Fearless Forecast, 2010

Well, now. We've made it, just barely, through another year. But it was really close, so I'm keeping my supply of candles, dehydrated meals, bottled water and extra propane for the outdoor grill/emergency kitchen.

Buying more bullets wasn't possible, however, because every time I went to buy a few more rounds for the .357, someone had already bought them all. It seems 2009 gave new meaning to the phrase "get the lead out," because bullet sales hit new records.

Why did I want more bullets?

Simple. While gold went to record highs against the dollar in 2009, I remain confident that one shot from a .357 will still take an ounce of gold. Just as it did when gold was $1,000 and $800 ... and all the way down to $75 in 1977.

I wonder if that means bullets are the only real money.

But it may be just as well that I couldn't buy more bullets. Back in Texas again, on the edge of Austin Hill Country, my wife and I are totally outgunned. When you see more signs that say "deer processing" than signs that say "word processing," you know it pays to be polite at all times.

But don't give up hope. My crystal ball sees great things for 2010.

The discovery of Imagi.

How it wasn't noticed for so long will be debated for decades, but the discovery of a new and prosperous nation, Imagi, will prove to be the economic salvation the entire world has been seeking. At a press conference, its leader will say the citizens of Imagi-nation love all things American, particularly our Treasury debt. Other nations -- think China -- will be greatly relieved. They will offer to provide as much as the Imagis want in lightly used obligations.

The second flight of Herb Kelleher's free Irish bar.

Last year I predicted Southwest's former CEO Herb Kelleher would solve the problem of retirement income by allowing millions of retirees to redeem their unused free drink tickets to start mini Irish bars. When I learned this could not happen, I took all our unused coupons and gave them to a flight attendant on a Southwest flight to San Diego. I asked her to give free drinks to all passengers. Sadly, the gesture wasn't as successful as I hoped, but I'm building my coupon collection for another try.

If you would like to turn a Southwest flight into a party plane, I have a suggestion. Do it on an afternoon flight, not a morning flight ...

The First Blind Hubris award.

Modeled after the famed Nobel Prize, the Blind Hubris award will go to the financial leader who makes the most fatuous statement during the year. Only bankers are eligible, but the competition for this award is fierce. While it has no cash attached, since the recipients already have all the money in the world, the first one will be given by acclamation to Lloyd Blankfein, CEO of Goldman Sachs, for his "We're doing God's work" statement.

Johnny Paycheck will have a new hit song.

Soaring to No. 1 on the pop as well as country and western charts, "Take This House and Shove It" will dwarf the popularity of his earlier hit "Take This Job and Shove It." Thousands of upside-down homeowners will figure out that they will be better off taking foreclosure than toughing it out. Wags will say: "You've heard of the self-directed IRA? Well, this is a self-directed bailout for people who can't afford a congressman or senator of their own."

Nieman Marcus will bow to demographic reality.

Long noted for the extravagant offers in its annual gift catalog, Nieman's will move to the cutting edge of demography by devoting its 2010 catalog to artful items for the elderly. The most popular item will be a pair of his and hers C/PAP machines (for treatment of sleep apnea) specially sculpted by world famous artists.

2010 will be a very popular year to die.

It's literally the last big tax-free opportunity. Although most people could easily have died in 2009 with an estate tax exemption of $3.5 million, the real diehards will wait for 2010 when there is no estate tax, regardless of the size of your estate. (Unless, of course, the law is changed. So don't stop breathing just yet.)

The Funny Product Index will reach an all-time high.

This little-known index regularly proves that things aren't so bad that we no longer have a sense of humor. My personal favorite for 2009 was the urinal pad emblazened with a picture of Bernard Madoff.

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