My 15 Predictions for 2023

15 mins. to read
My 15 Predictions for 2023

Prediction One: The Clamour for Reparations Will Grow Louder

I wrote recently about how the COP-27 climate conference in Egypt had been hijacked by people who want those countries which industrialised in the early 19th century to pay reparations to developing countries for climate damage. I argued that such reparations would be entirely unjustified, impossible to implement and would do nothing to slow “run-away climate change”.

In parallel, there is a growing movement, pursued mainly by luminaries from African and Caribbean countries, which demands reparations for the slave trade. This strand of opinion has been encouraged by the leftist woke establishment in the UK and elsewhere, best epitomised by elements within the BBC. In a recent BBC documentary (if that is what it was) Romesh Ranganathan, the comedian (if that is what he is) visited Freetown in Sierra Leone to examine the legacy of slavery. Ranganathan did not mention that the UK was the first major nation to abolish the slave trade and engaged the Royal Navy to eradicate the slave trade from the Atlantic. Nor did he mention that Freetown was founded by the British as a sanctuary for freed slaves (hence the name).

By the 1870s, the UK had abolished the east African slave trade in Zanzibar, which was ruled by the Sultan of Oman. The kingdom of Benin was a slave state which the British invaded because of the massacre of an unarmed party of British missionaries who opposed the slave trade. As far as I am concerned, the modern Nigerian state can have all the Benin bronzes back – even though it is doubtful that they would go back on display.

In India there is a campaign to indict the UK for reparations, led by the rabidly anti-British populist politician, Sashi Tharoor, although when I met him a few years ago he did concede that the benefits of the English language and the game of cricket might be taken into consideration. Barbados has already demanded that a British Tory MP pay reparations for his family’s slave-trade past.

Some of us believe that our colossal foreign-aid budget is already a form of reparations paid out of a guilty conscience. It will be interesting to see how the debate plays out within the Labour party. I can’t see Sir Keir Starmer arguing for a reparations tax on “working people” – but there will be others who demur.

Prediction Two: The First EV-Related Motorway Pile-Up Will Occur in the UK

EVs are still a largely untested technology, with numerous safety problems such as the tendency of lithium batteries to catch fire in certain conditions. Once lit, those fires are difficult to extinguish. Even more worrying, when an EV runs out of juice on the motorway – as will happen more frequently as their numbers increase – they cannot be towed away and therefore represent a potentially fatal obstacle. I expect the first EV-related motorway pile-up with extensive loss of life to occur sometime in 2023.

Prediction Three: Russia Will Start Accepting Payments for Oil in Gold – And the Gold Price Will Soar

As Russia’s war in Ukraine grinds on, so the incentive for the Kremlin to disrupt the international financial system will increase. I suspect that, within months, Russia will announce that it will accept payment in gold, for its exports of oil to India and elsewhere. That will nudge the price of gold higher. I don’t think gold will hit $3,000 an ounce in 2023 – but the direction of travel is clear. If Russia is victorious in Ukraine, the trend will be towards de-dollarisation. And if Russia essentially stalls in Ukraine – the result will also be a trend towards de-dollarisation.

The dollar is overvalued. You have been warned. And watch the Japanese yen closely – it’s on the up.

Prediction Four: Protests Will Intensify Along the Silk Road

The Silk Road ran from the Mediterranean through Anatolia and Persia, across Afghanistan into what is now Xinxiang and then across China to its imperial capital in Xanadu. In antiquity it carried silk, unguents, spices − and mathematics.

In 2023, a new arc of public protest and resistance will follow the same route. The embers of resistance to corrupt, authoritarian, ideological rule have been stirred along its length. People are fed up with brutal, despotic rule and women are also being harmed by institutional misogyny. The theocratic regime in Tehran, just like the increasingly bizarre Taliban regime in Kabul, are doomed. The question is how long it will take for the decline of their authority to precipitate popular revolutions. These might take a while to fire up, but the trajectory is clear.

As for China, we are beyond ‘peak-Xi’, just as Russia is past ‘peak-Putin’. As the Russian class of oligarchs grows poorer, it will withdraw its unconditional support for Vladimir Putin. That does not mean that these autocrats will lose control soon. But the central tenet of their grand bargain – autocracy in exchange for quiescent prosperity − now looks threadbare. We hear a lot about the decline of the West and very little about the decline of the East. China is beset with deep-seated economic and political challenges. The ascendancy of the ‘Dragon’ has been postponed – giving the US-led West more time to get its act together. Not that it will.

Prediction Five: The Greens, The SNP and Probably Also Labour Will Adopt a Policy of Taxing Meat

Labour has already said that if and when it comes to power, it will abolish the charitable status of private (also known as public) schools and thus oblige them to charge VAT at a rate of 20 percent on school fees.

That initiative – whatever we may think of it – would open the Pandora’s box of why so many nooks and crannies of the British economy are exempt from VAT while so many “essential” items are not. All tax regimes have anomalies because they evolve over time under different governments facing differing challenges: but VAT law is a quagmire of inconsistencies and exceptions.

One obvious example is food and drink. Most basic foods are exempt from VAT, while luxury items are VATable. But where does the state draw the line? An absurd example in the UK is that biscuits are VAT-exempt while cakes are VATable. Thus, there was famous court case some years ago which determined that the humble Jaffa Cake, despite its name, was in reality a biscuit and therefore VAT-exempt. Such are the banalities of tax law.

But there is a growing sense that meat production is of environmental importance, because animal-rearing generates carbon emissions. I have argued here that regenerative farming – grazing animals on land which they fertilise and then moving them elsewhere – is carbon neutral. But the green dogma is that all meat-eating is harmful (and also cruel) and that it should therefore be discouraged.

It is therefore a logical next step that fillet steak (or whatever) should be considered a luxury product alongside chocolates and all kinds of alcohol – and be subjected to VAT. The problem is that politicians who desire this would be unwise to impose another hike in the cost of a food during a pronounced cost-of-living crisis. The least well-off have been impacted most by food-price inflation of about 16 percent in 2022.

I overheard a man in ASDA recently complaining that the price of a can of their basic-range baked beans had risen from 19 pence to one pound in matter of months. Families across the land are feeling the pinch. But that will not deter the legion of eco-warriors who are determined to impose veganism on all of us. Actually, VAT on school fees and meat will make little difference to the well-heeled but will crush the aspirations of the median-income middle classes.

Prediction Six: Shares in Tech Stocks Will Continue to Decline

Elon Musk paid $44bn for Twitter even though analysts thought that its fair value was around $14bn. Since making himself chief executive – and now abdicating – he has trashed value further. Advertisers are abstaining and users are withdrawing. His engineering genius and libertarian ideology do not necessarily add value to something as fickle and mercurial as social media. Meanwhile, the market cap of Tesla has fallen by two thirds. As I have declared here previously, I am totally enthused by Musk’s vision that mankind must go to Mars: but that doesn’t make him investible if his corporate governance is chaotic.

So, here’s a left-field prediction for 2023 − or maybe 2024. Musk will be ousted from Tesla in a shareholder coup. As Tesla matures it needs more consistent corporate governance. Then Elon can concentrate on SpaceX where he might very well change the history of humanity. He says he wants to die on Mars, and I feel sure he will.

Meta’s shares have continued to fall. They started 2022 at $343 and languish as I write, at below $120. Almost all its revenues accrue from advertising, itself a distressed sector. Young people I speak to don’t use Facebook – though, true, many use “Insta”. TikTok has eaten Meta’s lunch. It will only get worse.

I feel differently about Alphabet/Google, which I still consider the most innovative corporation of all time. It has impacted our lives in ways we don’t even realise. It still runs about 43 percent of all the mobile (cell) phones in the world with its Android operating system. Hold.

Prediction Seven: The Tories Will Be Punished in the May Local Council Elections in England – But Not as Badly as Labour Hopes

You may well think as I do that the Tories don’t deserve another chance after the buttock-clenching political psychodrama they inflicted on the British people in 2022. But I foresee that they will do better than the polls currently suggest, in the English local elections to be held on 4 May next year.

First of all, Labour’s alternative agenda thus far looks unimpressive. Secondly, by May the national mood will be more sanguine, following intimations of economic recovery. Most of the strikes will be resolved by the end of Q1 because – as the unions well understand – persistent strikes have diminishing marginal utility. Third, energy prices will ease as the Russian war fizzles out in stalemate. Fourth, Rishi Sunak is neither as amusing nor as engaging as Boris Johnson, but, on the other hand, his trousers do not tend to fall down unaccountably.

Prediction Eight: Russia’s War on Ukraine Will End – But Without a Peace Treaty

The above prediction reflects exactly what happened in 2014. Russian forces seized Crimea and the West looked on, aghast. But there will be another inconclusive peace in 2023 after a second spring of fighting – and the greater body of the Ukrainian nation will survive. The Russians will dig in, they will confirm the annexation of the four occupied provinces and then they will declare that hostilities are over. Any further Ukrainian attempt to retake those territories will be deemed an attack on Russia itself.

The free Ukrainian Church celebrated Christmas on 25 December this year, , as the feast of the birth of Jesus, rather than on6 January, as is the Orthodox custom. Millions of Ukrainians have been huddling in the cold, many without water or decent food. But they regard that as a price worth paying not to come under the sway of Putin’s Russia. They have already won a moral victory.

Prediction Nine: Erdoğan Will Be Re-Elected in the Turkish Presidential Election

Turkey − a NATO member which shares many of the same geopolitical goals as its western partners − has nevertheless had a strained relationship with the West, under the authoritarian presidency of Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. That will continue after Erdoğan is reelected on 18 June next year.

Much as we disdain the lack of press freedom in Turkey and the country’s more bellicose stance, this strategically vital country is at least stable. Atatürk turned the cathedral church of Hagia Sophia into a national museum; Erdoğan has turned Ayasofya into a national mosque. That was a way of raising two fingers to the nominally Christian West.

Erdoğan will continue to meddle in Syria. But better he than Putin. I suspect that a rapprochement between Turkey and Israel might be on the cards too this year, given the existential threat posed to both by Iran.

Prediction Ten: The Coronation of HM King Charles III Will Prefigure the Comeback of ‘UK PLC’

World leaders will gather again in London on 6 May for the coronation. The sun will shine. There will be some hints of better economic news after Easter (9 April) as inflation falls and growth peps up. The crowds will roar. There will be street parties even more enthusiastic than those for the Platinum Jubilee just six months past.

For all the endless prophecies of woe – and we have all had to tighten our belts of late – my take is that the dire condition of the UK economy has been exaggerated. Yes, we have an inflation problem – which will continue throughout 2023. And yes, we have a productivity challenge. But there is also good news coming through. Despite the best efforts of the Tories, the UK is still a relatively good place to start a new business – certainly compared with much of Europe. We have more ‘unicorns’ than France and Germany and we are leaders in fintech and most aspects of biotechnology. Drive down the A10 and witness the brash science parks outside Cambridge. Our innovators continue to patent more inventions and our academics to win Nobel prizes.

There will be, over time, though not completed in 2023, an accommodation with Europe which will iron out some of the bureaucratic absurdities pursuant to the Northern Ireland protocol.

In 2022, the FTSE 100 proved to be the index that did not go up – and which also did not go down, unlike the S&P 500 which dropped by 20 percent, the NASDAQ which fell by over 30 percent and the DAX which was down by nearly 13 percent. That betokens the essential robustness of post-Brexit Britain. There will be a boom in tourism in the summer of 2023 (led by Chinese visitors) and the hospitality sector will pick up. Once the rail strikes are behind us, branded restaurants and pub chains might not be a lost cause, after all.

Prediction Eleven: President Biden Will Announce That He Will Seek Re-Election in 2024

Unexpectedly, and despite periodic episodes of senility, Joe Biden has had a rather good year. He has managed to maintain the country’s poise in a year of dire political crisis, with Putin threatening nuclear war every other month. He presides over an essentially left-wing coalition but manages to look like a centrist. He even managed not to lose the mid-term elections and to humble Donald Trump − who is no longer a serious contender for the presidential election of 2024. That is quite something.

Under Biden, US foreign policy has been largely flying on autopilot, but with a high-quality defence and diplomatic machine that works fine, for now at least. The president was slow to respond to the invasion of Ukraine, assuming like much of the Western defence establishment that the country would succumb within days. Back in March, he refused to facilitate the transfer of Polish MiG-31 fighters to trained Ukrainian pilots. But since then, as Ukraine has exhibited its resolve, and the prospect of a Russian all-out victory has receded, Biden has allowed his people to help Ukraine in significant ways.

He will enter 2023 with a quick step (though he could stumble at any moment). He will announce his candidacy for 2024 before Easter next year, emboldened by three factors.

Firstly, there are no other serious Democratic contenders. The other contenders for the Democratic nomination in 2020 have all faded. Vice President Harris is universally regarded as incompetent. Secondly, Trump’s stranglehold on the Republican party has loosened. Ron DeSantis, of another generation, has emerged as the Republicans’ best hope for 2024 – yet he is still untested. Third, the US economy is likely to resurge as inflation and geopolitical risks subside.

Sleepy Joe will probably be remembered as a safe pair of hands at a time of instability. The US indices will rebound. He might even win in ‘24.

Prediction Twelve: UK Public Opinion Will Finally Shift against the National Health Service

Young people don’t get echocardiograms in hospital anymore. They download an app to their mobile phones to monitor their heart health in the gym. They find doctors old-fashioned. The slavish attitude of most British people to the sainted National Health Service is on the wane. But the tipping point will come when the digitally savvy work out that we can avoid the NHS altogether. The young are beginning to self-medicate and to help their not-so-digitally-savvy parents get practical health advice online. The middle classes are opting for private health care.

In 2022, many of us realised that the dysfunctional and financially catastrophic NHS is in its death throes. In 2023, practical folk will begin to articulate what comes after. The surprise will be that some of the most radical proposals for reform will come from the Labour party where Wes Streeting MP is on the case. The Tories cannot propose fundamental reform because their political capital in this department is spent.

Prediction Thirteen: The UK Will Enjoy Another Long, Hot Summer

One of my gooseberry bushes began to bud the day after the winter solstice. The hot summer of 1975 was followed by the even longer, hotter summer of 1976. Rare migrant birds have been spotted in British skies. There is an excellent chance of another hot summer with, as a result, another vintage year for English wine. Plan to enjoy June to September at home.

Prediction Fourteen: The Nuclear Fusion Lobby Will Announce Another “Breakthrough”

That’s all that needs to be said on this one.

Prediction Fifteen: Greta/XR/Stop Oil Will Signal That Their “Ultimate Goal” is to Establish a Universal Basic Income (UBI)

The real aim of the virulent climate activists is not to avert “climate catastrophe” – which they don’t really believe in, or they wouldn’t drop litter – but to subvert the capitalist system. After we have paid all those reparations and have given the NHS the 100 percent of GDP that its enthusiasts demand, we shall then pay a UBI to every citizen.

And then we can all shiver and feel hungry in the dark.

Equality, at last.


Nostradamus had a crystal ball: all I have is a screen and a keyboard plus some highly intelligent and well-informed people who send me interesting things to read, for which I am grateful.

I wish all my readers a healthy and prosperous New Year. I do hope to meet some of you again at the Master Investor Show on 18 March. Don’t forget to sign up.

Comments (1)

  • Paul says:

    The Silk Road…..I long for these divine routes to flow freely, once again across the body of eurasia……imagine the prosperity released….for all of us.
    It seems to me the Americans have given up on the British elites 150 year old plan to divide eurasia…..don’t mention Afganistan. To get a taste of the potential here one only has to read G.I.GURGIEFFS book ….Meetings with remarkable men. To dream of better days in the centuries to come.
    We as Brits have to come to terms with the fact that we have lost our empire and Asia forever. Its going to be a beautiful sunset.

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