I've been amusing myself lately with the headlines I'm seeing in the business press. All of the experts and analysts that are financial reporters' go-to guys and gals for quotes and insight have something in common: No one is certain. Each one, to an individual, is either hedging - "Manufacturing is likely to rebound, but if China does this or that, or the bailout results in this other thing, then, it is likely to sink further." Or, equally common are out and out incorrect prognostications, such as T Boone Pickens predictions - almost wishes - that "oil won't fall below 120...100... 70... 50".
So in an environment where Kirk Kerkorian has lost billions, Jerry Wang has been forced from Yahoo, Alan Greenspan's portrait at the Federal Reserve is waiting for fresh graffiti, and even Warren Buffett can't turn a buck, I'm ready for my turn on CNBC's Squawk Box.
Here then are the prognostications I made on a recent survey from Chief Executive Magazine:
1. How would you rate business conditions in the US currently? Bad
2. How would you rate employment conditions in the US currently? Bad
3. How would you rate investment opportunities in the US currently? Good
4. How will employment change over the next quarter? Stay the same
5. How do you expect capital spending within your company to change over the next quarter? Stay the same
6. What do you expect the economy will experience over the next quarter? Stagnation (No growth, no decline)
On December 31, 2009:
Dow Jones (currently at 8,932) will be at 9621 points
Oil (currently at $40.50) will be $59 per barrel
Interest Rates (the Fed Funds Rate, currently at 1.00%) will be: 1.00%
(I said) Uncertainty is driving the market and the economy; once some certainty arrives with new administration - for good or bad - wild swings will stabilize and the widely oversold market and general malaise will slowly lift.
(I said) Business decision-makers will become comfortable de-coupling their decisions in the real world from abstrations like the Dow. But once that fog clears, the impact of government intervention on national debt and as a general signal of the new regulatory environment will be a drag on growth.
So we'll check back in a few months to see how I've done. If I'm right, I'll start a new profession. If I'm wrong, well, I'll join the legions of analysts and experts who now are taking a page from former President Clinton: It all depends on your definition of 'wrong'.