Predictions For 2021

Inspired by Scott Alexander, who does predictions every year and grades his predictions at the end of the year, I’m going to do some of my own. Yes, I realize it’s March 17, but better late than never, and this is for myself anyways. Predictions are broken into 3 sections: Finance/Econ, Misc., and Personal. All predictions are about 2021, so if I make a prediction about something happening “at some point”, I mean some point in 2021, not some point whenever.

Stocks/Crypto:

  1. S&P 500 Index passes $4,200 at some point: 60% (2021 high of $3,984 on 3/17; currently at $3,974)
  2. …passes $4,500… : 30%
  3. …falls below $3,500… : 90% (2021 low of $3,663 on 1/4)
  4. …falls below $3,000… : 60%
  5. …falls below $2,000… : 20% (lowest in the COVID era was $2,237 on 3/23/20)
  6. …falls below $1,000… : 5%
  7. Bitcoin passes $75,000 at some point: 60% (currently at ~$59k; 2021 high of $61,556 on 3/13)
  8. …passes $100,000… : 40%
  9. …passes $150,000… : 10%
  10. …falls below $25,000… : 90% (2021 low of $28,154 on 1/4)
  11. …falls below $20,000… : 80%
  12. …falls below $15,000… : 60%
  13. …falls below $10,000… : 40%
  14. …falls below $5,000… : 20%
  15. …falls below $1,000… : 5%
  16. GLD passes $180… : 70% (2021 high of $183 on 1/5)
  17. …passes $200… : 30%
  18. …falls below $140 (2021 low of $157 on 3/8): 20%
  19. Jerome Powell backtracks on no interest rate hike through 2023: 60%
  20. Powell signals interest rate will be hiked in 2022: 30%

My portfolio is positioned accordingly, so call it motivated reasoning, but I think there’s a good chance that there’s a major stock market correction in 2021. Unemployment is still high and the stock market boom has been fueled by constant stimulus and a zero-interest rate environment. At some point, investors will recognize that there’s no more easy money and that inflation will eventually result in an interest rate hike. I’m skeptical about Biden’s ability to pass another trillion dollar plus bill unless the stock market takes an absolute nosedive. The stock market is frothy and over-valued, though admittedly not at historically high valuations. There are pockets of bubbles all over (GME, BTC, Tesla, SPACs, etc.). For more, see Jeremy Grantham’s post. I’m pretty much aligned with everything he wrote.

I’m a believer in crypto’s future opportunity and I was a holder since mid-2017 until recently (I owned BTC and ETH and sold on the way up this bull market, selling as high as when BTC was ~$58k and fully liquidating my position when it fell to ~$48k; my profit was in the tens of thousands, not in the hundreds of thousands or millions). Also, full disclosure that I have since bought some medium-term Microstrategy put options [3/19/21 edit: I also own GLD]. Microstrategy is a leveraged bet on BTC so if BTC tanks, they’re screwed. Also, Michael Saylor probably loves the attention he’s getting from this so I’m very skeptical that he’ll sell their BTC to realize their profit (if they even can sell such a large position without the market collapsing). I think crypto is due for a major correction, not only because of its meteoric rise, but also because of Tether. As Ethereum co-founder Vitalik Buterin said, Tether is a ticking time bomb. For some great writing and coverage on Tether and why it’s a ponzi scheme bound to collapse, see here, here, here, and here. Bitcoin has also been highly correlated with stocks over the past year, dropping much more during the panic in March of 2020, and increasing much more in the recent bull run. If Microstrategy is a leveraged bet on Bitcoin, then similarly Bitcoin has been a leveraged bet on the stock market this past year. As a result, I’m more confident that Bitcoin and crypto will tank than the stock market (since Tether is also a variable), and I’m confident that it’ll tank further. If you’re a hardcore cyrpto believer, I doubt anything I wrote caused you to reconsider, and if you’re a crypto skeptic, hope you had fun reading some confirmation bias!

Misc.:

  1. Daily COVID-19 cases in the US doesn’t pass 100k again: 70%
  2. …doesn’t pass 75k again: 50%
  3. 335M COVID-19 vaccine doses administered in the US by 5/31: 60% (111M doses have been given to date so I’m assuming a daily vaccination rate of 3M doses between now and 5/31; current 7 day average is ~2.5M)
  4. Biden’s approval rate dips below 50% at some point according to FiveThirtyEight: 60% (currently at 53.6%, 2021 high of 55%, 2021 low of 52.7%)
  5. Lakers repeat: 20%
  6. Either the Sixers or the Nets win the title: 60%

I’m hopeful that there won’t be a fourth wave now that the weather is getting warmer at the same time people are getting vaccinated. Over 20% of the U.S. already has one dose of the vaccine which grants very good protection, and the vaccines all appear to be effective against the other variants that have popped up to date.

I think Biden has the opportunity to be a transformational president if he can get his infrastructure bill passed and I definitely think there’s a 10-30% that happens, but I’m scared of the Republicans’ ability to obstruct him and polarize the public. To date, Biden has been really popular by overdelivering on COVID vaccines and passing a very popular $1.9T bill, but the Republicans are pretty damn good at obstructing. Also, I’m nervous about the stock market nosediving. Maybe I’m overweighting the stock market’s impact on the electorate since all indications are that most Americans don’t have any stake in the stock market, but I think there are downstream consequences from a tanking stock market that would affect the average American.

As a Lakers fan, I’m hoping they win, and I think 20% is really high, maybe too high considering AD’s status. I’m also pretty sure that either the Sixers or the Nets will come out of the East (80%+), plus they’ve both looked amazing. The percentages I’m assigning to these three teams are probably all too high, but hey, I have to die on a hill somewhere so might as well be this hill.

Personal:

  1. Finish reading Robert Caro’s 4 released books on LBJ: 90%
  2. Write a summary of at least one of them: 60%
  3. Finish reading the Landmark editions of Herodotus & Thucydides: 30%
  4. Finish reading Jeremy Popkin’s A New World Begins: 90%
  5. Write about it: 30%
  6. Finish reading Diarmaid MacCulloch’s The Reformation: 60%
  7. Write about it: 10%
  8. Finish reading David Chandler’s The Campaigns of Napoleon: 20%
  9. Finish writing what I want to write on Steve Jobs: 80%
  10. Publish 5+ blog posts >1,000 words this year: 80% (One down lol!)
  11. Publish 10+ blog posts >1,000 words this year: 30%
  12. Quit my job to get an MBA full-time at [redacted]: 99%
  13. Recruit for [redacted] while I’m there: 90%
  14. Am very happy with my decision to do 12 & 13 at the end of the year: 80%
  15. [redacted]: 80%
  16. Travel internationally: 80% (Iceland’s open as of today to vaccinated people)
  17. Go back to the gym before June 2021: 99%
  18. 3×7 incline bench 90lbs dumbbells: 99%
  19. 3×7 incline bench 100lbs dumbbells: 70%
  20. 4×6 front squat 185lbs: 90%
  21. 4×6 front squat 205lbs: 70%
  22. 3×7 Romanian deadlift 225lbs: 80%
  23. 3×7 Romanian deadlift 255lbs: 60%
  24. Keep up cardio at least twice a week: 80%

I’m pretty confident in 12-23 and probably understated some of those odds but I haven’t been to the gym in a year which is the longest since I started going in high school so I’m not sure how fast muscle memory will kick in. I am probably overestimating 1-11 since there’s also a lot of podcasts I want to listen to and movies I want to watch, but might as well push myself to reach.

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