I know some of my predictions for last year turned out pretty lousy, but I would stick with two of them going into the new year. I still believe gold will fall below $1,000/ounce and if oil does not turn around it is likely that Venezuela or another major oil producing country will default on its debt. You will also notice that I did not make a prediction about the price of oil.That would be a fool's errand. Fundamentals tell me the price of oil is unlikely to move up meaningfully anytime soon, but with all the unrest in the Middle East we are just one headline away from oil surging $10-$15 overnight.
Now that I have two carryovers, let's move onto some new predictions for the coming year:
1. Big wave of oil company bankruptcies
If oil does not turn around significantly very soon, we could see a number of oil companies file for restructuring. Exactly how many, I have no idea. But it could easily be more than 15 or 20. A sudden turn higher in oil or a major private equity investment could reverse this. But both of those things are not likely in the near-term, especially as all of my reporting tells me big-money investors are waiting for prices to fall more before they jump in.
2. Twitter, Fitbit, GoPro: and then there was one
Of those three, only one ends the year as a stand alone public company. That is not to suggest bad things - they could be bought or taken private- but given their high profiles and their public struggles, somebody will figure it will be better to grow the company without the critical eye of investors upon it every quarter.
3. American manufacturing jobs grow, (AKA 19 million cars)
One big upside to the downturn in natural gas and many metal commodity prices is that it makes American manufacturing more competitive. Lower natural gas prices help reduce power costs, which are a major factor on company balance sheets. Throw in a lot of tough talk on China from the presidential candidates, making American manufacturing companies nervous about opening plants overseas, and I think we will see a return to decent job growth in American manufacturing. Much of that could come from the auto industry, as I think we could see a month next year where we hit an annual pace of car sales that tops 19 million.
Oh, and one bonus sports prediction: Oklahoma tops Alabama to win the college football national title