January 2001 - Forecast for the Year
Themes and Trends for 2001
The year 2000 (at least in the United States) will be noted as a year of surprises. First, we had few problems making the technological change in the years due to the extensive preparation work. We were able to celebrate that success and become more comfortable as the year unfolded. We ended the year relieved that the "mysteries of the chad" and the election battle no longer dominated our daily news. Now, it's time to move forward after much introspection and reflection on where we are.
2001 will be a slower paced year without much of the excitement and drama of recent years. For some people, this will be a welcome relief. For others, it may seem boring or dull. It will have the flavor of "steady as she goes" rather than "WOW! Look what's happening now!" Those who are bored may pursue excitement in negative ways because of greed or impatience.
Recent events surrounding the presidential election will influence us for many years as people continue to question the incoming president, George W. Bush, as well as the legitimacy of his right to the office. The media's involvement in counting all the ballots will bring to light many more challenges with our election system. Many people will call for election reform and changes in the Electoral College system.
Because of the events surrounding the presidential election and other notable excesses in recent years, the role of the media will continue to be questioned and examined. This process will involve a review of ethics and values, with a possible adjustment of how and when the media reports some events. There may even be some attempts to more closely regulate the media. We don't expect this to happen because of our strong belief in the freedom of speech and the 1st Amendment. Instead, the media will institute new methods to prevent some of the excesses that have tarnished their reputation.
Citizens as well will continue to question their own beliefs and values about our voting process - what is fair, what is right and who should decide who wins. Something that was been sacred to us (the voting process that is the core of our democratic system) has been shown to be not what we thought it was, providing a challenge for many people to accept and deal with.
With Congress virtually deadlocked - the Senate evenly divided between the Democratic and Republican parties and the House with only a tiny Republican majority - we will likely see great debates about everything they do this year. Several people who are interested in developing a way to work through this deadlock will step forward and attempt to bridge the gap between varying points of view. The American people have tried to encourage Congress to work together - perhaps this year they will listen. Even more important, the American people no longer have a highly charismatic president to speak for them and entertain them. The U.S.'s involvement in world events is likely to be greatly lessened in 2001 compared to the past 8 years as we focus more attention at home.
Our out-going president, Bill Clinton, will still be a great force in politics. With his wife Hilary in the US Senate, Mr. Clinton will have ample opportunity to continue his involvement on the world's stage if he so chooses. His ability to raise funds and entertain people will keep him busy traveling and in the public eye.
The stock market will continue its unpredictable behavior. We can expect ups and downs with corrections occurring when stocks become inflated. Economic growth will be on a slower pace than some people would like, leading to concerns about a recession. We do not expect to see either a recession but do expect continued growth at a slower pace with significantly less drama than in the booming late 1990's.
The Internet and all communications-related industries continue to change the world and our global interactions. Companies that provide long-term value and solid business products or services will continue to grow. Companies that depend on hype to carry them forward will wither and die a well-deserved early death. The dotcom companies will continue to restructure (or disappear) until the solid ones find successful business strategies.
The field of education will continue to grow, although the growth will be in innovative areas rather than in the traditional schools. Much debate will surround alternative forms of education. These include voucher systems, private schools, corporate training that supplements (or replaces) colleges, distance learning, Internet-based classes, home schooling and mixed-age elementary education methods. The public education system will continue to find their credentials and teacher qualifications questioned as people look for better ways of learning for their children and themselves . This attention will help to support people who are willing to change the system and experiment by using outcome-based measurements.
The year 2001 will be a great opportunity to get projects moving forward. So much so that people may have a tendency to work too hard. It will be important to take time to balance your life with other work activities and interests. While focused, productive energy is very good, too much of a good thing is not. People will want be working in productive, pragmatic ways rather than the explosive growth and dramatic developments of some recent years. This steady pace may be disappointing to those who still believe they can get rich overnight with very little effort. This view of the "American dream" of instant success will find itself tarnished a bit this year as fewer instant success stories reach the news.
The entertainment industry will play a critical role this year in helping us laugh and not take ourselves too seriously. Because the energy will generally be calmer and more focused this year, we will all need to lighten-up and pay more conscious attention to beauty, art, dance, theater, sports and other leisure activities. We expect much renewed interest in Arthur C. Clarke's movie, 2001: A Space Odyssey. Other movies about the future that will catch our attention.
Building, construction and manufacturing industries will thrive in 2001 due to the focused, productive energy. Retail industries will face some disappointment as their expectations for great increases are unrealized. Growth will be slow and steady for most. Those who are unethical or greedy will find themselves even more disappointed.
There will be an increased emphasis on the energy and utility industries, especially on finding ethical and economically viable ways to make energy available. There will be renewed interest in alternative fuels and fuel efficiency.
We expect the weather to continue its unpredictable behavior, with more emphasis on wind-related events (high winds, tornadoes, typhoons, thunderstorms, blizzards, etc.) this year. As in recent years, weather forecasters will have a difficult time in most of the country. The farming and agricultural industries will continue to suffer from unplanned weather.
We expect more awareness and respect for alternative religions and belief systems to continue to expand our consciousness. This is a healthy aspect of questioning what we believe. Religions that want to tightly control their followers will attempt to squelch any discussion of alternative beliefs and will continue to aggressively try to force their belief on others. Expect to see more of this ongoing battle in the news.
Privacy and individual rights issues will continue to draw attention to the excesses of our present society. Expect to see new laws enacted in the US to protect private citizens' privacy, perhaps including some of the protections instituted by the European community in recent years.
There will be great breakthroughs in many fields as people discover new ways to apply their knowledge to help the world. These new discoveries will cause us to question some of the "old ways" leading to great discussion and debates about whether that is a wise thing to do. The challenge will be for people to not get so stuck in debating and arguing that they forget to get things done or forget to take time to have fun.
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, 2000
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