2008 In Review

2008 sure has been an eventful year, no?

We’ve got about a week left in the year, but I think it’s time to start looking back at the year that was and compare it to my predictions from last January.   I’ll readily admit that I didn’t exactly go out on a limb with a lot of these predictions, but let’s see how things stack up.

Prediction 1:  Oil would reach $100 per barrel

As noted earlier, we hit that magic mark before I even posted my predictions for the year, so yeah, that was a no-brainer.  We hit the high water mark of around $145 per barrel in mid-July before prices started easing off.   Now it seems ludicrous to think that six months ago oil cost 4-5 times as much as it does now.  It’s a pretty good indicator of how badly the global industrial economy has taken it to the shorts.   The strengthening of the US dollar in the fall contributed in part to the drop in oil prices, as commodity prices fell across the board.

Prediction 2: Gas prices will keep rising

Well they did until the bottom fell out of the world economy.  With gas at $1.60 locally right now, it seems surreal to have predicted and hit $4 gasoline earlier this year.

Prediction 3:  Iraq & Afghanistan Stay in limbo

Pretty much.  Depending on who’s stories you read the situation in Iraq may be improving. I still believe that the main thing most Iraqis want is US troops gone so they can settle things one way or another themselves.  Pakistan has turned out to be a wild card of sorts, but more in dealings with India since the terrorist attack in Mumbai.  Overall, it’s still a mess.  At least cooler heads prevailed and we did not attack Iran as some neocons were calling for.

Prediction 4: US Elections

Well, Obama did grab the nomination and the presidency.  I doubt he’s blind to the financial issues coming our way, but the economic team he has assembled seems to be a business-as-usual ones.   Bankers often see the banking industry as being so important that they cannot fail, and I think the new team will have the same set of blinders on that the last one did.  We’ll see.

Prediction 5: Expansion of Presidential Powers

Too early to say on that, but I am guessing Obama has better things to do that voluntarily restrict his imperial powers at this point in history.

Prediction 6: China Rising

Yes & no.  The Olympics went off fairly well, but China is having major economic problems of its own.  From what I’ve read, the internal socio-economic conditions inside of the country are such that 9010% GDP growth is more or less mandatory to avoid major social unrest.   Currently China’s economy is still growing at around 5-6 percent, and there is trouble brewing.

Prediction 7: The Economy

I’m going to give myself the “No shit, Sherlock!” award on this one.  The economy started sliding in late 2007 and has only gotten worse from there on out.  It is effectively what won the election cycle for the Democrats, and attempts to fix it will keep Obama & crew occupied for a long time.   The economic damage has not been contained at all, and we are now well on our way to become bailout nation.

Prediction 8: Hurricanes

We had an active season, with Hurricane Ike slamming into Galveston as the largest event.

Prediction 9: Rising Food Prices

Yup.  Prices keep rising, and portions keep shrinking.  Just last night I went to Panera Bread to pick up dinner for my sick wife at her request.  The “You Pick Two” combo price had dropped a dime in price since the last time I was in there.  Now, though, the soup portions are much smaller, the bag of chips is smaller, and if you want anything other than the ‘cafe’ (read: low-end, no-frills sandwiches), you have to pay an extra dollar per item.   I’m sure people can see the affect of higher food prices on their grocery bills as well.

Well, those are the predictions I had.  Again, nothing earth shattering… it’s just interesting to see how things shook out compared to how I was thinking at the beginning of the year.  I’ll have some predictions for 2009 soon.

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