“Back to the Future”   

  Issue 33

By:  Ron Brounes  

January 1900


So much for those wise soothsayers, proclaiming gloom and doom for the beginning of the new year.  Thankfully, the world as we know it did not come to an crashing end.  The pessimists among us can climb out of those bomb shelters, try to sell back that life supply of non-perishable goods, and redeposit their cash back at the general store.   The year, decade, century came to a rather anticlimactic close with few interruptions to our daily lives.  As the last round of fireworks exploded, we wished each other a happy new year and began to experience life in the 20th century.  Our horse drawn buggies did not cease to operate.  Our abacuses still made all their calculations (accurately, for the most part).  Welcome to 1900. 


So now that the most fearful of all prognostications has proven to be over-stated, let’s take a look into the crystal ball and see what the next year (or so) has in store.  Unfortunately, it appears that President Bill will meet with an untimely death, as he is assassinated by a mentally ill anarchist.  VP Theodore Roosevelt follows William McKinley to the White House.  His instant popularity will soon be recognized with the introduction of a children’s toy known as the “teddy bear.”  (It will never make it.)  The world becomes a tad bit smaller as global trade continues to evolve.  The U.S. will purchase a small channel of water known as the Panama Canal for just that purpose.  (We will definitely control passage through this canal forever.)  Transportation makes great strides as a couple of brothers known as the Rights (or maybe, Wrights) make the first successful flight in the air.  (The nervous general public will never choose to risk their lives by flying in these contraptions.)   Luckily, they won’t have to as Ford introduces some newfangled technology known as an assembly line and produces the first Model T automobile.  (They tried 20 times before getting it right.)  Not to be outdone, a competitor will emerge known as General Motors.  (Ford will rapidly put them out of business and remain a monopoly forever.)  Some mad scientist named Einstein will develop a ridiculous “relative” theory of some sort.  From the pop culture front, a new fad silent movie becomes the rage with a hard to follow story about some great train robbery.  (Long live vaudeville.) 




A quick download of a “patch” (whatever that is) and we’re back in the year 2000 with only a minor inconvenience.  (Though given the current crop of Presidential candidates, Roosevelt looks pretty good.)  Since the millennium conspiracy theorists have been proven incorrect, let’s take a quick glance at my past year’s predictions and see if I fared any better. 


A level headed Senator John McCain (Az.) emerges as a voice of reason and a strong contender for his Party’s nomination (until those skeletons in his closet are revealed).  (Strong American values and his war hero status will be weighed against a hot temper, a past S&L scandal, and claims of influence peddling.)


The Dow continues to surge toward 10,000 and beyond with help from a strong economy, a smart Fed Chairman, and sheer speculation in the technology sector.  (The Dow closed at 11,497; the technology heavy NASDAQ returned around 85%)


After a relatively smooth transition period, the Euro stumbles as traders realize that the economies of 11 diverse countries are not exactly correlated.  (Reached trading peak during first few sessions of 1999 and has been slipping ever since.)


Foreign film, “Life is Beautiful” proves to be this year’s big winner as Americans show the world that we are smart enough to watch and enjoy a film with subtitles.  (Roberto Benigni earns “Best Actor” and performs a nice Robin Williams impression at the Academy Awards.)


And as the new millenium approaches, countless new prognosticators begin making outrageous predictions about the “end of the world,” “President Quayle” or a “National Championship for Texas A&M.”  (All distant memories by now.)




What’s in store for 2000?  AOL purchases Time Warner and changes the face of multi-media, technology, and the world as we know it.  (OK, so I’m a day or two late.)   The trend with such mergers (though not this grand) continues as the Internet takes its rightful place among mainstream America. E-commerce grows within the classic “bricks and mortars” as management realizes that cannibalization is better than losing business altogether.  More pure Internet players join forces with traditional companies to improve their channels of distribution.  A few well known Internet firms (which remain unprofitable) begin losing their much needed advertising revenues and disappear from the radar screen.  Investors/speculators panic, some technology issues initially sell-off (in a big way), and analysts finally devise a logical way to better value these firms.  Still, the Internet economy evolves to levels we cannot even imagine today. 


John McCain and Bill Bradley prove the skeptics wrong as substance wins out over money.  An American hero (rather than a sports hero) emerges victorious and becomes the 43rd President of the United States.  (You heard it here first.)  The country says goodbye (and good riddance) to the Clintons as New York sends reverse-carpetbagger Hillary packing to the speaking circuit, where she commands larger fees than ex-husband, Bill.  Elian Gonzales is sent home to his father’s custody in Cuba, but returns in 10 years as an All-Star shortstop.  John Rocker successfully completes psychiatric treatment, gets traded to the Yankees (where he is welcomed with open arms), and becomes an active member of Jesse Jackson’s Rainbow Coalition.  The Lakers and Blazers rule the NBA with no team in the East able to compete.  In the end, Phil Jackson proves he can coach without MJ, but Scottie Pippin still cannot win (gravy train) without him.  Tom Hanks accumulates more Oscars with his performance in “The Green Mile” (or perhaps “Toy Story 2”).  And those wise soothsayers return, proclaiming gloom and doom for the beginning of the new year, once they realize the true millennium does not start until 2001.  (Hold off on returning those non-perishable goods.)  


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FOR WHAT IT’S WORTH is a publication of Brounes & Associates focusing on business marketing and general communications strategies. Please call Ron Brounes at 713-432-1910 for additional information. For those subscribers who have been receiving recent issues directly to your bomb shelters, please notify me of any changes to your current mailing addresses.