My first Ethical Musings' post for 2015 was a set of predictions for the year. In this post, I review my accuracy, annotating each prediction (green type denotes an accurate prediction and red type a missed prediction):
- 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. Sadly, all of these predictions were correct. The Middle East remains as war torn as at the beginning of 2015. If anything, the situation has worsened because of heightened levels of conflict in Yemen.
- Although terror attacks will continue, no nation will experience a terror attack on the scale of the 9/11 attacks. This prediction was also correct. The Paris attacks were not of the magnitude 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. Talks to end Iranian nuclear weapon development appear to have succeeded, contingent upon Congressional action and mutual implementation.
- Afghanistan will continue to disintegrate. Afghanistan's central government has continued to lose control of its territory; the US has deferred final withdrawal of combat troops.
- 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. 2015 was the warmest year on record with an increased number of major storms. The Paris climate change talks ended successfully. Unfortunately, the results contained recommendations rather than firm commitments.
- The Ebola epidemic will worsen and then lessen after development of an effective vaccine and of improved treatment for those with the virus. Thankfully, this prediction was wrong.
- 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). Not only did the price of oil fall below $40 per barrel, it has not rebounded.
- 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). Major stock market indices ended 2015 down.
- Interest rates will rise slowly in the US, starting sometime in the second half of the year. The Federal Reserve raised interest rates in December.
- The US housing market will continue its slow recovery in spite of a rising cost of mortgages (because of an increase in interest rates). Correct – the end of the year decline in sales appears driven by HUD mandated process changes rather than actual slowing of sales.
- Europe will continue to totter on the brink of another recession, experiencing what is at best an anemic recovery. Correct.
- Social and cultural
- The US Supreme Court will hear a case about the legality of same sex marriage and rule in favor of it. Correct.
- The US Congress and President will remain at odds, stalemating most legislation, but somehow avoiding another government shutdown. Correct.
- 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). Correct.
- 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. Correct.
- The Episcopal Church will not elect a white male as its next Presiding Bishop. Correct: The Episcopal Church elected the Rt. Rev. Michael Curry, an African American who was Bishop of the Diocese of North Carolina, as Presiding Bishop.
Overall, 14 of my 16 predictions were correct for a batting average of 87.5%.
My next post will consist of my predictions for 2016.
The process of making predictions encourages reflection about larger trends too often obscured by a general tendency to focus on immediate and individual events. Checking one's accuracy keeps the process honest. Of course, it is impossible to quantify whether one's predictions are obvious or seen only dimly and then with difficulty.
However, making predictions and then reviewing one's accuracy is probably more productive (and certainly more enjoyable!) than making resolutions about changes that one has little intent of keeping (otherwise, one would already have made the change!).