2013 marks a new record of futility for my annual predictions, and it breaks the previous record by a margin that can in no way be considered small – while these recaps are usually at least partially tongue-in-cheek, my pride is actually hurt by such an utter and complete failure to guess where the world was headed. I take heart, however, in knowing that dumb luck alone says that I should almost always get at least a couple of correct predictions, so this record of shame is unlikely to be broken in 2014. As a reminder, here’s the past scorecard: 2009: 31% correct (5 of 16), 2010: 44% correct (7.5 of 17), 2011: 50% correct (7 of 14) and 2012: 40% correct (6 of 15). And now, the carnage that was 2013:
- The resolution to the current debt ceiling debate will permanently defuse the debt ceiling as a future threat.
Luckily a last-minute agreement prevented the self-destruct button from being pushed on the US credit rating, but while politicians were afterwards making noises about not repeating this masochistic exercise, nothing was done to actually defuse the bomb and we are headed for more potential drama in March. Zero-for-one in the prediction game so far, and it gets much worse.
- 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.
Usain Bolt won both and Yohan Blake (the Olympic silver medalist) didn’t even run after sustaining a hamstring injury a month before Worlds. Even had he run it’s unlikely that Blake would have beat Bolt – I thought Bolt would slack off after the Olympics, but he continued to make everyone else look like they were competing for second place.
- 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.
In fairness, this is something that I very much want to happen, that I think makes all kinds of sense, and that realistically I should have known the cable companies would do everything in their power to delay. It will happen someday, and maybe even someday soon, but it didn’t happen in 2013.
- The unemployment rate will drop from its current rate of 7.9% to around 7.3% (+/- 0.1%).
Officially it was 6.7% at the end of the year, but if I’m going to be wrong, at least it was because the job situation improved more than I thought it would. For those counting at home, that’s four straight wrong predictions.
- 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.
Aside from assurances from Eric Holder that he wouldn’t send in the feds unless pot was crossing state lines, there was a great big “nothing” that happened on this front. Clearly lawmakers aren’t yet ready to have their fingerprints anywhere near anything that has to do with easing the war on drugs.
- The NFL will announce a deal to bring a football team to Los Angeles
There are TWO stadium plans for LA, the Rose Bowl and Coliseum are available as temporary homes, and still the NFL can’t find a way to get a team to America’s second largest TV market. Does anyone in Jacksonville even know that they have a team there? Florida doesn’t need three teams – send one over here and see if they notice.
- Star Trek Into Darkness, Hunger Games: Catching Fire, and Man of Steel will be three of the five highest grossing movies of the year.
How did they mess up Superman? While it ended up #5 on the year, two hours into it I didn’t care at all about any of the characters except for Pa Kent, who they killed off after the first hour. Hunger Games was a solid flick and ended the year #1, but Star Trek was underrated and finished at #11 (per the 2013 domestic box office). Seven predictions, and still not one that was correct.
- 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).
I got the form factor right, but that’s too obvious to warrant any credit. The exciting new features for the iPhone 5s were – more colors and a fingerprint sensor? I like Apple, I think they’re an amazing company, and I even own Apple stock, but they need the ghost of Steve Jobs to give them a kick in the pants because they haven’t been breaking any new ground lately.
- 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.
While there has been huge demand for this amazing car, I under-estimated how tough it would be for Tesla to ramp up production. They smartly focused on improving their quality and margins, and as a result will still exceed their delivery goals but won’t hit the 30,000 vehicle number despite the fact that they have a long backlog of orders.
- Congress will not pass significant immigration reform this year.
I GOT ONE RIGHT!!!! Passing immigration reform is the right move for a lot of reasons, not the least of which is that it helps the economy, helps individual immigrants, and eliminates this issue as something that Democrats can attack Republicans over, but Boehner didn’t have a majority of his caucas willing to support it. I predicted last year that it is an issue that may return after the primaries, when Republicans will be more willing to prove that they can get things done and appeal to independents, but for now the bill is gathering dust in the House.
- At least one of the following companies will not survive the year: Sears, J. C. Penney, or K-Mart.
I don’t understand how any of them stay solvent.
- 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.
I’m giving myself half credit, mainly out of self-pity. There were four Falcon-9 launches in 2013, but if a Falcon Heavy has even been built yet I haven’t seen any news. A test launch of that uber-cool monster of a rocket remains on their launch manifest for 2014, and they have a busy schedule of Falcon-9 launches planned for this year, including a successful launch that put a satellite in geosynchronous orbit last week. It’s a good time to be a fan of spaceships.
- California High-Speed Rail will break ground in the Central Valley as scheduled this year.
They issued a contract to get ground broken, then put it hold due to a lawsuit and other issues. I’m a strong believer that high-speed rail is an amazingly good idea and an investment that should be made, but the mis-management of this project is enough to make even me believe that it might be better to shut down the current efforts and start over. Build a high-speed train, but do it with a more realistic and effective plan, and a competent team in place to oversee its implementation.
- The Browns will have a winning record in 2013.
In my defense, I added “this is the type of prediction Browns fans make every single year, and are wrong about every single year“. 4-12. Ouch. They were a better team than that record shows.
Final score: 11% (1.5 of 14). Eleven percent, and that’s after rounding up from 10.7%. To put that number in perspective, there is a woodchuck in Pennsylvania that makes yearly predictions and has a 39% success rate, so my predictions are nearly four times worse than a rodent’s. An octopus, a creature with a brain the size of a green pea, correctly predicted seven straight World Cup match results in 2010. Meanwhile a grown man with a normal-sized, albeit questionably functional, human brain barely exceeded a ten percent success rate. A smarter man would retire in shame, but I am not such a man and will be back shortly with another set of horribly inaccurate predictions for 2014. Watch this space.