What will 2011 bring? Broadly speaking, predicting more of the same (high unemployment, high Wall Street profits) is always a safe bet. As to specific events, who knows what will happen? I could go out on a limb here and predict various collapses and crises, but I might be wildly off the mark. Being wrong would put a serious dent into my well-earned reputation for infallibility, so that's not a good way to go
I have already made one prediction. In The Coming Economic Propaganda Blitz, I predicted that GDP will grow and grow in 2011 thanks to tax breaks and money printing. But, the lives of the large majority of Americans will continue to deteriorate despite the continuing miracle of statistical growth. GDP is as phony as a 3-dollar bill.
I learned a few things this year. Back in the spring, I thought a "double-dip" was likely in 2010. How naive I was! Due to the way GDP is measured, there was no way in hell the government was ever going to say we were in recession (again). It is thus not a surprise that the "Great Recession" officially ended after the 2nd quarter of 2009, but most Americans still think—with good reason—that the downturn never ended. I won't make that mistake again.
Rather than predict what's going to happen in 2011, I'm going to tell you what's not going to happen. That's far more revealing of where we stand than making some pointless predictions about the future. Here's the list—
- There will be not be a redistribution of the wealth in 2011—unless, of course, you regard the rich getting richer and everybody else getting poorer as a redistribution.
- Spencer Bachus, who I described as Corruption Incarnate, will not become a changed man. Mr. Bachus, a Republican who represents Alabama's 6th district, recently told The Birmingham News that “In Washington, the view is that the banks are to be regulated, and my view is that Washington and the regulators are there to serve the banks.” Spencer is the new head of the Financial Services Committee in the Republican-controlled House of Representatives.
- The United States will not become a serious enterprise. The 2011 deficit will be huge, the accumulated debt will continue to grow, and the Fed's "accommodative" monetary policy will remain in place (0% interest rates). Ben Bernanke may go on 60 Minutes again to explain that because the money he is printing is not actually circulating in "The Economy" where you and I live, he is therefore not printing money.
- There will not be a people's revolution in the United States—unless, of course, there are owner lock-outs of the players in at least two of the following three sports leagues: the National Football League (NFL), the National Basketball League (NBA) and the National Hockey League (NHL). Right now there is a possibility of a lock-out in all three in 2011.
- Paul Krugman, Thomas Friedman and other New York Times columnists (excluding Bob Herbert) will not be any closer to being in touch with Reality than they were in 2010.
- There will not be a suddenly blossoming of environmental consciousness in which America takes the lead in halting the steady deterioration of the oceans, the warming of the climate, and the mass die-off of animal and plant species all over the world. Scientific knowledge will continue to be conflated with misunderstood Mayan prophecies.
- Barack Obama will not wake up one day and start channeling Franklin Delano Roosevelt.
- Those on Wall Street will not suddenly realize that avaricious acquisition of everything is not the sole purpose of Life On Earth.
- Our elected representatives in Congress will not put themselves on trial, find themselves guilty of wanton corruption, gross negligence, meanness of spirit, mind-boggling stupidity, and all-around depravity, and then go on to amend all the rules of our political system to reinstate a Democracy, or failing that, a Republic.
- The Housing Market will not make a miraculous comeback in 2011. The ranks of the jobless will be little changed by the end of next year. Those who do get jobs will be cleaning hotel rooms or serving caffè lattes.
How confident am I about these predictions? 100%. No doubt about it. What goes up must come down. Wherever you go, there you are. Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose. 2 + 2 = 4. See ya' next year.