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Here's what will happen in 2005
Work with Marty Nemko

Here are my guesses on what's likely to occur in 2005:

Ever more jobs will be offshored. In previous years, companies worried that offshoring jobs could cause more problems than they are worth. For example, that Indian workers insufficiently understand American culture. Probably to the dismay of most readers of this column, companies have learned how to address such problems, so offshoring's large cost savings will, alas, be ever more irresistible. How to capitalize: Jobs should be available at companies that facilitate offshoring such as Infosys, Tata Consultancy Services and Wipro Technologies. One approach to protecting your job from being offshored or turned into an unbenefited temp job is to consider self-employment. Retired executives, through the federal government's SCORE program, will coach you in starting your own business, free! Go to score.org.

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Online shopping will continue to explode. While retail sales at bricks-and-mortar stores were flat in 2004, online retail sales were up 25 percent. It took a few years for consumers to break the habit of mall shopping, but the convenience of online shopping combined with ever more unhappy bricks-and-mortar memories of gridlock, parking nightmares and frustration in finding the right style in the right color and the right size, should make 2005 an even better year for online retailers. How to capitalize: Look for jobs at the top-of-mind online retailers: eBay, Yahoo, Amazon and the fast-growing intermediary, Google.

China's boom will accelerate. The Chinese economy has grown dramatically this year. All signs are that this former sleeping giant will continue its awakening. How to capitalize: Look for work and investments in American companies doing extensive business with China. Such companies include Hewlett Packard, ChevronTexaco, Intel, Solectron, Cisco and Sanmina-SCI.

Web conferencing will grow. Gone are the days when a video conference required a special room and equipment. Today, a video-conference participant can simply sit at their desk and see all the participants and any visuals. I predict that increasing numbers of sales presentations, training and other meetings will be done via Web conference rather than by flying people to in-person meetings. How to capitalize: An impressive number of job openings are already available at leading Web-conferencing providers such as WebEx.

There will be a terrorist attack on U.S. soil. According to U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, more than 100 terrorist attacks against America have been stopped. You can't stop them all. Middle East expert Victor Mordecai agrees and predicts that the United States will retaliate by attacking Iran and Syria. This will radicalize the Islamic street even further. How to capitalize: Jobs should be available working for the premier terrorism risk-management firm, Kroll Worldwide. Consider investing in Marsh & McLennan, which owns Kroll. Marsh's stock lost more than 40 percent of its value after the New York Attorney General's investigation, but has started to climb back and should benefit from any terrorist attacks on U.S. interests.

Most people will have to learn to live with less. Costs of essentials such as energy and college education continue to rise while salaries are flat. Making matters worse, employers are reducing their contribution to employee health insurance plans. 2004's flat Christmas retail sales reflect the growing realization that there are routes to happiness other than buying expensive toys. How to capitalize: Look for work and investments at high-value, moderate-cost providers of essentials: for example, Kaiser Permanente, PGE, Trader Joe's, Home Depot, Toyota, Target and WalMart.

The Palestinian/Israeli conflict will be resolved. I'm really reaching on this one, but I predict that the Palestinians will elect the moderate Mahmoud Abbas and with the tough but pragmatic Ariel Sharon and stepped-up pressure from the United States and the Arab world, a relatively permanent solution will be reached. Israel will be forced to give up all the land it won after the Arab invasions as well as grant the right of return to people who lived in Palestine before the United Nations created Israel. As a face-saver, the Palestinians will agree that its capital will not be in East Jerusalem, but Nablus, Palestine's strategically located economic center. How to capitalize: Tourism to Israel will increase. Companies involved in Israeli tourism may offer job openings.

There will be a biotech breakthrough. It's been five years since the human genome has been decoded. With all those smart people working on figuring out how to use that information to cure diseases, I'm betting that something good is about to happen. How to capitalize: Look for jobs or investments in premier biotech companies such as Genentech, Chiron, Geron and Gilead Sciences.

People will be eating healthier. With health care coverage slipping, many people are taking better care of themselves. Previously, the focus was on exercise, but with recent evidence suggesting that vigorous exercise is no better for you than walking or gardening, people will increasingly reallocate money they might have spent on a health club membership to healthier food and diet plans. Stores such as Whole Foods should continue to boom. The Atkins diet, which according to recent research is no more effective than other diets, will fade. Many experts continue to give high marks to Weight Watchers. How to capitalize: Jobs with such companies as Whole Foods and Weight Watchers should be available.

Same-sex marriage will be legalized. The public is gradually replacing its visceral disdain for gay marriage with the more reasoned view that people willing to take on the responsibility of marriage shouldn't be denied that right because of a likely inborn preference for a person of the same sex. How to capitalize: all aspects of the wedding industry should grow from flower providers to honeymoon providers, creating new jobs.

The Latino population will continue to explode. It doesn't take a genius to predict this. The Latino birthrate is more than double that of other racial groups and illegal immigration has accelerated to more than 1 million a year from Mexico alone. How to capitalize: Jobs should be plentiful for bilinguals in the fields of entertainment, education, the criminal justice system and especially health care, which will be creating additional jobs to care for the aging boomers.

Government jobs will increase. The 2005 federal budget is the second largest since World War II. And government is the last bastion of well-paying, fully-benefited, secure jobs that don't require 60-hour workweeks. How to capitalize: Regularly check the federal jobs Web site usajobs.opm.gov. More hidden are jobs with government contractors. To find them, scan the government listings in a big-city phone directory and call the contracting office for any government agency that sounds interesting to you. Ask for the names of its primary contractors.

Spam control will become big business. The amount of spam we receive is increasing geometrically: Christian mortgages! Vicodin cheap! Enlarge your penis! Short of setting your e-mail's spam blocker to maximum, which makes it difficult to receive e-mail from anyone new, all of us will waste ever more precious time pressing "delete." I predict that companies will, in 2005, create smarter anti-spam solutions. How to capitalize: Stay vigilant to news reports of next-generation anti-spam technologies. As soon as you hear about one, contact the company about a job.

A compromise Social Security reform plan will be enacted. It will raise the retirement age and likely give Americans a few investment options, for example: a low-risk bond index fund, a high-risk stock index fund and a mid-risk stock and bond index fund. How to capitalize: Privatizing Social Security will move significant money into reputable financial service companies such as Schwab, Franklin Templeton, Fidelity and especially Vanguard. Those companies will also benefit by aging boomers having to get serious about saving for retirement. So, I believe jobs should be available in those companies.

Elder housing sales will skyrocket. Empty-nest homeowners will increasingly conclude that this is the right time to cash out on their large house and move to a smaller one in a senior community. How to capitalize: Look for jobs working for specialists in senior communities such as Del Webb.

Predictions are notoriously inaccurate. So, before taking any action, especially investment suggestions, do your homework.

 
-- Posted: Jan. 10, 2005
     

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