Comment by Mark Lacter
These are especially dangerous times to be projecting the future economic, political, whatever but what’s an end-of-the-year paper without our annual list of prognostications that, with any luck, no one will remember 12 months from now. Here goes:
– The recession will break nationally in the first quarter, but it will be replaced with a so-called growth recession that is, expansion of less than 1 percent that no one will feel. Things will sharply improve in the last three months of the year.
– As the recession drags out longer than expected, the Democrats will retain control of the Senate in November, while the Republicans will barely maintain their hold of the House.
– Rep. Gary Condit will lose his reelection bid after desperate efforts by Democrats to get him out of the race. His loss will provide just enough cushion for House Republicans.
– The Clippers will make the playoffs, while the Lakers will fail in their bid to three-peat.
– “Lord of the Rings” will be awarded best picture Oscar, another nod to Hollywood’s penchant for spectacles.
– L.A. unemployment will hover between 6 percent and 6.5 percent for most of 2002, leading economic optimists to proclaim that the region had skirted much of the recession. Then, late in the year, local joblessness will jump to over 7 percent.
– Gasoline prices will inch up soon after the beginning of the year, then jack up in late spring.
– Three airlines will be acquired, two as a result of bankruptcy proceedings.
– L.A. will be the recipient of an existing NFL franchise from another city, and plans will be made for a new football stadium most likely, a rebuilt Coliseum.
– Gray Davis will win reelection as governor.
– Hollywood & Highland will quickly fade as a local shopping destination and L.A. tourism won’t rebound enough to make up the difference. Meanwhile, The Grove at Farmers Market will become a popular hangout (though traffic will be a nightmare).
– After years of negative press, the first phase of Playa Vista will open to largely positive notices.
– A new outbreak of anthrax will lead to one arrest, and that person will be tied to the earlier cases. There will be no connections to the Al Qaeda terrorist network.
– A small Southern California newspaper will go out of business.
– Street traffic will get worse, leading to more frequent incidents of road rage.
– The New York Times will dutifully report the road rage phenomenon as reflective of the L.A. lifestyle.
– The Dodgers will remain a .500 club amid more rumors that Fox is interested in putting the team on the block.
– Crime will rise substantially in Los Angeles, fueled by gangs and the release from state prisons of thousands of felons who have become more violent from their time behind bars.
– A spate of war movies released early in the year will not do well at the box office, leading studios to pull back on the genre.
– Given the tight employment market, laid-off dot-comers will proclaim the coolness of being without a job a cultural curiosity that will make it on the covers of newsmagazines.
– Somehow we’ll manage to get through 2002, and by the time you again hear Bing Crosby singing “White Christmas,” some bozo will be offering crazy predictions for ’03.
Mark Lacter is editor of the Business Journal.