Happy New Year!
What's in store?
Last year I fearlessly predicted stocks would have a poor year in 2013. Since that prediction didn't work out for 2013, I may as well simply repeat it for 2014. The US stock market gained almost 30 percent this past year with Japan topping the leader board with over 50 percent gains for the year.
So, which of my 2013 predictions actually came true? The economy. The US economy continued it's subpar performance and should come in under 3 percent growth once more. Europe continued to be mired in a deep recession despite monthly announcements that Europe is recovering. Interest rates went up (I make that prediction every year, but finally that one came true). Obamacare is well on its way to becoming the biggest government fiasco in US history (for Republicans, Obamacare is a dream come true).
So, whither 2014?
First, on Obamacare: look for continued nightmares with the actual details of implementation and the absence of young and healthy signees. But, the larger issue is cost and availability. Americans will be stunned when they find out how expensive the "Affordable Care Act" is for them personally. Not just high premiums. The deductibles for the previously insured are skyrocketing and the availability of doctors and hospitals is dwindling. The quality of health care is definitely headed south in the US and that trend will accelerate in 2014.. For the vast majority of Americans (and voters), Obamacare is a big, big negative. (That's why Republicans are licking their chops).
Second, the weak economies in the west will remain weak. The US and Europe are not on the brink of an economic takeoff. You can forget that. Government policies in the US and Europe are prohibitive. The main trend is moving people from the workplace to various forms of public assistance. That trend will continue.
Third, technology and energy will continue to be the strong points of the US economy until government finds a way to shut them down.
Fourth, Republicans will retake the Senate in 2014 and improve their numbers in the House -- mainly thanks to the "Affordable Care Act," which, by year-end will be hated by everyone -- Democrats and Republicans alike.
Fifth, the University of Virginia Cavaliers and the Houston Texans will have improved records in football in 2014 (they couldn't get worse).
Sixth, Republicans will cave on minimum wage legislation, helping to move the federal minimum wage to above nine dollars. The war on the poor continues with bi-partisan support.
Seventh, Obama will break his previous record for most hours playing golf in a single year for a sitting president.