It’s 2017! A Peek Into The Future

Topic: Human Interest

Fergus W. Gould CFA

December 30, 2016

Image used with permission: iStock/Rasica


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It’s 2017! A Peek Into The Future

So, what’s up for 2017? Who knows? At Nexus, we regularly tell you that nobody can predict the future. But, then again, with confidence, here is my plagiarist’s list of brave predictions for 2017.1

Is there any certainty beyond death and taxes? Well, no, but here’s one that comes pretty close. On August 21, people in the Americas will witness a total eclipse of the sun. You heard it here first. Get your sunglasses ready and be early to stake out a prime spot for you and your lawn chair.

Beyond that, I’m less certain, but we’ll start with the usual plethora of politics. After all, is there anything but politics in the world today? My prediction is that, come January 20, Trump will be making news. This will ostensibly be the day of his inauguration as the 45th POTUS, but it could also be the day he orders the White House painted gold. I also predict bigly fibs will be sprinkled liberally throughout 2017. Wow, this is great! My confidence in my foretelling grows as I write… Ok, now out on a limb… 2017 should be the year that Brexit “officially” gets underway, when Theresa May invokes Article 50 and triggers the EU’s two-year formal divorce proceedings (yes, the Germans have a process for everything). Either this prediction will be correct or another bigly fib (of the British variety) is percolating.

Having quickly proven dominance in the world of political prediction, I’ll now turn to a simpler topic – mankind. As you know, man is an inventive fellow. In 2017, we will mark mankind’s progress on several fronts. Of pecuniary interest to Nexus clients, the iPhone will turn ten years old in January. In other pending news, the Frisbee will turn 60, the bicycle 200, and we will celebrate 600 years since the first street lights were lit in London. Of less certainty, but within reach, there are hopes that we may see the world’s last case of polio in 2017. You may have thought we were already there, but the virus is still active in Nigeria, Pakistan, and Afghanistan. After a mere 500 cases worldwide in 2001, the virus staged a comeback, surging to over 1,500 cases a year for several years, before dwindling to slightly more than zero in 2016.

Perhaps of more interest to some (and, by the way, nobody said predicting an anniversary wasn’t fair in boosting my batting average), 2017 will see some big anniversaries. One hundred years since the U.S. entered WWI, one hundred years since the Tsar was overthrown by those bolchy-folk. These two events led to more than a few others in the twentieth century but, heck, I’m a high-performing futurist, not an historian. OK, just one more. December 6, 2017 will mark one hundred years since the Halifax Explosion. A moment on that. Did you know that, in 1917, the explosion of the Mont-Blanc, a ship fully-laden with military explosives, was the largest ever man-made explosion in the world? The explosion blew out every single pane of glass in the entire city, rained burning debris all over and caused an 18-metre high tsunami. Over 2,000 died and multiples of this were injured. The event highlighted two points about mankind. First, the experienced harbour pilot of the Mont-Blanc initially sighted the SS Imo, a Norwegian ship, 1.2 kilometres away, long before the two ships’ eventual slow motion collision and the ensuing explosion. Each ship sent out multiple signals telling the other what to do. This may have been something about one of the pilots being determined not to yield to the other. Sound familiar? Second, arising from that event, doctors developed a number of novel medical procedures. Innovation occurs quickly when you need to treat hundreds of people with fragments of glass in their eyes. There you have it – mankind’s obstinacy and innovation – all in one event.

I could go on (Canada… 150. Anyone? Anyone?), but I’ll stick to what I know best, so here is my boldest and most important prediction. I’m quite certain that in 2017 the markets will go up… or decline. Happy 2017, and good fortune to all!

1 Much of this is sourced from The Economist’s “The World in 2017”.  Apart from the plagiarism, I’ll also admit that I’m faking it…. it’s not yet 2017 (on publication day, I intend to be lazing on a beach). If admitting to his father that he cut down the cherry tree was good for George Washington, who knows, maybe this will be good for me too?

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