Ryan's Journal

"My life amounts to no more than one drop in a limitless ocean. Yet what is any ocean, but a multitude of drops?" — David Mitchell

Predictions Gone Wrong

Posted from Culver City, California at 7:27 pm, January 9th, 2020

For over a decade I’ve made an annual effort at self-flagellation by posting predictions for the coming year, and looking over the predictions for 2019 I made a particularly large mess of it this year. Here’s the embarrassing results of this year’s effort.

  1. Tiger Woods will return to the world golf #1 ranking at some point in 2019.

    While he improved his ranking from #1199 all the way up to #5, he was inconsistent and never really threatened to go to #1. This prediction is the first of many that I got wrong this year.

  2. Democrats will not seriously pursue impeachment of Donald Trump in 2019.

    In my defense, I added the following caveat to this prediction: “I may be either giving Democrats too much credit, underestimating what Robert Mueller’s investigation will uncover, or be too optimistic about Trump not doing anything so crazy that impeachment becomes inevitable.” I think Democrats would have been better off pushing for a censure or investigation instead of jumping straight to impeachment, but I’m guessing Nancy Pelosi figured that anything less than impeachment would divide Democrats during the primary season, and so knowing that no amount of evidence would convince the Senate to convict Trump she simply rushed to get the whole thing over with as quickly as possible.

  3. After Disney’s $71.3 billion acquisition of Fox Studios, 2019 will see another massive media merger.

    I’m surprised that everyone is pursuing their own streaming strategy and that there hasn’t been more consolidation, but it seems like Warner Brothers, CBS and Universal are going to hold out as long as they can before bowing to inevitability. I’m now zero-for-three in the prediction game for the year.

  4. After making almost $60 billion in profits in 2018, Apple will see its lowest yearly profits since it made $40 billion in 2014.

    I’ve been debating quitting the iPhone for a while now, but the fact that I still have one should have been a warning flag against making this prediction. Apple reported lower profits this year than in 2018, but still brought in $55 billion, well above what I predicted.

  5. Facebook will begin to see its active user base erode. By the end of the year the number of people “quitting Facebook” will be a noticeable minority, and other companies will be either planning or promoting legitimate Facebook alternatives in an effort to snatch up the Facebook deserters.

    There’s a lot to unpack in this prediction, but the quick version is that I thought there would be a clear threat to Facebook’s dominance in the social media space, and that hasn’t materialized. Governments are starting to legislate against Facebook’s more odious practices, and many users are now aware of the fact that Facebook is doing a lot of really sketchy things, but there’s no reason to believe that anything will change soon.

  6. By the end of the year the leading Democratic candidates will be Elizabeth Warren, a new face that the party’s Progressive wing coalesces around (probably someone like Kamala Harris), and someone with executive experience (a governor, military leader, or former executive branch leader) who no one is paying any attention to right now. If Bernie Sanders runs he’ll lose most of his 2016 supporters to whoever the new Progressive darling ends up being.

    This prediction also contains a lot of small predictions, but essentially I misjudged how the race would unfold. Today’s polling averages from fivethirtyeight.com show Joe Biden at 26.6%, Bernie Sanders at 18.1%, and Elizabeth Warren at 15.4%, with the next tier all polling in single digits. Democrats all seem to be lamenting their choices, but they aren’t really looking at anyone who hasn’t been in the national spotlight for the past few decades; the three poll leaders are a 78 year-old gaffe-prone former-VP, a 79 year-old socialist from Vermont, and a 71 year-old liberal Senator from Massachusetts.

  7. SpaceX will successfully launch a crewed flight to the space station this year, but Boeing will further delay their first crewed mission until 2020.

    Both SpaceX and Boeing had setbacks in their crewed launch programs this year, and now both will be lucky if they can get astronauts to the space station in 2020. As an act of charity I’m going to give myself half credit for predicting that Boeing would fail, particularly since the aerospace giant continues to be even further behind than SpaceX.

  8. With the rollout of 5G cellular service already beginning, Google will make a move towards acquiring an existing wireless company or deploying its own 5G network.

    There is no indication whatsoever that Google has any interest in its own 5G network. I should probably deduct a point for being not just wrong, but utterly and completely wrong, but let’s just move on.

  9. Avengers: Endgame will outperform Star Wars: Episode IX at the box office.

    I FINALLY GOT ONE RIGHT! Avengers:Endgame ranks #1 in the all-time worldwide box office with $2.8 billion and #2 in the all-time domestic box office with $858 million. Star Wars: Rise of Skywalker is currently at $945 million worldwide and $461 million domestic, meaning it won’t come close to the latest Marvel movie’s numbers.

  10. After Virgin Galactic finally reached space in December, their flight test program will continue through 2019, but they won’t fly any paying customers. They will, however, do a test flight with Richard Branson on board during 2019.

    I’m actually a little bit shocked that Richard Branson hasn’t taken a flight in his new spaceship yet – they’ve done a bunch of test flights and even sent up a test passenger in February, but so far the daredevil CEO hasn’t flown. I’m giving myself a half-point as charity for predicting that they wouldn’t fly any paying customers in 2019.

  11. Despite predictions of bidding wars, during NFL free agency Le’veon Bell won’t be offered anything that comes close to the reported $70 million that he turned down from the Steelers… he’ll be the NFL’s third-highest paid running back.

    I GOT ANOTHER ONE! Bell sat out a year, arguing he wasn’t being offered enough by the Steelers, and ended up signing a four-year, $52.5 million contract. He barely moved ahead of David Johnson in terms of average salary, but ended up still being the third highest paid running back once Ezekiel Elliott signed an extension in Dallas.

  12. Tesla will introduce a major refresh of its Model S and Model X vehicles, including a new battery pack technology.

    Reports indicate that a cosmetic refresh is imminent and that new battery technology will also be introduced in 2020, but Tesla spent 2019 focused on ramping up and optimizing Model-3 production and pushed changes to its existing lineup to the backburner.

  13. Boeing will officially announce its new 797 plane this year.

    Obviously the grounding of Boeing’s 737-MAX caused all other efforts in the company to grind to a halt, and it is now likely that the company is completely re-thinking its product roadmap.

  14. While US politics will continue to be a dispiriting example of how not to run a country, at least one major piece of legislation will pass this year.

    Surprisingly, Trump’s update to NAFTA passed the House by a vote of 385-41, but like hundreds of other bills that have made it through the House, it is stalled in the Senate. Mitch McConnell has been laser-focused on putting conservative judges on the bench and as a result hasn’t spent as much time on legislation, so like most of the other predictions for this year, I’m going to call this one incorrect.

  15. PG&E will be split up and in many cases turn into municipal utilities.

    So far PG&E seems to be weathering its troubles by increasing rates and doing a surprisingly adept job of navigating bankruptcy court. The utility is still in a precarious position, but it looks like they could emerge from their current troubles intact.

The final tally for 2019: 3 out of 15 (20%), making this the third-most dismal showing behind only 2014 (12%) and 2013 (11%). And bear in mind, that score is with two charity half-points I awarded myself for mostly-incorrect predictions. Oy. I’ll make an effort to ensure that the upcoming predictions for 2020 are better.

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