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Here are my top 10 predictions for 2012. These are less readings of the tea leaves or the entrails of goats and chickens and more simple extrapolations of patterns in progress. Altho that may be the way effective oracles. They just masked their observations with hocus pocus, mumbo-jumbo, and guts.

This list runs a gamut from business and technology to energy, instability in the Middle East, micro-economics in the United States, politics, and not-yet-pop culture.

  1.  Apple and IBM will continue to thrive. Microsoft will grow, slightly. Dell and HP will thrash. A share of Apple, which sold for $11 in December, 2001, and $380 in Dec. 2011, will sell for $480 in Dec. 2012.
  2. The Price of oil will be at $150 to $170 per barrel in Dec., 2012. The price of gasoline will hit $6.00 per gallon in NYC and California.
  3. There will be another two or three tragic accidents in China. 20,000 people will die.
  4. There will be a disaster at a nuclear power plant in India, Pakistan, Russia, China, or North Korea.
  5. Wal-Mart will stop growing. Credit Unions, insurance co-ops and Food co-ops, however, will grow 10% to 25%.
  6. The amount of wind and solar energy deployed in the United States will continue to dramatically increase.
  7. The government of Bashar Al Assad will fall.
  8. Foreclosures will continue in the United States.
  9. Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio will resign. Calls for Clarence Thomas to recuse himself from matters involving his wife’s clients will become louder, but Justice Thomas will ignore them. A prominent politician who says “Marriage is between a man and a woman,” or her husband, will be “outed” as gay. President Obama will be re-elected.
  10. The authors of Vapor Trails will not win a Nobel Prize for literature. They will not win a “MacArthur Genius Award.” Nor will I despite my work on this blog or “Sunbathing in Siberia” and the XBColdFingers project.

Here are the details … Apple, IBM, Microsoft, Dell, & HP

Apple will continue to reinvent itself, bringing out “the best iPhone, iPad, iPod, iMac and MacBook – ever.” It won’t get Apple TV right, but no one will care. The Mac Mini will very quietly enter the server space, in workgroups, small companies and science and engineering labs. Software “apps” will be developed on iMacs and Minis for use in the field. It will continue grow by creating then exploiting new markets. It may even get Apple TV right one day. IBM will continue to thrive in computer hardware and software engineering and professional services.

Apple, IBM, Microsoft, Dell, HP, 2001 to present
As illustrated, their market capitalizations and stock prices will grow 25%. The valuation of Microsoft may grow 20%. Dell, and HP, however, will not grow more than 10% and will remain well below their historical peaks.

 

Stock in Dec. 2001 2006 2011 2012
AAPL 11 88 389 486
IBM 121 95 190 237
DELL 29 27 16 18
HPQ 5 39 28 30
MSFT 34 29 25 30

 

Financial analysts will come to regard Microsoft, MSFT, as analogous to an investor owned utility. They will note that it has completed it’s growth cycle and has leveled off, and will expect dividends, and continue to receive them. One way that it could grow dramatically would be to split into a three companies: a server software company, a business desktop software company, and a home software company, but that idea is 10 years old. They didn’t do it then; they won’t do it now.

HP will continue to gyrate without focus. They designed an inferior tablet, compared to the iPad, and an overpriced tablet compared to the Nook, Kindle and Kindle Fire, and face competition in the printer space from Canon, Sharp, and Xerox. HP will, in 2012, cede the laptop and workstation markets to Dell and Lenovo, and lose market share in the server market to Dell and IBM. They won’t care about the laptop and workstation markets because the margins are so thin, except for Apple, but the loss of the server market will be painful because there are margins and services there. HP needs a Lou Gerstener to make the elephant dance, and return to the “HP Way.” Fiorina didn’t do it. She tried to remake HP in her image rather than return to what Hewlett and Packard did that made HP great. I don’t know if Whitman will do it. She won’t do it in a year, and may wind up fired by a Board that is impatient and bored.

Dell will continue to take it’s customers for granted and treat them badly. While this may not rise to the level of the 2008 settlement between the Attorney General of New York and Dell Computer and Dell Financial, (NY AG Dell site here / NY Times coverage here) bad customer service will not get better. Dell is growing by acquisition, which is an expensive way  to gain customers, typically requiring tremendous leverage putting a heavy burden on staff. It will sacrifice morale for statistics.

This will reflected in the stock prices. Apple, and IBM will increase 25% to 480 (AAPL) and $225 (IBM). Microsoft may grow 20%. Dell, and HP will gyrate but end the year where they started. The Dow Jones Industrial Average will increase about 10% to 1320.

The price of oil will end 2012 at $150 to $170 per barrel. The price of gasoline will hit 6.00 per gallon in California and New York City. People will drive less, and when they buy cars, they will buy more efficient new cars.  Increased CAFE standards, click here for overview, 27.5 mpg, since 1990, which Obama will again try to increase, will continue to annoy Republicans and Tea Party faithful, who will buy more efficient vehicles anyway.  Meanwhile fleet efficiencies will climb faster than the CAFE standards mandate as businesses and municipalities factor in fuel and maintenance costs in the life cycle analyses they perform. Parking lot solar energy systems will spread from California, Texas, and New Jersey to other parts of the country. These will feed the grid and charge electric cars driven by commuters, and generate revenue for the owners.

Nuclear Power & Disasters.

There will be a disaster at a nuclear power plant in India, Pakistan, Russia, China, or North Korea. If Russia, we will not learn of it for days. If China or North Korea we will not learn of it for weeks. If India, the government will blame Pakistan. If Pakistan, the government will blame India, the United States, and Israel. This will have the unintended consequence of driving stronger ties between Israel and India. We will see battery powered Tata Motors cars in Israel, as well as Europe. These will be commuter vehicles. They will not displace trains. We will continue to see high speed rail displace inter-city and regional airplane traffic. And trains will continue to grow, particularly in Europe and Asia.  We will look for evidence of leaked tritium at various nuclear power plants, and find it wherever we look.

There will be another two or three tragic accidents in China in which 20,000 people will die. This will take place in a coal mine, an elementary school, a railroad, a housing project or an airport, another example of unregulated totalitarianistic state capitalism.

Wal-Mart v Credit Unions and Food Co-ops.

Wal-Mart will stop growing. Part of this will be due to gas prices, and higher priced poor quality goods from China. People will stop buying cheap crap they need to replace quickly, and start demanding – and paying for – good, durable, locally sourced goods – goods that are good.

Credit Unions, Mutual Insurance Companies and Food Co-Ops will grow 10% to 25%. Credit Unions and Insurance co-ops will grow, in part, as a result of the “Occupy Wall Street” movement. We will also see a slight increase in organic and sustainable farming.  The margins will increase because people will pay more for healthier and better tasting food, and manure will cost less than gas based fertilizers. Ranchers will also begin deploying manure to methane cookers, and will run farm equipment on manure. They – we – will also plant gardens, eat less meat, and get healthier.

Energy  Pundits (funded by coal, methane, and oil industry interests) will continue to call for fracking and carbon sequestration. Politicians will listen oblivious to the facts on water use or pollution costs that will be externalized to future generations. At the same time, conservative politicians will begin to re-assess energy subsidies for coal, oil, methane, and nuclear.

Solar energy capacity in New Jersey and California will increase by about a third, from 400 MW to 600 MW, in Jersey, and from 700 MW to 1 Gigawatt in California. Solar will spread to Florida, New York, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Texas, Arizona, New Mexico, Nevada, Colorado, This will be accompanied by a price drop to below $5.00 per watt, and additional technology breakthroughs in manufacturing and design efficiencies. These phenomena will feed each other in another positive, or reinforcing feedback loop.  Small solar will spread to aboriginal communities in Africa, Australia, South and Central America, and remote parts of Asia.

Iowa gets 20% of it’s electric power from the wind today. This will increase to 25% over 2012.

Wind, hydro, solar hot water, and geothermal will increase by 25% in the Pacific Northwest.

1.0 gigawatts of nameplate capacity in one or two old coal or nuclear plants will be decommissioned, replaced with wind, solar, geothermal, and insulation. This will be done for reasons, having as much to do with economics as the environment.

1.0 million homes in the US will be retrofitted with R25 or better insulation in the walls and attic.

Ground – or water – will be broken as the first offshore wind farms in US waters will be started, either Cape Wind, in the Horseshoe Shoals off Nantucket, or the New Jersey wind farms.

There will also be design breakthroughs in offshore hydro-electric, or marine current generation, and deep geothermal.

The government of Syria will fall, but, as is happening in Egypt, the military will take or hold power. Bashar Al Assad will be killed, like Muammar Gadaffi, by the people at whos heads he has pointed his guns, or he will find refuge in Tehran, Iran, Baghdad, Iraq, or, like Idi Amin, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. Iran and Turkey will compete to fill the power vacuum. Since the government of Iran is unstable – the people are hungry for democracy as well as food- this round will go to Turkey. Hamas will continue embrace the Palestinian Authority. It will also continue to call for the destruction of Israel. Without support from Syria, Iran, Iraq, and the Saudis, these cries will grow louder, harsher, more shrill, yet less effective. The Israelis, however, will grow more frightened and will respond with harsher methods. It’s a reinforcing feedback cycle. Hamas will continue to execute people who call for peace with Israel. Calls for divestiture of Israel by the left in the US and Europe will be ignored.

Back in the US, foreclosures will continue, driving property values down. Many will remain unsold as credit will be expensive and speculators will be cautious.  However, as energy prices climb, and as effective insulation can be made from recycled cellulose (newspaper) treated with boric acid, people who have some equity will invest in negawatts, and nega-fuel-watts. And they will plant gardens.

The Republican Party will be divided over calls by Newt Gingrich and business owners for amnesty for undocumented workers (here), calls by Mitt Romney and Wall Street to allow “the foreclosure process to take its course” (here), and by citizens opposed to the appearance of a biases in favor of illegal aliens and Wall Street “Banksters.” People will turn away from the GOP as they will see adherance to Grover Norquist’s pledge as destructive and unpatriotic, and the focus by John Boehner, Eric Cantor, Paul Ryan, on cutting taxes for the 1% while raising taxes on the 99%, which people will perceive as a transfer of wealth to the very wealthy. Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio, who is said to have cost Maricopa County $43 million in lawsuits, will resign over his alleged bias against Latinos. The calls for the impeachment of Clarence Thomas, over conflict of interest for not recusing himself over business dealings of Ginny Thomas – Mrs. Justice Thomas – will get louder. Another two or three married members of the House or Senate will be involved in a ‘sexting’ scandal. There will be a scandal involving a prominent Republican politician or her husband involved in ilicit sexual liasons with a professional sex worker of the same gender. This will be immortalized with “Marriage is between a man and a woman. But with sin; anything goes!” The unemployment rate will drop below 8.2%. Elizabeth Warren will be elected Senator from Massachusetts, the Democrats will regain control of the House. Barak Obama will win re-election to the Presidency.

Vapor Trails,” by Bob Siegel and Roger Saillant will not win a Nobel Prize for literature. Nor will I despite my work on this blog or “Sunbathing in Siberia” and the XBColdFingers project. “It’s Rainin’ Outside the Cave” featuring Sunbathing in Siberia” and other songs of peace, love, and global warming will not become a hit record. Neither Emenim nor Kanye West will do a ‘rap’ version. Rianna will not do a duet with me . Lady Gaga will not moan a version of it. Brittney Spears will not ask about covering any of my songs as part of her “Comeback Tour.” Neither will Justin Timberlake, Justin Beiber, Arlo Guthrie or Tom Paxton. Nor do Siegel, Sallant, or myself seem likely to win MacArthur “Genius Grants.” However, we will develop a screenplay of Vapor Trails which will feature some of my songs, and we ink a film deal.

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