isn’t running the show. He has done more damage to this brand in a short period of time than I think anyone could have seen coming. Major advertisers are abandoning him left and right. And he probably doesn’t really care – more like a hobby for him. 

6- Putin will no longer be in power and the war between Russia and Ukraine will end. Again, I’m not exactly sure how this happens, but I think his position has become increasingly untenable. Perhaps an assassination, or perhaps a military coup, or even the likely-Trump route – a medical excuse to save face. Well, there was an attempted coup by the Wagner group. But Putin is still in power and the war continues. One could argue that his position is untenable, but he continues to survive, and the breakout of war in Israel has channeled much attention from Ukraine, a boom for Putin.

5 – China and Iran will continue to make minor concessions to quell recent uprisings, but these changes will be mostly cosmetic to appease the protesters, and the grips on power by the authoritarian regimes will continue. The Chinese economy will struggle during the first half of the year, as Covid cases and deaths rise, resulting in some new supply chain issues throughout the world. These issues begin to work themselves out in the Fall. North Korea will continue to provoke, but no major breakouts in hostilities will occur. Since China will be consumed with events at home once again, tensions surrounding Taiwan should not escalate. This was pretty accurate. North Korea continues periodic missile tests, but nothing too major. The supply chain issues did work themselves out earlier than I thought that they would. China and Iran do continue to hold their grips on power, although Iran made a lot of noise when war broke out between Hamas and Israel.

4 – It will be a much quieter year for European politics, certainly as compared to 2022. There will be no major leadership changes as there were in 2021, although if there is one it will be in Spain. The Mideast overall will be quiet, but there will be increasing tensions within Israel (between the Jewish citizens and the Palestinians) as the new Netanyahu  government will continue to go further right; it has to in order to keep the far right parties in the coalition. I expect riots at some of the holy places in Jerusalem and in the West Bank, and increasing strains with the U.S. – with both the Biden Administration and Jewish groups as the building of settlements will accelerate, and some rights of the Palestinians and LGBTQI+ citizens are threatened. Riots? Maybe a little more than that, and while the West Bank (and Northern Israel) saw fighting, the real flair-up was in Gaza when Hamas attacked Israel in early October. Relations were kind of strained before the war as the Israeli government tried to reduce the power of the Supreme Court, but the U.S. has firmly support Israel in the war against Hamas – until the international pressure over the number of civilian casualties has begun to cause some strain. Another year in the Middle East and more violence. The brief cease fire is set to end as I write this at the end of November.

3 – The U.S. will go into a mild and shallow recession. But inflation will continue to ease, food prices will finally start to come down, and the recession will be very short. The U.S. Federal Reserve will raise interest rates two more times (25 basis points) early in the year, and while there will be hope for an interest rate cut before year-end, this will not come to fruition, as the U.S. Federal Reserve (Fed) will remain determined to keep inflation under control. I was a little early on the recession call (stay tuned), but inflation has eased. The Fed raised interest rate three times, not two, but did pause at the end of the year and did not reduce rates during the year.

2 – While the stock market usually likes political gridlock, as government spending is kept in check, 2023 will be another volatile year for stocks, although not nearly as bad as 2022. Bonds, however, will start to perform better. All of the major stock indices will end the year essentially flat to slightly down. Cryptocurrencies will remain in the headlines, and as mentioned above, some regulation of the industry will be the only significant legislation passed during the year. The overall performance of Cryptos will be negative. Well, not so good here. A rally during the first half of the year, followed by a bad third quarter, and a rally near year-end, left indices higher overall than I thought that they would be. No legislation on Cryptos quite yet, although they were in the news, and many cryptos did rally during the year, led by Bitcoin.

1 – Finally, sports. I am going to go with my heart, hope for another Black Swan event and pick Michigan to beat Georgia to win the college football national championship. The Buffalo Bills will win the Super Bowl. Virginia will win the NCAA basketball tournament. The Boston Celtics will be NBA champs, and the Boston Bruins will win the Stanley Cup. Finally, the Houston Astros will win the World Series. I continue my pathetic sports picks for another year! At least the hometown Texas Rangers won the World Series (although I am not a huge baseball fan). I should stop making sports predictions – but I won’t!