At the beginning of 2016, as I have for several years, I made a number of predictions about what would happen in the year ahead. In this post, I assess the accuracy of those predictions. Predictions are in black; assessments are in red.
- National and international 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, 2016 will not see major changes in the Middle East. Assad remains in power; Iraq is closer to fragmenting; ISIS, however, has lost rather than gained power. Israel still has not made peace with the Palestinian's, although the US failed to block the latest UN resolution calling for a Palestinian state. Overall, 2016 did not see major changes in the Middle East.
- Trump will not win the Republican Party's presidential nomination. Trump not only won the nomination but also the election.
- After a divisive, polarizing campaign, the US will elect Hillary Clinton its first female president. Clinton lost the election after a polarizing campaign.
- Republicans will retain control of the US House of Representatives and Democrats will control the Senate. I was only half-right: the GOP controls both houses of Congress.
- The Middle East will remain in turmoil: Yemen's insurrection will continue; the Saudi regime will face more open opposition; Assad will continue to cling, just barely, to power; Iraq will move closer to fracturing, with the Kurds exercising increased autonomy; Afghanistan will continue to destabilize; and Iran will remain an international pariah. The US will send more troops to the Middle East. Russia, the US, and other nations – divided by opposing aims – will not implement cooperative policies or actions in the Middle East. All of these predictions were basically correct.
- China will struggle to maintain a rate of economic growth sufficient to pacify its population and keep its Communist overlords in power while concurrently flexing its economic, military, and political muscles abroad. This prediction was correct.
- The price of oil will remain below $60 per barrel. The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) will show signs of fraying as its member states experience increasing financial difficulties linked to oil's persistently low price. Oil remained below $60 per barrel but OPEC has not shown evidence of fraying.
- The US economy will continue to grow slowly with stock prices ending the year up, unemployment down, and wages finally showing some, albeit slow, growth. Interest rates will continue to inch upwards. All of these predictions were correct.
- Social and cultural
- Aging populations in the US and Japan will be the catalysts for a gradual erosion of youth worship and increased social appreciation and valuing of the elderly. This prediction was too optimistic; not much change in the predicted direction was apparent.
- Deniers of climate change will become further marginalized, akin to people who claim that the earth is flat. Unfortunately, increased demand for energy generated using carbon based fuels in China, India, and Africa will outweigh the benefits global efforts to slow climate change. This prediction, sadly, was wrong, as evidenced by Trump's electoral victory.
- Anti-Muslim sentiments will continue to escalate, exacerbated by both the threats posed by ISIS and non-state terror groups as well as an unstoppable flood of immigrants out of the Middle East. This prediction was correct.
- Support for decriminalizing marijuana will continue to build as will support for reducing/eliminating mandatory sentences for many drug related offenses. This prediction was also correct.
- Cultural conflict will continue in the US over same sex marriage and abortion. Nevertheless, same sex marriage will find increasing acceptance. Abortion, however, will remain an acrimonious, polarizing issue that further entangles Planned Parenthood and other providers. This prediction was correct.
- Although Congress will fail in renewed attempts to repeal the Affordable Care Act, healthcare costs will continue to grow faster than the general rate of inflation as will anger over the excessive cost of prescription drugs and awareness of the dysfunctionality of the US approach to healthcare. This prediction was correct, although repeal of the Affordable Care Act seems certain in 2017.
My predictions for 2017 will appear in my next Ethical Musings post.
In the meantime, best wishes for a happy, healthy, and prosperous 2017!