In 2018, I did not make any predictions. I’m resuming making predictions for 2019 for two reasons. First, people who do not learn from the past are widely thought to be condemned to repeating the past, not only those things they got right but also those things they got wrong. Reviewing predictions made a year earlier offers at least a limited opportunity to learn from the past.
Second, making predictions for the upcoming year orients my thinking to the future. The past is fixed. The present is happening. The future, however, is at least partially undetermined allowing individuals to exert some measure of influence over what happens. This possibility of effecting the future probably explains the popularity of New Year’s resolutions.
So, here in no particular order are my predictions for 2019:
· US stock markets will fall more than 20% from their 2018 highs. The drop will result from a weakening global economy, trade wars caused by the US and other nations raising tariffs, oversupply of oil, geo-political uncertainty, rising interest rates, and other factors. Market returns, as measured by broad indices, will be near zero or negative.
· President Trump’s enjoyment of chaos, erratic behavior, dishonesty, and narcissism will continue to destabilize US and world politics. He will persevere in regarding previously reliable allies as adversaries and former US adversaries as allies.
· The loyalty of President Trump’s base will erode and his base diminish in size. Increased economic difficulties for Trump’s base stemming from his chaotic and ill-advised policies will produce this disaffection. Illustratively, contrary to his campaign promises, manufacturing jobs are not increasing, the effects of the tax cut were short-lived and small, healthcare will become less accessible (e.g., for older children and people with pre-existing conditions) and costlier, welfare will be less available for the unemployed and under-employed, etc.
· President Trump’s legal problems will escalate. The US House of Representatives, controlled by Democrats, will initiate more investigations and the Mueller’s investigation may issue its final report. The possibility of impeachment will grow but probably not occur during 2019.
· Brexit will happen. Predictions of chaos will exceed the confusion that actually occurs. The UK will nevertheless hold general elections following the fall of the current Conservative government.
· The US will tighten border security, especially with Mexico, but will not build a border wall along the southern border.
· Trump, a man of few bedrock convictions, will find shifting toward the political center tempting as a means to achieve legislative results. A shift to the center will better align Trump with both houses of Congress.
· Global warming will increase. Pertinent measures include a higher average temperature for the year, more extreme weather events, and sea level rise.
· No major war will erupt. Military tensions between China and its Pacific neighbors will increase. Minor wars will continue on all continents except Antarctica and Australia.
· The US opioid epidemic will continue uninterrupted. Opioid related deaths will increase.
· US unemployment will gradually begin to increase as the decade long economic expansion slows and then begins to contract.
· There will not be any major news stories regarding religion. The Roman Catholic Church, however, will continue to deal with its clergy sex abuse scandal. The world of religion tends to change very slowly, so this prediction is unsurprising.
What are your predictions for 2019?