The first of every year, we encourage you to look around, set some goals and live intentionally. As a family we meet together early in the year, devour some quality Chinese Food and set our goals for the year.
As part of the process, we look around and take inventory of what we see. Part of the process is our annual predictions column. We have some big predictions for 2012, but first let's review the record of what we said in early 2011.
Last year we said, "Economic growth will remain sluggish at best. Housing prices have not yet hit bottom and will definitely continue falling. Foreclosures will continue unabated and this will pressure the banking system."
I don't think we were far off the mark. We continued with, "The Federal Reserve, under the leadership of Ben Bernanke, has run out of tools to boost the economy. Continued quantitative easing will increase inflation while barely budging the unemployment numbers."
Again we hit a bulls-eye. The Fed is out of ammunition. They risk serious inflation if they pump much more cash into the system. The only factor currently protecting us from inflation is the deflation in housing and real estate. All the money destroyed in the housing crisis is being restored by the Fed, but it isn't circulating with us common folk because it is all being used to rescue insolvent banks and governments.
Our only real clunker of a prediction was, "Gasoline will trend upward to nearly $4.00 a gallon, and could even surpass it. Every additional gallon of oil pumped out of the ground is more costly than ever to produce. Rising gas prices will further drag the economy down." They are up but not that much.
This didn't happen because demand has been so effectively diminished by the soft economy. When consumers cut back, one of the first places they look is miles driven.
Finally, we predicted, "insider Republicans by the end of 2011 will be well on their way to nominating for President a Mitt Romney or Governor Haley Barbour." Haley Barbour stepped out, and Newt Gingrich stepped up but Mitt Romney has consolidated the establishment receiving endorsements from Bob Dole and George H. W. Bush.
Our prediction is that it doesn't matter whether Romney, Ron Paul or Gingrich, is the Republican nominee in 2012, the GOP nominee is going to defeat Barack Obama. In future columns we will explain why we are bullish on Republican prospects.
The summer of 2012 will be more violent than the summer of 1968. Occupy protests will morph from hippies dancing to the beat of African drums into a mob tossing Molotov cocktails and burning buildings. Think the violence we see in Cairo and Athens is an ocean away? Don't bet on it. Most occupy protesters are just uninformed dupes, but inside the leadership lurks hard core Marxists that haven't let their dreams of violent revolution die.
Finally, MF Global is the start of an international bank run, and we haven't seen the end of the panic. The global financial system is under a crushing load of debt, and it only takes a catalyst to bring down the house of cards. Don't expect stocks and other financial instruments to have a good year.
Please make moves to protect yourself through diversification of investments and the ownership of some real assets including Gold.
And remember your best protection is to think for yourself and not rely on the media's current wisdom. The current wisdom is often the foolish belief of a generation ago. Remember when they said real estate will never go down?