Ten Predictions for 2017
Prediction One: We will see the beginning of protectionism. It’s what always happens when populism and nationalism rear their ugly heads: we decide to look out for ourselves and the rest of the world retaliates. Quotas, tariffs, and other barriers to trade are an inseparable part of populism. It tends to breed inflation and eventually, war.
President Trump will overtake PT Barnum and create the new Greatest Show on Earth. It will be human history’s first 24 hr. reality show.
It will be aired on every major channel and despite the apparent disruption of the domestic or world order, most will not care because it’s free entertainment. If you think about, Hollywood couldn’t produce a crazier series, yet it will be a huge global hit because he is outrageous and unpredictable and great for ratings. It will be a little like All in the Family except Archie will have lots of money and orange hair. Edith will have an accent and may or may not be a dingbat, but her clothes will be stunning.
Prediction Three: The show will get dropped after the first season. Mainstream Republicans will see their brand compromised and see Trump’s rogue ideas as the only thing standing between them and absolute power. After all, they will control SCOTUS, POTUS and Congress: all three branches of government. And because VP Pence is a Kool-Aid drinking Republican, with Trump out of the way they will have everything they, the rich and powerful, have always wanted: more money and power. But how will they make him go away? Ahah, that’s the question. These things have to be done delicately, delicately…
Prediction Four: Another country (or two) will leave the Eurozone. It could be Greece, Italy, Spain, Portugal: there’s a long list of possible “___exit” strategies. Do we care? –Yes.
Prediction Five: In the US, the lines between business and government will become more blurred than they have been many decades. By the way, when they finally become the same thing, it’s called fascism.
Prediction Six: In the US, the line between freedom and oppression will become almost invisible: people will have more freedom to oppress other people.
Prediction Seven: Welfare, Medicare, Foodstamps, and Social Security will all begin to get cut. In order to keep the military budget, cut taxes, and pay for other projects (walls and other ‘infrastructure’), something’s gotta give. Everyone knows that a core part of the Republican platform is to see that those programs all get the knife.
Prediction Eight: The stock market should not be up for the year. It has gone up for about eight years due to ridiculous levels of stimulus, and the disruptive effects of the populist/nationalist/protectionist agenda will hurt earnings: most of our biggest stocks earn as much money abroad as they do here. Also, with interest rates rising (as the result of spending, stimulus, or protectionist policies), loans for housing, mergers, and stock buybacks will be more costly. Lastly, China is overdue to pay the piper for years of reckless borrowing through their shadow-banking system. China has been the largest contributor to total global growth and if we put tariffs on Chinese exports or have them branded as a currency manipulator, it will only exacerbate the problem. Can the business-based cabinet tame the Trump and keep things humming with business-as-usual? Perhaps, but then he will have to compromise on many of his pledges and betray those who elected him—which populist leaders are reluctant to do.
Prediction Nine: There will continue to be mass shootings and we have to be prepared for terrorist attacks in the US as well. The hostility level between races, religions, ideologies, and nationalities will increase. Acts of domestic violence will lead to further restrictions on immigration and great loss of privacy and freedom for everyone. Be prepared to see emergency powers declarations that override democratic rule.
Prediction Ten: In building the Internet, humankind created a new world. That world is having its first experiences with war. Look for global cyberwar battles to get bigger and more serious with hacking of major infrastructure systems.
The key is that we are moving within the same pattern that played out a century ago. It is the reverse of globalization. I call it Dis-integration. I expect it to be very disruptive.