Vox’s Matt Yglesias has a post Wednesday laying out 11 "bold" predictions for 2015 that aren’t that bold. The stock market will go up? Economic growth will be 2.7 percent? Nothing happening on police reform? Whoa, no way! (OK, the Memphis Grizzlies winning the NBA title and the emoji (◡ ‿ ◡ ✿) becoming popular—those are bold.) So without further ado, here are 11 downright crazy predictions for 2015:
1. The unemployment rate falls below 5 percent.
The unemployment rate at 5.8 percent has fallen by about a percentage point each of the past two years. That isn’t likely to continue as we near full employment. Discouraged workers reentering the labor market will also put upward pressure on the unemployment rate. But unemployment was below 5 percent in the mid-2000s and even fell below 4 percent in 2000, the last time most Americans saw real wage growth. Let’s hope it happens again.
2. The price of oil falls below $25.
Greece’s upcoming elections could reignite the Eurozone crisis, further weakening demand. It’s also not clear where the breakpoint is for U.S. shale production—meaning where the price of oil becomes so low that it doesn’t make sense for U.S. producers to continue production. Finally, OPEC, driven by Saudi Arabia, won’t cut supply, in part to hurt those U.S. producers and in part to destabilize Iran. All of this leads to a further drop in oil prices—and maybe a recession in Texas.
5. Mitt Romney runs for president.
A Republican field without a clear frontrunner will be very tempting for Romney. And if the GOP primary becomes a mess, he'll see a clear opening. Plus, he still leads in the polls, even if they don't mean much at this time. So, mark it down: Romney will enter the race. These are supposed to be crazy predictions after all.
6. Duke's men's basketball goes undefeated.
The ACC has some difficult tests. But the Blue Devils have already beaten Wisconsin in Madison, and freshmen Jahlil Okafor and Tyus Jones have shown great poise under pressure. Duke hate will reach new heights in 2015 when my alma mater runs the table.
7. Russia stops backing Bashar al-Assad in Syria.
Call this the Dan Drezner prediction: The Russian ruble has stopped crashing over the past few weeks as Vladimir Putin has used the country’s reserves to prop up the currency. But that is only a temporary solution. The Russian economy is still heading for a nasty recession if not an outright depression. In traditional currency crises like Russia is experiencing, a country receives a loan from the International Monetary Fund. But that won’t happen for Russia after its incursion into Ukraine.
It’s hard to imagine the pressure on Putin intensifying to the point that he returns Crimea to Ukraine and withdraws all support for the rebels. But he could make substantial concessions in Syria by reducing the Kremlin’s support for Assad. Maybe the U.S. and other countries would accept that. Maybe they wouldn’t. But Putin faces an ugly 2015 either way, especially if prediction #2 comes to pass.
8. Ebola returns to the U.S.
The crisis has died down her for now but it is still ravaging West Africa. Unless we provide the adequate resources and doctors to get it under control there, more people with Ebola will enter the United States. We’re not going to close our borders to those countries—and that would be dumb anyways. The worst fear is that it becomes endemic to the region. Thar's why it's vital that we continue to fight the disease where it's worst, in West Africa, even if there are no cases here at home.
9. A minimum wage hike passes the Senate.
I won’t go as far to say it will pass the House. But raising the minimum wage is very, very popular, even among Republicans. That’s going to be a challenge for the GOP presidential candidates and moderate Republican senators who are up for reelection. A number of states have already raised their minimum wages above the federal minimum of $7.25. And an improving economy gives businesses more room to increase wages, potentially ameliorating conservative concerns about a minimum wage hike killing jobs. They won’t agree to raise it to the president’s preferred number of $10.10. But there's plenty of room for a compromise.
10. Amazon enters crisis mode.
For years, Amazon’s stock continually rose despite nearly non-existent profits. That all stopped in 2014 as its revenue growth continued to slow and the Amazon Fire phone flopped. The stock is down more than 20 percent for the year. Yet, a perception of Amazon as a growing behemoth that is set to conquer the American retail industry still exists. That perception will end in 2015.
11. More of these predictions come true than Vox’s.