Sunday, January 20, 2008

The Magic 2008 Ball

In my previous life as an investment banker I used to publish a quarterly newsletter whose first issue of each New Year predicted the top ten trends that would take place during the subsequent 12 months. I always enjoyed coming up with that list and so, have decided to revive my version of the top ten trends here on this blog. Some of these trends are obvious and are based directly on front-page headlines; others are products of my own observations; and still others are educated-sounding wild guesses. None of these predictions are 100 percent certain to take place, but all I believe represent at least a little snippet of what will be going on in our own lives, in this country, and around the world in the next 12 months.

POLITICS
The Media's Not-So-Straight Talk: The ongoing presidential election has provided the media with a newfound conviction in its own ability to persuade public opinion. Though that belief took a hit in New Hampshire, where Hillary Clinton won the primary despite virtually universal press reports to the contrary, the printed and online press will continue to blur the lines between impartial fact and opinion, potentially damaging their collective credibility, but presenting news that encourages readers to unconsciously adopt the writers’ perspectives.

Courtesy of the Red, White and Blue: The United States’ fall from world dominance (which can, in my opinion, be traced back approximately to the day President Bush was inaugurated) will accelerate for two reasons. First, the weak American dollar means fewer Americans will be spreading their wealth and their gospel across the globe. Second, the election of anti-democratic governments despite a democratic electoral process will punch holes through the aura of supremacy that has surrounded American-style democracy since the end of the Cold War.

The DP on the LD: The recent trend in the United States favoring a moratorium against carrying out capital punishment will continue when the Supreme Court (hopefully) rules that the standard system of lethal injection in the United States is unconstitutional, thereby forcing states to come up with a new protocol. The public will also continue to coalesce in its opposition to executions. Despite the decrease in actually carrying out executions, however, states will continue to sentence individuals to death, a rate which may increase (depending on another upcoming Supreme Court decision) if they are allowed to impose capital punishment for crimes that did not involve killing the victim.

ECONOMY:
The R Word: I hate to say this word, but I think a recession is coming. The crisis that began in the subprime mortgage market and now has begun to spread the larger economy as a whole will continue in the United States, evidenced by rising inflation and lower economic growth. The job market will start tightening up and Ben Bernanke will take a boinking, bopping and beating (all in the name of a good alliteration) by the media, politicians and general public alike.

FASHION:
Hair: Mohawks out, mullets in.

Revival of couture fashion: Spurred in part by growing income inequality as well as the emergence of a new generation of high end fashion designers to replace the old guard, couture fashion will be making a comeback.

TECHNOLOGY:
iPhone Takes Over the World: iPhones and devices with similar interfaces will replace the blackberry and sidekick as the primary communication/entertainment/personal organizer gadgets, thereby getting Steve Jobs that much closer to accomplishing his not-so-subliminal mission to take over the world from Bill Gates.

ENTERTAINMENT:
The Strike is Mightier Than the Pen: Though the writers may eventually win a favorable contract (as they should), the ongoing strike will accelerate the weakening of major studios’ buying power because of independent production companies who managed to continue production during the writers’ strike. The strike will also cause the decline of traditional television programs, to be replaced by much cheaper reality tv programs (some proposals on the table: Dancing On The Stars – the first reality television program broadcast from space; Trading Countries – President Musharraf from Pakistan and Ahmadinejad from Iran trade places to see which leader can destroy the other leader’s country first. Grand prize = the right to take over and destroy Israel).

WORLD:
Increasing Civil Strife in Weak Democracies: Civil strife will increase in already weak democracies, such as Kenya, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Turkey and southern Iraq. Declining American influence, Europe’s ambivalence towards getting involved in developing countries’ internal affairs given the history of colonialism (which is partly responsible for today’s intra-national conflicts anyway) and China’s indifference to democratic regime change will prevent international pressure from successfully suppressing the civil strife. These factors may ultimately lead to new governments and city-states forming along tribal and ethnic lines.

ENVIRONMENT:
Winning a Green Medal: The 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing will be remembered more for their impact on the environment than for participating athletes’ awe-inspiring achievements on the field of competition. Recycling. Alternate fuels. Lower fuel emissions. Hybrid cars. Reduced pollution. All of these various terms will be at the forefront of countries’ consciousness when this mega-sporting event takes place in one of the most polluted industrialized city’s in the world. The winner of the individual competitions may take home the gold, but if progress is actually accomplished ahead of the Summer Olympics towards sustainable environmental policies responsive to the threat of global warming then the world will stand on the top podium sporting green medals in Beijing.

5 Comments:

At 1/20/2008 7:15 AM, Blogger burrito eater said...

I think this is my favorite post so far.

My thoughts -

Recession:
I'm less interested in whether or not we'll have a recession and more in what will be included in the "aid package" Washington will come up with as a response to the Recession (which I think they will propose and push through whether or not an economic recession happens).

Entertainment:
I agree that the Writers strike is likely to de-unionize the industry as much as anything else. The world is becoming too dynamic for the old union model. I think we need a Union2.0 that is more in tune with modern business practices or those guys can kiss their contracts goodbye. How do you justify a month long collective bargaining process when "Leave Brittany Alone" gets more viewers than some top-line shows on the WB (I mean the C2)?

World:
Your model of civil strife begetting civil wars begetting new nation-states formed along sustainable (ethnically homogeneous) borders is an interesting one. It will be interesting to see what happens to our military/foreign policy as Iraq/Afghanistan wind down (which I assume they will once "somebody other than Bush" is elected if not before then).

Environment:
I think that if Beijing is seen as an environmental triumph it will be a miracle of marketing more than anything else. When GDP per person is so low it's hard to remember "adding this catalytic converter to our engines at $50/vehicle will theoretically reduce the emission of some chemical that is 'bad' in untangible ways." I was at a movie theater the other day here in Argentina and felt embarrassed for Leonardo Dicaprio during the trailer for his new movie. The number one killer worldwide is dirty water. Then malaria. Both have cures. I just don't think that Global Warming is a real priority outside of the OECD (nor do I think it should be).

 
At 1/21/2008 5:35 PM, Blogger Ariel Glasner said...

To respond in reverse order:

1) What's Leonardo DiCaprio's new movie and what does it have to do with dirty water?

2) I do think Global Warming is an issue that affects countries outside of the OECD. Nontheless, if China wants to demonstrate that it's not merely a developing country going through a short period of rapid but unsustainable growth, and that it's actually a global power, it will need to take proactive stances on issues like global warming in order to make its case.

3) I'm not 100% sure that new nation-states will form along ethnic lines as a result of the civil strife, partly because I believe that industrialized countries in the Western Hemisphere (and the U.N.) won't support such a move and partly because I think opposing ethnic groups may be more likely to try and suprress their enemies before agreeing to divvy up their land.

4) I wish I watched "Leave Brittany Alone".

5) The phrase "Economic stimulus package" is a handy one, especially for people running for president. And, I agree that it will be interesting to see what ultimately gets passed.

6) Glad you liked my post. Thanks for your feedback Burrito Eater.

 
At 1/21/2008 6:21 PM, Blogger burrito eater said...

I only really have a response about water and the environment. I guess the movie was pretty popular, in the US, huh?

http://wip.warnerbros.com/11thhour/ My point is that the first world is concerned with "the environment" and unseen problems that have yet to claim lives, while millions die of real problems with simple cures. The OECD countries have outlawed and shamed people away from using DDT and DEET while malaria kills millions every year. And recent studies of the chemicals that the "Silent Spring" shamed us into forbidding have not been able to repeat the problems with egg shells.



PS - You know this is Greg, right? I have to use some identity to comment on these dang blogger blogs and since most of my comments are about chipotle...here I am ;)

 
At 1/21/2008 6:38 PM, Blogger Ariel Glasner said...

Of course I know this is Greggers....Who else could Burrito Eater be?:)

 
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