A year ago, I wrote Ten Tame Predictions (Plus Bonuses).
News that Billy Idol (or was it Billy Kristol, I forget) has been offered a op-ed slot at the New York Times brought home the fact that Brooks, Broder, Krauthammer, Hiatt, Novak are not aberrations, and that the standards for punditry are in fact very low.
So, what the heck, I gave myself ten minutes to come up with ten very tame predictions for 2008. Let’s see how I do.
So, how did I do?
1. We’ll still be in two wars at the end of the year. Iraq and Afghanistan are not going to end. US soldiers and many foreign and domestic civilians will die due to war-related injuries. (Confidence: total.)
2. The selloff of US assets, both financial and non-financial, will accelerate in 2008. Media commentary will continue to celebrate it as a solution to short-term problems (insolvency, trade deficit, falling dollar) without noticing that it is the cause of multiple long-term problems (structural trade deficit as revenues flow abroad; moving of never center of corporate control off-shore; strategic reduction in both domestic and international policy flexibility). (Confidence: very high.)
3. The Presidential election will not be the Democratic blow-out so many pundits are currently predicting. A Democrat will win, but not by a landslide. (Confidence: moderate.)
Only 50%. A Democrat won, but it was by modern standards a landslide.
4. We will elect a Democratic Congress for the first time since 1994. (That is not a typo – what we have not is not in very many meaningful senses a Democratic Congress). (Confidence: moderate.)
So far, so good, but you never know what they'll be like when they actually start voting.
5. The Republican party will adopt the Democratic tactic known as the “circular firing squad.” But the Democratic party will not learn to be as disciplined as the GOP of the 80s, 90s or even the first half of the 2000’s. (Confidence: very high.)
75% Mostly correct as regards the GOP, although (despite Newt's best efforts) they aren't being quite as vicious as I expected. Correct as regards the Democrats.
6. Contrary to the upbeat predictions in my local paper (“Horrible year for housing should not repeat in ‘08”), the housing market will tank worse in 2008 than it did in 2007. (Confidence: total.)
7. By the end of 2008,the US will be or will have been in a recession. (Confidence: very high.)
8. The Fed will respond aggressively, inflation will rise, and economists will be worrying loudly about stagflation. (Confidence: very high.)
Maybe 75%: the Fed has been very very aggressive, but the economists are not worrying loudly about stagflation in the short run; you hear at least as much about deflation.
9. Miami will have a worse hurricane season than in 2007. (Cheap prediction as we didn’t even have a real scare this year.) (Confidence: very high.)
Bzzzzzzzt. Was as thankfully dull as last year.
10. There will be at least one coordinated botnet operation (fed by a worm or a widely distributed trojan) that will dwarf anything we’ve seen so far either in its size, or in the precision of its targets (e.g. banks).
So I give myself an 80% score on the base predications. How about the bonus round?
Bonus prediction: BK will be so bad, he’ll make Brooks look … no, never mind. Can’t be done. (Confidence: total.)
Kristol started off with a bang, running multiple corrections for facts he could easily have checked. He eventually settled down to an annoying near-irrelevance, a bit like a buzzing mosquito.
The remaining predictions I said had “low confidence”. I didn't do as well on those, although I got four right.
11. Major new computer virus infection as virus writers (at least temporarily) outstrip antiviral software makers.
Not that I can recall. Some bad things, but not worse than before.
12. Record number of human deaths due to avian flu.
In 2006 the WHO reported 79 human fatalities due to avian flu. By Dec. 16, 2009 there were 30 reported fatalities. I'm delighted to be wrong on this one!
13. Record shrinking of arctic glaciers. GOP continues to deny global warming. US policies continue to allow foreign dirigiste economies to steal a march on solar and carbon-reducing technologies.
All true so far.
14. OLPC initiative creates new industry: networks of low-wage kids defeating “capchas” by hand.
15. Several governments act to “solve” the spam problem — by attacking online anonymity.
16. Good news: ICANN creates a record number of new TLDs. Bad news: you can’t have one — only governments can.
It's in the works. But so is a plan for new gTLDs to other insiders and rich folks.
17. Someone will finally come out with an ultra-portable laptop with an adequate keyboard that also runs XP well. They will make a lot of money on it.
It's called the MSI Wind, and the Acer Inspire (and, for some, the ASUS eee)
18. Guantanamo will not be closed, but the population will be lowered substantially.
Correct, but stay tuned.
And two wild predictions:
19. Someone will be prosecuted for contempt of Congress (or for inherent contempt if the US Atty won’t bring the charges).
Boy was I wrong about that.
20. I will produce a draft of my book.
And even wronger about that one…
How did I do overall? Not too badly. It helps to be tame. You'd think with such
ltameness that column would be just around the corner…