Trust me, 2006 will bring the usual run of surprises. Here are my Fearless Forecasts, intuited from the usual gestalt of deadly accurate media sources.

"Where's our cake?" The question will begin at an obscure shareholders' meeting in New Jersey but will join "Where's the beef?" in history. It will start when several employees will attend the shareholder meeting wearing printed T-shirts.

The silent protest will receive immediate media coverage. Before long, a single T-shirt outfit will replace business casual in Corporate America as thousands, then millions, of workers will arrive at work wearing "Where's our cake?" T-shirts.

The reference, of course, is to Marie Antoinette and the growing resemblance between life among corporate executives and life among the nobility prior to the French Revolution.

Like the French nobility, American corporate executives won't understand. They will continue to feel underpaid. Late in the year the FBI will find a hoard of guillotines in private militia arms caches scattered across Arkansas, Texas, and Montana. The FBI won't understand what that means either.

Our central bank will form the first Federal Reserve Chopper Brigade.   Under its new chairman, Ben Bernanke, the Federal Reserve will contract with FEMA to operate a special helicopter unit. Their job: Drop large quantities of currency in ZIP codes suffering deflation. FEMA will get the job because of its vast experience at dropping vast quantities of money.

"Welcome to our bubble!"   Inspired by years of media talk of a bubble in housing prices, an obscure Tennessee inventor will patent an inexpensive construction system based on sturdy inflatable balloons and low cost modules for bathrooms, kitchens, and home utilities. Bubble houses will cost a fraction of what conventional homes cost. They will quickly appear in magazines, including the December 2006 cover of Money magazine with the headline, "Bubble This!"

Ironically, as more and more Bubble Homes are inflated, the prices of conventional homes will deflate.

Formation of the first Blackberry Workers Recovery Group.   Although "Blackberry thumb syndrome" has been joked about for years, the 24/7 lifestyle will be seen as an extreme hazard of high tech employment. Hundreds of Blackberry users wander aimlessly in airports, months behind on their e-mail, unaware that their division has been sold and they are no longer employed.

Recovery will be unusually complicated. It will require speech therapy for many. Fully 63 percent of Blackberry addicts will need plastic surgery on their thumbs. A presidential commission will assess the possibility of e-mail addiction recovery. Their conclusion: Recovery from alcohol or Vicodin addiction is easier.   

Bankers will beg. "Please borrow our money!" they will cry.   Unfortunately (for them) the public will turn a deaf ear.   Later, lenders will beg Congress to rescind the recently passed bankruptcy legislation as consumer credit levels off.

The real panic will start when consumer credit outstanding begins a sustained decline.

The source of the decline?

Two things--- the harsher limits on personal bankruptcy and the higher repayment rates required under the new law. The decline will be hastened when interest rates charged to imperfect borrowers hit 31 percent. As consumers see the benefit of avoiding 18 and 21 percent interest rates--- not to mention fees for not having been born in the second week of August and similar offenses---- they will do what bankers have feared for years and pay down their balances.

California will suffer the first Internet brownout. Caused by animated pop-up ads modeled on the MIRVs (multiple independently targetable re-entry vehicles) of Cold War fame, massive involuntary downloads to personal computers and web-enabled cell phones will cause the first Internet brown-out. A Presidential Commission will declare the event was the result of advertising dis-intermediation as conventional advertising starts to flood the Internet.

Earlier Fearless Forecasts:

31-Dec  Fearless Forecasts for 2001

  

28-Dec  My Fearless Predictions for 2000