by Urban C. Lehner, Vice President, DTN Editorial
Move over, death and taxes. You’re said to be the only certainties in life, but looking ahead to 2012, there’s another certainty: uncertainty.
For few years has the crystal ball been blurrier. On top of weather, which defies prophecy every year, 2012 forecasters must foresee whether the Euro survives its brush with death and how China navigates the shoals of recession. In the U.S. and France, 2012 brings political uncertainties in the form of presidential elections; China and Russia will get new presidents, too. The high volatility and low confidence levels prevailing in financial markets also cloud the outlook.
As a soothsayer I’ve had my ups and downs. In 1992, having recently observed firsthand the string and baling wire holding North Korea together, I predicted the country’s collapse and absorption by South Korea. That call was, how shall we say, premature.
Undaunted, I keep playing oracle. Recognizing 2012’s exceptional unknowability, however, I am retreating to the safer ground of predicting what will not happen rather than what will. In 2012, I envisage:
–Inflation will not race out of control and interest rates will not soar. High unemployment will dampen price pressures. Beyond 2012, who knows?
–Farmland prices will not collapse. Yes, they’re at lofty levels, but it would take both a dramatic and sustained drop in crop prices and a sharp increase in interest rates to make them collapse. Stagnation at something like current levels is possible, though.
–Printed Christmas cards will not disappear, but their numbers will continue to diminish. Did anyone else notice that in 2011, the usual trickle of e-Christmas cards turned into a torrent?
–Europe will not solve its economic and financial problems. Only if the crisis worsens to the point where catastrophe is imminent will Europe’s politicians put together a credible plan that calms markets. Even if they do, Europe will languish in recession next year.
–The world’s dire shortage of common sense will not ease.
–Washington will not solve the country’s economic problems. Are you kidding? It will be at least 2013 before signs of progress emerge.
–Japan will not import American beef from cows older than 20 months. It will take at least a year, maybe two or more, for the Japanese to study this proposed change.
–Solar flares will not send us all back to the dark ages. Some of us, maybe, but not all.
–In continued defiance of my now 20-year-old prophecy North Korea will not collapse. The world’s most unpredictable country is getting an unpredictable new leader, and he’ll spend the year trying to consolidate his power. Fireworks in 2013, maybe, though.
–Ethanol will not fall off a cliff. As long as the Renewable Fuels Standard remains on the books, ethanol can survive the loss of the blenders’ tax credit and resistance from oilmen, livestock producers and food processors.
–Herman Cain will not stage a successful comeback. Some wounds never heal.
–China’s yuan will not become a reserve currency. With the Chinese economy facing slower growth, maybe a recession, the yuan won’t appreciate much. Market forces and manipulation could even depress its value against the dollar.
–The world will not end. Take that, Mayans.
Here’s one thing that will happen. You — our customers and readers — will have the very best wishes of everyone here at DTN/The Progressive Farmer for a happy, healthy and prosperous 2012. Happy New Year.
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Posted with DTN Permission by Haylie Shipp