Joe Nicols’ 2018 Predictions
Science and Medicine
There will continue to be more breakthroughs in A.I. and robotics especially for industrial and home uses, and even in companionship for interaction with kids and pets. More breakthroughs are also coming in cancer and Alzheimer treatments.
U.K. and Brexit
Brexit negotiations with the European Union will be very difficult over the next three months, but by the fall of this year there will be a temporary feeling of success through adaptation to the new reality. I feel that unfortunately the result of this populist referendum to go it alone has seriously wounded Britain’s economic possibilities, which will be born out in three years, and Britain will not be solid again until approximately six years from now.
U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem
It is not clear to me that the U.S. will actually move the Embassy, but if it happens, the move will create anger but no immediate dramatic effects. However, a move now would precipitate extremely negative consequences in 2020.
At least one more Trump aide will be indicted during the next three to four weeks but I do not feel President Trump or a family member will be included. The one or more new indictments will cause only limited disruption to the White House operations. I do not see Robert Mueller being fired, and I believe the investigation will be for the most part finished within four months.
Donald Trump’s Relationship with Vladimir Putin
Vlad is having to do more work to understand and predict Mr. Trump’s behavior in order to manipulate the situation, and Mr. Trump is waiting to see what Vlad will do next before he can react. This relationship will go swimmingly over the next seven months after which time a problem will be created by Mr. Putin which will actually be a small matter, but which will be misinterpreted by Mr. Trump, who will react with anger. The following tension will concern and embarrass Mr. Trump for several months. By the end of this year, however, a woman who is the head of state of another country will intervene, but the resolution of the situation will cost the U.S. a lot of money.
U.S. Relations with Russia
As I have said for many years, the U.S. cannot trust Russia, and many in our government know that. As a result, communication is being withheld on both sides, creating a new cold war. The Russian government psyche seems to be one of hyper-resentment and feeling they have been dealt with unfairly in the past, and they should be treated with the respect they commanded when they had the Soviet Empire. Again, as I said in the previous paragraph, I see a female head of state brokering some trade or other compromise which the U.S. will not like, and Russia will also feel it is being taken advantage of financially. Although this powerful woman will smooth the waters between Putin and Trump, the situation will create an impasse between the governments in the Spring of 2019. It therefore seems clear to me that the two Presidents will be playing a different game with each other than the one being played between their two governments.
U.S. Relationships with China
The U.S. knows that China is keeping its cards close to the vest, which disturbs the U.S. This is by design, as while China continues to move toward domination geographically in its part of the globe as well as in the world economy, the U.S. is forced to expend more money and resources to protect against potential threats. I continue to see some degree of stability in the Sino/U.S. relationship for the next two-to-three years.
U.S. Relations with North Korea
I see continued posturing and name-calling bilaterally, with the occasional hacking and “on-the-edge” prevocational acts by North Korea. However, I do not see North Korea getting the attention and acknowledgement it wants, especially from the U.S. At this time, I do not see a hot war erupting in the near future.
2018 Mid-Term Elections
The #MeToo movement will affect several members of the House of Representatives which will result in bringing Democratic numbers closer to Republicans in the House balance. The Senate races will be tighter and Democrats may pull even with Republicans, but may not establish a clear majority. Also, Democrats will gain some traction with an anti-Trump stance, but in an attempt to gain back Congress, Democrats will begin to develop a positive message and slogan within six months.
Donald Trump Presidency
Mr. Trump wants to be loved, and there are some around him and in his base who do love him. However, because he will struggle to know whose advise to take, during the next six months I see him surrounded by infighting, conflict, anger, jealousy, and deception, which will take its toll on him. One benefit for him is I do see him improving his fortune substantially over the next 12 months and generally over the next three years.
Congress will make a push to curtail or limit welfare and other entitlements over the next three months, but will encounter blow-back and will not be able to substantially limit these areas. I do not see Congress being able to approach any significant changes in Medicare or Social Security in the near future. I get that the tax bill will be generally accepted over the next 9 months, but anger and conflict will occur over the bill around the midterm elections, and there may be attempts to amend the bill in late 2019. Many of the present provisions will stand in the future, however. Despite attempts to repeal the ACA, much of it will survive due to public pressure. There will be only token effort in increasing infrastructure spending over the next two years, though there will be a significant increase in project spending in 2020.
Supreme Court Vacancy
I do not at this time see a Supreme Court vacancy in 2018.
I am no longer making predictions on this topic.
U.S. Economy and Stock Market
While the economy remains strong, there continues to be a feeling of economic polarization with members of the population. There will be a slight downturn in July/August, but a strong finish at the end of the year. The stock market will have a correction in March but will rebound and be solid for the rest of the year. Precious metals will hold fairly steady with a dip in March/April and again in June.
Legalization of Marijuana
New states will continue to legalize medicinal and recreational use of marijuana, but it will be at least six years before there is a chance to change the federal law.
Bitcoin and Virtual Currencies
Bitcoin will continue to be big until September at which time there will be a shocker due to hacking or some kind of dishonest manipulation. Over the next two and a half years, countries will be considering regulating and taxing the virtual currencies. I see digital ledgers like Blackchain struggling to define themselves over the next two and a half years, but then being established as legitimate business brokers in currency trading.
Ted Cruz will be hard pressed in a narrowing margin in the race with El Paso’s Beto O’Rourke for the Texas Senate seat. Beto O’Rourke seems to be gaining momentum and the seat may be up for grabs.
Tom Herman will continue trying to find rhythm and consistency and will have a somewhat better season in 2018, winning 7 games with a chance to win 8, which is still not enough for the success starved alumni and fans.
U.T. Men’s Basketball
The men’s basketball team is fairly good and will make it to the Big Dance, but have to look out for a letdown and sloppy play in the first round. If they make it through the first game, they will catch fire and go far in the tournament.
U.T. Women’s Basketball
The Lady Longhorns will do well in the Spring and will make it at least to the elite 8 and possibly to the final four. After that is not clear. Karen Aston will have more good recruits for next year but must be careful of recruiting violations or attempts by other schools to steal recruits questionably.
The Austin economy continues to be strong this year and benefits from struggles in specific other states which brings new arrivals and new businesses. Especially robust will be tech companies and startups including virtual reality and game companies.
Austin Real Estate Market
Austin real estate will remain steady possibly due in part to the influx of new residents, with the exception of May/June, where a slowdown occurs temporarily, but then sales pick up again until a slight holiday slump.