What more can be said about 2018? It came with a bonus day, a leftover Monday that is fitting for a year that doesn’t seem to want to end.
It’s been a year of chaos and struggle, and probably a few corners are being turned in history. It may well be that historians will one day mark this as the year that the American Century, which started with World War I, finally came to a close.
Whatever the case, it really can’t end quickly enough.
With 2015 out of the way, it’s time to look forward. But as we’ve shown many times, the best way to draw a line into the future is an extrapolation from the past. Such is the real tradition at New Year’s – looking back and ahead at the same time.
Besides, the stillness of the present time moment is usually more of a hangover.
It is dark outside when the alarm goes off, not at all a time to wake up. The usual 8 hours and 41 minutes of daylight we can expect on a Winter Solstice is never enough to keep us going, even on a relatively warm and mild December that developed late in the month. Here in Minnesota the sky has been grey and the snow has gone, heralding a brown Christmas with muddy dog prints on the floor with every outing.
But today is the first full day of Winter all the same, even if it doesn’t quite feel like it. The dark tells us so.
This is the end of the year traditionally. The new year should begin at Solstice, as is the ancient European tradition, just as the day begins at midnight. The only reason it doesn’t is that the Romans used a calendar, the Julian, that was off a bit by the time Pope Gregory XIII got around to revising it and everything moved ten days. No matter. The world since the Renaissance has increasingly been what we decree, not what we see.
It’s been a good year, even if it didn’t seem like it. 2013 was the year that the economy turned around just enough to lay the foundation for a better 2014 in several key ways. The most important is that more people have jobs, even if it’s nowhere near enough to make up for the losses from 2008-2010. The other reason is that retail sales are actually picking up and there’s reason to believe that there will be more confidence as we move ahead. The last part is very important because the psychology of a depression is the main reason it has the name it has.
Barataria was very successful in predicting the important trends of the year early on. A summary of the best posts of the year is available in the tab 2013 in Review, if you’d like to rewind the whole year. But here are the economic highlights in a quick summary.