Predicting the future is an interesting exercise for anyone without a crystal ball or psychic powers. I want to recognize my hopes for what they are. I would like to see the advent of world peace, yet I know that world peace in 2015 is a dream. Similarly, I try to ignore aspirational goals that depend upon me to achieve them, e.g., I want to move to Hawaii but recognize that whether I relocate to Hawaii in 2015 depends entirely upon choices that my partner and I make. The best prognostications entail identifying present trends likely to continue into the future. Readers may thus find some of my predictions obvious. Their value, for me, is in formulating the predictions I ponder what our world will be like in the year ahead.
Here, arranged by topic, are my predictions for 2015:
- World affairs
- Syrian President Assad will remain in power, Iraq will move closer to fragmenting, the Islamic State will consolidate its hold on parts of Syria and the current Iraq, and Israel will not make peace with the Palestinians. The US will block the Palestinian's bid for recognition as a state by the United Nations. In short, 2015 will not see major changes in the Middle East.
- Although terror attacks will continue, no nation will experience a terror attack on the scale of the 9/11 attacks.
- Regardless of the outcome of talks intended to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons, neither the US nor Israel will attack Iran.
- Afghanistan will continue to disintegrate.
- Global climate change will continue to worsen, indicated by an increase in the number of major storms and other unusual weather phenomena, and few nation states or multi-national corporations will implement major initiatives to reverse those changes.
- The Ebola epidemic will worsen and then lessen after development of an effective vaccine and of improved treatment for those with the virus.
- The price of oil will drop to $40 (or lower) per barrel before rebounding, but it will not hit $80 by year's end (OPEC appears committed to keeping production high; increased US production will more than offset any disruptions to Russian oil and gas production).
- US stocks will have another good year (up maybe 10%), primarily because of a lack of good alternative investments (bonds will perform poorly – see my next prediction).
- Interest rates will rise slowly in the US, starting sometime in the second half of the year.
- The US housing market will continue its slow recovery in spite of a rising cost of mortgages (because of an increase in interest rates).
- Europe will continue to totter on the brink of another recession, experiencing what is at best an anemic recovery.
- Social and cultural
- The US Supreme Court will hear a case about the legality of same sex marriage and rule in favor of it.
- The US Congress and President will remain at odds, stalemating most legislation, but somehow avoiding another government shutdown.
- The following trends will continue unabated: increased secularism, diminished religiosity, increased utilization of wireless devices in spite of continuing government surveillance, and the widening gap between affluent and poor (i.e., the middle class will continue to disappear).
- Tensions between whites and blacks will erupt into open conflict one or more times in the US. This will underscore what the events of 2014 demonstrated so graphically: race relations may have improved, but still are far from Martin Luther King Jr.'s vision of a society in which people are judged by the content of their character and not the color of their skin.
- The Episcopal Church will not elect a white male as its next Presiding Bishop.
What are your predictions for 2015? If you're willing, I'd be delighted if you will share them with Ethical Musings' readers.
Happy New Year!