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5 Emerging Market & US Predictions for 2012

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This week is my favorite time of the year.  An abundance of food, plenty of football, and precious memories with loved ones.  For the Tyle family, this is the first time since June that my brother, our parents, and I have been together for more than 24 hours, and the first time in 2+ years that we will have been together for more than a week.

Yet, this holiday season, as I spend moments of peace and contentment with family, I reflect, rather in awe, on a revolutionary—literally, revolution-filled—2011.  This last year brought us the Arab Spring, the Occupy movement, the European debt crisis, the explosion of internet company valuations, the end of the US war in Iraq, the death of Bin Laden, and the even more pronounced rise of emerging economies.  It has been a singularly turbulent and exhilarating year, leaving the door wide open for new ideas, now possibilities, new “innovations and inspirations” in 2012. So, as everyone preps to play Jay Sean’s “2012″ this New Year’s Eve, I thought I would make several predictions about what we can expect for the emerging markets and the U.S.

Emerging Markets

1. Investing in urban infrastructure—roads, airports, and railroads in particular— will increase at the national level with unprecedented zeal, as some of the world’s most thronged cities become congested to the point of paralysis. In November, I was in Jakarta, Indonesia, the city known for the worst traffic in the world, and remember traveling—in a car, though I probably should have walked— two kilometers in one hour at a time that was supposedly off-peak.  That pace is unsustainable. This past August, I was in a similar jam in Mumbai, India, where the traffic frequently can become similarly unbearable. Yet in India, the government has announced a plan that will help address this issue, committing to spend $90 billion to build 24 cities between Delhi and Mumbai by 2030. This move will help to distribute the population, foster more sanitary urban environments, and generate millions of jobs in manufacturing and energy.  I’m hoping Indonesia catches on and am betting that more countries to attempt massive programs like India’s.

2. Internet penetration will finally begin to catch up to mobile penetration, growing 30%+ each year in most countries in Asia, Africa, and South America. Brazil (currently at 75mm internet users and 175mm+ mobile phone subscribers) will grow to over 100mm internet users.  India (currently at 50-100mm internet users and 800mm+ mobile phone subscribers) will reach 150mm internet users.  Indonesia (the 4th most populous country in the world with 240mm people, ~90% mobile penetration, and 30-40mm internet users) will hit 50mm+ internet users to bridge the country of islands.

3. The Middle East, specifically Egypt, Iraq, Syria, Sudan, Libya, and 3-4 other countries that we wouldn’t guess, will experience increased violence as clashes continue to erupt and spread over governance.  The citizens that expected positive change after toppling various regimes will be maddened by the lack of it.

4. Most African countries, with the exceptions of some of the ones in the Middle East and those in civil war, will experience 6-8% GDP growth.  It will become the new place venture capital firms begin looking by the end of 2012.

5. Brazil—an already sexy destination for investors—will become an even sexier place to invest as money pours into the country  in anticipation of the 2014 World Cup and 2016 Olympics.  A longer term prediction: a bubble in most industries (especially real estate) will form in Brazil and come crashing down after the Olympics.


1. The unemployment rate (currently at around 8.6%) will dip to 7% or less as Democrats focus a majority of their attention on stimulating job creation before the 2012 election.

2. Mitt Romney will win the Republican nomination as Newt Gingrich goes out of fad, and then will win a very close general election.

3. Cleantech investing will come back into fashion as the (few) companies that got funded in 2011, when cleantech investing was less popular, begin becoming successful.  The memory of Solyndra will fade as the industry braces to compete against China.

4. LSU will win the BCS National Championship rematch.  And, finally, the BCS gets overhauled after 2010′s conference shake-ups make it so that the automatic qualifying system makes no sense.

5. The US, and the world, ain’t gonna end.

Happy Holidays and best wishes for a prosperous new year!