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Top 10 Predictions for 2021 - December 22nd, 2020

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

How Did I Do? Review of Top 10 Predictions for 2020 - December 17th, 2020

I think it is safe to say that most of you are probably as happy as I am that 2020 is coming to an end. Before I make my predictions for next year, I want to review my predictions for 2020 – both sets of them.

You might recall that given the pandemic, I updated the predictions at the end of June. I was not asking for a redo, and I stand by my initial predictions, but given the nature of the year I felt it appropriate to adapt to the unusual circumstances and update my predictions for the second half of the year.

My initial prediction is first. The updated prediction is in ( ) and my year-end comments are bolded.

10 – President Trump will be acquitted in the Senate and remain in office. No information has yet emerged that indicates that Republicans in Congress who have supported him so far will change their minds. While this is currently the expected result, what I am really predicting here is that no bombshells will appear that will result in the Republican-led Senate turning against Trump. There will also be talk among Democrats of a second impeachment soon after the election, and before the year ends. (Kind of hard to update this prediction other than to say that there has already been talk of a second impeachment and additional hearings into some of the conduct of the Administration, At this point, however, I think as a nation we are too tired and distracted to do much here. It will be all about fighting the pandemic, making progress on social justice reform and of course the election.) I turned out to be right here, but as we all know, progress on social justice reform has, and will continue to be, slow and we continue to fight the pandemic.

9 – Joe Biden will be the Democratic nominee and pick Kamala Harris as his running partner. (I am sticking with this. If not Harris, however, my money would be on Val Demings.) Was right here as well. I should have stopped at two predictions!

8 – President Trump will be re-elected (with Mike Pence as his VP) after one of the ugliest campaigns in modern history, and the country will remain deeply divided. The Republicans will keep the Senate (barely) and the Democrats will keep the House but with a smaller majority. At least one if not two members of the “Squad” will lose in their re-election bids. (I now believe that the Democrats will sweep the election and win the presidency and both Houses of Congress. The left wing of the party will actually take more of the seats on the Democratic side and the “Squad” will stay intact. I believe that there is a 75% chance that Biden will win in a landslide. Trump will not fight leaving office, but will announce an unprecedented number of controversial pardons before he goes.) Mixed bag here. While the left  wing of the Democratic party did gain seats, the party underperformed overall in both the House and the Senate (we will have to wait until the beginning of January to see who will control the Senate). One could argue both ways on whether Biden won in a landslide. He had large margins in both the popular vote and the Electoral College, and his total in the College was the same that Trump declared to be a landslide 4 years ago. And the pardons have begun … and will continue.

7 – There will be some legislative progress early in the year, post-impeachment trial, as both parties will be hungry to show the country progress. The final revised U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement and an infrastructure bill will be two of the successes. No meaningful legislation will pass after June with the exception of a trade deal with the U.K. (I’m not sure that the stimulus packages that have been passed would count here since no one could have anticipated them. The new trade deal was finalized earlier in the year. Trump recently mentioned an infrastructure bill but I don’t see anything other than perhaps one more stimulus bill being passed the rest of the year. We are already in campaign mode; Congress couldn’t even make significant progress on law enforcement reform in the face of the mass nation-wide demonstrations.) My updated prediction turned out to be correct. But I guess one could argue that given the political divide, this was a pretty easy call!

6 – Brexit will occur early in the year thanks to the surprisingly large Conservative victory in the general election held in December; Boris Johnson’s gamble worked. The U.S. and Britain will sign a comprehensive new trade agreement during the year, and Britain will negotiate a trade agreement with the EU so that it will not be a no-deal Brexit despite year-end concerns that a deal might not be struck. (The U.S. will not have a new trade agreement with Britain before the end of the year. I don’t think there will be a final agreement on Brexit before year-end either. There may be an extension however, given the pandemic, so the discussion of a deal v. no-deal Brexit might be pushed into 2021. Finally, Trump will increase European tariffs before the end of the year on some products, increasing tensions with these countries.) As we go to print, my updated predictions were pretty accurate, although it looks like there not be an extension and there will be a no-deal Brexit. But since this is being published before year-end, there is a slight chance that a deal will be reached since negotiations have gone into overtime.

5 – Elsewhere overseas, Merkel will call new elections and not be President of Germany at the end of the year. Netanyahu will not be Prime Minister of Israel at year-end either, and may in fact be standing trial by year-end. I also predict that Netanyahu will not even be the candidate for PM in the upcoming election, as the Likud Party will turn him out in the wake of his legal problems. Political turmoil in France will continue, further dimming Macron’s political future. There will be no progress toward Middle East peace once again, and the growing divide between Trump and Kim Jong-un will increase. (Merkel will in fact stay in power, as she has gained even more stature thanks to her response to the pandemic. Netanyahu will leave office at the end of next year as part of a power-sharing agreement made to be able to form a government, but his power will wane with Trump’s defeat and he will never be PM again (this is more of  a 2021 story). No progress will of course be made with North Korea for the rest of the year, but I don’t think tensions will escalate before the election. Trump will also not confront Putin despite continued Russian interference. His relationship with Putin will be a very big issue in the election, and not be a positive for him. World leaders helped by the pandemic in addition to Merkel include Trudeau in Canada. Macron remains weakened and Boris Johnson has been hurt by the UKs initial response to the pandemic, and while he will stay in office for now, his political future looks bleak.) Once again, the updated predictions turned out to be pretty good. Although the fate of many of these leaders really is a 2021 story. 

4 – The economy will do surprisingly well as overall trade tensions will ease with China, but it will again be up and down and progress will be slow (Trump will be very accommodating with his policies and rhetoric, recognizing that this is the only way he will win re-election). The U.S. Federal Reserve, while considering increasing interest rates, will remain neutral throughout the year so as not to be seen influencing the election. (The Fed will continue its proactive actions to prop up the economy in the face of the pandemic, but this will be in the form of additional asset purchases rather than interest rate cuts for the remainder of the year. The country will end the year in recession, as the recent flair-ups in the pandemic will slow economic growth and ensure that there is no v-shaped recovery.) Missed this one except the prediction on the Fed. The economy is not in recession, although things are looking worse heading into next year as the pandemic continues to take its toll. It does look like this will not be a normal v-shaped recovery.

3 – The stock market will also do better than expected, rising about 10% (S&P 500). There will be general relief that the Democratic candidates at the far left of the spectrum will not be on the ticket and again Trump will do everything he can to help boost the economy and to take credit. (The market will give back some of its recents gains over the rest of the year, but will not retest the March lows. While typically the market would fear the election of a Democrat, and one party winning the presidency and Congress, I believe the market will rally after the election on hope for a more unified country moving forward. The market will end the year down between 3% and 5% and will be volatile along the way. GDP growth will remain negative through the end of the year with debt levels growing to unprecedented levels.) While there was some volatility, and a little bit of a pullback, the performance of the stock market continued upward – surprising to me. GDP growth rebounded faster than I thought (although that may reverse) but debt levels continue to grow.

2 – It will be a quiet year for the financial services industry, as fewer mergers are apt to take place in an election year. The anti-finance rhetoric of the left will also be muffled after the Democratic nominee is decided. The first Bitcoin ETF will be approved in a surprising resurgence of the crypto-currency.(Other than the Schwab/TD merger, and the recent Orion/Brinker Capital merger, it has been a quiet year, but for different reasons than I had previously believed. No resurgence of Bitcoin. There will be a continued move to a cashless society in the face of the pandemic. Not much will happen the rest of the year as the election looms and companies in general do not want to make changes that might worry investors who are already on edge.) Bitcoin continues to amaze me as it hit a record level this week. I do think we will continue to see this move to cashless in the face of the pandemic (where people don’t want to touch physical things) and because of the work from home trend which will continue (more on that in the upcoming predictions).

1 – And turning to sports, I will try to redeem myself after two bad years in a row. LSU will win the NCAA Football National Championship. The Ravens will beat the 49ers in the Super Bowl. Louisville will win the NCAA Basketball Championship. The Washington Capitals will win the Stanley Cup, the Milwaukee Bucks will win the NBA Championship and the NY Yankees will rise again and win the World Series. (Not sure what to say here – although LSU did win. There will be no NCAA Basketball champion, and while I hate to say this, while the major league seasons will either start or restart soon, I am not convinced that they won’t be shuttered again and no champions crowned. I actually lean toward this being the case, as well as there being at best an abbreviated college football season. So no further predictions here – too much uncertainty. Big money talks, but at the end of the day if the players believe that their health is in danger then there is no way sports seasons can continue.) There have been many cancelations, but the sports have continued. The NBA pulled off its bubble. And I again pretty much missed the sports that did crown champions. I will try again next year!

Update: Top 10 Predictions For The New Normal - June 30th, 2020

I think that it’s safe to say that 2020 has so far turned out to be far different than anyone expected (or envisioned in their worst nightmare). The global pandemic has changed our lives in almost incomprehensible ways. I thought it would be appropriate to provide an update to my 2020 predictions – because while things are different, we’re still going to have elections in November, the markets are still open and life goes on, albeit very differently.

Now – I’m not abandoning my earlier predictions nor asking for a do-over. However as I sit here a little more than six months after I made my initial predictions, my  view of what the next six months will bring has been dramatically altered.

My initial predictions are presented below with an updated prediction in bold. I am going to try my best to be optimistic but also realistic. And as always, I am predicting what I think will happen.

10 – President Trump will be acquitted in the Senate and remain in office. No information has yet emerged that indicates that Republicans in Congress who have supported him so far will change their minds. While this is currently the expected result, what I am really predicting here is that no bombshells will appear that will result in the Republican-led Senate turning against Trump. There will also be talk among Democrats of a second impeachment soon after the election, and before the year ends. Kind of hard to update this prediction other than to say that there has already been talk of a second impeachment and additional hearings into some of the conduct of the Administration, At this point, however, I think as a nation we are too tired and distracted to do much here. It will be all about fighting the pandemic, making progress on social justice reform and of course the election.

9 – Joe Biden will be the Democratic nominee and pick Kamala Harris as his running partner. I am sticking with this. If not Harris, however, my money would be on Val Demings.

8 – President Trump will be re-elected (with Mike Pence as his VP) after one of the ugliest campaigns in modern history, and the country will remain deeply divided. The Republicans will keep the Senate (barely) and the Democrats will keep the House but with a smaller majority. At least one if not two members of the “Squad” will lose in their re-election bids. I now believe that the Democrats will sweep the election and win the presidency and both Houses of Congress. The left wing of the party will actually take more of the seats on the Democratic side and the “Squad” will stay intact. I believe that there is a 75% chance that Biden will win in a landslide. Trump will not fight leaving office, but will announce an unprecedented number of controversial pardons before he goes.

7 – There will be some legislative progress early in the year, post-impeachment trial, as both parties will be hungry to show the country progress. The final revised U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement and an infrastructure bill will be two of the successes. No meaningful legislation will pass after June with the exception of a trade deal with the U.K. I’m not sure that the stimulus packages that have been passed would count here since no one could have anticipated them. The new trade deal was finalized earlier in the year. Trump recently mentioned an infrastructure bill but I don’t see anything other than perhaps one more stimulus bill being passed the rest of the year. We are already in campaign mode; Congress couldn’t even make significant progress on law enforcement reform in the face of the mass nation-wide demonstrations. 

6 – Brexit will occur early in the year thanks to the surprisingly large Conservative victory in the general election held in December; Boris Johnson’s gamble worked. The U.S. and Britain will sign a comprehensive new trade agreement during the year, and Britain will negotiate a trade agreement with the EU so that it will not be a no-deal Brexit despite year-end concerns that a deal might not be struck. The U.S. will not have a new trade agreement with Britain before the end of the year. I don’t think there will be a final agreement on Brexit before year-end either. There may be an extension however, given the pandemic, so the discussion of a deal v. no-deal Brexit might be pushed into 2021. Finally, Trump will increase European tariffs before the end of the year on some products, increasing tensions with these countries.

5 – Elsewhere overseas, Merkel will call new elections and not be President of Germany at the end of the year. Netanyahu will not be Prime Minister of Israel at year-end either, and may in fact be standing trial by year-end. I also predict that Netanyahu will not even be the candidate for PM in the upcoming election, as the Likud Party will turn him out in the wake of his legal problems. Political turmoil in France will continue, further dimming Macron’s political future. There will be no progress toward Middle East peace once again, and the growing divide between Trump and Kim Jong-un will increase. Markel will in fact stay in power, as she has gained even more stature thanks to her response to the pandemic. Netanyahu will leave office at the end of next year as part of a power-sharing agreement made to be able to form a government, but his power will wane with Trump’s defeat and he will never be PM again (this is more of  a 2021 story). No progress will of course be made with North Korea for the rest of the year, but I don’t think tensions will escalate before the election. Trump will also not confront Putin despite continued Russian interference. His relationship with Putin will be a very big issue in the election, and not be a positive for him. World leaders helped by the pandemic in addition to Merkel include Trudeau in Canada. Macron remains weakened and Boris Johnson has been hurt by the UKs initial response to the pandemic, and while he will stay in office for now, his political future looks bleak.

4 – The economy will do surprisingly well as overall trade tensions will ease with China, but it will again be up and down and progress will be slow (Trump will be very accommodating with his policies and rhetoric, recognizing that this is the only way he will win re-election). The U.S. Federal Reserve, while considering increasing interest rates, will remain neutral throughout the year so as not to be seen influencing the election. The Fed will continue its proactive actions to prop up the economy in the face of the pandemic, but this will be in the form of additional asset purchases rather than interest rate cuts for the remainder of the year. The country will end the year in recession, as the recent flair-ups in the pandemic will slow economic growth and ensure that there is no v-shaped recovery. 

3 – The stock market will also do better than expected, rising about 10% (S&P 500). There will be general relief that the Democratic candidates at the far left of the spectrum will not be on the ticket and again Trump will do everything he can to help boost the economy and to take credit. The market will give back some of its recents gains over the rest of the year, but will not retest the March lows. While typically the market would fear the election of a Democrat, and one party winning the presidency and Congress, I believe the market will rally after the election on hope for a more unified country moving forward. The market will end the year down between 3% and 5% and will be volatile along the way. GDP growth will remain negative through the end of the year with debt levels growing to unprecedented levels.

2 – It will be a quiet year for the financial services industry, as fewer mergers are apt to take place in an election year. The anti-finance rhetoric of the left will also be muffled after the Democratic nominee is decided. The first Bitcoin ETF will be approved in a surprising resurgence of the crypto-currency. Other than the Schwab/TD merger, and the recent Orion/Brinker Capital merger, it has been a quiet year, but for different reasons than I had previously believed. No resurgence of Bitcoin. There will be a continued move to a cashless society in the face of the pandemic. Not much will happen the rest of the year as the election looms and companies in general do not want to make changes that might worry investors who are already on edge. 

1 – And turning to sports, I will try to redeem myself after two bad years in a row. LSU will win the NCAA Football National Championship. The Ravens will beat the 49ers in the Super Bowl. Louisville will win the NCAA Basketball Championship. The Washington Capitals will win the Stanley Cup, the Milwaukee Bucks will win the NBA Championship and the NY Yankees will rise again and win the World Series. Not sure what to say here – although LSU did win. There will be no NCAA Basketball champion, and while I hate to say this, while the major league seasons will either start or restart soon, I am not convinced that they won’t be shuttered again and no champions crowned. I actually lean toward this being the case, as well as there being at best an abbreviated college football season. So no further predictions here – too much uncertainty. Big money talks, but at the end of the day if the players believe that their health is in danger then there is no way sports seasons can continue.

Top 10 Predictions for 2020 - December 18th, 2019

Time again to take out my crystal ball (or magic eight-ball) and have some fun predicting what will happen next year. These predictions are in no particular order, and please remember that these are predictions of what I think will happen, not necessarily what I want to happen; click here to see how I did with my Top 10 Predictions for 2019.

With so much uncertainty going on in the world today, and given that we are heading into a Presidential election year amid an impending impeachment trial in the Senate, I think making predictions for 2020 will be the hardest yet. But that is part of the fun. I am going to either be really right or really wrong!

10 – President Trump will be acquitted in the Senate and remain in office. No information has yet emerged that indicates that Republicans in Congress who have supported him so far will change their minds. While this is currently the expected result, what I am really predicting here is that no bombshells will appear that will result in the Republican-led Senate turning against Trump. There will also be talk among Democrats of a second impeachment soon after the election, and before the year ends.

9 – Joe Biden will be the Democratic nominee and pick Kamala Harris as his running partner.

8 – President Trump will be re-elected (with Mike Pence as his VP) after one of the ugliest campaigns in modern history, and the country will remain deeply divided. The Republicans will keep the Senate (barely) and the Democrats will keep the House but with a smaller majority. At least one if not two members of the “Squad” will lose in their re-election bids.

7 – There will be some legislative progress early in the year, post-impeachment trial, as both parties will be hungry to show the country progress. The final revised U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement and an infrastructure bill will be two of the successes. No meaningful legislation will pass after June with the exception of a trade deal with the U.K.

6 – Brexit will occur early in the year thanks to the surprisingly large Conservative victory in the general election held in December; Boris Johnson’s gamble worked. The U.S. and Britain will sign a comprehensive new trade agreement during the year, and Britain will negotiate a trade agreement with the EU so that it will not be a no-deal Brexit despite year-end concerns that a deal might not be struck,

5 – Elsewhere overseas, Merkel will call new elections and not be President of Germany at the end of the year. Netanyahu will not be Prime Minister of Israel at year-end either, and may in fact be standing trial by year-end. I also predict that Netanyahu will not even be the candidate for PM in the upcoming election, as the Likud Party will turn him out in the wake of his legal problems. Political turmoil in France will continue, further dimming Macron’s political future. There will be no progress toward Middle East peace once again, and the growing divide between Trump and Kim Jong-un will increase.

4 – The economy will do surprisingly well as overall trade tensions will ease with China, but it will again be up and down and progress will be slow (Trump will be very accommodating with his policies and rhetoric, recognizing that this is the only way he will win re-election). The U.S. Federal Reserve, while considering increasing interest rates, will remain neutral throughout the year so as not to be seen influencing the election.

3 – The stock market will also do better than expected, rising about 10% (S&P 500). There will be general relief that the Democratic candidates at the far left of the spectrum will not be on the ticket and again Trump will do everything he can to help boost the economy and to take credit.

2 – It will be a quiet year for the financial services industry, as fewer mergers are apt to take place in an election year. The anti-finance rhetoric of the left will also be muffled after the Democratic nominee is decided. The first Bitcoin ETF will be approved in a surprising resurgence of the crypto-currency.

1 – And turning to sports, I will try to redeem myself after two bad years in a row. LSU will win the NCAA Football National Championship. The Ravens will beat the 49ers in the Super Bowl. Louisville will win the NCAA Basketball Championship. The Washington Capitals will win the Stanley Cup, the Milwaukee Bucks will win the NBA Championship and the NY Yankees will rise again and win the World Series.

 

How Did I Do? Review Of My Top 10 Predictions for 2019 - December 13th, 2019

I will unveil my Top 10 Predictions for 202o soon, but for now, lets see how I did this year. Original text is following by my comments in bold.

I am honestly having a hard time finding a lot to be optimistic about, as I think 2019 will be very volatile and uncertain – politically, both here and abroad, economically and for the markets. There are not many people looking for compromise or bipartisanship, and I only see it getting worse. I hope that I am wrong! Politically, things did not get any better, they actually got worse, but the strong performance of the stock market was an unexpected surprise – so I guess overall you have to feel somewhat positive overall as the year ends.

10 – The Mueller investigation will conclude by the end of the first quarter. At least one Trump (not the President) will be indicted, and the real possibility of a constitutional crisis will emerge if the President pardons him (them). President Trump will not be indicted for collusion with Russia, but there will enough in the report (perhaps obstruction of justice or campaign finance violations or questionable actions concerning his businesses) to set the Democrats off and running toward impeachment even though he will not be indicted while in office. The Democrats have to be careful to act rationally and to continue to try to get legislation passed at the same time, or they will hurt themselves leading into 2020. Donald Trump will still be President at year-end. A mixed bag here I guess! The report was done by the end of the first quarter, but no indictments – so crisis avoided for now. The President was not indicted in the Mueller Report, and the Ukraine issue is what ultimately sent the Democrats off on the impeachment trail. Trump will still be President at year-end, and it is too soon to know whether the current legislative stall will hurt Democrats next November (although recent progress on the new trade agreement with Canada and Mexico looks promising).

9 – The only hope of getting any meaningful legislation done next year will occur early in the year before the Mueller investigation results become public. The most likely accomplishment would be an infrastructure bill, which would receive wide bipartisan support during the honeymoon period of Pelosi working with the Senate and the President. Once the report is completed/released, however, I think the rest of the year will be filled with partisan fighting, subpoenas, hearings, etc. I put the odds of even infrastructure legislation passing at less than 30%; the Democratic leadership distrusts the President and as more bad news links out about the Mueller probe the political pressure on them not to cooperate with the White House will increase. I was unfortunately pretty close here – not a whole lot was accomplished this year through legislation. There was no infrastructure bill passed, and most things that got done were by Executive Order. 

8 – At least 15 Democrats, including Joe Biden, Cory Booker and Kamala Harris, will announce their candidacies for President. There will be a few surprises as well, perhaps a few lesser known Governors, as well as Beto O’Rourke. Michael Bloomberg will decide not to run, and either Bernie Sanders or Elizabeth Warren will run as well, but not both. My money is on Sanders for now, as Warren has become too controversial and I think people are already kind of over her. And at least two Republicans will challenge Trump by year-end, although I think Jeff Flake will not be one of them. So, a mixed bag here. I was right on the number of Democrats running, on Beto, on some Republicans challenging and on Flake not running, but Sanders and Warrens are both running and Bloomberg made a late surprise entrance into the race. 

7 – In what will make an already tumultuous political environment even worse, there will be an opening at the U.S. Supreme Court during the year. I am not going to speculate on how this opening will occur, but the hearings and ultimate confirmation (since the Republicans have increased their majority in the Senate) will make the Kavanaugh hearings look like a walk in the park. I got this one wrong, although there were a few times that health issues with RBG scared a lot of people.

6 – Having just delayed the Brexit vote in the House of Commons, the May government will fall and there will be new elections. The Tory’s will keep power – barely – with a new Prime Minister, and a second referendum on leaving the EU will be called. (This is being published one day after the vote was postponed, so some of these events might become happen before the end of 2018.) This time, voters will decide to stay in the EU, and despite having egg on its face, this is actually the best outcome for the country. (I don’t honestly think the majority ever wanted to leave; this whole fiasco is the result of what can happen when you have an off-cycle issue-related election where turnout is low.) The Court ruling last week that the U.K. could stay without the approval of the other EU members paves the way for this outcome. This story will obviously continue into 2020. Teresa May did resign, there were new elections, the Tories did keep power, but it happened so late in the year that nothing will get done before year-end. Not to steal any of the thunder from next year’s predictions, the election results did take a lot of mystery out of how this will end!

5 – Political upheaval in Europe will continue. Even though an ally has taken over as head of her party, Merkel’s influence and hold on power will continue to weaken throughout the year, and there will be elections held before year-end. While Macron has finally spoken and is trying to appease the demonstrators, I think the riots will continue into 2019. He will survive the year as President – barely – but his influence will be greatly diminished; he has become in effect a lame duck already. Italy will avoid a financial crisis, although its bond and stock markets will be more jittery than elsewhere on the Continent. In the Middle East, Netanyahu will lose a no-confidence vote in parliament over his financial dealings, and there will be new elections (which he will lose). There will be no Mideast progress toward peace as the Trump Administration will be occupied elsewhere, and at least one other country will leave OPEC. Relations with Saudi Arabia will continue to deteriorate as the Senate presses on the Khashoggi murder, but no arms deals will be canceled. As to China, the back and forth of a trade war, no trade war, will continue. Every time we will seem to take a step forward, we will take a step backward as was the case in 2018. Any deals will be short-lived. Lots here to digest – with the biggest story of the year (and one that dominated the markets) was the continuation of the trade war with China. Merkel, surprisingly, is still in power. I really thought her health issues (she was seen visibly shaking in public a number of times) would force here to retire, especially sine an ally became head of her party. Macron has held on to power, but remains weakened as the last month has seen mass protests and public strikes over pension reform. While Netanyahu is still Prime Minister of Israel, he is hanging on by a thread, and was just indicted on bribery charges. The country faces its third election in less than a year, and there is no question that Netanyahu is severely weakened. There was no progress toward Middle East peace, and the President has become increasingly isolated in his support for Saudi Arabia, especially after the recent shooting in Florida. Another interesting year that was hard to predict.

4 – For financial services, it will be a tumultuous year, with Democrats taking over the House of Representatives. While there will be a lot of Committee meetings and talk about increasing regulations and making life tougher on the banks, no overreaching legislation will pass (since it would not make it through the Senate). But because of the chatter, there will be a lot of nervousness in the industry, and I expect fewer mergers and more firms taking a wait and see attitude. Bitcoin will continue to struggle and will eke out a small gain for the year. But many efforts to increase the number of Bitcoin investment vehicles, such as ETFs, will not move forward. There was some negative press about the industry (a lot of it part of the democratic presidential campaign), but overall a pretty quiet year in the industry. Bitcoin fell, and seemed to continue to lose some of its momentum.

3 – The Fed will make good on its promise to slow the rate of interest rate increases, and I see two increases at the most during 2019, perhaps only one. The economy will begin to slow by mid-year, as corporate profits, while still impressive, will continue to decline from the record rates seen during the second half of 2018. Businesses will cut back on spending as the uneven economic policies of the Trump Administration continue. Real estate markets will continue to slow as well, as a slowing economy and continuing political uncertainty take their toll on people’s willingness to spend. But the economy will not turn negative in 2019 and there will be no recession. The economy slowed, there was no recession and the Fed has put its rate drops on hold for now, but did drop rates more than I thought than they would during the year. Many real estate markets did slow.

2 – The market will continue the volatility seen in the fourth quarter of 2018. The market hates uncertainty, and everything I have predicted here points to more uncertainty. The highs will be high – as when there is a positive announcement on trade for example, and the lows will low – as when one administration official contradicts another. The market will be down about 5% for the year, with technology stocks doing slightly better than the market as a whole. International developed markets ex the U.S. will be down about 10% on average next year and emerging markets will be down even more. The yield curve will be slightly inverted by the end of the year. Wrong on stocks. The year was better than most anticipated, but the volatility that we did see was mostly due to China and trade talks. And while the yield curve did invert during the year, it did not end the year inverted.

1 – And turning to sports, I hope I will do better than I did in 2018! Clemson will win the NCAA Football National Championship, finally beating Alabama. The Rams will beat the Chiefs in the Super Bowl after barely beating the Saints in the NFC Championship Game. Going with my heart here, Michigan will win the NCAA Basketball Championship (Duke would be my second choice), Tampa Bay will win the Stanley Cup, the Warriors will repeat again as NBA champions and the Red Sox will once again win the World Series. Not a good year on my sports predictions! Only got Clemson right unfortunately! Hoping I can do a little better here in 2020!

Top 10 Predictions for 2019 - December 11th, 2018

Time again to take out my crystal ball (or magic eight-ball) and have some fun predicting what will happen next year. These predictions are in no particular order (and please remember that these are predictions of what I think will happen, not necessarily what I want to happen); click here to see how I did with my 2018 Top 10 Predictions.

I am honestly having a hard time finding a lot to be optimistic about, as I think 2019 will be very volatile and uncertain – politically, both here and abroad, economically and for the markets. There are not many people looking for compromise or bipartisanship, and I only see it getting worse. I hope that I am wrong!

10 – The Mueller investigation will conclude by the end of the first quarter. At least one Trump (not the President) will be indicted, and the real possibility of a constitutional crisis will emerge if the President pardons him (them). President Trump will not be indicted for collusion with Russia, but there will enough in the report (perhaps obstruction of justice or campaign finance violations or questionable actions concerning his businesses) to set the Democrats off and running toward impeachment even though he will not be indicted while in office. The Democrats have to be careful to act rationally and to continue to try to get legislation passed at the same time, or they will hurt themselves leading into 2020. Donald Trump will still be President at year-end.

9 – The only hope of getting any meaningful legislation done next year will occur early in the year before the Mueller investigation results become public. The most likely accomplishment would be an infrastructure bill, which would receive wide bipartisan support during the honeymoon period of Pelosi working with the Senate and the President. Once the report is completed/released, however, I think the rest of the year will be filled with partisan fighting, subpoenas, hearings, etc. I put the odds of even infrastructure legislation passing at less than 30%; the Democratic leadership distrusts the President and as more bad news links out about the Mueller probe the political pressure on them not to cooperate with the White House will increase.

8 – At least 15 Democrats, including Joe Biden, Cory Booker and Kamala Harris, will announce their candidacies for President. There will be a few surprises as well, perhaps a few lesser known Governors, as well as Beto O’Rourke. Michael Bloomberg will decide not to run, and either Bernie Sanders or Elizabeth Warren will run as well, but not both. My money is on Sanders for now, as Warren has become too controversial and I think people are already kind of over her. And at least two Republicans will challenge Trump by year-end, although I think Jeff Flake will not be one of them.

7 – In what will make an already tumultuous political environment even worse, there will be an opening at the U.S. Supreme Court during the year. I am not going to speculate on how this opening will occur, but the hearings and ultimate confirmation (since the Republicans have increased their majority in the Senate) will make the Kavanaugh hearings look like a walk in the park.

6 – Having just delayed the Brexit vote in the House of Commons, the May government will fall and there will be new elections. The Tory’s will keep power – barely – with a new Prime Minister, and a second referendum on leaving the EU will be called. (This is being published one day after the vote was postponed, so some of these events might become happen before the end of 2018.) This time, voters will decide to stay in the EU, and despite having egg on its face, this is actually the best outcome for the country. (I don’t honestly think the majority ever wanted to leave; this whole fiasco is the result of what can happen when you have an off-cycle issue-related election where turnout is low.) The Court ruling last week that the U.K. could stay without the approval of the other EU members paves the way for this outcome.

5 – Political upheaval in Europe will continue. Even though an ally has taken over as head of her party, Merkel’s influence and hold on power will continue to weaken throughout the year, and there will be elections held before year-end. While Macron has finally spoken and is trying to appease the demonstrators, I think the riots will continue into 2019. He will survive the year as President – barely – but his influence will be greatly diminished; he has become in effect a lame duck already. Italy will avoid a financial crisis, although its bond and stock markets will be more jittery than elsewhere on the Continent. In the Middle East, Netanyahu will lose a no-confidence vote in parliament over his financial dealings, and there will be new elections (which he will lose). There will be no Mideast progress toward peace as the Trump Administration will be occupied elsewhere, and at least one other country will leave OPEC. Relations with Saudi Arabia will continue to deteriorate as the Senate presses on the Khashoggi murder, but no arms deals will be canceled. As to China, the back and forth of a trade war, no trade war, will continue. Every time we will seem to take a step forward, we will take a step backward as was the case in 2018. Any deals will be short-lived.

4 – For financial services, it will be a tumultuous year, with Democrats taking over the House of Representatives. While there will be a lot of Committee meetings and talk about increasing regulations and making life tougher on the banks, no overreaching legislation will pass (since it would not make it through the Senate). But because of the chatter, there will be a lot of nervousness in the industry, and I expect fewer mergers and more firms taking a wait and see attitude. Bitcoin will continue to struggle and will eke out a small gain for the year. But many efforts to increase the number of Bitcoin investment vehicles, such as ETFs, will not move forward.

3 – The Fed will make good on its promise to slow the rate of interest rate increases, and I see two increases at the most during 2019, perhaps only one. The economy will begin to slow by mid-year, as corporate profits, while still impressive, will continue to decline from the record rates seen during the second half of 2018. Businesses will cut back on spending as the uneven economic policies of the Trump Administration continue. Real estate markets will continue to slow as well, as a slowing economy and continuing political uncertainty take their toll on people’s willingness to spend. But the economy will not turn negative in 2019 and there will be no recession.

2 – The market will continue the volatility seen in the fourth quarter of 2018. The market hates uncertainty, and everything I have predicted here points to more uncertainty. The highs will be high – as when there is a positive announcement on trade for example, and the lows will low – as when one administration official contradicts another. The market will be down about 5% for the year, with technology stocks doing slightly better than the market as a whole. International developed markets ex the U.S. will be down about 10% on average next year and emerging markets will be down even more. The yield curve will be slightly inverted by the end of the year.

1 – And turning to sports, I hope I will do better than I did in 2018! Clemson will win the NCAA Football National Championship, finally beating Alabama. The Rams will beat the Chiefs in the Super Bowl after barely beating the Saints in the NFC Championship Game. Going with my heart here, Michigan will win the NCAA Basketball Championship (Duke would be my second choice), Tampa Bay will win the Stanley Cup, the Warriors will repeat again as NBA champions and the Red Sox will once again win the World Series.

How Did I Do? Review Of My Top 10 Predictions for 2018 - December 4th, 2018

I will unveil my Top 10 Predictions for 2019 soon, but for now, lets see how I did this year. Original text is following by my comments in bold.

10 – The Mueller investigation will continue throughout the year, and might not even finish before the year is over. Trump will not be indicted, however it is possible that one of his sons, or his son-in-law will be. If that indeed happens, Trump will issue a pardon(s), setting up a messy confrontation with Democrats. In other words, the turmoil surrounding the Trump Administration and the Russia investigation will continue unabated. As the year comes to a close, the Mueller investigation continues. Most of us thought it would end soon after the midterm elections, and it still might end any day as reports are that the final report is being written. And a Trump relative might still be indicted … so let’s say this is still up in the air and will certainly be on my 2019 predictions list.

9 – Despite making gains, the Democrats will fail to win the majority of seats in the House of Representatives, and Nancy Pelosi will be replaced as Minority Leader (this might actually not happen until early 2019 when the new Congress is seated, but its inevtibility will become apparent soon after the election). The Republicans will slightly increase their majority in the Senate. The map highly favors the Republicans (with more Democratic seats up), so even though the majority will increase, it will not seem like a victory because they will not win as many seats as they could have. Got this about half right but wish I had updated this mid-year because I saw the House going Democratic early in the year (easy to say now, right?). I also appear to be wrong about Pelosi because she seems to be holding on to her leadership position. The Republicans did gain in the Senate, but not by enough because 2020 is going to be very tough for them.

8 – The Republican party will continue to splinter, and the primary season will be very ugly with numerous in-party challenges. The Democrats will struglle internally as well, as the liberal wing (led by Warren and Sanders) will contiue to buck the rest of the party. This latter divide is another reason why the Democrats will be once again be the minority party in both Houses. No clear Democratic candidate for President will emerge, leaving both parties in dissaray at the end of the year. Political turmoil continues. Got this one mostly correct, as both parties are split and both are experiencing infighting. Who would have thought that the term “Democratic Socialist” would become so popular? There are reported to be up to 30+ Democrats who are going to run for President at this point, and there is no clear leader. And many say the Republican party as we know it is dead. So yes, I would say things are in turmoil.

7 – If tax reform doesn’t pass by the end of this year (which it probably will but just had not when this was posted), it will pass early next year, but no major infrastructure or other significant legislation will pass in 2018, as election year gridlock will begin earlier than usual. The Republicans will cite Democratic obstructionism as their election cry while the Democrats will highlight the lack of Republican legislative successes. Get ready for a fun Fall! Tax reform did pass early in the year, but I was right in that no other major legislation passed, including infrastructure. Pre-conditioning conditions and healthcare became one of the major campaign issues.

6 – Despite rampant speculation at the end of the upcoming Supreme Court term, Justice Stevens will not retire. Short of an unexpected death, Trump will be denied another Supreme Court nomination next year. Well, I sure missed this one, didn’t I? Stevens’ retirement and the subsequent fight over Kavanaugh was actually one of the biggest stories of the year. May have to revisit this one next year!

5 – On the international scene, there will be elections in the U.K as the May government will fall as negotiations over Brexit stall and get contentious (this prediction was written before the recent set back when Parliament bucked May and legistated that it must okay any final plan). Merkel will put together a coalition and remain as Chancellor in Germany. There will little to no progress on Middle East peace and Assad will remain in power in Syria. Tension with Russia will continue, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see Russia get more involved in Venezuala, filling the void created by the current political vacuum. Kinda sort right, except about May, altough that may be coming soon, as the Parliament gets set to debate and vote on the Brexit deal which many people do not like. Merkel is still in power, but barely, and has already announced she will give up leadership of the Party. Little to no progress on anything in the Middle East once again. Broken record time.

4 – With ISIS lossing most of its land, there will continue to cause havok with lone wolf attacks across the globe; trucks/cars will continue to be the weapon of choice. While the odds of a second Arab Spring have increased with Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, it will not happen and the protests will dwindle over time. The odds are good that Trump will pull out of the Iran nuclear agreement when its recertifaction comes due, further alienating the U.S. from its allies (following the withdrawal from the Paris Agreement and the declaration to move the U.S. embassy in Israel to Jerusalem). The U.S. did pull out of the Iran deal, and the U.S. does continue to become more isolated internationally. There was no Arab Spring and the positive here, although I didn’t see it, is that ISIS attacks have slowed down, although they still remain a threat.

3 – For financial services, the biggest threat to stability is the current Bitcoin mania. Nothing was able to derail the market in 2017 – not North Korea, terrorism or Trump’s tweets. I have little doubt that the Bitcoin bubble will burst, the real question is if it will cause any large scale sytematic reactions. At this point, I am going to say that it won’t and that as people realize the dangers of Bitcoin and perhaps calls for regulation increase, and become closer to reality, cool heads will prevail and realize that it is an isolated incident and not part of a larger problem with the financial system. Luckily I was right in that the Bitcoin bubble did not burst nor did it cause major problems for the financial system, but it is trading significantly lower than it was and continues on this downtrend.

2 – Despite the political gridlock, given the positive trajectory of corporate profits, the market will continue to do well. However, there will be a correction of at least 10% at some point during the year, and while the major indices will end the year in positive territory, it will be single rather than double digit gains. Emerging and European markets will rise about the same as the U.S. markets. Technology will lag the overall market while financials will lead. There will only be 2 interest rate hikes – not 3. Mixed here, as we are unfortunately now seeing a second correction for the year, and it is not certain yet whether stocks will eke out gains for the year. If stocks end on a positive note, it will be very small. Technology and Financialsstocks have both lagged and there likely be four interest rates hikes. And emerging markets and European markets have lagged.

1 – And turning to sports, the Olympics in South Korea will go off withoug a hitch, despite the worries over current tensions with North Korea. Clemson will win the NCAA football national championship, beating Oklahoma. The Patriots will beat the Vikings in the Super Bowl. (I know – I probably just jinxed them!) Duke will win the NCAA basketball championship, Tampa Bay will win the Stanley Cup, the Warriors will repeat as NBA champions and the NY Yankees will win the World Series. Right on the Olympics, wrong on Clemson (damn Alabama!), wrong on the Super Bowl – boo Eagles, wrong on the NCAA and Stanley Cups. Thank goodness for the Warriors, because I missed baseball as well. Hope you didn’t bet on my predictions!

 

Top 10 Predictions for 2018 - December 18th, 2017

Time again to take out my crystal ball (or magic eight-ball) and have a little fun predicting what will happen next year. These predictions are in no particular order (and please remember that these are predictions of what I think will happen, not necessarily what I want to happen; click here to see how I did with my 2017 Top 10 Predictions):

10 – The Mueller investigation will continue throughout the year, and might not even finish before the year is over. Trump will not be indicted, however it is possible that one of his sons, or his son-in-law will be. If that indeed happens, Trump will issue a pardon(s), setting up a messy confrontation with Democrats. In other words, the turmoil surrounding the Trump Administration and the Russia investigation will continue unabated.

9 – Despite making gains, the Democrats will fail to win the majority of seats in the House of Representatives, and Nancy Pelosi will be replaced as Minority Leader (this might actually not happen until early 2019 when the new Congress is seated, but its inevtibility will become apparent soon after the election). The Republicans will slightly increase their majority in the Senate. The map highly favors the Republicans (with more Democratic seats up), so even though the majority will increase, it will not seem like a victory because they will not win as many seats as they could have.

8 – The Republican party will continue to splinter, and the primary season will be very ugly with numerous in-party challenges. The Democrats will struglle internally as well, as the liberal wing (led by Warren and Sanders) will contiue to buck the rest of the party. This latter divide is another reason why the Democrats will be once again be the minority party in both Houses. No clear Democratic candidate for President will emerge, leaving both parties in dissaray at the end of the year. Political turmoil continues.

7 – If tax reform doesn’t pass by the end of this year (which it probably will but just had not when this was posted), it will pass early next year, but no major infrastructure or other significant legislation will pass in 2018, as election year gridlock will begin earlier than usual. The Republicans will cite Democratic obstructionism as their election cry while the Democrats will highlight the lack of Republican legislative successes. Get ready for a fun Fall!

6 – Despite rampant speculation at the end of the upcoming Supreme Court term, Justice Stevens will not retire. Short of an unexpected death, Trump will be denied another Supreme Court nomination next year.

5 – On the international scene, there will be elections in the U.K as the May government will fall as negotiations over Brexit stall and get contentious (this prediction was written before the recent set back when Parliament bucked May and legistated that it must okay any final plan). Merkel will put together a coalition and remain as Chancellor in Germany. There will little to no progress on Middle East peace and Assad will remain in power in Syria. Tension with Russia will continue, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see Russia get more involved in Venezuala, filling the void created by the current political vacuum.

4 – With ISIS lossing most of its land, there will continue to cause havok with lone wolf attacks across the globe; trucks/cars will continue to be the weapon of choice. While the odds of a second Arab Spring have increased with Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, it will not happen and the protests will dwindle over time. The odds are good that Trump will pull out of the Iran nuclear agreement when its recertifaction comes due, further alienating the U.S. from its allies (following the withdrawal from the Paris Agreement and the declaration to move the U.S. embassy in Israel to Jerusalem).

3 – For financial services, the biggest threat to stability is the current Bitcoin mania. Nothing was able to derail the market in 2017 – not North Korea, terrorism or Trump’s tweets. I have little doubt that the Bitcoin bubble will burst, the real question is if it will cause any large scale sytematic reactions. At this point, I am going to say that it won’t and that as people realize the dangers of Bitcoin and perhaps calls for regulation increase, and become closer to reality, cool heads will prevail and realize that it is an isolated incident and not part of a larger problem with the financial system.

2 – Despite the political gridlock, given the positive trajectory of corporate profits, the market will continue to do well. However, there will be a correction of at least 10% at some point during the year, and while the major indices will end the year in positive territory, it will be single rather than double digit gains. Emerging and European markets will rise about the same as the U.S. markets. Technology will lag the overall market while financials will lead. There will only be 2 interest rate hikes – not 3.

1 – And turning to sports, the Olympics in South Korea will go off withoug a hitch, despite the worries over current tensions with North Korea. Clemson will win the NCAA football national championship, beating Oklahoma. The Patriots will beat the Vikings in the Super Bowl. (I know – I probably just jinxed them!) Duke will win the NCAA basketball championship, Tampa Bay will win the Stanley Cup, the Warriors will repeat as NBA champions and the NY Yankees will win the World Series.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

How Did I Do? A Review Of My Top 10 Predictions For 2017 - December 12th, 2017

I will unveil my Top 10 Predictions for 2018 soon, but for now, lets see how I did this year. Original text is following by my comments in bold.

10 – President Obama will not leave office quietly, issuing a number of Executive Orders and controversial pardons during his last few weeks in office (but not Hillary Clinton or Edward Snowden). While the Executive Orders may be quickly reversed once the President-Elect takes office, the pardons will anger Republicans and set a more negative tone as the political transition takes place. In addition, Democrats, still angry over how they feel Republicans have treated President Obama over the past eight years, particularly their obstructionism over filling the current Supreme Court opening, will try to make the confirmation of some of the more controversial Cabinet selections more difficult than is customarily the case. President Obama’s most controversial end-of-office action was commuting the sentence of Chelsea Manning, which did anger Republicans, but overall I would say he left office pretty quietly. Democrats did indeed make the confirmation process for President Trump’s cabinet the longest and most drawn out in history and many were only confirmed along party lines. All in all, I would say that this prediction was pretty accurate.

9 – Whether because of (10) above, or because of the fight Democrats are sure to put up when then President Trump nominates his choice to fill the current Supreme Court vacancy, the Republicans will finish what Harry Reid started – the nuclear option – and legislate away the need for 60 votes for Cabinet and judicial appointments, including the Supreme Court. This certainly happened, as the Republican Senate did invoke the nuclear option to ensure that Neil Gorsuch became a member of the U.S. Supreme Court. The Republicans finished what the Democrats started when last they were in the majority, and the Senate will never be the same again.

8 – As to foreign policy, given the hawkish nature of the proposed military side of the Cabinet, the Trump Administration will be more proactive in working to fight ISIS (whether with our allies or going it alone), but will not send in a large number of ground troops. This will be a subtle change and in many senses a continuation of the current policy. However, rather than give in to Putin as many fear, Trump will actually work better with Putin, particularly as it comes to fighting ISIS in the Middle East, and this partnership will be more effective than the current alliance. Unfortunately, this partnership will not extend to Syria, and Assad will remain in power. Assad remains in power, ISIS has lost most of the land that it had conquered (although they continue to inspire lone-wolf terrorists around the globe) with few if any more U.S. troops in harms way, but relations with Putin and Russia have been less than positive.

7 – As ISIS continues to lose ground in the Middle East (particularly in Iraq), they will continue to export violence to the West. There will be at least one major terrorist attack in Europe, and a continuation of lone wolf attacks around the world, including  in the U.S. Domestic non-ISIS terror will also become more common on both the left and the right in an increasingly divided U.S. All of this certainly happened, unfortunately – using trucks as terrorist weapons has become common throughout the world, and in the U.S. all you have to say is Las Vegas and NY.

6 – Political turmoil will continue in Europe. We may see another economic crisis in Greece, a slew of bank rescues in Italy to avoid a complete banking collapse and at least one far right party attaining power. Tensions between Turkey and the U.S. and EU will continue to grow as the post-coup arrests and crackdowns continue; the EU will end talks with Turkey over membership. The Turkish Lira will continue its downward spiral, turning Turkey to the East and stronger Sino-Russian ties. This all pretty much happened, although I don’t think the “turmoil” was as bad as I had anticipated – except perhaps as pertains to Turkey.

5 – Despite rejecting TPP (which Trump will do), relations with Japan and China will stabilize and there will not be a trade war. Trump will talk and negotiate tough, but stop short of doing anything to really escalate tensions. Relations with Taiwan will remain as is. Asian economic growth will eclipse that seen in Europe once again, and the trajectory of the militarization in the South China Sea will flatten out. Actions by the Philippines government will embolden China. Most of this also happened, but what I had not anticipated was the emergence of North Korea as the main headline and the tensions that currently exist. There have not been any trade wars, and a lot of Trump’s rhetoric has proved to be just that.

4 – The U.S. economy will grow slightly quicker than it has the past few years, and inflation will remain tame but rise slightly. The stock market will gain between  5% – 7%, continuing the current bull market, but there will be increased volatility which will follow the ups and the downs of the Trump Administration. The Fed will only raise interest rates two times during the year (25 basis points each time) as slowing growth in Europe and Asia, and perhaps some global destabilizing events, will offset some of the optimism in the U.S. The Fed will retain its overall dovish stance. The new administration will begin to realize the impact of rising interest rates on the national debt and will try to exert pressure on the Fed. Yellen will finish out her term and not resign during the year. I concede that there will probably be a third interest rate in December and that given the current trends the markets will be up more than I thought. But the overall theme of this prediction was correct except that volatility has remained very tame. The markets have basically ignored the gridlock in D.C. as well as many of the geo-political events that are taking place.

3 – The new administration will be able to enact an infrastructure spending bill and some tax reform, including repatriation of money back to the U.S., but the bills will be smaller than President-Elect Trump wants, and will be harder to enact due to resistance from both parties. The Republican Party will remain fractured, but has a vested interest in seeing Trump succeed. There will be changes made to Obamacare, but there will not be a full repeal, as Republicans need to make good on their promise to not have people lose existing coverage or the coverage of pre-existing conditions. There will be a major cyber event as well as an attack on the nation’s electric grid, resulting in increased spending to prevent such attacks in the future. Hmmm. Less progress than the little that I predicted. No infrastructure bill, tax reform may or may not pass this year or early next year and Obamacare continues with no repeal or even fixes. I would say the cyber events did occur – maybe not on the scale that I thought – but the Equifax breach was an eye opener for most of us.

For the financial services industry:

2 – The Fiduciary Rule will not be repealed and the first part of the law will go into effect in April. This issue has not even been on Trump’s mind or agenda. There will, however, likely be changes made to the law throughout the year, somewhat softening the law before its final implementation in January of 2018. There will be increasing talk of repealing Glass-Steagall, but nothing definitive will happen in 2017. The implementation of the Rule was delayed and delayed, so I missed this one. The phase-in is now scheduled to begin next June of 2019. Glass-Steagall was not really even raised as an issue – probably a victim to the gridlock and other issues that took center stage.

Because of increased volatility in the market, active management will regain some momentum in its on-going public relations battle with passive management. ETF growth will slow, and I give a 50% chance of some kind of flash crash caused by ETF trading. Mergers and acquisitions among B/Ds and money managers will be slightly above average, and the overall movement of advisors and RIAs will be below average because of uncertainty over the Trump Presidency. The volatility part of this prediction was wrong, so we didn’t hear that much about active v. passive (at least as compared to other years). There were a few smaller crashes, but nothing major. Movement of advisors was probably a little below expectations.

1 – Finally, some sports predictions: The doping scandal surrounding Russia will continue to increase, but FIFA will not move the 2018 World Cup which is scheduled to be held there. Alabama will repeat as National College Champions, beating Clemson (who will upset Ohio State in the semi-finals), the Dallas Cowboys will beat the Kansas City Chiefs in the Super Bowl, Kentucky will win the NCAA tournament, the New York Rangers will win the Stanley Cup, the Golden State Warriors will reclaim the NBA Championship and the Boston Red Sox will upset the Chicago Cubs in the World Series. About 30/70 here. The World Cup was not moved. Clemson did upset Ohio State, but Alabama did not win the national championship. Missed the Super Bowl (should have stuck with my Pats!). Missed the Stanley Cup and World Series, but did get the NBA right. 

Hiring The Right People – The First Time! - December 6th, 2017

As the year draws to a close, many of you are finishing your 2018 business plans, and many of these plans probably include at least one new hire. And for those of you not planning to add to your team in the near future, we all know that circumstances often change – and quickly.

The hiring process is complex, and more than just finding and hiring a qualified candidate; there are a lot of people that have the credentials and backgrounds to fill most positions.

BUT the key to success is finding a qualified candidate that matches your company culture. Finding the right fit – the first time – is what differentiates Your Hiring Partners (YHP) from the competition. Our pledge is to deliver highly qualified candidates that match your company culture.

Why hire YHP?

First, our process, which includes a proprietary grading system to save your company time and money and relieve your HR department/employees of the time, frustration and stress of combing through hundreds of resumes.

We offer a free consultation and begin each search with a mini 360 evaluation to collect details about your people and processes, as well as the specifics for the job that you are hiring for. We also offer on-boarding as part of our hiring processs, so that we can guide you with best practices to increase the odds of long-term success between you and your new employee.

Second, my partner Petey Parker and I have over 60 years of combined business and consulting experience, and cultivated deep networks of contacts which we leverage and use to supplement the other traditional search techniques that we utilize.

Finally, while finding the perfect hire is our primary business, we also offer the following add-on services to help you be the best that you can be:

  • Perfmance Mangagement
  • Leadership Consulting
  • Succession Planning
  • Crisis Management

For more details, please visit our website, or gives us a call – we would love to hear from you:

Andy Klausner (NY Office) – (617) 990-6894 – andy@akadvisorpartners.com

Petey Parker (Dallas Office) – (214) 908-2814 – petey@peteyparker.com

We conduct searches throughout the country, and I specialize in the financial services industry.