It is just me, or does anybody else around here have a strange sense we're reliving the kind of calm before the storm that characterised the summer of 2001 or perhaps, better synchronised with the U.S. electoral cycle, the summer of 1979, when everybody was focused on stagflation and malaise and didn't see either the Iran hostage crisis nor the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan impending?
“Everybody knows” the next election in the U.S. will be all about the economy, the deficit, the debt, and entitlements. The “news cycle” has spent more than a week recycling a trivial scandal involving a politician who is self-evidently a waste of the spacetime his world-line occupies.
As an investor, I'm always attentive to “contrary opinion”: when everybody knows something's going to happen, the market is guaranteed to have fully discounted it and the next major move is likely to be due to something entirely the opposite of the consensus view, or a black swan landing on the pond that nobody saw flaring for touchdown.
And so, let me suggest that in September 2012, what we'll all be talking about will have nothing to do with what occupies us today. We are in a non-serious phase of a locust time, and sharp-edged, unyielding, and inexorable events this way come, as they always do when feckless people are in charge in a world where, whenever you're sleeping, the other two thirds are up to something (the latter paraphrased from a quotation attributed to Dean Rusk).
What will this be? I've not the slightest idea, and yet my every instinct informs me that all of the noise that excites our headlines today will be replaced by entirely other static eighteen months hence, and that the U.S. election of 2012 will be decided on issues entirely beneath the radar of all prominent pundits today.
I could suggest half a dozen such developing clamant exigencies, but in the spirit of starting a conversation, I'll just open the floor to considered forecasts, off the cuff predictions, and wild speculations.