Year five of the prediction game is ready for publication. For those keeping track of the steaming pile that is the past year’s predictions, they can be found at the following links: 2009, 2010, 2011, and 2012.
- The resolution to the current debt ceiling debate will permanently defuse the debt ceiling as a future threat. Either Obama will simply ignore the debt ceiling since he either breaks the law by breaching the debt ceiling or he breaks the law and tanks the global economy by adhering to the debt ceiling and not spending money Congress budgeted, or else legislators will compromise on something like the McConnell Plan so that future debt ceiling fights become purely symbolic exercises. With regards to the current debate, West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin summed it up well when he said “Something has gone terribly wrong when the biggest threat to our American economy is the American Congress.”
- Usain Bolt will not win an individual gold medal at the 2013 Track & Field World Championships and will be overshadowed by his training partner Yohan Blake who will win both the 100m and 200m.
- A la carte cable, in which consumers can choose only the channels (or even the shows) they want, will be announced (or on the verge of reality) from one or more companies capable of making it happen for the vast majority of America. Whether it’s Apple allowing people to get HBO and other channels via an internet-connected box, Google striking some deal, or another major player, the cable companies’ lock on programming bundles will begin to crack soon.
- The unemployment rate will drop from its current rate of 7.9% to around 7.3% (+/- 0.1%). It was 8.3% one year ago, so this would represent a continued gradual improvement to economic conditions.
- With Washington and Colorado having legalized marijuana, there will be a push at the national level to either reduce penalties for marijuana or to give states greater flexibility. Right now marijuana is completely illegal at the federal level but legal for medical or other purposes in a number of states. Since federal law trumps state law, this year will see efforts to provide some clarity to the issue.
- With agreements in place for the construction of the Farmers Field sports complex in downtown LA, the NFL will announce a deal to bring a football team to the city. There seems to be a number of reasons why LA won’t get a team this year, but with a stadium project approved it seems hard to believe that the powers-that-be won’t find a way to get a team in America’s second-largest television market.
- Star Trek Into Darkness, Hunger Games: Catching Fire, and Man of Steel will be three of the five highest grossing movies of the year. They absolutely must make a kickass Superman movie.
- The next iPhone will offer the same form factor as the current iPhone 5, but will add the ability to use the phone for credit-card-like payments using near-field communication (NFC). The most recent software update added Apple Passbook, which seems like an oddly limited feature and suggests that something more is planned.
- Increased demand for the Model-S will cause Tesla to increase its production target for 2013 from 20,000 vehicles to at least 30,000. As its many awards and enthusiastic user reviews demonstrate, this car is going to be extremely popular, and Tesla will find it in its best interests to try to more quickly meet a growing demand.
- Congress will not pass significant immigration reform this year. Immediately after the election Republicans softened their stance on immigration, and this seems to be an area where the two parties might actually try to get something done, but I suspect that the politics of the issue are such that passage will be more likely after next year’s primary elections, when GOP members are less likely to fear a primary challenge from their right flanks and more anxious to gain favor with moderates.
- At least one of the following companies will not survive the year: Sears, J. C. Penney, or K-Mart (note: owned by Sears). I remember how strange it seemed when Montgomery Ward, a fixture of the retail world for 129 years, disappeared in 2001, and I suspect that this year may claim another iconic retailer who hasn’t adapted well to the internet age.
- Spacex will carry out 4-5 launches of its Falcon rocket (they have at least six planned) and one successful test launch of their massive new Falcon Heavy rocket. How awesome is it to live in a time when you can make predictions about rocketships that actually have a chance of coming true?!?!?
- California High-Speed Rail will break ground in the Central Valley as scheduled this year. Critics say that this is a government boondoggle, and they may be right, but high-speed passenger rail is still a good idea for the state’s future.
- Jinxes are real, so this is a prediction I shouldn’t make, but the Browns will have a winning record in 2013. The team was better than the 5-11 record indicates this year, and they’ve not only got a pretty good young roster, but they’ve got a high draft position that should translate into an even better group of players for next year. And yes, this is the type of prediction Browns fans make every single year, and are wrong about every single year.
The comments link is available for anyone who wants to add their own predictions. Alternately, while it may still be early in the year, feel free to begin mocking these likely-incorrect conjectures now.