Unlike most columnists who make annual predictions and hope you forget them, I will review the predictions I made for 2018 before proceeding:
1. The Republicans will hold the House and pick up Senate seats. Half right
2. The stock market will gain at least another 10 percent. Wrong
3. The mullahs are going down. Wrong for now but will be correct in the foreseeable future.
4. North Korea will be brought under control. Debatable. North Korea has stopped testing ballistic missiles but is ignoring its promise to end its nuclear program.
5. The Steelers will win the Super Bowl. Wrong. But we wuz robbed.
Given this lackluster record, I will now proceed to 2019 predictions:
1. The stock market will remain flat.
Many stocks are simply overvalued according to traditional metrics, especially the FAANG stocks (Facebook, Amazon, Apple, Netflix and Google). These stocks pay virtually no dividends and their value is based on investors trying to outsmart each other and bid them up and then see who is clever enough to get off the train first just before they tank. Traditional Blue Chip stocks that pay better dividends (e.g Exxon, Johnson and Johnson, Pepsi, etc.) may be an alternative; but with the Federal Reserve’s unwinding of Quantitative Easing, long term interest rates will increase rendering U.S. Treasuries a safer investment. (I have no idea what the previous sentence means but I read it in the Wall Street Journal).
2. Mike Bloomberg will become the front runner for the Democratic nomination for President.
The mandarins of the Democrat party have one goal and one goal only – to defeat Donald Trump. While they may be having ideological arguments over identity politics, free health care, transgender bathrooms, open borders and free college; these will be quickly swept under the rug in order to unite behind the strongest candidate.
Bloomberg has a long history of supporting the Democratic social agenda – abortion rights, gun control, LGBT rights and adherence to the Climate Change agenda. But as a successful businessman and former New York City mayor, he has demonstrated competence in areas that will attract moderate Republicans and independents. Furthermore, he is worth about $45 billion and can easily put $5 billion into his campaign.
To put this in perspective, Hillary Clinton raised $1.2 billion in 2016 and President Trump raised about $500 million. Bloomberg’s money can initiate a ground game that President Trump cannot compete with, giving him the potential of carrying the close states that Trump won in 2016. Want to beat a brash New Yorker? Who better than another brash New Yorker?
3. President Trump will not be impeached.
Impeachment does not mean removal from office. The Senate must vote to convict and this requires a two-thirds vote. Unless there is a seismic shift in Republican opinion, this is not happening.
Impeachment could create a sympathetic backlash for the President while disturbing the financial markets – and increase his chances of reelection. A better Democratic strategy is to simply inflict political death with a thousand stabs – Stormy Daniels, Russian money laundering, sexual harassment allegations, shady business deals, bogus charities, fake universities, unscrupulous unreleased tax returns, etc. – and hope that the average voter is tired of the endless drama and wants Trump gone; even if he has presided over four years of peace and prosperity. Besides, do the Democrats really want to take a chance at dealing with President Mike Pence?
4. Alabama will be the national football champion.
At the risk of being excommunicated, Notre Dame was fortunate to lose to Clemson, thus avoiding a repeat of the humiliating thumping it received at the hands of Bama in 2013. As a medical student, I spent a month in Alabama in the early 1980s. These people make Steeler fans look like pikers. When you walked into a house, there were three portraits on the living room wall: Jesus Christ, Robert E. Lee and Bear Byrant. Coach Nick Sabin dominates college football by almost the same degree that Geno Auriemma dominates women’s basketball. Clemson will have its hands full. Roll Tide Roll.
5. The Patriots will win the Super Bowl.
Now don’t get me wrong. I consider the Patriots and their fan base to be the lowest form of life, somewhere between amoebas and Porifera. Brady is a crybaby who is treated like royalty by the referees and Belichick’s rule-bending behavior is so legendary that Steeler Coach Mike Tomlin once accused him intercepting radio signals during a game. But this does not change the fact that this is a fine team.
Brady is one of the greatest quarterbacks ever and Belichick knows how to win. With a bye in the first playoff game, the Patriots will enter the post-season with minimal injuries. The aggressive and inexperienced Kansas City will not be able to stop them and although a Super Bowl game with New Orleans will be exciting, the Patriots superior passing game will prevail in the fourth quarter.
Joe Bentivegna is an ophthalmologist in Rocky Hill.