Continuing my informal series of blog posts beginning with “P”, here are a few predictions for the coming year:

1. Domestic politics:

i. Not because I really expect it but because I think it’s plausible, I predict that the 2008 Presidential Election will be: McCain-Huckabee versus Obama-Webb.

As I say: in neither case is this the most-likely outcome. The most likely outcome is Romney vs Clinton – and getting more likely by the day. But that’s a boring prediction.

So I’ll make some contingent predictions and some other predictions about the 2008 elections in the US:

ii. My VP picks for McCain and Obama are so blindingly obvious that I can’t imagine either candidate choosing anybody else. It’s less obvious who Clinton and Romney should – or would – pick. So I’ll predict that if they get their respective nominations, Clinton will pick Richardson and Romney will pick Kay Bailey Hutchinson.

iii. If McCain is still in the race after New Hampshire, then when Thompson drops out he will endorse McCain.

iv. If McCain is still in the race after South Carolina, then Arnold Schwarzenegger will endorse him.

v. Bill Richardson will drop out after losing Iowa and endorse Clinton.

vi. Edwards will drop out after losing South Carolina, and will endorse whoever is clearly winning at that point (and if it’s still up in the air, he won’t endorse).

vii. Rudy Giuliani will not drop out until it’s become embarrassing.

viii. Al Gore will not endorse Hillary Clinton, except in the general election.

ix. Ron Paul will get double-digits in New Hampshire, which will be his strongest showing for the campaign in any major contest. He will not run as an independent.

x. Neither will Michael Bloomberg.

xi. Enough with the Presidential race already! That’s ten items! Let’s look at the Senate. The Democrats will pick up Colorado, New Hampshire, New Mexico, Oregon and Virginia, and the next Senate will contain two Senators named “Udall.”

2. We are only forced to suffer through a Presidential contest every four years. But we have to suffer through the Oscar process every year. So:

i. I boldly predict that “No Country for Old Men” will win Best Picture. This is based on absolutely nothing – I have not seen the film and know virtually nothing about it. But since I haven’t seen any of the other films that will be nominated, I’m not biased.


ii. Best Director will go to Joe Wright for “Atonement,” another film I haven’t seen. The Coens will get a nomination, but not the award.

iii. Best Actor will go to Daniel Day Lewis for “There Will be Blood” – yet another film I haven’t seen, but unlike the previously mentioned two films, this one I’d like to see. Denzel Washington also gets nominated, for “American Gangster,” and Viggo Mortensen, for “Eastern Promises,” and I’m not sure who else.

iv. Best Actress goes to Keira Knightley for “Atonement,” because, you know, that’s the way things work. Going in to the nominations, people are talking about how lousy the field is for women this year. When the nominations come out, though, people will be talking about what an interesting bunch of nominees it is – Amy Adams for “Enchanted,” Ellen Page, for “Juno,” Laura Linney, for “Savages” – and then they’ll give the statuette to Keira Knightley, for “Atonement.” Because, you know, that’s the way things work.

v. In spite of appearing in every single movie this year, and hence running the risk of splitting his natural vote, Philip Seymour Hoffman will still win the Oscar for Best Supporting Actor for “Charlie Wilson’s War.” Because that’s what great actors do: they support; stars star. Unless you’re Daniel Day Lewis.

vi. In like vein, Cate Blanchett, who doesn’t even got nominated for “Elizabeth II: This Time It’s Personal” – probably because the title confused people who thought they were going to see Helen Mirren – gets the Oscar for playing Bob Dylan in certain parts of “I’m Not There.” Rumors that she will play the former President as a young dog in parts the upcoming “Where’s The Rest of Me?” could not be confirmed at press time.

vii. Diablo Cody will refuse to accept the award for Best Original Screenplay (for “Juno”) in solidarity with the striking writers.

viii. In non-Oscar movie news, “Ender’s Game” will still be wandering homeless through the streets of Hollywood. There will be no sign of a Ringworld movie either, but that doesn’t matter, because World of Ptavvs, Dream Park and The Mote In God’s Eye would all make better films.

3. Economy and Markets predictions:

i. The major domestic equity indices will be down on the year. They will still outperform the Asian indices, which will be weighed down by the unravelling of the Chinese bubble. But they will underperform the major European indices in local currency and dollar terms.

ii. The dollar will spend the year debating whether to weaken or strengthen, having a volatile but ultimately inconclusive year.

iii. The housing market nationally will trough out in the third quarter, but will flatline from there for quite a while, so that won’t be the end of mortgage defaults.

iv. None of the major monoline insurers (MBIA, Ambac, FSA, FGIC, Security Capital) will go out of business, though most if not all will have to raise new capital. Nonetheless, at least one new monoline will be launched (presumably by Berkshire).

v. Brazil will be one of the few emerging markets to have a good 2007 and a good 2008.

vi. Slowing growth in Asia and the United States will keep oil prices generally below $100/barrel, but geopolitical factors and refining capacity tightness will keep it above $75/barrel.

4. Foreign affairs predictions:

i. Neither the United States nor Israel will bomb Iran. The Iranian regime will not fall. There will be no “grand bargain” between the United States and Iran. Iran’s nuclear power plant will not open on schedule.

ii. Pakistan will postpone its elections. Musharraf will be out of power by the end of the year, pushed out by the army. There will be no civil war. Nawaz Sharif will be the next Prime Minister of Pakistan. Not that it will do any good.

iii. Ehud Olmert will, emulating his nemesis, Bibi Netanyahu, shift focus from the Palestinian “track” to the Syrian “track” in 2008, with some initially promising talks, but there will be no signed peace between Israel and Syria in 2008.

iv. The United States will withdraw all troops in 2008 from . . . Saudi Arabia. This entirely symbolic move (there are only 500 troops left there now) will be coordinated with the Saudi government, and will accompany greater rhetorical opposition to the United States’ role in the region and the failure to achieve peace between Israel and the Palestianian Authority. There will be a big summit meeting between Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and King Abdullah at which permanent friendship between the two nations will be solemnized, leading all sorts of people to believe that there’s a new axis of evil afoot when, in fact, these two countries hate each other more than they ever did before.

v. There will be no international intervention to save Darfur.

vi. I’ve been predicting for years that the German far-left will do something to try to capture more of the far-right vote. Oscar Lafontaine’s comments a couple of years ago about the threat from foreign workers were, I thought, the beginning of this move. So I’m going to predict it again: the bigger, stronger, more united German far-left will do something to blur the distinction between far-left and far-right, which will get it a lot of bad press but will win it a slightly higher showing in the 2008 regional elections (though all these elections will actually be won by the conservatives – votes for the far left come from either otherwise disaffected voters or voters who would otherwise vote for the Greens or the SPD).

vii. The “Blues” (KMT) will win a decisive victory in the Taiwanese elections. This will be received extremely favorably by Beijing in the run-up to the Olympics. The Olympics will proceed without incident.

viii. Most of the world will continue to forget that North Korea is still out there, doing whatever it is it does.

5. Other.

i. The kindle won’t do well enough to make a profit, but will do well enough to convince Apple to invest in a competing product.

ii. Some kind of social-networking-based pyramid scheme will be a big enough story to prompt public debate.

iii. Gregory Cochran will publish something impressive and controversial.

iv. Grand New Party will do really, really well.

If I think of any other predictions before midnight, I’ll post updates.