One of the traditional characteristics of the financial media world in the last few days of any given year is the veritable cornucopia of next year "predictions" from those who believe their opinions are relevant/important/credible. Of course, with this whole process being nothing but an exercise in vanity, and resulting in pervasive ridicule by the rest of the media world 365 days later, unless of course one has immaculate luck, in which case playing the lottery has far better fringe benefits, Zero Hedge has no interest in actually predicting parallel outcomes, when event iterations are serial and just getting the one main thing right usually ends up paying off in droves (as such our one and only very vague prediction for the end of 2011 is that the Fed will be one year closer to completely losing control of its centrally planned schizophrenic reality, and the market will be ever closer to realizing this). That said, the following list of forecasts by Charles Hugh Smith is certainly worth reading. And with gems such as: Markets in precious metals, oil, commodities, stocks and bonds will rise and fall in an unpredictable fashion; The SNAP food stamp program will be expanded to include cable TV access to a new U.S. government-sponsored channel, "Bread and Circuses, and QE3 will include issuing U.S. Treasury bonds directly to households you know this may well be the only set of predictions that gets the outcome right in our Bizarro world, TheOnion-style centrally planned reality.
My Predictions for 2011, by Charles Hugh Smith
Despite the surfeit of predictions currently clogging the Web, I offer my own modest list of predictions for 2011.
I've tried to resist, but the temptation is simply too great: I'm caving in and unleashing a list of 2011 predictions.
Sitting back while other commentators issue their lists of predictions is like being in front of the salty nuts and chips at a party, watching everyone else grab handfuls of the tempting treats. I've held off so far but my resolve has finally broken down.
Despite the ridicule that is sure to be heaped on my head for being wrong, wrong, wrong about everything I expect to happen, at least I share that ignominy with 99.99% of humanity.
Life and history are not predictable, hence the temptation to go ahead and fling a guess or two at the dartboard.
So here goes nothing:
1. North Korea will demand a "workers' paradise" Disneyland be constructed over its uranium enrichment plant. The North Korean Elites are tired of skulking off to the Tokyo Disneyland under faked passports, and so after a hair-raising display of bellicosity and raving threats of a "holy war" against South Korea and the U.S., the North will demand a specially themed "workers' paradise" Disneyland be constructed over their primary deep-underground uranium enrichment plant.
The U.S. will greenlight the project over South Korea's objections, but the deal will fall through at the last minute when North Korea also demands a Universal Studios theme park be built on the Chinese-NK border as a hard-money tourist attraction.
The North, threatening nuclear war, will contact FedEx to inquire about the shipment of fissile materials via two-day express.
2. The Bernanke Put will turn out to be more than a figure of speech. When the U.S. stock market "unexpectedly" craters in the first quarter, despite the Federal Reserve's QE2 POMO buying of Treasuries and the positive news about retail sales, employment and Pres. Obama's pickup games on the D.C. basketball courts, the Fed will reveal that it raked in billions of dollars in profits from a massive bet against the SPX (S&P 500), NDX (Nasdaq 100) and DJIA (Dow Jones 30) via index puts.
After the revelation, the markets will rebound on rumors that the Fed exited the Bernanke Puts and has secretly loaded up on calls. A contract for a new luxurious Fed resort on Jekyll island will be announced via mimeographed newsletter distributed on a "need to know only" basis.
3. The convergence of Hollywood, politics and finance will gather momentum. President Obama will start subbing for the L.A. Lakers, getting the nod from Jack Nicholson and Magic Johnson, while the First Lady will start attending tractor pulls and motocross races.
Ben Bernanke will be a guest on "Jeopardy!", while Tim Geitner will do a turn on "Dancing with the Stars." Everyone's favorite member of the Financial Power Elite, Warren Buffett, will guest-star on "CSI: Omaha" as the avuncular billionaire who has misplaced a few billion dollars invested in Goldman Sachs stock at the bottom of the market in early 2009.
Lloyd Blankfein, the CEO of Goldman Sachs who famously declared that he and the firm were "doing God's work," will join Brangelina on a goodwill tour of East Africa, offering U.S. Treasury bonds to village chiefs in exchange for any diamonds they might have laying around gathering dust. He will be welcomed as a very amusing fellow, though lacking Brangelina's star power and charisma.
4. The SNAP food stamp program will be expanded to include cable TV access to a new U.S. government-sponsored channel, "Bread and Circuses." The new channel will be carried by all cable and satellite carriers, and will feature 24 hours of America's favorite "reality" shows (or their knockoffs and copycats if the original show is unavailable). The lineup will include the full menu of instant-celebrity entertainment: "survivor" copycats, "American Idol" and "Dancing with the Stars" clones, and a revolving schedule of demeaning, obnoxious TV-judge shows featuring citizens confessing to lying, cheating, stealing, wife-beating, child abuse, bungled burglaries, serial addictions, going to church solely to "pick up the ladies," coloring in their kid's coloring books and other assorted crimes and indiscretions.
5. A new "ultimate challenge" gameshow will offer not just instant celebrity but also the chance of dismemberment and death. As the public tires of formulaic singing and dancing contests and foolish races through pig-slop and hokey contraptions, one brave production company will move to a nation without liability laws and launch "the ultimate challenge" gameshow, which will include everyone's favorite contests plus new ones that will bring digital games that mimic combat to real life.
Contestants will gather in a replica of Rome's famed Coliseum, and engage in a series of contests that include dancing, singing, tug-of-war, trash-talking, endzone touchdown dancing, Tongan-Rules rugby, chariot racing, blindfolded combat with exotic ancient weaponry (such as the gimlet tor, a combination throwing net and mace), helmetless motocross, hang-gliding combat, and lastly, a weeklong stint with a U.S. Army Ranger team deep in Afghanistan. Contestants who fail to return will be given spectacular burials, and their exploits will be documented and posted on YouTube, with a voiceover by a Hollywood star.
Though critics will deride the show as "barbaric," it will be an instant hit.
6. QE3 will include issuing U.S. Treasury bonds directly to households. The sole stipulation will be that any proceeds from the sale of the bonds must be invested in the U.S. stock market.
7. Markets in precious metals, oil, commodities, stocks and bonds will rise and fall in an unpredictable fashion. Every analyst, pundit and commentator will be right about the movements, but at the wrong time. Most players will lose money while convincing themselves they made a killing. Bat guano and 'roo innards will emerge as the "hot commodities" of the year, as both will go parabolic.
Everyone betting on the oil futures contango will be wiped out.
8. Contact will be made with an alien civilization in the Alpha Centauri system. The U.N. security Council will issue a proclamation in support of galactic peace, with Russia and China abstaining rather than support the U.S. initiative. President Obama will request a loan of 100 trillion quatloos from the aliens as a "gesture of friendship to Earth," which his financial advisors estimate will fund the status quo to the 2012 elections.
Republicans will issue a stern warning to the aliens that "illegal immigration" to the U.S. was, well, illegal (at least in states which don't depend on said illegals to mow their lawns, staff their slaughterhouses and tend the Elites' offspring and elderly parents), while the Democrats will offer the aliens instant citizenship and Medicaid as long as they have "anchor babies" "within the U.S. or its airspace."
NASA's budget shortfall will preclude the intepretation of the aliens' message, but it will be believed by some cryptographers to be a combination of laughter and fear.