Crystal Ball

In “The World Will Not End & Other Predictions for 2012, here, I wrote:

  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.” (Mostly Correct, except Apple did better than I expected.)
  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.” (Wrong)
  3. There will be another two or three tragic accidents in China. 20,000 people will die. (The number of accidents was underestimate. Their magnitude was overestimated – however … )
  4. There will be a disaster at a nuclear power plant in India, Pakistan, Russia, China, or North Korea. (Wrong)
  5. Wal-Mart will stop growing. Credit Unions, insurance co-ops and Food co-ops, however, will grow 10% to 25%. (Wrong on WalMart, right on Credit Unions, altho the numbers were off.)
  6. The amount of wind and solar energy deployed in the United States will continue to dramatically increase. (Right. Very Right!)
  7. The government of Bashar Al Assad will fall. (Wrong – but there’s still time.)
  8. Foreclosures will continue in the United States. (sadly, true, but not as bad as it could have been – thanks to Obama)
  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.” (Right on Obama and the American voter. Wrong on Arpaio)
  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. (Right, tho I would have like to have been wrong on this one.)

Here are the details.

  1. Apple and IBM continued to thrive. Apple’s stock is around 520 per share, down from it’s high of 705. Higher than my predicted price of 480, lower than its of 705. If you bought on my prediction in Jan. 2012, congratulations. If you didn’t, c’est la vie, but consider that Apple still has high earnings, no debt, and – more importantly, designs products people want to buy. In 2012 Apple released the a new version of OS X, the iPhone 5, iOS 6, new iPods, the iPad Mini, iPad and MacBooks with “Retina Display.” Apple also announced that it will resume manufacturing in the United States. This was not the announcement of a single paradigm shifting product that we suddenly realize that we need or want. It may however, have been the announcement that Apple understands that a paradigm is shifting. Steve Jobs, shortly before he passed away, told President Obama, “Those jobs are not coming back.” Jobs also told Tim Cook, “Don’t ask yourself ‘What would [Steve Jobs] do?’ Ask yourself what is the right thing to do?” If Mr. Jobs was alive today Mr. Cook would probably say, “Steve, things have changed. Assembling in the US for the domestic market makes sense.  And assembling in China is problematic.” Behind the scenes, Apple is also powering it’s headquarters in Cupertino and its Maiden, NC data center with solar energy (here). Similarly, Google, and Facebook are also using wind and solar to power their data centers. Microsoft, meanwhile has announced Windows 8, the MS “Surface” tablet, and opened about 25 stores in upscale malls in the United States. Unlike Apple, where the differences between the tablet and laptop are clear, the differences between the Windows 8 tablets and laptop are blurred. While Apple claims its focus is on designing, selling and supporting great products (and we hope they add building said products). HP announced another $10 Billion of losses. Dell share price dropped 28.6%, from $14 to $10 per share during the year. 
  2. I wrote ““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.” This was off by a wide margin. Brent Crude Oil is $109 per barrel, here. Regular Unleaded Gasoline is $3.16 per gallon in Monmouth County, NJ and $4.25 in Manhattan (here) In California, the highest was reported in October, $4.67, (here).  Average price in southern California, $3.59 in Los Angeles County, $3.56 in Orange, and $3.55 in Riverside and San Bernardino (here).
  3. I forecast two or three tragic accidents in China and 20,000 dead. Official news reports from China reported 6,064 fatal accidents due to “Faulted brakes and other auto parts” (here) however. the report does not give exact numbers of dead or injured people. We do know that there were at least 62,397 killed in auto accidents in China in 2011, a rate of 27.8 per 100,000 cars. Double the 14.9 fatalities per 100,000 cars in the US (here).  We also know at least 481 people were killed in earthquakes in China. (here) and here). 59 coal miners were reported killed in two separate accidents in 2012, here and according to Coal Mountain, at least 232 coal miners were killed in 20 accidents in Chinese mines in 2012. In addition, several miners were killed in Chinese coal mines in Africa. In comparison, 15 coal miners were killed in 15 accidents in the US in 2012 and 1 miner was killed in Canada (here). Given that China has roughly four times the population of the USA, you might expect either 60 deaths in Chinese coal mines, or 58 dead in US coal mines. The big news, however, as reported in The Guardian, over 2.1 million people in Asia died due to pollution from cars; 1.2 million in east Asia and China and 712,000 in south Asia (here). 
  4. I predicted a disaster at a nuclear power plant in India, Pakistan, Russia, China, or North Korea. Fortunately, this didn’t happen.
  5. Wal-Mart will stop growing. Credit Unions, insurance coops and Food coops, however, will grow 10% to 25%. Between January 1, 2012 and Sept. 30, 2012 Walmart, Credit Unions, Insurance Co-Ops, and Food Co-Ops continued to grow. As of the end of December, 2011, 91.8 million people kept $962 Billion in credit unions. As of the end of September, 2012, 93.9 million people kept $1.01 Trillion in assets in credit unions (here / here).
  6. The amount of wind and solar energy deployed in the United States will continue to dramatically increase. As I wrote here, electric utilities such as Next Era Energy, PSE&G and power plant operators such as Exelon, MidAmerican Energy, and NRG are starting to deploy 550 MW solar power plants. This is the size of coal fired plants, gas fired plants and nuclear reactors. They are not doing this because their boards have been taken over by Greenpeace or the Union of Concerned Scientists. They are doing this because new solar is significantly more cost effective than new nuclear or new coal, with none of the waste management issues. There is no coal ash, radioactive waste, mining or drilling waste, or carbon dioxide. According to the American Wind Energy Association, AWEA, here, “The third quarter of 2012 saw 1,833 megawatts (MW) of wind power capacity installed, bringing the first three quarters of 2012 to 4,728 MW. The U.S. wind industry now totals 51,630 MW of cumulative wind capacity (and more than 40,000 turbines) through the end of September 2012. There are over 8,400 MW currently under construction spanning 29 states plus Puerto Rico. The U.S. wind industry has added over 35% of all new generating capacity over the past 5 years, second only to natural gas, and more than nuclear and coal combined. Today, U.S. wind power capacity represents more than 20% of the world’s installed wind power.” According to Kenneth Bossong, at Renewable Energy World, 10/24/12, here, Solar and Wind Energy Provide 100% New US Electrical Capacity in September, Mr. Bossong quoted “the latest “Energy Infrastructure Update” report from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s Office of Energy Projects, 433 MW of new electrical generating capacity was added in the U.S. in September — all from solar and wind sources. The total consisted of five wind projects totaling 300 MW and 18 solar projects totaling 133 MW.”
  7. I predicted that the government of Bashar Al Assad would fall. It hasn’t happened yet. But the handwriting is on the wall. And the Syrians still have a week to finish off Assad before the year ends.
  8. Foreclosures will continue in the United States. Sadly, happened. However, according to Business Week, “The Foreclosure Wave that Wasn’t,”  John Gittelsohn and Prashant Gopal, Dec. 6, 2012, “Since March, the five largest U.S. mortgage servicers provided loan relief to 309,385 borrowers, according to a Nov. 19 report by Joseph Smith, who heads the independent office established to monitor compliance with the settlement. Almost 22,000 borrowers had principal forgiveness totaling $2.55 billion. And 113,000 borrowers won bank approval for short sales, yielding another $13.1 billion in principal writedowns…. Federal government loan-modification programs are also gaining traction as the economy improves and fewer reworked loans re-default. Record low interest rates have triggered a spike in mortgage refinancings, which has helped homeowners stay current on their loans by lowering monthly payments. … The Federal Reserve Bank of New York had estimated that as many as 1.8 million properties would be taken back by banks in 2012. Yet through October, there have been only about 559,000 home seizures, according to RealtyTrac.” Gettelsohn and Gopal add, “Institutional investors including Blackstone Group (BX) and Colony Capital have been purchasing thousands of foreclosed homes in bulk before they even hit the market.”
  9. Here’s what I wrote: “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.” Here’s what happened. President Obama was re-elected. Focusing on Obama and Arpaio … Obama won re-election by 4.5 million votes, and 126 votes in the Electoral College (here) The results were Popular Vote: Obama: 65,138,059, Romney: 60,606,054. Electoral College Vote: Obama: 332, Romney: 206. As reported here and here, Sheriff Arpaio appears to have won a recall, beating his Democratic challenger by 80,000 votes. However, there were 250,000 provisional ballots cast, some of which may not have been counted. I imagine that the people of Adios Arpaio will continue their efforts to keep Sheriff Arpaio honest.
  10. My prediction that Bob Siegel and Roger Saillant, the authors of Vapor Trails will not win a Nobel Prize for literature and that neither they nor I would win a MacArthur Genius Award, was, alas, accurate. However I will continue my work on this blog and “Sunbathing in Siberia” and the XBColdFingers project. And I have written a draft screenplay of Vapor Trails and  am starting to put some of my music on YouTube.

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