Crystal Ball 2013

2 01 2013

I’m not much of a prophet (if I was, my portfolio would be considerably larger), but I’m going to go out on a limb and make some predictions regarding 2013. Come January 1st 2014, you all have a right to heckle me for being so terribly wrong. (This should have gone up yesterday, but I’d just flown back from HCMC and didn’t feel like writing.)

• The Dragon becomes the Snake

As we slither from the brash Dragon to the subtle Snake, expect China and Japan’s overt conflicts and saber-rattling over the Diaoyu Islands to peter out. There won’t be a war between China and Japan- not this year, at least. As befits the snake, however, expect conflicts of an economic nature- and perhaps some intelligence scandals- to continue to chill China’s relations with it’s neighbors.

• Report to Disassembly Room 101!

In David Brin’s latest brick, Existence (more on that later), Chinese corporate criminals were, at some point in the early 21st century, punished en masse by “disassembly”- being executed and harvested for their organs. While they may or may not be properly recycled, I’d expect this fate or something similar to it will befall corrupt CCP officials by the thousands as Xi Jinping asserts his power, crowned by life imprisonment for court rival Bo Xilai. This will be an ongoing theme of the coming decade- corruption in low-to-midlevel places will no longer be tolerated, and consequences for those who break the rules will be ugly. Corruption in China, by 2020, will be reduced to levels similar to South Korea- a province of a very small SOE/princeling elite. Just? No. But efficient.

• The Fiscal Fizzle

The dreaded “Fiscal Cliff” proves to be more of a fiscal speedbump, as America’s slow-but-steady recovery continues with only a small hiccup. The economy will grow at around 2-2.5% for the year; unemployment will drop to 7.2% by the end of 2013, and neither the Obama Administration or Congress will achieve much of anything.

• Your Reality Will Be Augmented

Lightweight, consumer-ready AR goggles hit the market just in time for Christmas 2013… but at $1299 a pair, and fairly limited in usefulness, end up being a geeks-only accessory (as Neal Stephenson predicted in Snow Crash, the pocket protector of the 21st century). Like the Web in the 90s, though, or smartphones in the early 00s, expect this to only remain the case for 3-5 years… with mass adoption looming before the decade is out.

• China Stumbles- Southeast Asia Booms

Manufacturing in China continues to stagnate, the stock market remains flat, and the government gets antsy that it’s anti-corruption campaigns aren’t going far enough. By year end, Wang Qishan oversteps his position portfolio and unveils a Zhu Rongji-esq set of banking and financial reforms. In the meantime, however, companies are looking elsewhere, as the FDI circus sets it’s sites on Vietnam, Thailand and Indonesia instead.

• Consultant, Heal Thyself!

Given my tendency to go into everything at exactly the wrong time, this will be the year that the management consulting industry stumbles. Monitor was the monitor- or at least the canary. Before the year is out, one of the big three is on the verge of reorganization. Of course, this could just be karmic hedging on my part… (why yes, it’s blatant karmic hedging!)

• Angela and I have our wedding on March 23rd.

RSVP now! The last one seems the safest.

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