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Old Helen's almanac - Predictions 2009

by Helen Thu Dec 11th, 2008 at 10:37:38 AM EST

I sent a Christmas card to a friend last year with a couple of predictions stolen from ET about what would happen this year that turned out to be spot-on. So she's written this year asking for some ideas about next year.

So, ego blown, I started writing. And got to the essay below. However, before I send it my question is how much have I mis-understood ? What is obviously wrong ?

Critique away please ?


Let's just say that Gordon Brown's claims to have saved the world, or even just the world's banking system are somewhat premature. The fact remains that, in enabling a select few to capture more of the world's economy, our lords and masters have allowed the rest of us a lifestyle only built upon debt and the chickens have come home to roost. By putting all of the US and UK economies in the hands of financiers who thought the sun shone out of Milton Friedman's backside and who proceeded to accordingly skew the economy for the banks has been the equivalent of arranging conditions to suit the tail by starving the dog : Sooner or later the tail dies too. We have no idea how much debt is out there, but the working assumptions amongst those economists who were warning about this before it happened are still terrifying. This isn't just a case of regulation to make things better, entire classes of financial trading have to be entirely eliminated (and if the people who organisated them were sent to Guantanamo-like re-education camps I'd personally feel better too)

The banks and the govts aren't doing enough to keep employment going ($700 billion for the banks, $15 billion for Detroit demonstrate their priorities - both were shoddy but one is rewarded the other is bankrupted). With failing employment, quite simply there won't be enough money left in most people's pockets to keep the retail economy going. With retail and employment falling, tax revenues will be squeezed. And Gordo will never tax the rich proportionately to make up the difference. Remove a lot of the exemptions, eliminate tax havens ? Don't see it myself.  Cut defence spending ? Pull the other one, it used to have bells on it. So, all through the year we will have a deteriorating economic and employment situation. 3 million might be a forecast on the low side as things collapse.

This time next year there will be a strong push to join the euro. Not the minor noises from the inconsequential but real panicked voices in the Telegraph and Mail (not Murdoch). I don't think Osborne will say it & Hague is definitely against it, but Cameron might be forced to call for it. Darling says what Brown tells him and Brown ? Depends on what the White House think (yes we are that supine) but I think they'll have their own problems and Europe won't factor as one of them. So put money on us actually wanting to. But guess what ? The ECB won't want us (UK controlled tax havens are too toxic for the eurozone to handle). Then we face a meltdown of Icelandic proportions.

House price recovery ? Fuggedaboutit


The oil price has been an interesting thing. Zooming up to $146/ bl dented a load of smug assumptions, which have sadly been put back in place now it's fallen back to $40. This is as artificial a low as the 146 was too high and is a result of futures traders dumping options they bought in the summer, it's very temporary. However reduced economic activity may suppress demand for a while yet and the progress back up may be advantageiously sluggish (2 - 3 years). We should be taking the opportunity to bolster railways, instead we're pissing it up a wall as usual.

However, liquid fuel is not the major part of the energy market and I see our more pressing concern is gas supplies, the price of which is bizarrely tied to oil. Unfortunately I don't see the UK taking advantage of this to change the internal energy markets towards the way that the rest of europe does (ie long term gas contracts - we concentrate on "efficient" spot prices that work out expensive in the long run).

Now for structural reasons the UK electricity generation market is unbalanced between "base" load (ie expensive to replace but always there) & that which services fluctuating demand. There are considerable debates happening in europe about how this can be addressed, irrespective that, as you can imagine, there are numerous conflicting "best" solutions. Nevertheless, they are working hard on innovative energy schemes to address the problem of CO2 output whilst maintaining energy output. Some of them are barely technically possible, but the general level of discussion and activity is boggling. The complete absence of similar urgency on this side of the channel is...disturbing.

So, as the old magnox nuclear stations are mothballed and idiotic replacements like kingsnorth become subject to the same sort of action we associate with nuclear a winter energy crunch becomes entirely possible. Not this year, possibly not next, but 5 - 7 years it becomes a serious danger.


Finally, on climate change we have been in a false position with a solar minimum and an el Nina combining to suppress temperatures this year, a situation that will continue through next year and possibly into 2010. After that, invest in water and sun tan lotion. things are gonna get bad going out to 2013. Climate scientists are now at hte point of genuinely scaring each other about what they're seeing, we are past the point of gradualism and some are even saying that it's too late and the atmosphere has gone into a new state from which we can't pull back. The diminution of Arctic sea ice is now too advanced to stop and when that goes, Greenland goes next and that's a 10 m sea level change.

Oh, Helen, must you always be such an optimist?

Be nice to America. Or we'll bring democracy to your country.
by Drew J Jones (pedobear@pennstatefootball.com) on Thu Dec 11th, 2008 at 11:13:45 AM EST
Can't help but see the world through rose colored beer goggles. :)

They tried to assimilate me. They failed.
by THE Twank (yatta blah blah @ blah.com) on Thu Dec 11th, 2008 at 12:09:23 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I sent a Christmas card to a friend last year with a couple of predictions stolen from ET about what would happen this year that turned out to be spot-on. So she's written this year asking for some ideas about next year.

What did you predict?

Most economists teach a theoretical framework that has been shown to be fundamentally useless. -- James K. Galbraith

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Dec 11th, 2008 at 11:15:29 AM EST
Bank collapse and a couple of other things which I forget. To be honest I hadn't even remembered the predictions at all till she mentioned them.

keep to the Fen Causeway
by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Thu Dec 11th, 2008 at 01:02:08 PM EST
[ Parent ]
You're missing the tide tables ;-)

You can't be me, I'm taken
by Sven Triloqvist on Thu Dec 11th, 2008 at 11:33:53 AM EST
  1. Parity with the Euro

  2. Poor performance on the International Rugby pitch

  3. Iceland style financial meltdown

  4. Obama asks "what special relationship"?

  5. Tony who?

  6. Tories win EP elections and promise to "reform" EU

  7. EP seats Tories with neo-fascists

  8. Labour struggles with its conscience

  9. Labour wins

  10. Brown is dumped in vain hope of staving off electoral ignominy

  11. Scotland holds independence referendum (2010/11)

  12. Little England comes into its own

notes from no w here
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Thu Dec 11th, 2008 at 05:17:33 PM EST
12th January - Rain of frogs in Norwich.

12th February - My birthday

12th March - Collapse of western civilisation. Barter system reintroduced "back to true Dark Ages values".

12th April - Queue to be appointed Mad Max leads to riots

12th May - Gordon Brown calls an election

12th June - Whig Party wins ye election. Promises an end to royal absolutism and reintroduction of money "as resources allow"

Somewhere around June - Wasn't there a Euro election about now?

12th July - A porcupine is spotted in Inverness

12th August - England lose the Ashes Cricket Test Series (note for continental readers - this is accounted a greater tragedy than the collapse of western civilisation)

12th September - Whig government issues letters of marque to deserving Somali pirates and offer them free use of Royal Navy warships and bases, for a 10% cut of the profits - we have to have someone steal stuff for us, now we have no money

12th October - Dolphin sighted in Cornwall

12th November - Whig government calls for the EU to be reorganised as a new Roman Empire. The Sun opposes revolutionary madness - Romans go home.

12th December - Worst shopping period before Christmas for 2,000 years.

Better luck in 2010

by Gary J on Fri Dec 12th, 2008 at 07:02:21 AM EST
Shouldn't that be interspersed with about ten times more predictions about what, or who, celebrities will be wearing?
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Fri Dec 12th, 2008 at 07:03:56 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I have no interest in who celebrities are, let alone what they might be wearing. I may not be cut out for these modern almanac requirements,

Ye Dauphin of France introduces daring new plate mail armour. Prince Harry of England laughs and claims chain mail is still what all sensible royals wear.

by Gary J on Fri Dec 12th, 2008 at 07:27:35 AM EST
[ Parent ]
You mean this is a Murdoch publication?

Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.
by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Fri Dec 12th, 2008 at 07:49:15 AM EST
[ Parent ]
No, what they're wearing, not what they're aren't wearing.

Be nice to America. Or we'll bring democracy to your country.
by Drew J Jones (pedobear@pennstatefootball.com) on Fri Dec 12th, 2008 at 10:20:25 AM EST
[ Parent ]
12th April - Queue to be appointed Mad Max leads to riots

Mobs dissipate when they realize they'd have to push the Interceptor around because there's no frickin' petrol.

by rifek on Sun Dec 14th, 2008 at 09:07:53 PM EST
[ Parent ]

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