I don’t have a crystal ball, but my forecasts have been fairly accurate and quite profitable over the past few years. While 2008 has been a tough year, all signs point to 2009 being much worse. Here is what I see on the horizon for the upcoming year.
1) The stock market decline will accelerate in 2009, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average dipping below 6,000. Extreme volatility will engulf the markets with plenty of counter-trend rallies that will be fueled by speculators “calling the bottom,” only to find a new bottom the following month.
2) Unemployment will rise dramatically as “official” statistics reach towards 10% and true unemployment rises closer to 20%.
3) Real estate prices will continue to drop as rates reset and foreclosures increase across the country. Commercial real estate will finally follow residential, as price declines accelerate due to foreclosures on shopping malls, retail outlets, office buildings, etc.
4) Bailouts will continue, with more industries lining up for government rescue packages and both the financial and auto industries returning to the trough for more of their fix. This will lead to prediction #5.
5) Deflation will subdue and the first signs of hyperinflation will appear in the back half of 2009 as the trillions in bailout dollars begin to flow into the economy. The price declines that are a result of liquidation and de-leveraging, will give way to skyrocketing prices as politicians continue trying to print and borrow our way out of bad times. This will lead to prediction #6.
6) The dollar will resume its downtrend and make new lows during the first half of 2009. This will continue throughout the year with the dollar reaching into the low 60’s as the world loses confidence in the U.S. currency and the U.S. government’s ability to repay its debt.
7) Oil will rise from current lows and find a “fair price” somewhere in the $75 – $100 range, where it will float for much of the year. This will benefit alternative energy companies, although any gains will be muted by credit contraction and the overall market decline.
8) Agriculture prices will return to an uptrend as declining investment and unpredictable weather patterns lead to supply shortages amidst an ever-expanding population and increase in inflation.
9) Gold will make a new all-time (nominal) high reaching a price of $1,400 or more during 2009. A panicked flight to safety could push gold towards $2,000, although the central banks will dump gold on the market or make other attempts at suppressing the price advance.
10) All of the above will lead to increased crime and civil unrest with protests in the streets, bank runs and an increased police and military presence trying to bring stability to cities.
I wish that my predictions were a bit more uplifting, but we are truly in dire straits with conditions only continuing to worsen. The United States is essentially bankrupt and running on borrowed money and borrowed time. Many Americans will be facing severe financial hardship for the first time in their lives.
The silver lining is that these conditions are necessary to shake our apathy, demand better from our government, our community and ourselves. It is tough medicine, but is a necessary prescription that will force the change that is needed in this country and the world. We have to hit rock bottom, feel hardship, liquidate excesses and rampant corruption from the system, restructure our government, economy and entire social system. It is not going to be a pleasant undertaking but I am optimistic that we will emerge with a much better world and way of life.
In the meantime, you should be doing everything you can to stay informed, protect your assets and prepare for the transition ahead. I caution my readers not to be suckered into so called “buying opportunities” as we are nowhere near the bottom and I don’t anticipate conditions will improve for at least another 3-5 years. If you want to know the specific investments that I am making and receive my monthly newsletter, consider the premium subscription service.
Those with metaphysical inclinations may also be interested to know that the 3-5 year time horizon forecasts that we reach a bottom somewhere around the year 2012. Dec 21st of 2012 is the end of the long count of the Mayan calendar which started 5,125 years ago and coincides with the first time in approximately 26,000 years that the Sun will rise to conjunct the intersection of the Milky Way (eye, heart, center) and the ecliptic plane. According to the ancient Maya, this date will mark the end of one world as we know it and the beginning of another. No matter your beliefs, we are in for a period of significant change that will require reflection, adjustment and adaptation to a very different world that awaits.