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