As some of you may have noticed, my capacity for prognostication is decidedly limited; as someone once said, the hardest thing to predict is the future. That being the case, I'm going to spend some time making some non-predictions: these are things I believe will not happen during 2001. Feel free to not take notes.

There will be no new Supreme Court justices this year.
Conservatives are champing at the bit to pack the Court with like-minded jurists, and liberals are somewhere between wary and fearful. Eventually, there will be a retirement, maybe two, and Mr Bush will get a chance to pick replacements, but I don't see this happening in 2001; both sides of the spectrum will be playing wait-and-see and sizing up the new President before any retirement plans are announced.

The NASDAQ will not return to the 5,000 level this year.
In the wake of a fearsome market, um, correction, investors are returning to the old verities like P/E ratio, and they're not about to pay such a high P for all these companies with no discernible E. After a generally disastrous 2000, things ought to recover somewhat this year as the Fed eases interest rates and bargain hunters buy in and the prospect of a tax cut looms, but it will take a while for all these factors to work their way through the system and bring back a full-fledged bull market. Maybe in 2002?

The United Paramount Network will not remain in 5th place this year.
In fact, it's entirely possible that UPN will not even survive this year. The back story is complicated, but the gist of it is that Chris-Craft (no, they haven't made boats in years) subsidiary United Television (the "U" in UPN) not only dumped their share of the network back on Viacom (Paramount's parent), but also sold their affiliated stations to Rupert Murdoch's News Corporation, and it strikes me as highly unlikely that the Fox Television Stations group will be interested in running UPN affiliates, especially in New York and Los Angeles. Nothing is graven in stone yet, the FCC hasn't given its blessing yet, and nothing says Fox has to abandon UPN — after all, Tribune Company, which owns a quarter of sixth-place The WB, also owns half a dozen Fox affiliates and even an ABC station — but if UPN loses its reach into the two largest television markets, it's destined for the Delta Quadrant.

General Motors will not kill off Buick this year.
GM pulled the plug on Oldsmobile in late 2000, and despite mostly sympathetic press coverage, after the savaging they got from their fans and dealers, it's not likely they'd want to try that again with another marque. And too bad; not that I have anything against Buick or Olds, but given the shape the company is in, the General still has far too many brands to support profitably. Maybe, instead of trying to sell Buick automobiles with Tiger Woods, they can sell Buick Division to Tiger Woods.

I will not be buying condoms this year.
And it's not because I've stocked up, either.

The Vent

#227
1 January 2001

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