Predictions for the Next Four Years (Part 1 of 2)
Well, Barack Obama will be President for a second term. It is now time to take a look around, and prepare for what is likely to happen next. Based on my observations and what Iâ€™ve learned over the years, these are my predictions:
No Housing Recovery
Commentators have been calling the bottom of the housing market â€“ and screaming with increasing urgency that it was time to buy â€“ since 2007. The Fed has cut interest rates to nearly zero, and through quantitative easing has flooded the financial system with new money. This will continue for the near future, especially since QE-infinity was announced earlier this year. There remains no recovery in the housing market, and there wonâ€™t be a recovery.
Bad monetary policy has left the productive bits of the economy in an absolute shambles, and now there simply arenâ€™t enough jobs to allow a recovery in the housing market. This will get worse, not better.
This one will happen sooner rather than later. In an economy that is as sedate as ours the likelihood of reduced unemployment is already pretty slim, and if you consider the looming Obamacare mandates, tax hikes on income, dividends, and capital gains, as well as another four years of an administration that has a penchant for change (breeding uncertainty), I predict that there will be large job losses coming in the very near future.
This one seems to fall into place as well, especially for those laid low by the layoffs which I think are coming. But, even those who keep their jobs will experience marked decreases in their standard of living. In an economy where consumption is king and production â€“ or any sort of value-added economic activity â€“ is outsourced, taxed, regulated, or outright banned, the remaining employment opportunities take on a sort of wistful irrelevance. Many will be nominally employed, but at the same time wholly unable to support themselves, let alone able to assemble savings.
Spike in Utility Rates
All forms of energy are likely to get more expensive over the next four years. Obama has explicitly stated that he intends to bankrupt the coal-generated electricity industry in favor of renewable energy kitsch which can only be financially feasible with massive increases in electricity prices. Expect some coal plants to be shut down in the next term, and expect to pay far more for electricity.
High Prices for Oil and Grain
In a past article, I pointed out that since 1990, the United States has run trade deficits in excess of $9 trillion. This despite the fact that in 1990 the supply of dollars (the M2 metric) was only $3 trillion. In an economy where we can buy foreign goods by printing money, there is no reason to manufacture much of anything. This dynamic will continue for the time-being, and we will import shiploads of consumer goods and pay for it with nothing but inflation. This will lead to even higher prices for oil and grain, which are inflation-sensitive commodities whose production cannot be outsourced.
Feeding grain to livestock is a value-added activity, however, and in an inflationary economy the price of grain will go up, and the ability of the public to buy meat will be reduced, so I am predicting a continued decrease in the number of farmers who bother to raise livestock, as well as a decline in the overall size of the livestock herds in the country.
College Tuition Spikes; Enrollment Begins to Fall
Obamaâ€™s attempts to reform the student loan industry had nothing to do with controlling the costs of college. The government runs most of the student loan industry, and interest rates have been kept very low for Federal loans. This is all designed to get more kids into college, regardless of what it costs, and with no real limit to the amount of credit available to the college-bound, there are no incentives for colleges to control costs.
The luster has begun to rub off of the whole college experience in my estimation. A college degree has become little more than a very expensive lottery ticket, and new college graduates will not see any discernable increase in their employment opportunities, incomes, or future prospects.
Even with the endless propaganda urging kids to attend college, the decision to attend college will not make financial sense for a large number of American kids, and we will begin to see a decline in enrollments, especially in full-time, traditional enrollments.
((To Continue Reading, Click Here To Go Straight To Part 2))
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