At the beginning of 2012, I made the following predictions on Ethical Musings, now annotated to indicate my prescience (or lack of):
· A dictator will emerge in Iraq, probably Nouri al-Maliki. The war in Afghanistan will wind down but the Taliban insurgency will continue. Iran will develop, or be on the verge of developing, a nuclear weapon. Iraq does not yet have a dictator, though Maliki continues to move in that direction. The Taliban insurgency is continuing and Iran appears to be on the verge of developing a nuclear weapon. Overall assessment: 50%.
· No progress in reconciling South and North Korea will occur until after the end of 2012. Accurate. Indeed, the recent North Korean missile launch has probably moved the two nations further apart. Assessment: 100%.
· Obama will win reelection; the Republicans will gain control of both houses of Congress. I got two out of three correct – the Democrats retained control of the Senate. Overall assessment: 66%.
· North Carolina will defeat the proposed amendment to the state constitution that defines marriage in heterosexual terms. I was wrong. North Carolina adopted the proposed amendment to the state constitution defining marriage as exclusively between one man and one woman. Overall assessment: 0%.
· Violent and unusual weather patterns will increase in frequency and severity causing multiple major natural disasters around the globe. This is happening; West Antarctica may be warming twice as fast as previously thought. Overall assessment: 100%.
· The major stock market indices (Dow Jones, S&P 500, NASDAQ, Russell 2000) will advance 5-10%, less than typical for an election year; all will have multiple, substantial fluctuations of several percentage points in a single day. I only got two of five prognostications correct: the Dow is up between 5 and 10%; there have been some substantial daily fluctuations. Both the S&P 500 and Russell 2000 are up over 10% for the year; conversely, the NASDAQ is up less than 5%. Overall assessment: 40%.
· The world will not end. We're still here; the Mayan's new age interpreters were wrong. Overall assessment: 100%.
Although I cannot claim to be a definitive oracle, making predictions about 2013 is certainly more fun than making resolutions. So, here are my predictions for 2013:
· Iraq will continue to move toward dictatorship and relations between the Sunnis, Shiites, and Kurds will become increasingly fractious. The U.S. occupation of Afghanistan will almost have ended; Afghanistan will remain a lawless, chaotic country. Pakistan will also become progressively more unstable.
· The U.S. will go over the fiscal cliff it faces at the end of 2012, and then Congress will raise taxes on the wealthiest 2% but largely leave taxes on the 98% at or near 2012 levels. Congress will cut Medicare and other entitlement programs, but not Social Security, to reduce spending and the deficit.
· The major stock market indices (Dow Jones, S&P 500, NASDAQ, Russell 2000) will advance 8-10%.
· The U.S. economy will continue to improve – gradually. Going over the fiscal cliff will cause problems, but by the end of the year unemployment will again be declining.
· The Supreme Court will strike down the federal Defense of Marriage Act but duck the larger questions of whether states must recognize same-sex marriage to ensure equal protection and rights for all.
· Church attendance and belief in God will continue to decline.
· Global warming will continue, as will an increased number of natural disasters caused by climate change. No major war will break out. The world will not end.
Some of these predictions seem fairly certain, e.g., that the world will not end. Others are wild guesses; others represent educated speculation. I encourage you to consider joining me in making predictions about the year ahead and welcome any that you care to send to me.
Happy New Year!