The new year is well upon us. And with it come all the predictions and
forecasts that the most renown of gurus, seers, soothsayers, psychics, and
business consultants are making for the months ahead. Such prognosticators are never held
accountable and are, thus, able to take credit and place blame as deemed
appropriate. Not a bad gig…so here goes.
The domestic economy has been rolling along full speed ahead
with unemployment at its lowest level in decades and inflation no where to be
found. President Clinton (speaking of
taking credit) proclaims it the most promising economic picture in a
generation. Fed Chairman Greenspan
remains firmly at the helm, steering the ship toward continued prosperity. However, lurking in the foreground, (is that
a word?) is the potential “iceberg” in the form of an Asian economic crisis. While many analysts believe that the net
impact in the U.S. will be minimal due to the relatively small amount of
exports to these countries, our economy should experience a slowdown in the
months to come.
Foreign goods and services are arriving at bargain basement
prices hindering demand for our home grown manufactured brands. The true results will be reflected in the
second quarter and the stock market should react accordingly. Expect a
short-lived correction in the Dow (6800) as investors rethink their aggressive
strategies, and Greenspan and the IMF teach the world how to get back on the
road to financial recovery. Fear not
long-term investors; the Dow will ultimately move to higher levels (at some
point in the decades ahead). With
interest rates at very low levels, there are simply few alternatives for our
investment dollars. Additionally, the
U.S. relies upon foreign investors, particularly in Japan, to be strong buyers
of U.S. government securities. Luckily,
that trend should continue. On a
positive note, consumers should see less expensive (but cheaper) products in
the stores. Furthermore, now is the
perfect time to consider an affordable vacation in Indonesia.
This topic still remains unsuitable for the dinner table and
certainly a newsletter. The anticipated
balanced budget and strong economy (for now) have Congress and the President
singing each other’s praises (well, let’s not get carried away). The ’98 Congressional elections are just
around the corner, so let the bickering (and expensive campaigns) begin. Clinton continues to ride the popularity
train despite his lameduck status and an upcoming date with Paula Jones. Though polls can quickly change, Buddy should
remain his best friend for the long haul.
Past Democratic election year themes are resurfacing with
new talk of expanding (yes, expanding) Medicare and hiking the minimum wage
(again). Republicans should be better
prepared to rebut these ideas this time if they could only eliminate their own
internal bickering. Besides, no one even
pays attention or votes in non-Presidential election years. Foreign policy may become the hot topic de
jour as Iran tries to play the role of a “lion in sheep’s clothing” (is that a
saying?) and American energy companies press their reps for a reduction of economic
sanctions. Campaign contributions often
speak louder than morals, as the pressure mounts on Congressmen facing heated
battles. President (I mean) Governor
Bush easily wins re-election (and lays the groundwork for 2000) despite the controversy involving the
execution of Karla Faye Tucker. Liberal
Dems and Religious Conservatives make strange bedfellows.
THERE’S NO PLACE LIKE HOME
non-H Town residents, feel free to skip this section, or consider moving to
Fresh off his victory in the hotly contested mayoral race,
Lee Brown faces difficulties in his first term.
He will need to overcome his past indecisiveness, as rebels in the form
of power seeking Councilmen wreak havoc on City Hall. (Can you say Mayor Roach?) Backroom meetings and ulterior agendas
threaten to not only undermine Brown’s authority, but create divisiveness among
the diverse community that elected him.
His primary policy initiatives
will actually be continuations of successful Lanier programs but with
different titles to allow him to establish credibility. A new mass transit system will be reviewed
and reviewed and then tabled for more review as Metro busses remain the main
mode of public transportation heading into the millenium and beyond. The revitalization of downtown continues with
great success. Les Alexander attempts to
reap political benefits for supporting of the Brown campaign despite not even
living (or voting) in Houston. The
battle continues between Les and Chuck Watson and a new football stadium and
franchise should arrive around the year 2020.
“DA BULLS.” Its’
beginning to sound like a broken record.
It’s beginning to sound like a broken record. Realizing that their team will be dismantled
after the season, the Chicago Bulls make one final run at a title and defeat
the “new and improved” Seattle Sonics in the NBA Finals. Signing cagey veterans Elvin Hayes, Calvin
Murphy, and Slick Watts proves not to be enough to vault the Rockets beyond the
first round of the playoffs. Robin
Williams takes advantage of his newfound political contacts following his Camp
David vacation. He rides the wave to the
Oscars promoting his surprise hit film of the year, Good Will Hunting. Or was it Flubber? In actuality, I haven’t seen either movie so
I don’t really know what I’m talking about.
Then again, I can’t be held responsible; I’m just a prognosticator.