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11 bold predictions for 2015

The end of the year is a great time for lists and predictions, so why not a list of predictions? Well, mainly because most predictions are boring. People are too afraid of being wrong to predict anything interesting.

So let me try to be a bit, well, bolder. These are things I think will happen but I wouldn't wager any actual money on. What I will wager is my reputation, because nobody really cares if the stuff pundits say in year-end prediction lists comes true.

1) The economy will grow 2.7 percent in 2015

This would be better than 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, or 2013 and along with a falling unemployment rate will feel a lot like good news. And in terms of our era of diminished expectations it will be good news. Combined with falling commodity prices, we may even see real wage growth. But compared to the mid-aughts — to say nothing of the genuine boom of the 1990s — it'll still be disappointing. Thank an overly cautious Federal Reserve.

2) You're going to hear a lot about Mike Pence 2016

Just saying. Don't sleep on Pence.

3) The stock market will go up for another year

Okay, this isn't so bold. The stock market goes up most years, but family members were asking about this over the holidays so apparently you can impress your relatives by making this prediction. For actual investing purposes, you need to remember opportunity costs and it's all much more complicated, though stocks are still a good long-term pick.

4) Obama's approval ratings will rise above 50%

The improving economy, a lack of contentious new domestic initiatives, and growing attention to pre-2016 intra-Republican squabbling will all help Obama regain the public's esteem.

5) The Memphis Grizzlies will win the NBA championship

Heck, why not? They're really good, and they've lucked into a year when both Oklahoma City and San Antonio can't seem to shake the injury bug while an underperforming Cleveland Cavaliers team doesn't pose much of a threat out east.

6) Lots of India hype

India is ready for a perfect storm of economic media hype. On the one hand, global trends toward cheaper energy prices will almost certainly lead to faster growth regardless of policy changes. On the other hand, the still new-ish right-wing government is inclined to say and do things that international finance types and the western business press favor. The nexus of the two will create a sense that the new government's reforms are working and India is the hot new thing. That will fuel an inflow of foreign investment to India, that will further boost the Indian economy and fuel the hype cycle.

It'll take years to know if the hype is justified, but next year is the year it'll be happening.

7) This flower emoji thing will be big

(◡ ‿ ◡ ✿)

Laura Olin says it represents "A peaceful resolve to turn away from the headlines, retire to a friendly field of wildflowers, festoon one’s hair and/or beard with some of them, and pretend the news has just stopped happening."

8) Everyone will be talking about NAIRU

Really. This will be a thing. With unemployment falling, real wages rising and inflation low (thanks to cheap oil), and interest rates at record lows, there will be a lot of clamor for the Fed to put the brakes on growth before the economic party really gets started. These debates will hinge on something called "the NAIRU" so you'll want to spend New Year's Day reading my NAIRU explainer so you're ready for it.

9) Greece won't leave the eurozone

On its face, the political crisis in Greece seems relatively likely to lead to Greece exiting the Eurozone. And why not? Europe's leading politicians pretty clearly regret having let Greece in back in 1999 (particularly in off-the-record conversations), and Greek voters are clearly fed up with being told what to do by Brussels and Frankfurt. Journalistically, a "Grexit" is certainly the most interesting outcome, so people talk a lot about it, and at this point there are a lot of plausible theories about how it could go. But I think it's not going to happen. The forces of the status quo will rally, and another grand coalition will lead Greece through several more dreary years of austerity and slow growth.

10) Suburban sprawl will make a comeback

The housing bust, the long-term decline of the shopping mall, high oil prices, and the revitalizations of coastal urban cores gave us a slew of thinkpieces about the alleged reversal of America's long-term trend toward suburbanization. 2015 will be the year when sprawl makes a comeback, driven by the nexus of excessively tight zoning rules in those revitalized coastal cities and a general revival of housebuilding.

This won't mean there isn't demand for city living (check out house prices in San Francisco or Manhattan if you don't believe me) but nothing has fundamentally changed about the social, political, and economic forces that have driven suburbanization for decades.

11) Nothing will happen on police reform

There have been hints of a cross-party elite consensus that there's some need for greater police restraint in an era of falling crime rates, but December revealed two enduring truths — police departments don't want to change, and the public likes cops much more than it likes journalists or politicians. Nothing of substance is going to change as long as those two things are true.

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