Wednesday, January 13, 2016

LIZ SMITH: Predictions ... Predictions ... Predictions ...

by Liz Smith

Predictions ... Predictions ... Predictions ...!

"PEOPLE who believe that commerce and money can save the world are wrong!" 

This was said to me by one of Wall Street's most fascinating and successful moneymakers. I will try not to embarrass him, as he is a guy with his heart in the right place. 

I try to be strictly scientific in my acceptance of super natural things but am beginning to fall right in line with those who peer into the past and future and believe that some kind of religion or spiritual belief is a "must" for great nations to endure.
HERE we are with almost half of January already over and events have kept me from telling you about an incredible year's end worth of predictions for 2016, all gathered together in one bunch by The Economist magazine. (They left Donald Trump out of the mix.  We shall see how that turns out.)

This issue — of the magazine that speaks with a collective voice and doesn't always use bylines — opened (and closed) with positive comments about Saudi Arabia and Iran "working it out" and with high hopes for the way China's economy was acting (Example: "In many ways China is stronger than ever.") The Economist was on the line though, saying that a nuclear test by North Korea might make China enter secret talks with the US.  

I loved reading the other guesswork of what is to come and what's happening.  (You can read and interpret The Economist for yourself but it is kind of expensive —
$15 at first and then it costs $48 every 3 months.  I'll tell you later about that.)

What follows is a sampling of The Economist's predictions. And I wouldn't have found time to read almost every page, but I was on an island with nothing else to do.

1. Techies think big about finding signals of alien life.  The Five-hundred-meter Aperture Spherical Telescope, in southwest China, will lend the world's most powerful ear to search ... China is also building the world's longest bridge, underwater tunnel and gas pipeline ... Panama will unveil the expanded canal ... Nicaragua may construct a rival canal ... The world's longest train tunnel will open in Switzerland after 20 years of digging.
The Aperture Spherical Telescope in southwest China.
2. The US will crank out two million jobs for a sixth straight year.

3. The British will decide to stay in the European Union, by a narrow margin. (They can drop out later because they'd never be allowed to rejoin.)
4. The era of record corporate profits will start to fade, meaning tougher emerging markets and rock bottom interest rates.

5. Unicorns (new private tech companies) will blossom in 2016.

6. The Rio de Janeiro Olympics will have to deal with doping and the events impact on Rio, but Dan Rosenheck writes, "The minute the torch arrives ... the public will stop caring about the stadiums and start caring about what happens inside them."
7. This very month the Netherlands take over EU's presidency for six months.

8. In Autumn, the Smithsonian will open a museum dedicated to African American History and Culture.

9. Brazil enters a second year of recession — its longest downturn since the 1930s.
10. Japan is lowering its voting age from 20 to 18, adding 2.4 million people to the electorate.

11. India's congress party faces near-extinction ... more than 50 million Hindus will bathe in the Ganges.
12.The first Disney resort in Shanghai opens. It's three times the size of Hong Kong's Disneyland. The Economist says it will be "authentically Disney and distinctly Chinese."

13. The war in Syria will drag on ... the wave of migrants will keep coming ... the Palestinian question will stay on the back burner ... Africa is developing a small middle class and Jonathan Rosenthal predicts it will have outsize effects in driving innovation ... a new railway will link Ethiopia's capital with the Red Sea state of Djibouti ... and Benjamin Sutherland says an American biotech startup called Pembient will reduce poaching and change the market for Rhino horn. So, Rhinos may be saved.
14. Orthodox Christian bishops will meet at the Topkapi Palace in Istanbul to try to see that Christianity keeps its weight in world affairs ... Pope Francis is celebrating a Holy Year and in February will send out Missionaries of Mercy, priests specially tasked in hearing confessions and giving absolution. The Holy Year ends November 20th ... 30 million pilgrims are expected to descend on Rome.

15. America will conduct the first at sea test of an electromagnetic rail gun that can fire projectiles 100 miles without explosives or propellants.

16. In April, Daylight Savings Time celebrates its 100th birthday. It is still going strong.
17. Sweden and Finland just might decide to join NATO. Russia won't be happy. Stagnation will drive Mr. Putin crazy. And his recklessness is dangerous.

18. Faith Popcorn, who has made herself famous for predicting, says the next big thing is "something no one seems to want to believe." She insists robots are coming and we will be merging, mating and morphing with them in spite of our terror at the thought.
19. My favorite story in this issue of The Economist is about a project for cleaning the ocean of tens of thousands of tons of floating plastic rubbish. It seemed an impossible task. But a teenage Dutch student named Boyan Slat thought of an idea for a simple way to gather garbage without killing sea creatures. "It took a teenager to think differently," writes Alun Anderson. I'm not going into details but you can read about it on page 153 of The Economist which is probably still on your newsstand.
Boyan Slat.
I also want to mention, for the sake of my movie star friend Tom Hanks, who believes the typewriter is immortal, that businesses can fight back from having data stolen from electronic networks. Edward Lucas writes, "Manual typewriters and carbon paper will be the must-have technology of 2016."
But I suggest you subscribe, I'm going to.

Call 855-499- 0711 and quote code: WPQ24 or visit economist.com/SpecialOffer/us and enter code: WPJ24.
 
Contact Liz Smith here.