* The Future of the Stock Market will be predicted. And predicted and predicted. It will be predicted on a daily, weekly, monthly, and annual basis, ad nauseum. Most of the predictions won't be correct but no one will remember or bother to check because in the future we will still be looking to the future, not the past. That's the way it is. If we go by the odds, the year 2000 will be another good year for the stock market. Why? Because in the 18 election years since 1928 stock prices have risen. They only fell in 1932, the Great Depression, and in 1940, the beginning of World War II. If stock prices fall in 2000 we'll have bigger things to worry about than stock prices. Otherwise, stock prices have always risen in election years, usually by hefty amounts. The next year, 2001, is less auspicious: stock prices have declined in the year after an election fully half the time… and far more often than "normal."
* We will eat record numbers of hamburgers. Internet and Intel notwithstanding, we will continue to eat hamburgers at every opportunity. I say this with some remorse, remembering the occasion, in 1963, when some friends offered me part ownership of a McDonald's franchise in Westchester county New York if I would manage it. "Don't you think the world has enough hamburgers?" I sniffed, still wondering what higher calling the world would have for my 1962 M.I.T. Bachelor of Science degree. Now, nearly 40 years later, McDonald's is a global corporation and they have sold so many hamburgers their signs would have incomprehensible strings of zeros if they wanted to advertise the number. (Hint to McDonalds: try exponential notation, like "over 10 to the Nth Sold.")
* People will continue to believe they can become rich if they borrow enough money. A sociologist might call this "delusional continuity," the perfect passage of a cultural icon from one period to another. Others will remark that just enough people have actually done this--- become rich through debt--- to perpetuate the illusion that it is possible. The simple truth will continue to elude the vast majority of people: To become rich you must first spend less than you earn and, then, you must invest the money you don't spend in assets that earn. It's a simple idea but few people get it. Worse, not getting it has become more dangerous. Until the 1990's the difference between poor people and middle-income people was access to credit. Poor people had no credit. Middle-income people lived on a debt treadmill because they had access to credit. Today, "sub-prime" lenders have made credit universal.
* We will continue to confuse what we have with who we are. A billboard in the desert says it all. In New Mexico, midway between Albuquerque and Santa Fe, a large sign proclaims, "You ARE where you live." It is an advertisement for home sites that start at $250,000 and homes commonly priced around $1 million. In fact, we aren't what we have or where we live. Both can change in a moment. The world doesn't exist to prove or reflect who we are. It exists because god made it. We are truly alive only when we focus outward and experience the world. Otherwise, we are asleep. Microsoft may ask us, "Where do you want to go today?" but most of us need to be reminded of something else. "Wherever you go, there you are."
There are only three words to live by. "Be here now."
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