2010 Predictions

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2010 Predictions

My first prediction for 2010 is that JAG gets kicked off CM.com! Tongue outCry

No seriously, I just listened to Steve Keen's Predictions for 2010 on Nate's site, and I think he hit a homerun. It runs 26 minutes long, so I will save all you goldbug-inflationists out there some time and summarize a few points from it, so that you can dismiss them efficiently :)

  • Our model of Fractional Reserve Banking is backwards: Empirical evidence suggests that banks loans create deposits/reserves rather than loans being made from deposits/reserves as is typically believed. This means that the massive reserves that the banking system has amassed this year is a product of past loans made, and doesn't portend future inflation.
  • The US economy will follow Japan-style modern deflation, only without the export trade of Japan, things will be much worse for the US. 
  • Gold typically holds value in deflation, but many gold investors may be forced to liquidate gold positions to pay bills and service debt.
  • To survive deflation, secure your job and hold cash.

So thats Steve Keen's forecast. Keen, like Dr.M, has a good track record in his forecasts, so I'm taking him seriously.

Additionally, I came across this forecast for the next decade by Dmitry Orlov

Several countries around the world will be forced to declare sovereign default and join the swelling ranks of defunct nations. There will be a mad shuffle to find safe havens for hot money, but none will be found. Investors around the world will finally be forced to realize that the best way to avoid losses is to not have any money to start with. Despite their best efforts to diversify their holdings, investors will find that they are all long paper, be it stocks, bonds, deeds, promissory notes, or incomprehensible derivative contracts. They will also find that, in the new business climate, none of these instruments make particularly formidable weapons: as the friendly game of rock-paper-scissors turns hostile, they will discover that rocks stave in skulls, that scissors puncture vital organs, but that the paper, even when wielded expertly, just causes paper cuts. Those formerly well-heeled persons who tend to believe that "possession is nine-tenths of the law" will find many extralegal exorcists eager to liberate their demons. In particular, organized crime rings will start using data mining software to identify lightly guarded cabins and compounds in Montana and other remote locations that are well-stocked with canned food, weapons and gold and silver bullion, and start harvesting them by softening the target with mortars, rockets and aerial bombardment, then sending in commando teams with grenades and machine guns. Once the harvest is in, they will expatriate the proceeds using the diplomatic pouches of defunct nations held in their sway.

While the bullion is expatriated, the Pentagon will attempt to repatriate troops from Iraq, Afghanistan and the numerous US military bases around the world, soon finding that they lack the wherewithal to do so, stranding the troops wherever they are, and forcing them to resupply themselves. Military families will be invited to donate food, uniforms, clean underwear and toiletries for their loved ones overseas. American weaponry will flood the black market, driving down prices. Some servicemen will decide that returning to the US is a bad idea in any case, and go native, marrying local women and adopting local religions, customs and garb. Although national leaders will continue to prattle on about national security whenever there is a microphone pointed at them, their own personal security will become their overarching concern. Officials at all levels will attempt to assemble ever larger retinues of bodyguards and security consultants. Members of Congress will become ever more reticent and will avoid encountering their constituents as much as possible, preferring to hide in Washington's hermetically sealed high-rises, walled compounds and gated communities. Meanwhile, outside the official security perimeter, a new neighborliness will take root, as squatting becomes known as "settling in," trespassing as "beating a new path," and fences, walls and locks are everywhere replaced by watchful eyes, attentive ears and helping hands.

 

Has anyone seen any other 2010 Predictions/Forecasts out there that they could share? I like to keep score.

Thanks...

 

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Re: 2010 Predictions

Automatic Earth has done their usual thorough job w/some idears for 2010:

http://theautomaticearth.blogspot.com/2009/12/december-17-2009-2010-tren...

 

Personally, let's see:

I think 2010 will grind along much as '09 did, although at some point we'll see a crisis in real estate (both commerical & residential).  TPTB will continue monkeying around with the Dollar, Gold/Silver, QE in the equity & bond markets.  Nothing catastrophic will go down, but there will be a growing sense of unease as the gyrations in the economy get bigger -- i.e., the wheels don't come off, but they sure get wobblier.

Cool, now I'm on record and we'll see how wrong I end up!  Laughing

Viva -- Sager

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Re: 2010 Predictions

Jag Steve Keen is interesting but the Dmitry Orlov read is road kill IMHOSmile. I am looking thru youtube to add to your collection.

I am going to have to go with old Sylvia down below my text here (LOL)

A little more serious below....

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Gerald Celente - 2010 Predictions

On the Financial Sense Newshour this week, they had Gerald Celente on with hiis predictions for 2010. Starts at about the 18 minute mark.

http://www.netcastdaily.com/broadcast/fsn2009-1219-3b.m3u

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Re: 2010 Predictions

Richard Bernstein, CEO of Richard Bernstein Capital Management and previously Chief Investment Strategist and Head of the Investment Strategy Group at Merrill Lynch, has just formulated his top 10 predictions for next year. Bernstein’s ideas come courtesy of The Business Insider - The Money Game.

1. Stock and bond market returns in the U.S. will again be positive.

2. The U.S. dollar is likely to meaningfully appreciate once market-driven short-term rates begin to rise.

3. U.S. dollar “carry trades” could get killed as 2010 progresses and the U.S. dollar appreciates. Once accounting for leverage, hedge fund performance will likely trail long-only equity performance.

4. The Fed will spend the second half of the year trying to catch up to, and flatten, the yield curve. Short-term rates could increase more than investors currently think. Long-term rates could rise quite a bit in the first part of the year as inflation finally begins to appear, but are likely to fall during the second half of the year when the markets realize the Fed is serious about fighting inflation. The curve is likely to be much flatter one year from today than it is currently.

5. Corporate profits are likely to explode to the upside during 2010. Trailing four-quarter S&P 500 reported earnings growth could exceed 100%. Investors still seem to be under-estimating the operating and financial leverage that is built into corporate profits.

6. Employment in the U.S. will probably continue to improve. Consumer Discretionary stocks will likely be among the best performing sectors.

7. Treasuries will probably underperform stocks. That underperformance is unfortunately likely to reinforce both individual and institutional investors’ views that it is wise to be under-diversified.

8. Small cap value, I think, will be the U.S.’s best performing size/style segment. Small banks’ outperformance might be the biggest surprise for 2010.

9. Financial regulation will progress, but the bull market will probably aid politicians’ “forgetfulness”. As a result, new regulation could be relatively meaningless. In my opinion, serious regulation won’t occur until after the next downturn, which could be worse if no meaningful new regulation is implemented in 2010.

10. I think the Democrats will do better in the 2010 mid-term elections than people currently think they will. It seems very likely to me that in December 2010, investors will look back on the year and realize that monetary and fiscal policy stimulus still works.

Personally, let's see:

I think 2010 will grind along much as '09 did, although at some point we'll see a crisis in real estate (both commerical & residential).  TPTB will continue monkeying around with the Dollar, Gold/Silver, QE in the equity & bond markets.  Nothing catastrophic will go down, but there will be a growing sense of unease as the gyrations in the economy get bigger -- i.e., the wheels don't come off, but they sure get wobblier.

Sager (above quote) I agree with your take completely! I plan to add to only physical goods that I have the room to warehouse plus I hope gold drops below 1000 again & will add.

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National Inflation Association's 2010 Predictions
NIA's Top 10 Predictions for 2010
 
The National Inflation Association is pleased to announce its top 10 predictions for 2010.
 
 
1) We will learn the 2009 holiday shopping season was a bust.

The Commerce Department reported seasonally adjusted November retail sales up 1.3% from October. However, if you apply the average seasonal adjustments that were used during the years 2006 and 2007, which account for a normal spike in November sales due to the holiday shopping season, retail sales were actually down 1.3% in November.

NIA believes any year-over-year increase in 2009 holiday season retail sales will be bottom bouncing from 2008 and not an indication of an economic recovery. Most likely, adjusted for inflation, retail sales will be flat over a year ago. We expect to see a sharp sell off in many retail stocks, as a full economic recovery appears to be already priced into their share prices.

2) We will see a major decline in the Dow/Gold ratio.

The Dow/Gold ratio is currently 9.3, having bounced from the low of 7 it saw in early 2009. We are likely to see a decline in the Dow/Gold ratio to below 7 in 2010.

Many people who have bought U.S. stocks on the bet of an economic recovery, will soon realize the economy is not recovering and stocks have been rallying only due to inflation. Although some people selling stocks may once again mistakenly move to the U.S. dollar as a safe haven, we believe an increasing amount of people will avoid the U.S. dollar and buy gold as a safe haven.

3) We will see a sharp decline in the Gold/Silver ratio.

The Gold/Silver ratio is currently 64, above the average of the past 100 years of 50. Between the years 1,000 and 1,873 when silver was used as real money, the Gold/Silver ratio traded between 10 and 16. In recent history, the Gold/Silver ratio dipped below 20 on two occasions, once in 1968 and once again in 1980.

NIA believes silver prices will continue to outperform gold in 2010, as the world once again begins looking at silver as money, instead of just an industrial metal. The Gold/Silver ratio could decline to below 50 in 2010.

4) The U.S. Dollar Index will see short-term bounce, then huge crash.

We are at a point where there are more people who are bearish on the U.S. dollar than ever before, which means from a technical standpoint it is overdue for a short-term bounce. However, we would not consider going long the dollar even as a trade. A huge crash in the U.S. dollar could occur at any time.

The world has become flooded with U.S. dollars. Foreigners currently hold over $10 trillion in dollar-denominated assets that can be dumped at any time. With the Federal Reserve continuing to expand its monetary base to record highs, as soon as banks begin lending their excess reserves we could see a spike in consumer prices and a rush to get out of U.S. dollars.

5) Oil will rise back above $100 per barrel.

We expect oil's next rise above $100 per barrel to be fueled almost entirely by inflation. This time around, it won't matter if there's another substantial decline in oil demand from the U.S. We expect oil prices to rise regardless of if Americans can afford it or not.

NIA believes any decrease in demand from the U.S. will be more than made up for by increasing demand from China and India. There hasn't been any major new oil discoveries made in decades and the Federal Reserve's printing of money will surely outpace the discovery of new oil fields.

6) There will be a move towards a Libertarian third-party.

Americans are waking up to the charade that has been taking place in Washington. Power has been going back and forth between two political parties who do nothing but multiply each other's mistakes. Both the Democrats and Republicans are equally responsible for the economic mess our country is in today.

In the last Presidential election, Americans had a choice between two candidates who both supported the government's destructive stimulus plans and bailouts. In the next Presidential election, we believe a third-party candidate will have a serious chance of being elected for the first time in history. We anticipate seeing a new leader emerge and a Libertarian movement begin in 2010.

7) Peter Schiff and Rand Paul will both win Republican primaries and be elected to U.S. Senate.

We are huge supporters of Peter Schiff and Rand Paul who are seeking the Republican nominations for U.S. Senate in the states of Connecticut and Kentucky respectively. They are both Libertarians at heart but realize their best chance to be elected is to run under the title of a Republican.

We need Peter Schiff and Rand Paul to join Ron Paul in Washington so that we at least have three elected representatives that understand the truth about our economy and the need to reverse the hyperinflationary course our country is currently on. Although they may be underdogs because they don't have the support of special interest groups, Peter Schiff and Rand Paul will have huge grassroots support from educated Americans who will travel from all states to volunteer for their campaigns.

8) Large 'End the Fed' Protests.

In 2009, hundreds of people gathered for several 'End the Fed' protests in front of Federal Reserve buildings nationwide. However, the turnout for these events paled in comparison to the millions of Americans who participated in health care protests and town hall meetings.

In 2010, more Americans will realize that it is the Federal Reserve that is the cause of most of our nation's economic problems. While the health care debate divided our nation 50/50, we believe 100% of all Americans will want to end the Federal Reserve as prices of food and other goods needed to live start rising through the roof.

9) Major Food Shortages.

For the past several decades, most Americans went to college to get a non-productive job on Wall Street and nobody went to school to become a farmer. There is currently a major lack of farmers in the U.S. and to make matters worse, the Real Estate bubble destroyed immeasurable amounts of farmland to build houses we didn't need and couldn't afford.

Inventories of agricultural products are the lowest they have been in decades yet the prices of many agricultural commodities are down 70% to 80% from their all time highs adjusted for real inflation. Catastrophic food shortages are possible in 2010, not just in the U.S. but all around the world.

10) Paul Volcker Resigns.

This may be a long shot but Paul Volcker, Chairman of President Obama's Economic Recovery Advisory Board, could become frustrated with the Obama administration and resign in 2010. Paul Volcker, as former Chairman of the Federal Reserve, was responsible for getting our economy out of the inflationary crisis of the 1970s by raising the federal funds rate up to a peak of 20%.

With interest rates currently being held by the Federal Reserve at an artificially low level of 0%, we believe Paul Volcker must know that a currency crisis is coming that will make the inflation of the 1970s look miniscule. If Paul Volcker wants to preserve his reputation and legacy, he must leave the Obama administration, which is unlikely to seriously consider any of his advice.
 
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Re: 2010 Predictions

I think 2010 will be a contrarian's dream.  Meaning that nothing of real negative consequence will occur.

The US and global economies will continue to have statistical improvements across all metrics (fudged or otherwise). The "bad news" will be anecdotal and largely impact those people, cities, countries, etc., that weren't well-off to begin with and probably would have had hard times regardless of the macro picture.

Stocks up, USD flat/up, metals down.

Another frustrating year for ecological and economic moralists of all stripes. 

Translation: Deficits, debt, and growing your own food still won't matter.

Even the ultra-apocalyptic Automatic Earth (referenced above) could only essentially come up with debt as a problem. This from the same people who claimed petroleum products would no longer be available to the general population within five years' time.

There's also probably a decent chance of some kind of doom backlash as well. Certainly not the kind of environment conducive to conversations about canning one's own food.  

 

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Re: 2010 Predictions

After further thought -- and reading -- seems to me 2010 will see some kind of big security crackdown in the EU (against the protestors/so-called anarchists/etc.).  May lead to the laying of (further) groundwork to arrest/prosecute same here in the USA.  There's not been much in the way of substantive protests here yet, but I figger TPTB will use the EU crackdown to up the ante against potential unrest here.

Viva -- Sager

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Re: 2010 Predictions
Quote:
The US economy will follow Japan-style modern deflation, only without the export trade of Japan, things will be much worse for the US. 

This reminded me of a recent post over at dshort.com:

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Did Anyone Get 2009 Right?

This is off-topic, but both Gerald "give me attention" Celente and Karl Denninger were way-off on their 2009 forecasts.

Did anybody get 2009 right, or even close?

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Re: 2010 Predictions

Do I count? Laughing

I checked my notebook today and I had gold at $1250 year and, and Dow 9,000. Eh, not too bad!

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Re: Did Anyone Get 2009 Right?
JAG wrote:

This is off-topic, but both Gerald "give me attention" Celente and Karl Denninger were way-off on their 2009 forecasts.

Did anybody get 2009 right, or even close?

You know. I was mumbling something similar in my head too. Celente and Denninger are polar opposites. Both missed the boat. 

Shedlock and Schiff. Very antipodal in many ways. Both missed the boat. 

Even the sober John Williams. Completely off the mark. 

So, it's been a rough year for all the prognosticators. Lessons in life continually learned or reinforced,. 

The markets can remain irrational longer than you and I can remain solvent. Prepare for all turns, all tracks, and don't bet the farm on one outcome. 

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Re: 2010 Predictions
joemanc wrote:

Do I count? Laughing

I checked my notebook today and I had gold at $1250 year and, and Dow 9,000. Eh, not too bad!

Do you offer a subscription forecast service Joe?Surprised

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Re: 2010 Predictions

Predictions are a little futile don't you think, none of us really know what is going to happen in the coming years.  To me predictions are like gambling, if your predictions come true you will be sure to let everyone know.  On the other hand if they don't come to pass it's pretty likely that we won't here a thing.  I would like to give my predictions, not about international, national or even city news items, but things that I see happening to me and my small community around me for 2010.

  I predict that I will not have any new grandchildren in 2010.  I had a wonderful energetic grandson (Hunter) born in 2007, a delightfully dainty granddaughter (Olive) born in 2008 and a happier than ever grandson (Aaron) born in 2009.  But a think 2010 will be an off year.  Grandchildren are just the BEST.  We have a saying on the wall in our kitchen area, "Grandchildren complete the circle of love" how true that is.

  I predict that I will be busy.  There is nothing like having something to do and to feel good about doing it.  We should not be idle, and I will not be.  Even in the situation that I find myself in at this time (unemployed for 3 months) does not keep me from staying busy.  There are plenty of things to do and I'll just get them done.

  I predict that I will grow a nice garden this summer.  I love to grow things and to savor the fruits of that effort.  It may be very much needed or may not be needed at all, but I will still do it because I enjoy it.

  I predict that I will be happy and sad, healthy and sick, forgetful and sometimes not, helpful and sometime in need of help.  That is just the way life is and is meant to be.  We have the freedom to be able to choose and I for one will use that choice, hopefully wisely.

  I predict that my neighborhood will be closer .  This past year I have observed many things that have made it closer and this will continue.  We will share our abundance of produce, service and most importantly our love.   This may happen out of neccesity as times get harder or it may just be that it will happen because we truly do love and care about each other.  I have wonderful next door neighbors.  We share with each other and serve each other.  This past fall my neighbor and I had a job to do.  He saw that the fence between us needed some repair.  We had to replace some of the posts.  He really did most of the work and I was there for a little encouragement.  We had a good time working together at least I did.  This is the kind of thing that I see happening more and more in our little community.

  As you can see these items are not really predictions but are more like goals or things that I would like to see happen.  My goal is to make our community a better place as we work and learn together in 2010.   Happy New Year!

Gary

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Re: 2010 Predictions

Something will happen.

Most of you reading this will manage through "it".

More people will start to smell the odor emanating from DC and there will be an initial successful effort to take out the red and blue garbage from the Halls of Congress.

Something else will happen.

Repeat ad infinitum.

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Re: 2010 Predictions

I think the 2010 elections should be interesting. By then the stagflation or double dip (Timmy's recent comments not withstanding) or ??? should be readily apparent to the masses. I think a growing minority is starting to care because they no longer can afford not to. We will have to see which direction the public throws its energy...

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Mish's 2010 Predictions

Frisby's Bulls and Bears: 2010 Predictions with Mish Interview

Mish sees the following as likely in 2010:

  • Possible headfake top in equities in early 2010.
  • Markets should retest March lows and then move in sideways chop over next decade.
  • Dollar rally should make 82.5 easy, and possibly extend all the way to 92+.
  • Looking for a buying opportunity in gold around $975 or possibly lower. Long-term bullish on gold.
  • Very bearish on silver and copper.
  • Looking for China to implode.
  • Very bearish on safe-haven commodity plays (and Canada)
  • Treasuries are not likely to be the safe-haven play they were in 2008.
  • There may be no safe-haven play in 2010.
  • Sit in cash and look for opportunity to buy gold sub-$1000.
  • S&P at 500 is fairly valued.
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Re: 2010 Predictions

The Year Ahead    

Jim Kunstler 

     Just about everything which evaded fate via gamed numbers, budgets, and balance sheets in 2009 seems destined to hit a wall in 2010.  To pick an arbitrary starting point, it is hard to see how states like California and New York can keep staving off monumental changes in their scale of operations with further budget trickery.  Those cans they've been kicking down the street have fallen through the sewer grate.  What will they do?  They can massively raise taxes or massively lay off employees and default on obligations - or they can do all these things. The net result will be populations with less income, arguably impoverished, suffering, and perhaps very angry about it.  Welcome to reality.  Will Washington bail the states out, too?  I wouldn't be surprised to see them pretend to do so, but not without immense collateral damage in everybody's legitimacy and surely an increase in US treasury interest rates.

      But backing up a moment, I'm writing between Christmas and New Year's Eve. The frenzied distractions of the holidays ongoing for much of Q4-2009 are still in force.  In a week or so, when the Christmas trees are hauled out to the curbs (and it turns out that municipal garbage pickup has been curtailed for lack of funds) a picture will start to emerge of exactly how retail sales went leading up to the big climax. My guess is that sales were dismal. Reports of such will start a train of events that sends many retail companies careening into bankruptcy, including some national chains, leading to lost leases in malls and strip malls, leading to a final push off the cliff for commercial real estate, leading to the failure of many local and regional banks, leading to the bankrupt FDIC having to go to congress directly to get more money to bail out the depositors, leading again to rising interest rates for US treasuries, leading to higher mortgage interest rates for whoever out there is crazy enough to venture to buy a house with borrowed money, leading to the probability that there are few of the foregoing, leading to another hard leg down in house values because so few are now crazy enough to buy a house in the face of falling prices - all of this leading to the recognition that we have entered a serious depression, which is only a facet of the greater period of hardship we have also entered, which I call The Long Emergency.

      This depression will be a classic deleveraging, or resolution of debt. Debt will either be paid back or defaulted on.  Since a lot can't be paid back, a lot of it will have to be defaulted on, which will make a lot of money disappear, which will make many people a lot poorer. President Obama will be faced with a basic choice.  He can either make the situation worse by offering more bailouts and similar moves aimed at stopping the deleveraging process - that is, continue what he has been doing, only perhaps twice as much, which may crash the system more rapidly - or he can recognize the larger trends in The Long Emergency and begin marshalling our remaining collective resources to restructure the economy along less complex and more local lines. Don't count on that.

      Of course, this downscaling will happen whether we want it or not. It's really a matter of whether we go along with it consciously and intelligently - or just let things slide. Paradoxically and unfortunately in this situation, the federal government is apt to become ever more ineffectual in its ability to manage anything, no matter how many times Mr. Obama comes on television. Does this leave him as a kind of national camp counselor trying to offer consolation to the suffering American people, without being able to really affect the way the "workout" works out? Was Franklin Roosevelt really much more than an affable presence on the radio in a dark time that had to take its course and was only resolved by a global convulsion that left the USA standing in a smoldering field of prostrate losers?

     One wild card is how angry the American people might get.  Unlike the 1930s, we are no longer a nation who call each other "Mister" and "Ma'am," where even the down-and-out wear neckties and speak a discernible variant of regular English, where hoboes say "thank you," and where, in short, there is something like a common culture of shared values.  We're a nation of thugs and louts with flames tattooed on our necks, who call each other "motherfucker" and are skilled only in playing video games based on mass murder. The masses of Roosevelt's time were coming off decades of programmed, regimented work, where people showed up in well-run factories and schools and pretty much behaved themselves. In my view, that's one of the reasons that the US didn't explode in political violence during the Great Depression of the 1930s - the discipline and fortitude of the citizenry.  The sheer weight of demoralization now is so titanic that it is very hard to imagine the people of the USA pulling together for anything beyond the most superficial ceremonies - placing teddy bears on a crash site.  And forget about discipline and fortitude in a nation of ADD victims and self-esteem seekers.

     I believe we will see the outbreak of civil disturbance at many levels in 2010.  One will be plain old crime against property and persons, especially where the sense of community is flimsy-to-nonexistent, and that includes most of suburban America. The automobile is a fabulous aid to crime. People can commit crimes in Skokie and be back home in Racine before supper (if supper is anything besides a pepperoni stick and some Hostess Ho-Hos in the car). Fewer police will be on guard due to budget shortfalls.

      I think we'll see a variety-pack of political disturbance led first by people who are just plain pissed off at government and corporations and seek to damage property belonging to these entities. The ideologically-driven will offer up "revolutionary" action to redefine some lost national sense of purpose. Some of the most dangerous players such as the political racialists, the posse comitatus types, the totalitarian populists, have been out-of-sight for years. They'll come out of the woodwork and join the contest over dwindling resources. Both the Left and the Right are capable of violence. But since the Left is ostensibly already in power, the Right is in a better position to mount a real challenge to office-holders. Their ideas may be savage and ridiculous, but they could easily sweep the 2010 elections - unless we see the rise of a third party (or perhaps several parties). No sign of that yet. Personally, I'd like to see figures like Christopher Dodd and Barney Frank sent packing, though I'm a registered Democrat. In the year ahead, the sense of contraction will be palpable and huge. Losses will be obvious.  No amount of jive-talking will convince the public that they are experiencing "recovery."  Everything familiar and comforting will begin receding toward the horizon.

Markets and Money 

     I'll take another leap of faith and say that 6600 was not the bottom for the Dow. I've said Dow 4000 for three years in a row.  Okay, my timing has been off.  But I still believe this is its destination.  Given the currency situation, and the dilemma of no-growth Ponzi economies, I'll call it again for this year: Dow 4000. There, I said it. Laugh if you will....

    I'm with those who see the dollar strengthening for at least the first half of 2010, and other assets falling in value, especially the stock markets. The dollar could wither later on in the year and maybe take a turn into high inflation as US treasury interest rates shoot up in an environment of a global bond glut.  That doesn't mean the stock markets will bounce back because the US economy will only sink into greater disorder when interest rates rise.

        Right now there are ample signs of trouble with the Euro. It made a stunning downward move the past two weeks.  European banks took the biggest hit in the Dubai default.  Now they face the prospect of sovereign default in Greece, the Baltic nations (Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania), the Balkan nations (Serbia, et al), Spain, Portugal, Italy, Ireland, Iceland and the former soviet bloc of Eastern Europe. England is a train wreck of its own (though not tied into the Euro), and even France may be in trouble.  That leaves very few European nations standing.  Namely Germany and Scandanavia (and I just plain don't know about Austria). What will Europe do?  Really, what will Germany do? Probably reconstruct something like the German Deutschmark only call it something else... the Alt.Euro?  As one wag said on the Net: sovereign debt is the new sub-prime! The Euro is in a deeper slog right now than the US dollar (even with our fantastic problems), so I see the dollar rising in relation to the Euro, at least for a while. I'd park cash in three month treasury bills - don't expect any return - for safety in the first half of 2010. I wouldn't touch long-term US debt paper with a carbon-fiber sixty foot pole.

       I'm still not among those who see China rising into a position of supremacy.  In fact, they have many reasons of their own to tank, including the loss of the major market for their manufactured goods, vast ecological problems, de-stabilizing demographic shifts within the nation, and probably a food crisis in 2010 (more about this later).

     Though a seemingly more stable nation than the US, with a disciplined population and a strong common culture with shared values, Japan's financial disarray runs so deep that it could crash its government even before ours.  It has no fossil fuels of its own whatsoever.  And in a de-industrializing world, how can an industrial economy sustain itself? Japan might become a showcase for The Long Emergency.  On the other hand, if it gets there first and makes the necessary adjustments, which is possible given their discipline and common culture, they may become THE society to emulate!

     I'm also not convinced that so-called "emerging markets" are places where money will dependably earn interest, profits, or dividends.  Contraction will be everywhere. I even think the price of gold will retrace somewhere between $750 and $1000 for a while, though precious metals will hold substantial value under any conditions short of Hobbesian chaos. People flock to gold out of uncertainty, not just a bet on inflation. My guess is that gold and silver will eventually head back up in value to heights previously never imagined, and it would be wise to own some. I do not believe that the federal government could confiscate personal gold again the way it did in 1933. There are too many pissed off people with too many guns out there - and I'm sure there is a correlation between owners of guns with owners of gold and levels of pissed-offness.  A botched attempt to take gold away from citizens would only emphasize the impotence of the federal government, leading to further erosion of legitimacy.

            Bottom line for markets and money in 2010: so many things will be out of whack that making money work via the traditional routes of compound interest or dividends will be nearly impossible. There's money to be made in shorting and arbitrage and speculation, but that requires nerves of steel and lots and lots of luck.  Those dependent on income from regular investment will be hurt badly.  For most of us, capital preservation will be as good as it gets - and there's always the chance the dollar will enter the hyper-inflationary twilight zone and wipe out everything and everyone connected with it.

Peak Oil

      It's still out there, very much out there, a huge unseen presence in the story, the true ghost-in-the-machine, eating away at economies every day.  It slipped offstage in 2009 after the oil spike of 2008 ($147/barrel) over-corrected in early 2009 to the low $30s/barrel.  Now it's retraced about halfway back to the mid-$70s.  One way of looking at the situation is as follows.  Oil priced above $75 begins to squeeze the US economy; oil priced over $85 tends to crush the US economy.  You can see where we are now with oil prices closing on Christmas Eve at $78/barrel.

     Among the many wishful delusions operating currently is the idea that the Bakken oil play in Dakota / Montana will save Happy Motoring for America, and that the Appalachian shale gas plays will kick in to make us energy independent for a century to come.  Americans are likely to be disappointed by these things.

       Both Bakken and the shale gas are based on techniques for using horizontal drilling through "tight" rock strata that is fractured with pressurized water. It works, but it's not at all cheap, creates plenty of environmental mischief, and may end up being only marginally productive. At best, Bakken is predicted to produce around 400,000 barrels of oil a day.  That's not much in a nation that uses close to 20 million barrels a day.  Shale gas works too, though the wells deplete shockingly fast and will require the massive deployment of new drilling rigs (do we even have the steel for this?). I doubt it can be produced for under $10 a unit (mm/BTUs) and currently the price of gas is in the $5 range. In any case, we're not going to run the US motor vehicle fleet on natural gas, despite wishful thinking.

     Several other story elements in the oil drama have remained on track to make our lives more difficult.  Oil export rates continue to decline more steeply than oil field depletion rates.  Exporters like Iran, Mexico, Saudi Arabia, Venezuela, are using evermore of the oil they produce (often as state-subsidized cheap gasoline), even as their production rates go down.  So, they have less oil to sell to importers like the USA - and we import more than 60 percent of the oil we use. Mexico's Pemex is in such a sorry state, with its principal Cantarell field production falling off a cliff, that the USA's number three source of imported oil may be able to sell us nothing whatsoever in just 24 months.  Is there any public discussion about this in the USA?  No. Do we have a plan?  No.

     A new wrinkle in the story developing especially since the financial crisis happened, is the shortage of capital for new oil exploration and production - meaning that we have even poorer prospects of offsetting world-wide oil depletion.  The capital shortage will also affect development in the Bakken play and the Marcellus shale gas range.

            Industrial economies are still at the mercy of peak oil.  This basic fact of life means that we can't expect the regular cyclical growth in productive activity that formed the baseline parameters for modern capital finance - meaning that we can't run on revolving credit anymore because growth simply isn't there to create real surplus wealth to pay down debt.  The past 20 years we've seen the institutions of capital finance pretend to create growth where there is no growth by expanding financial casino games of chance and extracting profits, commissions, and bonuses from the management of these games - mortgage backed securities, collateralized debt obligations, credit default swaps, and all the rest of the tricks dreamed up as America's industrial economy was shipped off to the Third World.  But that set of rackets had a limited life span and they ran into a wall in October 2008. Since then it's all come down to a shell game: hide the giant pea of defaulted debt under a giant walnut shell.

       Yet another part of the story is the wish that the failing fossil fuel industrial economy would segue seamlessly into an alt-energy industrial economy.  This just isn't happening, despite the warm, fuzzy TV commercials about electric cars and "green" technology.  The sad truth of the matter is that we face the need to fundamentally restructure the way we live and what we do in North America, and probably along the lines of much more modest expectations, and with very different practical arrangements in everything from the very nature of work to household configurations, transportation, farming, capital formation, and the shape-and-scale of our settlements.  This is not just a matter of re-tuning what we have now.  It means letting go of much of it, especially our investments in suburbia and motoring - something that the American public still isn't ready to face.  They may never be ready to face this and that is why we may never make a successful transition to whatever the next economy is.  Rather, we will undertake a campaign to sustain the unsustainable and sink into poverty and disorder as we fight over the table scraps of the old economy... and when the smoke clears nothing new will have been built.

       President Obama has spent his first year in office, and billions of dollars, trying to prop up the floundering car-makers and more generally the motoring system with "stimulus" for "shovel-ready" highway projects.  This is exactly the kind of campaign to sustain the unsustainable that I mean.  Motoring is in the process of failing and now for reasons that even we peak oilers didn't anticipate a year ago. It's no longer just about the price of gasoline.  The crisis of capital is making car loans much harder to get, and if Americans can't buy cars on installment loans, they are not going to buy cars, and eventually they will not be driving cars they can't buy. The same crisis of capital is now depriving the states, counties, and municipalities of the means to maintain the massive paved highway and street system in this country. Just a few years of not attending to that will leave the system unworkable.

     Meanwhile President Obama has given next-to-zero money or attention to public transit, to repairing the passenger railroad system in particular.  I maintain that if we don't repair this system, Americans will not be traveling very far from home in a decade or so. Therefore, Mr. Obama's actions vis-à-vis transportation are not an intelligent response to our situation.  And for very similar reasons, the proposal for a totally electric motor vehicle fleet, as a so-called "solution" to the liquid fuels problem, is equally unintelligent and tragic. Of course something else that Mr. Obama has barely paid lip-service to is the desperate need to retool our living places as walkable communities. The government now, at all levels, virtually mandates suburban arrangements of the most extremely car-dependent kind. Changing this has to move near the top of a national emergency priority list, if we have one.

     Even with somewhat lower oil prices in 2009, the airlines still hemorrhaged losses in the billions, and if the oil price remains in the current zone some of them will fall back into bankruptcy in 2010.  Oil prices may go down again in response to crippled economies, but then so will passengers looking to fly anywhere, especially the business fliers that the airlines have depended on to fill the higher-priced seats. I believe United will be the first one to go down in 2010, a hateful moron of a company that deserves to die.

     My forecast for oil prices this year is extreme volatility.  A strengthening dollar might send oil prices down (though that relationship has temporarily broken down this December as both oil prices and the dollar went up in tandem for the first time in memory). So could the cratering of the stock markets, or a general apprehension of a floundering economy.  But the oil export situation also means there is less and less wiggle room every month for supply to keep pace with demand, even in struggling economies if they are dependent on foreign imports. Another part of the story that we don't pay attention to is the potential for oil scarcities, shortages, and hoarding. We may see the reemergence of those trends in 2010 for the first times since 1979.

Geopolitics 

     The retracement of oil prices in 2009 took place against a background of relative quiet on the geopolitical scene.  With economies around the world sinking into even deeper extremis in 2010, friction and instability are more likely. The more likely locales for this are the places where most of the world's remaining oil is: the Middle East and Central Asia. The American army is already there, in Iraq and Afghanistan, with an overt pledge to up-the-ante in Afghanistan. It's hard to imagine a happy ending in all this. It's increasingly hard to even imagine a strategic justification for it.  My current (weakly-held) notion is that America wants to make a baloney sandwich out of Iran, with American armies in Iraq and Afghanistan as the Wonder Bread, to "keep the pressure on" Iran. Well, after quite a few years, it doesn't seem to be moderating or influencing Iran's behavior in any way. Meanwhile, Pakistan becomes more chaotic every week and our presence in the Islamic world stimulates more Islamic extremist hatred against the USA. Speaking of Pakistan, there is the matter of its neighbor and adversary, India. If there is another terror attack by Pakistan on the order of last year's against various targets in Mumbai, I believe the response by India is liable to be severe next time, leading to God-knows-what, considering both countries have plenty of atom bombs.

      Otherwise, the idea that we can control indigenous tribal populations in some of Asia's most forbidding terrain seems laughable. I don't have to rehearse the whole "graveyard of empires" routine here. But what possible geo-strategic advantage is in this for us?  What would it matter if we pacified all the Taliban or al Qaeda in Afghanistan? Most of the hardest core maniacs are next door in Pakistan.  Even if we turned Afghanistan into Idaho-East, with Kabul as the next Sun Valley, complete with Ralph Lauren shops and Mario Batali bistros, Pakistan would remain every bit as chaotic and dangerous in terms of supplying the world with terrorists. And how long would we expect to remain in Afghanistan pacifying the population?  Five years?  Ten Years? Forever? It's a ridiculous project. Loose talk on the web suggests our hidden agenda there was to protect a Conoco pipeline out of Tajikistan, but that seems equally absurd on several grounds.  I can't see Afghanistan as anything but a sucking chest wound for dollars, soldiers' lives, and American prestige.

     What's more, our presence there seems likely to stimulate more terror incidents here in the USA. We've been supernaturally lucky since 2001 that there hasn't been another incident of mass murder, even something as easy and straightforward as a shopping mall massacre or a bomb in a subway.  Our luck is bound to run out.  There are too many "soft" targets and our borders are too squishy. Small arms and explosives are easy to get in the USA.  I predict that 2010 may be the year our luck does run out.  Even before the start of the year we've seen the attempted Christmas bombing of Northwest-KLM flight 253 (Amsterdam to Detroit). One consequence of this is that it will only make air travel more unpleasant for everybody in the USA as new rules are instated limiting bathroom trips and blankets in the final hour of flight.

      As far as the USA is concerned, I think we have more to worry about from Mexico than Afghanistan. In 2009, the Mexican government slipped ever deeper into impotence against the giant criminal cartels there. As the Cantarell oil field waters out, revenue from Pemex to the national government will wither away and so will the government's ability to control anything there. The next president of Mexico may be an ambitious gangster straight out of the drug cartels, Pancho Villa on steroids.

      Another potential world locale for conflict may be Europe as the European Union begins to implode under the strains of the monetary system. The weaker nations default on their obligations and Germany, especially, looks to insulate itself from the damage.  Except for the fiasco in Yugoslavia's breakup years ago, Europe has been strikingly peaceful for half a century.  For most of us now living who have visited there, it is almost impossible to imagine how violent and crazy the continent was in the early twentieth century. I wonder what might happen there now, with more than a few nations failing economically and the dogs of extreme politics perhaps loosed again.  History is ironical.  Perhaps this time the Germans will be the good guys, while England goes apeshit with its BNP.  Wouldn't that be something?

     One big new subplot in world politics this year may be the global food shortage that is shaping up as a result of spectacular crop failures in most of the major farming regions of the world.  The American grain belt was hit by cold and wet weather and the harvest was a disaster, especially for soybeans, of which the USA produces at least three-quarters of the world's supply.  Crops have also failed in Northern China's wheat-growing region, in Australia, Argentina, and India. The result may range from extremely high food prices in the developed world to starvation in other places, leading to grave political instability and desperate fights over resources. We'll have an idea where this is leading by springtime. It maybe the most potent sub-plot in the story for 2010.

Conclusions

     The Long Emergency is officially underway.  Reality is telling us very clearly to prepare for a new way of life in the USA. We're in desperate need of decomplexifying, re-localizing, downscaling, and re-humanizing American life.  It doesn't mean that we will be a lesser people or that we will not recognize our own culture.  In some respects, I think it means we must return to some traditional American life-ways that we abandoned for the cheap oil life of convenience, comfort, obesity, and social atomization.

     The successful people in America moving forward will be those who attach themselves to cohesive local communities, places with integral local economies and sturdy social networks, especially places that can produce a significant amount of their own food. I don't think that we'll be living in a world without money, some medium of exchange above barter, but it may not come in the form of dollars. My guess is that for a while it may be gold and silver, or possibly certificates issued by bank-like institutions representing gold-on-hand. In any case, I doubt we'll arrive there this year. This is more likely to be the year of grand monetary disorders and continued shocking economic contraction.

     Political upheaval can get underway pretty quickly, without a whole lot of warning.  I'm still waiting to hear the announced 2009 bonuses for the employees of the TBTF banks.  All they said before Christmas was that thirty top Goldman Sachs employees would be paid in stock instead of money this year, but no other big banks have made a peep yet.  I suppose they'll have to in the four days before New Years.  I still think that could be the moment that shoves some disgruntled Americans into the arena of protest and revolt.  Beyond that, though, there is plenty room for emotions to run wild and for behavior to get weird.

        President Obama will have to make some pretty drastic moves to salvage his credibility. I see no sign of any intention to seriously investigate or prosecute financial crimes. Yet the evidence of misdeeds piles higher and higher - just this week new comprehensive reports of Goldman Sachs's irregularities in shorting their own issues of mortgage-backed securities, and a report on the Treasury Department's issuance of treasuries to "back-door" dumpers of toxic mortgage backed securities. And on Christmas Eve, when nobody was looking, the Treasury lifted the ceiling on Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac's backstop money to infinity. Even people like me who try to pay close attention to what's going on have lost track of all the various TARPs, TALFs, bailouts, stimuli, ZIRP loans, and handovers to every bank and its uncle in the land.

     Good luck to readers in 2010. To paraphrase Tiny Tim: God help us, every one....

EndGamePlayer's picture
EndGamePlayer
Status: Platinum Member (Offline)
Joined: Sep 2 2008
Posts: 546
Re: 2010 Predictions-Wow

And I was just going to say the gov will keep adding to the national debt, implement more printing to try to maintain the status quo. My guess is they will continue to do this for a few years. IF we hear the truth from government officials, then the rest of the population may do the "panicy things" Martenson has talked about.

I will add to that - in the Movie Collapse -Ruppert describes first experiencing a "jagged plautea" where goods and services become scarcer and scarcer before total collapse. Once we start seeing that, the 3Es have hit the wall and the world will have to find another source of exchange, energy and way of life. Actually, Energy may become the new exchange (most people work for energy now, they just don't know it).   

Back to reading Dam's post . . . EGP

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