1. President Obama will win re-election, albeit narrowly if Mitt Romney is the GOP standard bearer. He wins handily against Gingrich, Paul or Perry. Jon Huntsman is the one Republican who could knock off Obama (I mean, the guy speaks Mandarin — we’re not talking oranges here!)
2. Mitt Romney will win the GOP nomination. Romney-Thune vs. Obama-Biden.
3. The economy will improve — unemployment will still be high, but there will be a sense of relief that the great recession is finally giving way (2013 will be the year of inflation, but we’ll not dwell on that now). This will be enough to help Obama, but isn’t a true ending of the crisis – structural imbalances still exist, very serious ones in fact.
4. Occupy Wall Street protests will grow again in the summer, but activists will make a concerted effort to be positive and politically engaged, a very stark comparison to the summer of 1968 when protesters stormed the Democratic convention. This will help focus the election year conversation about relative wealth and the middle class, giving Democrats a boost.
5. The Democrats will keep the Senate and narrowly take back the House in an election that will have people saying “who’d have thunk this a year ago.” I’ll e-mail them a link to my blog.
6. The Democratic majorities will be narrow in each House, and President Obama will call for the “reasonable center” to govern. It will.
7. The New England Patriots will win the Super Bowl with Tom Brady – the best QB in the league today – MVP.
8. Maine will pass a referendum legalizing gay marriage, tbe the first referendum to get popular support for gay marriage, not relying on the courts or a friendly state legislature. This will mark a turning point for this issue.
9. Iran’s nuclear controversies notwithstanding, the people will rise up in protest against the clerics that guide the Islamic Republic, leading to a severe crisis. China, the EU and US will stay out publicly, but privately facilitate a way for change to come to Iran that doesn’t completely drive out the Supreme Leader and Guardian Council. One result of this will be Iran publicly eschewing nuclear weapons.
10. North Korea will also undergo a very positive change, this time driven by China. China will influence, bribe, threaten and cajole the North Korean military to undertake a major change in policy, opening the country. North Korea will rely on China to help it overcome high debt and poverty, and cede to China control of its nuclear weapons. Whether North Korea will unify with the South or connect in some way with China remains an open question (not to be decided in 2012).
11. Angela Merkel will emerge as the “person of the year” for 2012, thanks to her steering of the EU through crisis and claims that her work with President Obama helped him secure re-election. A feminine face on German leadership in the EU will help Europeans accept that German leadership is not only required, but no longer something to fear.
12. Syria’s President Assad will fall, around the same time Iranian protests rachet up. The tension in the region will escalate, as no clear successor to Assad’s government will emerge.
13. Iraq will continue to suffer unrest and division, with Iranian and Syrian instability spreading. Some will say the US should go back, but President Obama will note that the Iraqis have to build their own future.
14. The unrest will have a surprising side effect — it will lead to a new Israeli-Palestinian peace plan that will surprise a lot of people. Spooked by what Mossad says the impact of regional instability could mean for Israel, Netanyahu decides that some kind of agreement for a two state solution needs to be reached, and thanks to Wikileaks, he knows Hamas’ bark is worse than its bite. President Obama will be part of this late summer agreement, enhancing his re-election chances.
15. Russian President Vladimir Putin will become more openly authoritarian in his bid to win re-election as President. But the Russian people are not as docile as they were in Soviet times and Russian protests will threaten Putin’s grip on power. Ultimately Putin will be pushed out by bureaucratic insiders, but that will not satisfy the crowds.
16. Mideast unrest will cause a spike in oil prices by late summer. By the end of the year this will show itself in a slowdown of the economic recovery.
17. After some bad early press, the Chevy Volt and other electric car alternatives will make a comeback due to technological innovations and continued government support for research and development.
18. The EU and China will reach an agreement that expands Chinese investment in the EU and further links their economies. In the US some will decry the EU’s “switching sides” and abandoning the US for China. However, it simply reflects the changing balance of global politics.
19. A conference will be held near the end of the year to deal with increased threats to global economic stability and on going financial turmoil. It will take place in Asia with the bold purpose of forging a ‘new global economic order,’ or what some call a ‘new Bretton Woods’ (though much different than the old). The US will have to accept its diminished role due to high debt and structural economic deficiencies. China will recognize that it can no longer simply grow as “factory to the world” and needs to shift its economy as other Asian states supply cheaper labor and products. African states will focus on getting a fair return on resources, and the first major talks on long term energy sustainability will take place in order to avoid future ‘resource wars.’
The conference will begin around December 3rd and not close until near Christmas, the weekend of the 22nd. Pundits will have a field day comparing this to the Mayan calendar prediction that the world will end on 12-21-12. “The old world of US dominance and state-centric economics is indeed being pushed aside by these historic agreements; it’s both the end of an era and the beginning of a new one.”