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2008 predictions in review

Posted on | December 30, 2008 | No Comments

Warming up this afternoon for a two-day New Year’s Eve celebration (Jackie Greene/Bob Weir and Phil Lesh tonight; local bands tomorrow), it’s only fitting to review my Jan. 1, 2008 predictions in this, the most tumultuous year in years. The Chinese say “May you live in interesting times,” and we’re certainly doing that, although many millions are suffering in interesting times.
Back in January I forecast the following:
1. Economy falls into recession
2. Bay Area traffic conditions improve
3. Green movement thrives and staggers at the same time
4. Pakistani government collapses; Iraq stabilizes
5. Obama wins presidency
6. Baseball does little in wake of steroid investigation
7. America gets healthier
8. Most predictions will fall short.

So how’d we do? Let’s put it this way, a career as an analyst and forecaster is not far away.

1. The economy, we’ve come to find out, actually fell into recession in December 2007, but we didn’t know it officially until late November of 2008. We got pounded this year, heralded as among the worst since the worst years of the Great Depression. 2009 won’t be much easier, although most of the world is desperate for it to be. Prediction result: Thumbs up.
2. Bay Area traffic conditions improve. At this point, this is anecdotal, but clearly the impact of widespread layoffs, which began to hit the Bay Area in the fall, is beginning to show itself on the roadways. Two other crucial factors play a role: Gas prices near $5 a gallon for most of the year forced millions to change their commute habits, and, two, roadway-improvement projects are easing congestion. Prediction result: Thumbs up.
3. Green movement thrives but staggers. Soaring gas prices coupled with a fierce desire to drive a new economy through green technology saw the green movement in the green for a good part of this year. But as oil prices started plummeting ($140 at peak down to now around $40) green started to oxidize a bit. Consumer demand and hoped-for returns seemed too far off with gas down to $1.80 a gallon. In addition, much of the VC money that is driving green tech startups has gone poof! in the financial collapse. Prediction result: Thumbs up.
4. Pakistani government collapses; Iraq stabilizes. Someday I may have a comfy chair at the Hoover Institute. Pakistan’s government didn’t collapse but Mussaraf was forced to resign mid-year and a new president was voted into office in September. The government still teeters on the brink in the wake of a major terror attack in Mumbai, India, alleged to have emerged from Pakistan and reports this week tell of Taliban fighters taking over more of the country’s northwestern provinces. In Iraq, the much-maligned “surge,” um, worked. Terror attacks and attacks on soldiers have fallen dramatically in 2008. Afghanistan is now the problem, and the Iraqis are hot to trot to get American forces the hell out. We are are too.
Prediction result: Thumbs nearly up.
5. Obama wins presidency. Not even the Obama cheerleaders at MSNBC were predicting this in January. In fact, Hillary Clinton was ascendant and things were looking dicey for Obama in the primaries. I figured McCain was too McCain-ish to make it past the GOP Convention and missed that prediction. Romney’s head wasn’t in the game, and no one should count out a Vietnam POW –at least until he picks an Alaskan hockey mom-conservative wannabe from Alaska to be his Veep running mate. Prediction result: Thumbs up.
6. Baseball does little in wake of steroid investigation. It didn’t, and that wasn’t much of a stretch prediction. Prediction result: Thumbs up but we sand-bagged that baby.
7. America gets healthier. Jury’s still out on this one. We spent part of Thanksgiving at Disneyland, always a barometer for America’s health. The trendiest thing in food today is loca-vores (eating locally and sustainably and healthily). That wasn’t on display in Anaheim.
Still, I can’t help feeling that the simplicity that a prolonged recession will bring on our fellow countrymen and women will have positive effects on health. Even if the motivation is cost, more people will bike, walk or take public transit to work. More will eat less crap. Prediction result: Thumbs down at this point.
8. Most predictions will fall short. Blew that one. Damn. Prediction result: Thumbs down.

A last statement on 2008 and one that’s not a stretch: I think every one of us is happy to see it vaporize. Here’s to a better ’09 and to your health. Watch for 2009 predictions in a few days!

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No Responses to “2008 predictions in review”

  1. mschneider
    December 30th, 2008 @ 5:49 pm

    Nice job on the predictions, Mr. Fuller. Any insight on which team will win this year’s Super Bowl? A trip to Vegas may be in order…

  2. Deb
    December 31st, 2008 @ 8:09 am

    Predictably, Mr Fuller, you are once again on target. God, how much do we love you?? Can you add music and lifestyle trends to the list? I need to know what to buy this spring…have a great night! Here’s to you.

  3. Loring Wirbel
    December 31st, 2008 @ 6:15 pm

    Hey, make sure a 2009 prediction on the economic front is along the line of “we don’t know how shitty the ‘shitty’ really is,” in reference to state and local budgets. All indicators are that the shock factors will really hit in mid-year, when all municipal services stop.

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