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The 8 bleakest predictions for 2011
The euro's collapse. State bankruptcies. And a suddenly single Sarah Palin? Just a few days into 2011, commentators are already playing Nostradamus
Even if the economy enjoys a moderate upswing, unemployment will likely be stuck between 9.5 and 10 percent this year, predict observers.
Even if the economy enjoys a moderate upswing, unemployment will likely be stuck between 9.5 and 10 percent this year, predict observers.
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loggers and critics are looking into their crystal balls for what might happen in 2011 — and disaster is high on the menu. Whether it's politics, economics, or entertainment, this list proves that pessimism is alive and well amongst the commentariat. Here, eight not-so-great predictions for 2011:

1. States will go broke
This will be the year that the "state-government debt crisis will come to a head," predicts E. Thomas McClanahan at the Kansas City Star. Cash-strapped states like California, Illinois, and New York will go begging for a bailout, "and likely get one, despite protests from the Tea Party and small-government Republicans." As a result, Congress will write a "new chapter in U.S. bankruptcy law," one that allows states to "declare insolvency."

2. The unemployment rate will stay high
"Tepid growth" will help the U.S. economy rise from the doldrums, says economist Kenneth Rogoff, quoted in Money Control, but "unfortunately, that's not going to help with the unemployment problem." Expect the joblessness rate to stay between 9.5 and 10 percent this year.

3. The euro may fail
Expect "yet another eurozone crisis" in the spring, predicts the U.K.-based think tank Center for Economic and Business Research, this time involving Spain or Italy and seriously threatening the viability of the euro. The currency has a roughly 20 percent chance, we think, of "surviving in its present form." Greece, adds Brian Sullivan at Fox Business, will finally default on its debts in 2011.

4. The price of gold will collapse
It's an "unpopular call," says Brian Sullivan at Fox Business, but gold will finally fall in 2011, possibly by as much as 15 percent. "As the dollar rises and economic fear gives way to a more calm acceptance of slow growth," those gold hoarders will start selling while the price is good.

5. The Middle East will sink into meltdown mode
"Security in Iraq will deteriorate in 2011," says H.D.S. Greenway at the Global Post, as American troops continue to withdraw from the country. "Political and ethnic rivalries will continue on their destructive path, with the center of violence shifting to the Kurdish north." The situation in Afghanistan will be almost as bad, while terrorist attacks will increase inside Pakistan. Worse yet, "an Indian Taliban will begin to stir."

6. The insurance industry will exploit your private data
The people who compile and sell your online information, says Michael Fertik at Reuters, are "turning to your phone, iPad, Tablet, Kindle" and whatever else you buy this year to "scrape up even more data." The insurance industry will take note and use your data to "deny, preemptively terminate, or charge more for your coverage."

7. Sarah Palin will divorce
Although many predict 2011 will be the year Sarah Palin finally announces her candidacy for the presidency, "leading psychic" Nikki tells the Toronto Sun that Palin is headed for "a particularly messy" divorce. It's difficult to know how seriously to take her forecast, though — Nikki also predicted that Hillary Clinton would win the Nobel Peace Prize, and that "an unnamed Hollywood starlet would give birth to a dwarf."

8. Arnie will dominate "Dancing with the Stars"
And you thought Bristol Palin was controversial. "Dancing with the Stars," that great "salvager of faded and ruined careers," will play host to a star "whose last few years have been fraught with trauma, drama, and savage headlines," predicts Marilyn Beck and Stacy Jenel Smith at Hollywood News. If they're right, former Governator Arnold Schwarzenegger will be strapping on his dancing shoes for the reality series. "Lindsay Lohan, meanwhile, will star on 'Celebrity Rehab.'"

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