My Eurozone prediction was off, however. Not only did the EUpocalypse not reach a crescendo this year, but things went unusually quiet in the summer months as the Euro crisis was put on hold for the German election cycle. Things do seem to be taking off again now.
At the beginning of the year, I decided to throw my hat into the ring with all the other analysts and make some predictions for 2013. As I warned at the time, my predictions were almost guaranteed to be wrong in their specifics, but the general trends and ideas might be more or less correct. So let's see how I did.
2013 Prediction #1: The global hyperinflationary meltdown that one would expect from this tidal wave of stimulus spending will not arrive this year. Instead, the markets—now well and truly decoupled from any sense of economic reality from all of these central bank interventions—will stage a counterintuitive rally in the first half of the year. Stocks will soar on the promise of this wave of easy money. The hangover will not kick in until the second half of the year at the least. The QE3 purchases of Mortgage Backed Securities will continue to have its intended effect of artificially propping up the US housing market, which will continue its growth from last year. This will keep the US economy looking better than it is (with a lot of help from the book cookers at the BLS and the other government number-fudging agencies). The Eurozone will start to fall even further behind in the currency war because Germany will act as a brake on the stimulus function of the ECB. Thus the Euro will lose out as currencies around the world devalue against it, and Europeans (except perhaps for the Germans, who may be able to weather the storm) will suffer even more.
Results: Mixed. Certainly the hyperinflationary meltdown did not take place and the markets did boom, culminating in all time highs for the S&P and Dow this week after the taper madness infected the markets. And I also hit the nail on the head about QE3 propping up the housing market. In fact, if anything the housing market is reaching bubble-like levels all over again. My Eurozone prediction was off, however. Not only did the EUpocalypse not reach a crescendo this year, but things went unusually quiet in the summer months as the Euro crisis was put on hold for the German election cycle. Things do seem to be taking off again now (especially in Italy with the pitchfork protests) but I'd say this part of the prediction was a miss.
2013 Prediction #2: This first wave of Obamacare/fiscal cliff tax increases in the U.S. will only set the stage for a broader national conversation on the need for higher taxes across the board in the face of the national debt crisis. The media conversation will focus heavily on the idea that these taxes are meant for the “wealthy” who will be defined as anyone earning over $250,000. By the time the taxes are hardwired into law, the meaning of “wealthy” will have been vastly downgraded (evenutally meaning anyone earning over $75,000). Look for Obama to float a plan for a VAT tax and some form of carbon tax or cap-and-trade scheme in this critical first year of his lame duck session.
Results:Miss. The grander conversation about taxing the rich has not taken place this year. Obama did not float his VAT tax plan and carbon taxes are no closer to reality now than they ever have been in the US.
2013 Prediction #3: European anti-austerity protests will reach a crescendo in late spring / early summer, and a new set of emergency measures will be rolled out by the ECB on the condition that the bank be given more power to unilaterally intervene in individual economies. Sold to the public by a mouthpiece media, most will go along with it willingly. In Asia, the failure of last year's ASEAN talks will lead to increased pressure to form a united front on the South China Sea issue. Accordingly, a meaningless, toothless code of conduct for the waterways will be issued and pushed at this year's summit. (Meanwhile, behind the scenes, American defense contractors will continue raking in the billions from the de facto military answer to China's presumed naval aggressions.) In hilariously hypocritical fashion, however, the same establishment mouthpiece media that obediently touts every globalist initiative will do their best to ignore (or ridicule) the BRICS development bank, which will get off the ground at the upcoming BRICS summit in Durban in March.
Results: Mostly miss, some hit. As mentioned above, the Eurozone crisis failed to crescendo as predicted. Having said that, the ECB prediction wasn't far off; Draghi has been campaigning throughout the year for the ECB to consolidate power through coordination of a European bank bailout fund, culminating in an appearance in Brussels this week where he urged the European parliament to create a Single Resolution Mechanism for bank crises. As for ASEAN, their negotiations with China over a South China Sea “code of conduct” have gone nowhere this year, and have given no indication that any agreement is going to be hammered out anytime soon. Having said that, the defense contractor claim was spot on; spending in the region has ballooned this year on the back of the supposed growing menace of the Chi-coms. The BRICS prediction was a complete miss. The BRICS summit was a flop and the development bank did not materialize in the way many were predicting (although it's not off the table for future summits...).
2013 Prediction #4: The “responsibility to protect” card may yet be played in Syria, depending how the conflict plays out. If and when it looks like intervention is back on the table, expect the “international community” to once again start making the case that a “no fly zone” (i.e. bombing campaign) in the name of “protecting Syrians” is just what the doctor ordered. Meanwhile, a political crisis in Africa (perhaps in Yemen or Sudan) will create similar calls for foreign military intervention...and provide a convenient excuse for AFRICOM to continue squeezing its foot through the door into the African continent.
Results: Mostly hit. Certainly Syria remained on the boil throughout the year and we all saw what happened in the wake of the chemical weapons false flag and the run up to military intervention. The most surprising part of that whole episode was the fact that the mass protests that erupted actually managed to derail the headlong rush to war and an off-the-cuff remark from Kerry was pounced on by Putin to shame the US into remaining peaceful. The 'political crisis in Africa' prediction was particularly prescient, with France becoming embroiled in Mali and the Westgate shopping mall attack serving to further the African Al-Qaeda myth that is setting the stage for AFRICOM's expansion on the continent.
All in all, my 2013 predictions didn't pan out too badly. But perhaps that's because they were relatively safe predictions. This year, let's make some insanely specific predictions. Yes, they are almost inevitably going to prove inaccurate, but they can at least allow us to run some interesting thought experiments and see what trends we can discern. So, without further ado:
Bold Prediction for 2014 #1: North Korea's government will collapse this year. Chaos will follow. China will fear millions of refugees spilling across the border and into their country, but they'll fear the US or their allies stepping in to “restore order” on their doorstep even more. This will lead to a tense impasse when China implies there will be “consequences” if US troops try to cross over the border from South Korea. The impasse will be solved when an intense round of negotiations at the UN Security Council leads to the creation of a UN protectorate interim government in preparation for a reunification process with South Korea.
Reasoning: Earlier this month it was announced that Kim Jong-un's uncle, previously thought to be a favored advisor, was executed. Like everything else in North Korea, this incident is shrouded in mystery: when did the execution actually take place? Why did it happen? Does this signal an attempt by the military to isolate Kim Jong-un and increase their own power, or an attempt by Kim Jong-un to consolidate his power and more firmly assert his control over the country? There are a lot of questions here and very few answers. It is at least conceivable that Kim does not have full control over the country right now, and I don't think observers would be any more stunned by the collapse of his government than by any other piece of news. In the wake of such a collapse, all of the simmering tensions in the Asia-Pacific region would come to the fore, and it would be a potential flashpoint for military confrontation. Looking at the larger trend, however, in which Chinese-US tension is a smokescreen for the larger globalist agenda, it wouldn't be hard to imagine how turning to the UN could be the nice globalist “solution” to a North Korean nightmare.
Bold Prediction for 2014 #2: The 'revelations' of NSA spying will continue, causing a 'solution' to emerge: 'reform'! Ideas will fly fast and furious, with some floating the idea of impeaching Obama, and others suggesting a constituational amendement to deal with the idea of 'digital rights.' Ultimately, though, the political “consensus” will settle on the creation of a new oversight committee in Congress, the appointment of a 'Privacy Czar' by Obama to mirror the 'privacy commissioners' that exist in other countries, and a new set of rules and procedures for the intel community to follow for collecting various kinds of data on Americans. Snowden himself will leave Russia when his temporary asylum runs out in August, making his way to Iceland whereupon he will become a mysterious, hermit-like icon a la Assange, issuing pronouncements on digital security from time to time while pundits and government stooges fret about what to do about him.
Reasoning: We can already see the writing on the wall. A federal judge has just called the NSA spying program “Orwellian” and ruled it unconstitutional. An “expert” advisory panel is recommending that the phone records collection program be brought to an end...as if all the NSA is doing is collecting metadata on people's phone calls (hasn't the conversation moved past this by this point?). Politicians are looking for a way to save face (and, more importantly, save their seat in the next election), so expect lots of warm and fuzzy rhetoric about privacy and the 4th amendment in the coming months from the same cast and crew that have let these programs develop under their nose for the past couple of decades. Foreign leaders will also give blustery speeches expressing outrage that this is going on, while behind the scenes they're all doing it themselves and often cooperating with the NSA outright in order to do so. Everyone is looking for a way out and 'reform' is generally the easy political answer. Meanwhile, the idea will be in the back of everyone's head that Big Brother really is watching you at all times. Welcome to the Panopticon.
Bold Prediction for 2014 #3: People will finally stop waiting for the government to label GMO foods and protect them from the banksters and regulate labor practices and manage healthcare and bring criminals to justice and direct the economy and they'll start taking matters into their own hands. The idea of self-sufficiency will go viral and this will be the year of the non-GMO project and complementary currencies and boycotts and buycotts and open source everything and pirate internet and community gardens and just generally getting off the grid.
Reasoning: One can always dream...
And on that slightly optimistic note I look forward to continuing to cover the ups and downs and setbacks and solutions and hardships and triumphs with all of you in 2014. I hope you stay warm this winter, and my best wishes to all. May you have a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.