Happy New Year! Well, the holiday shopping season turned out to be stronger than last year’s and perhaps the best for retailers since 2007. And yes, Virginia, Santa Clause is now on Facebook. Internet shopping was the strongest ever, rising 12% from last year, so perhaps that explains all those empty parking spaces and short checkout lines at the malls. Now, as we put our decorations back into their boxes and our wrappings into the recycling bin, we begin to wonder what is next.
This is the time of year I like to gaze deep into the crystal ball in hopes of catching a glimpse of what might lie ahead. The time line regarding how things will play out is not always clear, but the crystal ball will undoubtedly reveal something of where forces brewing today will lead us tomorrow. Sometimes things take longer to transpire than anyone might have initially imagined, and often events unfold differently than expected, but we can at least gain clarity regarding the seeds of the issues scattered about us today that may eventually take root and bloom. So, without further adieu… let us dim the lights and join hands around the table, and allow the vision to reveal itself.
Crystal ball says…
Housing market will continue to crumble. The continued crash will threaten the stability of the overall economy perhaps causing another dip into recession, though this may take a while – maybe into the following year. Housing bubbles pop in Australia, Canada and possibly China.
US municipal bond market thrown into crisis by states unable to service debt. Cities and counties face financial peril.
Europe thrown into further crisis as Spain’s debt problems drag down EU system. Euro is threatened, may face collapse. Debt problems in Italy come to a head.
Speculation in commodities continues, but bubble pops before too long.
US banks face continued closures as housing tanks and problems in MERS/foreclosure fiasco are exposed.
Unemployment remains high.
Lending standards continue to tighten, availability of credit continues to shrink.
Further Quantitative Easing… more about covert monetizing and lending, less about public heroics and bailout plans.
War fatigue… people question the value and sustainability of war in Afghanistan. Non-interventionist sentiment grows amongst public and youth, as war presses on.
Public pension crisis gains more publicity. Increasing pressure on unions to restructure benefit plans to match those of private sector.
Rising poverty leads to rise of political awareness and unrest. Protest. Rise of public interest in economics and policy.
Issues of liberty surface as public is squeezed by government looking to make up for deficits. Anti-terror security efforts continue to encroach upon privacy. Libertarianism sees growing popularity.
Counterculture movement amongst young adults. Internet connects global movement. Rise in grass roots political activity, arts and innovative small entrepreneurship.
Green, cyber and bioengineering technologies see development.
Loss of faith in government and present leadership. Obama criticized as political leader yet appreciated as motivational speaker.
Evolution of the spiritual. Includes focus on ethics, atheism, new exploration, as well as the return to and reinterpretation of the classics.
Fashion forward… archetypes of warrior, explorer, shaman, monk and intellectual. Hard modern lines begin to soften. Irony refined. Earnestness emerges. Twitter poets. Dada. Naturalistic and unusual dominate idealistic and artificial (boob jobs reversed, crooked teeth are cool). Hair in bangs and layers. Troubadours. Textures. Earth, stone, metal and faux fur. Post-punk preppy. The ant and the grasshopper. Causes and comeuppance. Micro farming. Neo-Romantic sentiment. Nostalgia. People return to the cinema, and live entertainment thrives with development in alternative venues. Cozy. Hand crafted. Recycled. Frugal. Less is more.
Chicago Sun Times
Holiday Retail Sales Could Exceed Record
Dec 28, 2010
2010 Online Holiday Shopping Season Was Biggest Ever
Jennifer Van Grove
January 5, 2011