Well, how do you top 2020 for surprises? You probably don’t but the early days of 2021 can hardly be described as normal. Spiralling pandemic infection rates, new lockdowns and continuing White House madness are depressingly familiar developments. However, let’s dream a little positivity. Like last year, this exercise in listing potential surprises is not intended to be short-odds probabilities. The idea is to think about the possible and, for a brief few moments, not the pandemic. Our list last year managed to have a 4/10 hit rate but only if you accept that Kim Jong Un “died” for about a week!
Anyway, 3 out of 10 probably justified the read a year ago but this year we are making it more difficult by only listing positive surprises. So, buckle up, relax the brain and be mindful of Willie Wonka’s advice that “a little nonsense now and then is relished by the wisest men.” A refresher of our 2020 list is in the link at the end of this article but for now let’s dream of 2021 possibilities…….
1. North Korea and South Korea sign a peace agreement on Easter Sunday engineered by China’s President, Xi Jinping. Xi’s diplomatic efforts are rewarded with a Nobel Prize which prompts a legal challenge from Donald Trump’s crack(ed) legal team claiming their client was the true peacemaker.
2. Boris Johnson resigns as Prime Minister on Good Friday. Crucified by the financial pressures of maintenance payments for six(or seven) children, Johnson is forced to re-enter the private sector to boost his income. In June, Johnson signs a 50 million pound deal with the newly launched Trump TV Network to host a weekly variety show from London.
3. Climate change increases its economic influence. Financial assets following sustainable investing criteria(ESG) reach the $80 trillion valuation mark driven by new EU disclosure rules coming into law in March. UK assets score poorly under new frameworks due to “political risk” with many FTSE 100 shares trading at 30% discounts to EU peers.
4. Covid-19 vaccination programs reach the 1 billion injection mark by June. Infection rates decline rapidly through the year and the virus mysteriously disappears by August.
5. Donald Trump goes to prison on a money laundering conviction. Melania Trump sues for divorce and wins a $50,000 settlement with the agreement of banks and creditors conducting a fire sale of Trump assets.
6. Commercial real estate and urban hospitality sector valuations soar as new surveys by big business reveal significant productivity declines where majority work-from-home options are available.
7. Vladimir Putin is forced from office after a Russian oligarch revolt. The Biden administration’s plans to ban Russia from the Swift banking payments system as a sanction for the hacking of US government institutions is believed to have been the critical catalyst in Putin’s removal. Joe Biden goes on a triumphant diplomatic tour of Europe, including a week-long stay in Ireland, which pushes his Presidential approval ratings back home above 80%.
8. Irish digital payments company, Stripe, attains a $200 billion valuation in its last private fund raising before a planned Q4 IPO. This valuation exceeds the combined market capitalisation of all the companies listed on the Irish Stock Exchange. Google is also rumoured to be considering acquiring Stripe before IPO.
9. Ireland tops the GDP growth table in Europe once again with a 10% increase driven by migration of financial services operations from London to Dublin.
10. Bitcoin trades above $50,000 in December. It turns out RTE’s intrepid science correspondent, George (g)Lee, has been a keen investor and owns a cryptocurrency portfolio valued at more than $1 billion. He retires from RTE to the relief of the nation.
We did say dream but you never know! Last year’s list is here for the curious.
Happy New Year!