By Josh Katzowitz, WCI Content Director
While 2021 wasn’t nearly as disastrous on a global scale as 2020, the year we’re now leaving behind created so much turbulence that it’s left many of us woozy and light-headed. COVID-19 was down (yay!). Omicron changed all of that in the space of a fortnight and a sniffle (ugh!). Cryptocurrency is up (cool!). Inflation has followed suit (yikes!). The stock market is up (thank goodness!). But some think the big crash is coming (OMG!).
It's like we’re riding Space Mountain in the dark. We don’t know where we’re going and we can’t see three feet ahead of us, but at some point, we know we’re probably going to climb toward the stars before tumbling down into the lightless abyss. Or vice versa. At least we know that with Space Mountain, the rollercoaster will be finished in three minutes. In our real financial lives, we have no idea how long it’ll take to get wherever it is we’re going.
That said, let’s have some fun this week. With a new year comes new predictions about what will happen in the next 12 months. If I’ve read it once on the WCI site, I’ve read it a hundred times: “My crystal ball is cloudy, but . . .” Well, let’s finish that sentence today.
I’ve asked several white coats for their 2022 crystal ball predictions when it comes to finances, investing, or anything related to money. I didn’t care if it was obvious or outlandish, funny or fiendish. I just wanted to know what people are prophesizing. If it’ll be another year of rollercoaster rides, or if it’ll be as gentle (and as boring) as “It’s a Small World.”
Then, at the end of the year, we’ll revisit this column and see if any of these predictions actually came true. So, let’s look into the cloudiness and see if we can find anything that’s remotely clear. Here’s what our respondents are saying.
Financial Predictions for 2022
Alejandro Romero, an orthodontist from Oklahoma who graciously provided me with 22 predictions (though I’m only running half of them)
“Inflation will continue and it will be at least 5% . . . The presidential policies will try to maintain or reduce oil production in the US, and they will try to negotiate/force OPEC to increase production, which they will not. Hence, we will see an increase in gas/energy prices in the US . . . Fast food restaurants that can serve a meal for under $10 will continue to grow and will capture an increase in sales (both number of units and dollar amount); they will find a way to remain profitable (closing some stores, reducing personnel, increased automatization, etc.). Think McDonald's two double cheeseburgers for $2.29 after tax . . .
The president and Congress will start talking about the minimum wage more and more. There will be a push for an increase in minimum wage that will, in theory, not only ‘catch up' with inflation, but will ‘provide' the lower earners with a ‘better' quality of life. There will be arguments for and against. They will try to raise it to $15 for a 100% increase, Republicans will fight it and will try to adjust for inflation, and the minimum wage conversation will settle at somewhere around $10.25/hour for a 30% increase in the federal minimum wage . . . Bonds will perform better in 2022 than 2021 but will not account for inflation . . . Stocks will continue the ‘bullish' market, but not at the crazy rates seen in 2020 and 2021. Some winners, some losers, but overall, the market will be bullish at a ‘modest' 9% . . . House prices for the $1.5 million-plus will go down (except for California and New York) . . . Taxes will go up for everyone . . .
The Backdoor Roth IRA will NOT go away . . . Formal conversations will start about controlling or regulating Bitcoin and the like; it will become less attractive for the current investors, and the three most popular crypto currencies will lose value (Bitcoin, Etherium, Tether) . . . Why not, I'll throw this in there: SDC (Smile Direct Club) will file for Chapter 11.”
One physician who preferred to remain anonymous
“We will have to mandate vaccines wherever we enter a building to combat vaccine resistant people. You cannot enter banks and restaurants without a QR code. People get the vaccine out of convenience. It will be like an airport check kind of thing when people reluctantly comply. Only then will we get COVID under control and decrease a major mutation outbreak. And it will take another half-year after that to fully squash COVID if everyone complies. Otherwise, the Fed will have to combat inflation soon to prevent an economic collapse.
Many people will be out of a job. The weather will go crazy on us. 2022 will be tough, still. So tough that people will have to comply. Then people will forget about this eventually, and we will repeat it in 2030. The natural cycle of a pandemic will emerge with bad weather every year and a big event every 10 years. But it can accelerate if it is a lab leak or if weather problems get worse. Many animals will be sick and so will humans. We can’t rely on pharma to save everyone.”
Daniel Iyer, a DVM from Georgia
“There will be another financial collapse and a sudden increase in unemployment. The country will still be divided, but in the end, love will trump hate. There will always be a superfluous number of rich people, but they will never be wealthy in the end.”
Bill M., who’s married to a physician
“We bought a house in the Puget Sound region of Washington in 2020 for $570,000. Like many others, we’ve since seen the market explode in the surrounding area. Since we’ve done quite a bit of renovation . . . as of today, ours is ‘valued' at $740,000. We predict that it’ll basically stay the same once December 31, 2022 rolls around. Two reasons for this prediction:
- It took our neighbor around the corner a little over month to sell her house this fall. Across the street took about the same time. Both had at least one reduction. Contrast that to late 2020/early 2021 where stuff would sell within a day. We get the feeling that real estate in our zip code is cooling off.
- Someone across the street from our neighborhood sold off a couple acres to a developer who plans to put in eight new builds. Another developer is trying to build further down the road but is running into some tax issues. But maybe more supply will cause prices to plateau?”
A child psychiatrist from Texas
“Mental health visits will continue to rise, both in therapy and psychiatry. There will be a continued shortage of mental health professionals. Insurance rates will continue to be undervalued for mental health, so psychiatrists will continue to turn to cash-pay or private-pay models, which exacerbates the access problem.”
One anonymous emailer
“Bitcoin reaches 100,000.”
J. Jarred Molitoris, an MD from Ohio
“I decided long ago that my crystal ball, when it comes to financial issues, does not work. Having said that, I am predicting more record levels for the S&P/Dow. I think the progress on the vaccines and boosters, along with an eventual ‘infrastructure' plan will boost the economy over the next 12-24 months. I specifically think value and small cap will fuel the increase in the S&P.”
Jim Dahle, WCI founder and an MD from Utah
“My crystal ball is always cloudy, so I hope nobody actually acts on my predictions. But my best guesses for 2022 are: 1) Bitcoin and other crypto assets will continue to be extremely volatile but will neither go to zero nor have massive gains in 2022; 2) Inflation will be worse a year from now than it is currently but trending down; and 3) Interest rates (mortgages, bond yields, savings account yields, etc.) will be up at least 1%.”
And just in case you’re thinking about any of these predictions other than for entertainment, remember this: nobody knows nothing, and if they pretend to know, they might know something different less than a month later.
Dollar Tree becomes $1.25 Tree. Inflation is a tax on the poor and middle class. Inflation makes the rich richer. Get smart. Get richer. I am buying more gold, silver, Bitcoin, ethereum, rental real estate, and oil. What are you buying?
— therealkiyosaki (@theRealKiyosaki) November 24, 2021
FED & Biden pushing FAKE INFLATION. Crash and Depression coming. Gold, silver, Bitcoin, real estate will crash too. Ready to buy more gold, silver, Bitcoin, real estate after crash has crashed. Time to get richer after fake inflation crashes. Be aware. Take care.
— therealkiyosaki (@theRealKiyosaki) December 9, 2021
UPDATE (December 18, 2022): Here's how everybody did with their predictions for the year.
What I’m Reading This Week
Estate Problems with Crypto
Apparently, it’s possible to be worth almost $200 million but to be completely unable to pay off your debts. As this Daily Dot feature on the late Matthew Mellon notes, the problem involves his immense stake in cryptocurrency and the inability to recover his shares after he died.
From the story:
“Mellon owned nine sports cars, an exotic collection of Ferraris, Mercedes Benz, and other expensive makes. He had a watch worth more money than a typical American family makes in a year. In his will, Mellon left his oldest daughter a $100,000 Andy Warhol and the priceless collection of Mellon family silver.
But for years after his death, Mellon’s estate was still struggling to come up with the cash to pay off his taxes and satisfy the dozens of people and companies trying to collect Mellon’s debts.
That’s because the vast majority of Mellon’s assets—more than $193 million—were locked up in a cryptocurrency known as XRP . . .”
It’s a fascinating story, especially with how the cryptocurrency itself responded and how the estate is trying to recover the assets that many believed were gone forever.
Eminem Wasn't Sure He Can Afford a Rolex
Even though this is an old interview with rapper Eminem, it’s been making the online rounds lately. Even though he’s probably worth hundreds of millions of dollars, it kind of sounds like Eminem was still living like a resident.
Asked by Anderson Cooper if he likes spending money, Eminem said, “Not particularly.”
Anderson then relays a story he heard about Eminem asking his manager if he could afford to buy a Rolex. Yeah, Eminem said, that was true. “They make fun of me for it but . . . this whole money thing and all that stuff was brand new to me.” He did end up buying the luxury watch, but he doesn’t wear it because he doesn’t want to scratch it.
Asked by Anderson what kind of watch he was wearing during the interview, he said, “This is a G-SHOCK. It’s probably about $100.”
Pharmacists Feel the Burn, Too
Doctors and dentists aren’t the only ones burned out by the pandemic. Pharmacists are feeling that way, too. As reported by Business Insider, “Clinicians said they experienced burnout from high workloads and did not receive adequate support from the pharmacies to handle increased workload from COVID-19 vaccines.”
None of this sounds great.
Money Song of the Week
I spent a few days of my winter vacation on a Disney cruise in the Gulf of Mexico. A good time was had by all, but even amid all the merriment, music, and Mickey-shaped waffles, it’s hard to forget how much money you’ve spent on any kind of Disney vacation. Luckily, there’s a Disney song about how you can have everything in the world but that it might not satisfy that for which you truly long.
As Ariel sings in “Part of Your World” from the 1989 classic “The Little Mermaid”:
“I've got gadgets and gizmos a-plenty/I've got whooz-its and whats-its galore/You want thing-a-mabobs?/I've got 20/But who cares? No big deal. I want more! . . .
Up where they walk/Up where they run/Up where they stay all day in the sun/Wanderin' free/Wish I could be/Part of that world
What would I give/If I could live outta these waters?/What would I pay to spend a day warm on the sand?”
Ariel did make a brief appearance during one of the shows on the cruise, so that was fun. I’m just thankful I didn’t have to hear that obnoxiously awful “It’s a Small World” song over and over.
Tweet of the Week
You have to love a white coat who is THIS willing to provide the best care possible to their patients.
When you await your COVID test results in Italy the pharmacist himself pours you a glass of Prosecco. pic.twitter.com/301vib1hsf
— Marc Scheff (he/him) (@marcscheff) December 25, 2021
What do you think about these crystal ball predictions? Do you have any predictions of your own? How much do you think you can learn from Eminem about finances? Do you, like me, abhor the “It’s a Small World” ride and the song? Comment below!
[Editor's Note: Josh Katzowitz is the Content Director for The White Coat Investor, and his work has appeared in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, and CBSSports.com. A longtime sports writer, he covers boxing for Forbes, and his work has been cited twice in the Best American Sports Writing book series. For comments, complaints, suggestions, or plaudits, email him at [email protected]]