The 2016 Fortune Crystal Ball

Our predictions on the events, people and ideas that will matter in business, politics and more.
November 14, 2015, 2:00 PM UTC
Illustration by Martin Laksman

The 2016 Fortune Crystal Ball

Contributors: Scott Cendrowski, Scott DeCarlo, Erika Fry, Stephen Gandel, Ben Geier, Erin Griffith, Robert Hackett, Matt Heimer, Tom Huddleston, Jr., Beth Kowitt, Alan Murray, Tory Newmyer, Leena Rao, Daniel Roberts, Benjamin Snyder, Aaron Task, Anne VanderMey, Phil Wahba, Jen Wieczner, and Valentina Zarya

Fortune’s predictions about the events, people and ideas that will matter in 2016, in business, politics, technology and more.

Presidential election years bring out the Nostradamus in all of us. But beyond the White House horse race, there will be plenty of other big changes to anticipate in 2016 in business, culture, and the economy. To predict just what they’ll be, the staff of Fortune has parsed the data and polled the experts; here, with humility, we’ve assembled our own educated guesses about the year ahead.

Our forecast: Look for Apple (AAPL) and Serena Williams to keep soaring while Pfizer (PFE) and GE (GE) get smaller. As tech euphoria collides with reality, expect some unicorns to lose their horns while others disappear. ­Cyberespionage will rise sharply; interest rates will not. There will be big breakthroughs in how you get around, including an affordable “hoverboard.” And most important, there will be modest but real GDP growth­—between 2.6% and 2.8% in the U.S., higher in emerging economies—as a resilient world defies fears of a China-driven crash.

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Mergers and acquisitions reached a record high this year. Don’t expect 2016 to keep up the blistering pace, but do watch for a couple of famous brands to get absorbed by competitors. (We’re looking at you, Macy’s.) We also foresee a good year for women in leadership–on corporate boards, if not necessarily in corner offices.

Here’s How Many Fortune 500 Board Seats Women Will Hold

The number of women running Fortune 500 companies fell in 2015—from 26 to 23—and alas, we’re not optimistic the count will climb dramatically in 2016. But, boardrooms are a different story. Nearly one-third of new Fortune 500 directors appointed in 2014 were women. And of the 5,415 board seats on America’s largest corporations, 1,057 (20%) of them are currently held by females—up 4% from February. The case for female directors (and a generally diverse boardroom) has been well made in recent years, with evidence mounting that companies with diverse boards perform better. So we estimate that the count will climb another 7% in 2016—to 1,130. —Erika Fry

Activist Investors Will Get Less Active

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The loudest hedge funds on Wall Street could go quiet in 2016. The reason: A less-friendly bond market. Two common moves shareholder activists push for are break-ups and share buybacks, even if companies have to borrow to do it.

Neither move is generally liked by bond holders, but for a while that didn’t seem to matter. Recently, though, bond investors have gotten more credit sensitive. That could make some of the activists moves too costly. On top of that, the Internal Revenue Service has indicated that it may crack down on tax-free spin-offs that separate assets but not operations, like the spin-offs that activist hedge fund Starboard Value has pushed Yahoo (YHOO) to pursue (including Yahoo Japan and licenses to its intellectual property), or like Jana Partners’ efforts to get Macy’s (M) to separate its real estate.

Activist managers still have over $100 billion in their funds. Expect them to go after bigger companies that have more ability to borrow, and focus on strategic changes. Mostly likely activist targets in 2016: Lumbering corporate giants, including General Electric (GE), of which activist Nelson Peltz already has taken a 3% share; IBM (IBM); and General Motors (GM). —Stephen Gandel

Hudson’s Bay Will Buy Macy’s

MAC.12.1.15.Macys.iconIllustration by Martin Laksman

After snapping up retailers like Lord & Taylor and Saks Fifth Avenue in recent years, Hudson’s Bay Company bagged German department store Kaufhof this year for $3.3 billion. And HBC has made no secret of the fact that it is on the hunt for more big-name stores. The company’s M.O. is to target underperforming department stores that also have very attractive real estate. Sound familiar? That could very well describe Macy’s, whose sales growth has evaporated this year but whose real estate could be worth billions- some reports suggest that Macy’s Manhattan flagship alone is worth $5 billion. Macy’s, which also owns Bloomingdale’s, would be a big bite: its market cap is about $16.5 billion. Nonetheless, HBC has proven adept at spinning off real estate of prior acquisitions to rake in billions to make its next big deal. And what more alluring trophy in the department store world is there than Macy’s? —Phil Wahba

A New-Media Juggernaut Will Buy An Old Media Brand

Time Inc., publisher of Fortune, is vacating New York City’s Time-Life Building—leaving space for a newcomer.Fortunata—Splash News; Logos all courtesy of companies

Digital media startups once dreamed of selling to a media conglomerate. Today, the hottest properties, including BuzzFeed, Vice Media and Vox Media, are worth billions, making them too expensive for most potential buyers. (BuzzFeed walked away from a deal with Disney (DIS) over price in 2014.) Instead, flush with venture capital, these surging new media empires will see struggling old media companies knocking on their doors. This trend could eventually hit brands at big publishing houses and TV properties, but for 2016, keep an eye on the first wave of digital publications like Slate, and Salon, now two decades old. What aging media brands lack in tech savvy and buzz, they make up for in brand recognition and prestige, something the new class, which has thrived by bucking the establishment, may start to value as their prominence rises. —Erin Griffith

Hostile Takeover Battles Will Surge

In a record year for U.S. M&A, with $1.9 billion in deals, according to Dealogic, hostile takeover offers have also surged, worth 14% of the total value of transactions. The number of unfriendly proposals has crept up slowly over the last few years, but the size of the offers has exploded, with $266 billion in hostile bids so far in 2015, nearly quadruple their value in all of 2013. Investors expect the hostility to increase even further, as companies struggle to grow and become more desperate for acquisitions the later the M&A cycle wears on. “All the low-hanging fruit’s been picked,” says Matthew Osowiecki, a portfolio manager specializing in merger arbitrage at Water Island Capital. And, “You have players where it’s eat or be eaten.” —Jen Wieczner

Healthcare’s M&A Flood Will Ebb

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Pharma and biotech stocks swooned recently (the S&P Pharmaceuticals Select Industry Index is down 25% in the last three months), largely on concerns about greater drug price regulation. As the stocks fell, experts also observed that the sector’s frenzied M&A wave took a breather. After all, the currency fueling much of the deal-making—those companies’ inflated equity valuations—is now depressed, and acquisition targets may prefer to hold out for a higher price. While a possible Pfizer-Allergan merger would push the 2015 healthcare M&A total to new heights, it may also be this cycle’s last hurrah. Expect a slowdown in pharma deals in 2016. —Wieczner

Pfizer Will Break Up

MAC.12.1.15.Pfizer.IconIllustration by Martin Laksman

Why launch a huge merger, only to break up? Pfizer might do just that. After internally dividing its slower-growth “established pharma” business from its more innovative patented drugs in 2014, Pfizer recently told analysts that it will decide by the end of 2016 whether to truly split itself up. Its acquisition talks with Allergan fuel the breakup theory, as Pfizer has expressed interest in beefing up the individual units to add scale (as it did by purchasing Hospira this year), as well as inverting overseas, before separating. —Wieczner

Entrepreneurs and their start-ups are the source of much of the technology industry’s incredible growth and innovation. But they aren’t always the ones left standing as the competition for customers and investor dollars unfolds. Expect 2016 to be a year when the big dogs swallow some of their competition—and where Apple rolls out some more bold surprises.

Apple Will Buy Tesla

Apple has announced plans to build an electronic car, targeting 2019. Apple could dramatically accelerate this timetable by buying Tesla (TSLA). With over $200 billion cash on hand, the iPhone-maker has more-than ample resources to absorb the purchase, especially now that some of the bloom has come off Tesla’s once-rosy stock. In addition to its automobile know-how, Apple gets access to Tesla’s battery technology, which CEO Elon Musk claims can help change “the entire energy infrastructure of the world.” Of course, Apple would also get Musk—a worthy heir to Steve Jobs’ “think different” legacy and ideally suited to be Apple’s futurist, chief technologist and CEO-in-waiting. —Aaron Task

…While Becoming the First $800 Billion Company

Apple just announced record earnings for fiscal 2015, posting nearly one-quarter of a trillion dollars in revenue, and it remains the most valuable public company by far. Apple briefly held the title of the world’s first $700 billion company in the first half of 2015, and Wall Street analysts believe it’ll shatter that mark next year: Their average 12-month price target of $149 would give Apple a market capitalization of $831 billion. To get there, Apple shares would have to rise 22%. But considering its track record, it seems realistic to expect that Apple will justify that kind of bump, by continuing to gain smartphone market share and achieve strong growth in emerging economies. —Scott DeCarlo

Unicorn Investing Will Get Ugly

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Everyone in startup-land is happy when valuations are going up. But if, as prominent venture capitalists have predicted, some billion-dollar unicorns turn into unicorpses in 2016, the opaque world of startup investing will get ugly. (Unicorns whose valuations are already showing cracks include Dropbox, Evernote, and of course Theranos.) Today, in-demand startups restrict trading of their shares on secondary markets like Nasdaq Private Market. But clever investors find ways around this by trading through intermediaries and employees. Once the biggest startups begin to struggle, the work-arounds will proliferate—only with sellers dominating as investors flee bad bets. Expect wild discrepancies in valuations; angry finger-pointing among investors, boards and CEOs; and maybe even some private company shareholder activism. —Erin Griffith

Why Jack Dorsey Will Leave Square (But Stay at Twitter)

Jack DorseyIllustration By Eric Scott Pfeiffer

Steve Jobs spent nearly a decade as CEO of both Apple and Pixar—but don’t expect Dorsey to follow a similar trajectory. Not too long after payments technology company Square goes public, Dorsey will leave the company, while staying on as permanent CEO of the other tech giant he co-founded, Twitter (TWTR). As a newly public company, Square needs a seasoned chief who can weather Wall Street’s demands for growth, says Sucharita Mulpuru, analyst at Forrester Research; Twitter, on the other hand, needs Dorsey’s design and product expertise. (One possible successor to Dorsey at Square: Jacqueline Reses, Yahoo’s former chief development officer, who just joined the company.) —Leena Rao

The Cybersecurity Startup Boom Will End

It’s hard to find a hotter startup segment than cybersecurity. Panic, paranoia and fear of missing out on the next lucrative opportunity have led investors to rain down capital on any firm endeavoring to keep hackers at bay. The sector raised about $2.5 billion in 2014, and it is on track to perform similarly this year. There will be a reckoning, though: Too many upstarts are building too many “me too” tools. Expect well-funded top dogs—companies like Bit9 + Carbon Black, Tanium, CrowdStrike—to weather the storm while more traditional big tech names and security stalwarts snap up smaller firms through “tuck in” acquisitions, cleaning up the field as the pipsqueaks wither away. —Robert Hackett

An Entrenched Computer Security Company Will Get Hacked

First, a disclaimer: Fortune wishes no ill upon any company. That said, we believe a trusted name in security will be utterly and embarrassingly hacked in 2016. Perhaps it’ll be a veteran firm like Symantec, or an entrenched tech giant with a cybersecurity arm—like Intel (INTC), Cisco (CSCO), or EMC (er, sorry, Dell). Point is: Ever since Edward Snowden pillaged the NSA, the world has come to grasp that no organization is sacred—or fully secured. Already this year, computer crackers drubbed the Italian spyware firm Hacking Team and breached the personal email account of the CIA director. So, quis custodiet ipsos custodes? —Hackett

The Food-Delivery Bubble Will Pop

85590862Barry Wong—Getty Images

Everybody eats—but we may not eat nearly enough to support the ballooning food-delivery tech category. Consulting firm Rosenheim Advisors counted 88 companies in the U.S. that offer either meal kits, meal delivery, food e-commerce, online grocery shopping, or online ordering. “In the next 12 to18 months there will be some reckoning,” says Brita Rosenheim, who runs her eponymous firm.

She estimates that $733 million has flooded into in food tech delivery over the last six months from U.S. private investors, representing 57% of the total invested in food tech. That’s already more than the $697 million that was invested in all of 2014 (representing 28% of all food tech investments).

One sign of glut: The industry is starting to run out of names. Within the online-ordering category alone, there’s already EAT24, FoodtoEat, EatStreet, and EAT Club, to name just a few. —Beth Kowitt

This year’s elections will reflect some big demographic changes in the American electorate—and we think those changes will shape the GOP presidential ticket more than the Democratic one. We’re also expecting an up-and-down year for political donors, and great one for advocates of legalized marijuana.

Campaign Ad Spending Will Have Another Boom Year

You may already have debate fatigue: Prepare yourself for campaign-ad overdose. Political advertising across platforms and races will exceed that of 2012, the last presidential-election year, by more than 20%, according to research firm Borrell Associates. The continuing rise of Super PAC money is one factor, but so is the expanding pool of places to advertise, as more candidate dip their toes in the digital-ad pool. —Anne VanderMey

This GOP Ticket

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Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, an unrivaled communicator within his party who deftly straddles its warring wings, will emerge from the GOP presidential scrum as the nominee. Doubling down on the “youthful D.C. outsider” contrast he intends to press against Clinton, Rubio will tap South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, 43, as his running mate. The fellow second-generation American from the Sun Belt, now in her second term, maintains solid approval numbers at home. More importantly, her handling of the state’s Confederate flag controversy expanded her support among constituencies — including African-Americans and self-identified Democrats — who’ll be key to any Republican victory. —Tory Newmyer

…Will Take On These Democrats

MAC.12.01.15 mac_demOriginal photos via Getty Images

Hillary Clinton will enjoy a near-unimpeded march to her party’s nomination. But the primaries will reveal her troubling weakness among white working-class men. She’ll try to address it by rounding out her ticket with Virginia Sen. Tim Kaine, a Harvard-educated former civil rights lawyer who’s nonetheless got lunchbucket cred as the successful former governor of a Southern state. Bonus: He speaks fluent Spanish. —Newmyer




The Democrats Will (Narrowly) Retake the Senate

Yes, the 2015 off-year elections had a rightward tilt. But don’t be distracted: Just two years after Democrats lost control of the upper chamber in the 2014 midterms, they’re poised to snatch it right back. To do so, the party needs to pick up five seats — or four, if they can also hold on to the White House. And the map tilts heavily in their favor. Republicans will be defending 24 seats on Election Day, while Democrats only have 10 in play. Democrats already have pickups in their sights in Florida, Illinois and Wisconsin. —Newmyer

Another 6 States Will Go Green (With Legal Pot)

Four states, plus Washington, D.C., have recently legalized recreational pot, and Colorado and Washington are already raking in millions of dollars in tax revenue from their legal markets. Several more states could join the party next year, when the presidential election will increase turnout among younger, pot-friendly voters. Initiatives to land marijuana legalization on 2016 ballots are well underway in Arizona, California, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, and Nevada, while a handful of other states could also put legalization to a vote. For various reasons, Ohio’s recent “no” vote isn’t a reliable bellwether of national opinion. With public support blossoming— the latest Gallup poll shows 58% of Americans back legalization— it’s not difficult to envision another six states opening their arms and their treasuries. —Tom Huddleston Jr.

Obama Will Take a Parting Shot at Big Donors

MAC.12.01.15 mac12_obama_cropAndrew Burton—Getty Images

President Obama has long lamented the Supreme Court’s 2010 Citizens United decision for allowing a torrent of unregulated money to flood the political process (specifically, he’s called the ruling a “threat to democracy”). On his way out of office, Obama will land a counterblow. The president will issue an executive order requiring federal contractors to disclose their contributions to dark-money groups. Congressional Republicans and the business lobby have blocked legislative attempts to push the issue. As one of his final acts, the president will accomplish it with a stroke of his pen. —Newmyer

Coming down the pike in 2016: Scientific advances to help address two of the world’s most vexing problems (Alzheimer’s disease and climate change) and one of its least important ones (uncomfortably warm workouts).

Warm-Weather Athletes Will Get Self-Cooling Clothes

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One of the biggest advances in the science of clothes-making in recent years has been tech that generates warmth beyond what the fabric alone provides. Uniqlo’s Heattech line has been a big hit with people for whom an extra sweater just isn’t enough, while Columbia Sportswear has developed reflective heat tech to keep winter clothing warm. But what about people who melt in 75-degree-plus weather? So far, most of the “self-cooling” apparel is really just about wicking away sweat, so there is no equivalent for keeping an athlete’s body from overheating in the summer. The big apparel makers are busy working on it, and the first one out of the gate stands to win a strong position in the $34-billion-a-year activewear industry. —Phil Wahba

The Private Sector Will Engineer a Fusion Breakthrough

Nuclear fusion has long tantalized humanity as a potential energy panacea—a fuel source that could prove to be cheap, inexhaustible, and clean. Large-scale government efforts to sustain and commercialize fusion have shown relatively little progress, but some entrepreneurs are reporting better results on smaller projects. With billionaires including Jeff Bezos, Paul Allen and Peter Thiel now backing small-scale private-sector projects, expect a major step toward commercially viable fusion in 2016.

More good news: If you’re reading this, it means none of the researchers have inadvertently melted down the planet. —Matt Heimer

(For more on the burgeoning field of fusion research, read this recent Fortune piece.)

A New Drug Will Show Promise in the Alzheimer’s Fight

Few diseases have been as difficult for drug companies to conquer as Alzheimer’s. The five existing therapies treat symptoms of the memory-robbing condition, not the disease itself. And between 2002 and 2012, a staggering 99.6% of drugs in development failed. We’re betting that 2016 will deliver the long overdue breakthrough that changes that: A medicine that actually slows the progression of Alzheimer’s. Though it’s not a perfect treatment, Eli Lilly’s solanezumab—a drug 15 years in the making—will pass muster in clinical tests and be well on its way to FDA approval, as a therapy for mild Alzheimer’s, by year’s end. —Erica Fry

Fortune reporters foresee some interesting changes in how you eat and how you and get around in 2016—along with some new and unwelcome threats in your email in-box.

‘Hoverboards’ Will Wobble Into the Mainstream

MAC.12.01.15.hoverboardIllustration by Eric Scott Pfeiffer; Swagway courtesy of Swagway

It started the way any bona fide craze should start: with celebrity buy-in. Justin Bieber, Jimmy Fallon, and Kendall Jenner have all ridden them. Rapper Wiz Khalifa liked his so much he refused to dismount when police questioned him at an airport. The technology in question is, of course, the electric “hoverboard” hands-free scooter. Versions of the skateboard-like contraption are now being produced in China—by, among others, Ninebot, the company that bought Segway this year (and is backed by smartphone giant Xiaomi). Expect to ride a hoverboard—or at least dodge one—in the coming months. —Anne VanderMey

Robots Will Do More of Your Driving

The company logo of Robot Taxi Inc. is seen on its Robot Taxi, a self-driving taxi based on a Toyota Estima car body, during an unveiling ceremony in Yokohama,Robot TaxiYuya Shino—Reuters

In the next 12 months, self-driving cars will take big strides: California will draft the first set of consumer rules for autonomous driving, and GM plans to launch hands-free driving capabilities called “Super Cruise.” But only in Japan might the human driver be sidelined entirely—thanks to a venture called Robot Taxi. It’s tentatively slated to provide rides in a pilot project in a suburb of Tokyo, ferrying passengers to and from local grocery stores. —VanderMey

Cyberspies Will Attack Your Inbox

Your credit card information is probably already for sale on the black market, sad to say. But odds are you’ll be hacked in a more insidious way in 2016, sadder to say. Your identity has by now been logged into some vast spy database in a foreign country (probably China), where an intelligence agency is building up a profile around your persona—sourced from personal information available on social media and through breached health insurers, airlines, government offices, and the like. That means these state-sponsored attackers have everything they need to target you with crafty phishing schemes to help them compromise your networks, your data, your contacts. So think twice before opening that next email attachment. —Robert Hackett

Full-Fat Will Be the New Fat-Free

Sales of full-fat dairy products, including whole milk, rose significantly in 2015 for the first time in decades. Expect the comeback to accelerate in 2016, as consumers continue to rebel against processed and genetically modified foods in favor of the “real.” Increased nutritional education means consumers are increasingly able to distinguish between good and bad fats—dairy fats now generally rank among the good guys—and dieting is no longer about restricting fat overall. —Valentina Zarya

These Popular Foods Will Get More Expensive

Operations At Del Bosque Farms Inc. As California Lawmaker Back Spend To Battle DroughtGetty Images

Climate extremes mean tough times for food crops, and the next year could hit several pretty harshly. Severe drought in California has already taken its toll on some high-demand products, causing price increases, and agriculture experts expect more of the same in the next twelve months. The price of almonds, already climbing, is expected to rise even faster; the next troubled Callifornia crop could be avocados (get ready to pay even more for the trendy delicacy avocado toast). Other problems loom globally: The Ivory Coast, center of world cocoa production, is under strain from drought—putting the world’s chocolate industry at risk. —Benjamin Snyder

Slow but steady global economic growth will be the story of 2016, according our team. China’s slowdown won’t get bad enough to do serious global damage, but growth in the U.S. and elsewhere won’t be nearly as robust as business leaders and policy makers have hoped.

Consumers (and Rate Cuts) Keep China Growing

China has lowered its official GDP growth target to 6.5% for 2016, and actual growth is likely to be lower than that. Expect continued cuts to interest rates and bank reserve ratio requirements, as the government scrambles to engineer a soft landing. But the surprising health of the Chinese consumer will keep forecasts of a crash from coming true. Notably, Chinese housing values will continue to rise, buoyed by falling inventories in many major cities. The rest of the world will get a chance to adjust to slower but still steady growth in China. —Scott Cendrowski

Here’s How Much Interest Rates Will Rise in 2016

The federal funds rate at the end of 2016 will be 0.5%, up from 0.25% this November. Expect the Federal Reserve to raise its interest rate targets once between now and then—but only once, as U.S. economic growth stays steady but slow, while inflation and wage growth also remain modest. Fears of seeming “political” during a presidential election year, sluggish growth in the Eurozone and a slowdown of the Chinese economic juggernaut will also keep Janet Yellen and the rest of the Federal Open Markets Committee from pulling the trigger more often; their vacillation will be one of the year’s longest-running (and least loved) dramas. —Alan Murray

Here’s Where the S&P 500 Will Be at the End of 2016

We asked the New York research firm Estimize to crowdsource an estimate among financial pros of where the S&P 500 would end up at the end of 2016. Their answer: 2,235, a gain of about 6% over today’s levels–not too bad, considering that expectations for corporate earnings next year have been steadily declining. Still, calendar 2016 may look less upbeat than this number suggests, says Christine Short of Estimize. The firm is anticipating the usual end-of-year Santa Claus rally for 2015, Short says; after that, the S&P could be close to flat between Jan. 1 and Dec. 31 of 2016. —Matt Heimer

What Oil Will Cost at the End of 2016

Oil storage tanks sit at the Esso oil refinery, operated by Exxon Mobil Corp.Simon Dawson—Getty Images

Stoked by steady demand from American consumers and slowing-but-still-growing demand in China, prices should climb to $55 a barrel by the end of 2016, a roughly 20% increase from where they stood in mid-November.

That’ll bring a bit of relief to hard-hit companies in the energy sector, but not enough to end its overall slump. Most oil exploration companies need prices to climb above $60 before they’ll feel confident about launching new projects and staffing up again. —Heimer

Playing games for money has always been a serious business. This year, expect some big financial gains for two of the world’s greatest female athletes, along with some growth in unexpected places for two of the most venerable team sports.

Serena Williams Will Cash In With Endorsement Deals

MAC.12.01.15 mac12_serena_cropAlex Goodlett—Getty Images

Serena Williams cemented her status as one of the greatest female athletes of all time in tennis by claiming four consecutive major titles from late 2014 through this summer. Although she couldn’t pull off the Grand Slam sweep, losing at the U.S. Open semifinals, expect her endorsements to surge closer to rival Maria Sharapova’s in the coming year—quite an accomplishment for someone who’s 34, an age when many tennis players are past their prime. —Benjamin Snyder

Pro Football Gets Bigger — in the U.S. and China

Remember the USFL? A short-lived competitor to the NFL, the fledgling league lasted three seasons and attracted talent like quarterback Doug Flutie. It also attracted Donald Trump, whom some blame for the league’s death; he purchased a team and brought attention to the league, but soon targeted the NFL as an enemy and tried to bring it to court. Now Jim Bailey has acquired the rights and is attempting to raise money to bring the USFL back—not as a competitor to the NFL, but a feeder. (Read our story here.)

With executive stints at the Cleveland Browns and Baltimore Ravens on his resume, Bailey believes he’s the right man for the job. He may be. Think of the new USFL as a D-league for the NFL—if Bailey gets the capital he’s seeking.

Meanwhile, with the NFL still muddling through a string of scandals and legal failures (and in a season that is on track to have more penalty flags than ever before), look for a rise in interest in alternative football options like the new China American Football league, in which NFL veteran-turned-ESPN analyst Ron Jaworski is a principal investor. —Daniel Roberts

The NHL Will Expand—to Another Snow-Free City

MAC.12.1.15.Palmtree.IconIllustration by Martin Laksman

It’s no secret the NHL is looking to expand, capitalizing on a popularity surge that drove growth in revenue from $2.2 billion in 2006 to around $4 billion in the 2013-14 season. Earlier this year, the league got expansion applications from Las Vegas and Quebec City. But expect the league to approve just one new team, to be located in Sin City, for a record expansion fee of $500 million. The league is likely to want to add teams in the West to balance the league’s geography. Nous sommes désolés, amis du Québec. —Ben Geier

Under Armour Will Sign a Big Deal With Ronda Rousey

MAC.12.1.15.Ronda.Rousey.IconIllustration by Martin Laksman

In sports, 2015 was arguably the year of Ronda Rousey. The until-recently undefeated UFC fighter continued to bring new eyeballs to the sport; she starred in a number of major movies; she graced the cover of a slew of major magazines; she called out Floyd Mayweather and challenged her league’s marijuana policy. Meanwhile, in sports apparel, the king was Under Armour, which made good on deals with Stephen Curry (who became league MVP and led his Warriors to an NBA title) and Jordan Spieth (PGA Player of the Year). It’s almost inevitable that these two powerhouses come together: Rousey sports Reebok in the ring, but only because Reebok has an exclusive deal with the UFC. Outside of competition, Rousey hasn’t inked a lucrative apparel sponsorship. Look for Under Armour to offer her one, to continue its endorsement hot-streak. —Roberts

On the money: We correctly forecast that China’s growth would slow to 7%. We also called the ongoing boom in China’s domestic smartphone industry. We predicted that U.S. wage growth would improve. And we foresaw that the extra income would fuel faster spending on home improvements.

Partial credit: We said Congress would break its gridlock to advance Pacific trade talks; they did, though a final deal still isn’t assured.

Where we whiffed: We said Amazon would follow the disappointing Fire Phone with a new, better phone; that hasn’t happened yet. We predicted falling prices would make solar energy cheaper than fossil fuel in most states; that was overly exuberant. And we forecast a “booming” rebound for oil. (We’re still waiting.)

Click here to read last year’s Crystal Ball predictions.

A version of this article appears in the December 1, 2015 issue of Fortune.