Everyone does it, so I’ll join the fray. If you feel tempted to wager based on these predictions, please just send the money to me: I need, and your chances of getting a return are much better.
The US economy will continue to expand at the fast pace since the Reagan administration through the second quarter. While new home construction will slow, service and other sectors will more than take its place. Unemployment will improve in fits and starts, but it will be more than half a percentage point lower by the end of the second quarter as the economy creates 100,000 more jobs than existed at the peak in April 2000. The Dow will close above 12,000 and the NASDAQ above 2500 by the end of July. The media will begin concentrating on “underemployment” and working poor, finding no other negative economic news to talk about. The federal budget deficit, according to the CBO, will begin to shrink in 2005. Japan’s economy helps the US and European economies, but other factors keep France and Germany in a Carteresque recession of malaise.
Jacko will be tried and convicted on some minor child abuse or endangerment charge, but he’ll escape the most serious charges. The pack of lies he spewed to Ed Bradley will be his undoing, as his attorneys try desperately and unsuccessfully to quash the video of the 60 Minutes piece. Madonna will do something outrageous. Alec Baldwin will embarrass himself with his mouth.
The terrorism in Iraq will subside substantially after a major US military push in the spring. The Army and Marines will round up most of the rebel leaders along with their cash and weapons. By July, Iraq and the war will be non-issues to George Bush’s dismay.
**The US and UK will continue to marginalize France and Germany, but Putin will get Russia back into our good graces by pumping oil at record levels, lowering the price of gasoline in the US to about $1.00 a gallon my late spring. Saddam’s trial will reveal French violations of UN embargoes against Iraq committed as recently as February 2003 and with the knowledge of Chirac and other senior leaders. Blair’s popularity will swell after a terrorist attack in London is partially thwarted by British commandos. Syria and Iran capitulate to the Coalition of the Willing, turning over terrorists, plots, and weapons. North Korea remains a major problem, and our relations with Beijing deteriorate after we cozy up to Russia. Japan’s economy rebounds.
Howard Dean’s star will begin to fade after Iowa and New Hampshire as Gephardt and Kerry do better than expected. After getting slaughtered in the South, Dean’s will lose financial support from big donors, becoming dependent on college students’ lunch money. The media will turn against Dean after more embarrassing gaffes make him appear frivolous and juvenile. Gephardt will emerge as the only candidate who can beat Bush, but the economy and the success in Iraq will make even a Gephardt run impossible. Late primaries will give the nomination to Dean as the DNC realizes its best bet is to let circumstances undo “McGovern” him. Bush wins with 55% of the popular vote, losing only Vermont, Massachusetts, and Rhode Island in the electoral college. GOP picks up 27 House and 6 Senate seats.