A couple decades ago, asked to forecast something that would happen in the year ahead, I predicted the collapse of North Korea.
OK, no one's perfect. By all rights the Hermit Kingdom's crazed government should have fallen in 1993. But it didn't.
Undeterred, and having fully disclosed that my record as a soothsayer isn't unblemished, I step up to the crystal ball again. Here are my 10 forecasts for 2019.
1. For the seventh year in a row, the weather will be good for corn and soybean production and bad for corn and soybean prices. DTN's Senior Ag Meteorologist Bryce Anderson offered this outlook at the DTN Ag Summit in Chicago and when it comes to weather, no one has a better crystal ball than Bryce.
2. The U.S.-China trade war will end with China promising to buy more American products and stop filching and extorting American technology. President Donald Trump will declare victory. There won't be any serious enforcement mechanisms in the agreement, however, so Washington will continue to eye Beijing warily.
3. Trump will not be impeached, but he will be investigated to within an inch of his life by House Democrats, who will dig up a treasure trove of unsavory if not illegal shenanigans from the president's past.
4. The government shutdown will end in an unhappy compromise. Trump will declare victory -- he always declares victory -- even though he doesn't get the full $5 billion he wants for his wall.
5. The Federal Reserve Board will raise interest rates again at least once, but not more than twice. At year's end, the Fed's benchmark federal funds rate will be under 3%.
6. No Midwestern team will win the national championship of any major professional sport. The Cleveland Indians will come the closest, making it into the playoffs, but once again not getting past the first round.
7. Democrats and Republicans in Congress will blow their best chance for bipartisan cooperation by failing to enact major infrastructure legislation.
8. The U.S. and Japan will negotiate a trade deal that incorporates many of the features and even some of the language of the Trans-Pacific Partnership that Trump pulled the U.S. out of, setting the stage for the U.S. to join the multilateral pact under a future president.
9. Trade talks between the U.S. and the European Union will continue to stumble for the same reason they have floundered in the past: the EU's unwillingness to make concessions on agricultural issues, like biotech ag products.
10. North Korea will not collapse. It will also not give up its nukes, regardless of any promises it makes to the U.S.
Not much of a year? Maybe, but it could be worse. There are some gains ahead for farmers and ranchers in the trade arena, and the crystal ball shows no major catastrophes in 2019.
I hope your 2019 is happy, healthy and prosperous.
Urban Lehner can be reached at email@example.com
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