January 2002 - Forecast for the Year
Themes and Trends for 2002
The year 2002 for the United States will be a year of re-building in many ways: re-building the devastation in New York, re-building our economy, prioritizing what we value as a country, prioritizing what we value as individual people and what we value as a community. For many people, 2002 will be a year of re-building or reorganizing their personal lives to integrate more completely with their present needs, beliefs or life goals.
2002 will be a year of hard work, improving productivity and a sense of accomplishment. We will be integrating the lessons we have learned in 2001, especially adjusting to a new way of being in the world. We can take a little time to honor what we lost, let go of our old ideals and dreams, and move forward into a world that is somewhat different from what we expected at this time last year.
Since the shocking events of September 11, people have become much more conscious of what is important to them. As we continue to adjust to the ways things are today, we may often feel a sense of loss for what was and will never be again. In the Suggestions section, we offer some ways of coping with this adjustment. Many of us are ready to move forward again slowly, while others have not yet adjusted to the many changes that have happened.
A positive side effect of our tragedies this year has been the realization of how much we need each other and how powerful our interpersonal connections can be. The outpouring of love, energy, money and support for the people in New York and Washington has been heart-warming. It has helped us remember what is really important and made us stop to value those people who are important to us. We mourned the loss of so many lives this year, while at the same time, feel gratitude that so many were able to escape the devastation as the towers collapsed and as planes crashed in Washington and Pennsylvania. We honor the many, many heroes who did what they could to prevent even more tragedy. We honor those who have been at ground zero helping for so many months as well as those took time from their personal lives to serve others. Mere words cannot express our appreciation for their efforts.
Mayor Giuliani embodies the American Spirit in his unflagging and continued dedication to helping people cope with the events of September. We were very pleased to see him designated as Time Magazine's Person of the Year. He truly deserves that honor. An excerpt from the Time article:
Our sense of spirituality and connection to others has been greatly heightened in recent months. We expect to see spirituality (not religion) become more integrated with our daily lives and a growing interest in all things spiritual this year. Many people have taken the time to try to understand other beliefs, another beneficial side effect of the tragedies.
We see people being more generally tolerant of each other since September. They smile at strangers more often and seem more polite in going about their business of life. Have others noticed this? A friend who lived in Oklahoma City following the bombing of the Federal Building commented on how much the community came together as they rebuilt their lives and how inspiring that was for her to experience. We have experienced that on a world-wide scale this year as people of all faiths and beliefs reached out to help New York, those affected by the destruction of the World Trade Center, and the plane crashes in Pennsylvania and Washington.
The events of 2001 have given us a desire to set new goals for next year. We may be more in tune with what we really want now that we have seen on such a massive scale that life can be cut short suddenly. Our inner searching for answers may lead us to change our life goals or take a slightly different course. Or, we may realize that we were really on course all along. We may trust our own intuition a little more than in past years, especially if we learn how much it has protected us or our loved ones.
While we may be more locally focused or community focused than in prior years, the larger issues of our society still require active citizen involvement.
The European Union and its implementation of a common currency provides an admirable example of people, politics, cultures and economies coming together for a common good.
The sharing of power in the U.S. Congress continues to be a delicate balancing act between the two political parties. Our forefathers created a system of government that was designed to be slow and ponderous to help ensure that the people had a strong role in determining our future. While it may be frustrating to see our politicians fail to agree, we can be thankful for that very aspect of our government when it results in more due deliberation and improved cooperation. Passing laws quickly only burdens our already heavily-burdened system with more laws rather than better laws.
In 2002, people will continue to question our involvement in war and all of its ramifications. This is a very healthy exercise as we try to find the right balance between the need for increased security and the possibility of over-doing security that threatens the very freedoms we have fought so hard to win. We must avoid becoming terrorists ourselves in our striving to eliminate terrorism.
We were pleased to see that the number of conflicts in the world last year was reduced from previous years. There is still too much war going on in the world, in our humble opinion. Ongoing efforts by many individuals and many countries to get people to work together to resolve their differences continue to encourage us.
The airline industry will be a focal point this year as people become frustrated with waiting hours in line to board a plane. We hope some innovative methods can employed to encourage people to travel again without enduring hours of forced captivity first. There are no fast or easy answers to resolving the challenges the airlines face at present.
Technology industries have major work ahead to re-build the confidence of the public after the collapse of many Internet (dot.com) companies. We must also remember that massive investments in new and upgraded technology in 1997, 1998 and 1999 in preparation for the Year 2000, replaced a significant amount of outdated software and hardware. It will take a few years for this build-up to smooth out to match current and future needs. Innovative companies continue to spend money on new technology while others will sit back and feel that they have made all the investment they want to make for some years to come. The unknown outcome of the Microsoft/Justice Department suit and the potential merger (or not) of HP and Compaq has many people taking a wait-and-see attitude about major technology investments.
The collapse of other larger companies such as Enron, has already resulted in congressional investigations and other investigations that feed many people's skepticism of the ethics of large companies in general. There are still many unanswered questions about why some companies failed, who benefited from the massive infusion of money in them and why the stock market has devastated the retirement accounts of so many people. Again, there are no easy answers or quick fixes. We have all learned hard lessons about our financial systems in the past 2 years.
We expect the U.S. economy to grow slowly and steadily in 2002 as businesses and individuals make investments from a wiser perspective. Ups and downs are part of the normal cycle. However, a return to basic business principles and more mature consideration will create a stronger economy than the one built on the dot.com hype of only a few short years ago.
Retail industries have either lost a lot this year or increased their sales. News reports are contradictory at best. Some retailers, such as Wal-Mart, have improved significantly although not with dramatic gains over past years. Others have increased a small percentage but continue to whine about low sales. Increasing competition between major retailers, small stores and new Internet ventures continues to provide value for consumers. We believe the public is smart enough to decide where to spend their hard-earned money. Retailers will have to convince people to spend money based on good value, not hype.
The education field is changing very, very slowly. Home schooling and alternative forms of education continue to demonstrate their value when they meet the varied needs of children. Forcing all children into a "one size fits all" mode of learning is being recognized as a bad method. There are many opinions about what is best and many people are looking at improving the quality of education as well as the quality of teachers. This is an issue that will never go away. Local schools and communities will continue to resist being told what to do by states or the federal government. The debate over vouchers will continue with each side believing they have the best interests of children at heart. Education is not an easy subject to debate because even normally rational people can become emotional about it very quickly. Debate is healthy and will eventually result in significant improvements.
Energy and utility industries will continue to be criticized for their inability to supply consistent, reliable energy resources. Renewed interest in alternative fuels and fuel efficiency will continue until new methods for generating energy without destroying our environment are developed.
Privacy and individual rights issues will continue to be a major concern for advocacy groups as well as individuals. Moves by the government to deal with terrorists has the potential to encroach on the rights we have now as the foundation of our country. This battle will be fought in the media, in government debates and in people's living rooms.
The entertainment industry in recent years has offered a variety of films that tickle our imagination. Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter and Star Wars delight viewers of all ages and help us believe in magic again, if only for a few hours. Films directed to younger children, such as Shrek and Monsters, Inc. proved that even adults enjoy good children's films. Even before the events of September, the industry had been criticized for too much violence in films. They will have to respond to the concerns of many people that violent films encourage violent behavior. Except for the over-done violent nature of many films, we are encouraged to see the industry providing better entertainment in recent years.
The movie, A Beautiful Mind, a powerfully compelling story based on John Nash's life, offers a fitting metaphor for the year 2002. The movie provides an understanding of how powerful our mind can be in determining our reality. It also demonstrates the incredible power of people to use their own intuition to find what is right for them and the immense accomplishments that are possible when people work together to conquer seemingly impossible obstacles. This movie has already been nominated for several Golden Globe Awards and is a sure contender for the Academy's Best Movie, Best Actor and Best Director awards.
This forecast represents our views and opinions. Please, don't just take our word (or anyone else's) for what will or will not happen. Use whatever methods work for you in planning for the future. Wise people will use all the forecasts they can find, then see what feels right for them rather than letting any one dictate their activities.
No guarantees about the future are implied or given - use our views as you would anyone's opinions.
Last year's forecast: January, 2001
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