This has been a bad couple of weeks for journalist prognosticators, so it is with some trepidation that Fortune editors have again undertaken their annual “Crystal Ball” exercise. To shore up our instincts this year, we asked IBM Watson to scour some big batches of data and spot trends. Among them:
The sharing economy goes south. Uber and Airbnb have been most popular in coastal cities, but it looks like next year they’ll be making inroads in the Southwest. There were significant spikes in news and social media mentions in places like Phoenix, Denver, Dallas.
Antibiotic breakthrough. A deep dive into news sources and medical journals found a surge in mentions of late-stage trials related to CABP, a pneumonia related to drug resistant infections. Stay tuned.
We also took some flyers on our own, without Watson’s help, including:
Barack Obama will get a $20 million book deal. That one was too easy, right? How about this:
Under Armour will merge with Lululemon. To be clear, we have no inside information. Or:
Tax reform (a limited version) will pass. It has been three decades since the last one. For those who want to read about that unlikely triumph, my book Showdown at Gucci Gulch, is still in print.
And the S&P will finish the year at 2073, about a hundred points below where it is this morning.
To get the full Fortune Crystal Ball, you can go here. I should point out that last year we had some hits – predicting, for instance, that the Fed would only raise rates once in the last 12 months – and some misses – don’t ask us about the “Rubio/Haley” T-shirts we had printed.