As 2022 draws to a close, I thought it might be interesting to publicly share a few of my predictions for the coming year across various topics of interest and current world events. I’ve categorized these into several sections that I believe will act in concert with one another, and in some cases create domino-like affects. I look forward to reviewing this post at the end of next year to see if any of my ramblings actually come to pass.
A word of caution: I tend to look for negative trends when it comes to history and world events, so I think you’ll find my predictions will largely err in that direction. Likewise, as an American you’ll find my predictions are heavily influenced by philosophically Western views. If you’re looking for predictions of cupcakes and unicorns in 2023 - you’ll probably be disappointed and should maybe skip to the last section called Hope 😅 For those not easily disheartened - read on at risk of gazing into the abyss; I hope I’m mostly wrong about all of this.
The number one antagonist I expect to shape our lives in 2023 will continue to be the SARS-CoV-2 virus. Due to farcical response to the COVID-19 pandemic in Western countries, the virus has continued to rage out of control - spawning even more infectious variants, and increasingly causing long-term impacts in the lives of those infected.
Unfortunately on this front it seems like things are getting worse. Just yesterday we learned the extent of how the XBB 1.5 variant is spreading across America - and the effects it will have on the populace are predictable. In 2022 we’ve already witnessed a so-called “tripledemic” this Fall and Winter, and now we are beginning to learn through scientific research how COVID-19 is rewiring our immune response in ways that are having knock-on effects on people’s lives. As a result I expect COVID-19 will have second-order affects when it comes to outbreaks of other infectious diseases in 2023.
And to top it all off - due to populist uprisings in China, the one country who held onto the idea of “Zero COVID” is now experiencing a tidal wave of cases due to abandoning restrictions. I expect many will experience the second-order affects of the the world’s manufacturing hub becoming overwhelmed with disease. How long these impacts last will largely be determined by the replacement rate of workers in China - which I expect to be low due to their historic “one child” policies - as well as how quickly they can get COVID-19 under control.
As a result of the COVID-19 outbreak in China, I anticipate numerous second-order affects will take place impacting supply chains - and as a result, inflation, corporate greed, and interest rate hikes will all be top of mind in 2023.
I believe it will take between 3 to 6 months before China is able to stabilize from their current outbreak unless drastic measures are reintroduced. In many ways it feels like unleashing COVID-19 on the populace is the CCP’s way of driving people back into submission after recent populist uprisings. It just might work - or it could backfire spectacularly. We’ll just have to wait and see.
That said, as of today I expect to start seeing impacts on manufacturing and supply chains in the first quarter of 2023 - which will ripple until the end of the third quarter. And if the worker replacement rate is low it could go on for much, much longer. Again, China’s historic “one child” policy is going to play a role in this. Regardless, the impacts will be felt across a number of industries - including automotive, technological, pharmaceutical, and fabricated materials manufacturing.
Given ongoing events in China and the downstream impacts on global economies from manufacturing and supply chain issues, I think it’s reasonable to expect high single digit (and possibly even double-digit) inflation to continue throughout 2023. It’s entirely possible the United States will experience periods of double-digit inflation given how many hundreds of billions of dollars worth of imports we receive from China.
And while none of what I’m sharing should be construed as investment advice, I expect financial markets will continue to experience downward pressure as federal banks raise interest rates to fight off inflation. The supply chain shortages resulting from COVID-19’s impacts in China - and increasing corporate greed under the guise of these supply chain shortages - will likely drive inflation higher in 2023.
That said, the problem that no one of consequence is publicly calling out is the fact that wage growth will continue to skyrocket in Western countries as labor force participation rates remain historically low. Whether from death, long COVID, or people leaving the workforce for fear of succumbing to long COVID - a low worker replacement rate will continue to fuel explosive wage growth. Which means more inflation, because corporations will try to offset these costs by raising prices - and will continue to report record profits.
Long-story short, inflation will continue to run out of control because there aren’t any adults left in the room willing to stand up and say “It’s COVID, stupid! It’s all COVID - and until we get serious about addressing it, nothing will change”.
While semiconductor manufacturing will largely continue unabated due to how much of it occurs outside of China, I think that components and fabricated materials that go into the production of such technologies will experience some impacts. As a result I believe that lead times for purchasing core infrastructure devices like routers, switches, firewalls et cetera- as well as personal computers and smart phones - will continue to increase. This will have knock-on effects in global markets as a result of how much weight the companies behind these technologies carry.
What this ultimately means for companies is that they will have to continue utilizing older systems to run their businesses. Over time infrastructure fails or becomes harder to maintain, in part due to a lack of available talent - and replacements become both more expensive and harder to find on both fronts. As a result I expect more companies that have resisted transitioning critical workloads to “the cloud” will be driven toward even greater adoption of cloud computing solutions.
This will afford a great deal of opportunity for software engineers and IT professionals impacted by the recent storm of silicon valley layoffs in 2022 - although salary requirements for such talent might be difficult for traditional businesses to stomach. This will be especially true if the economic conditions I outlined above come to pass. Either way, if you’ve been looking for a reason to skill up in cloud technologies - now is the time to start doing that.
All that being said, the wildcard still left in the technology deck is whether or not China will invade Taiwan. Given the current state of COVID in China right now, the earliest I expect this could happen would be the 2nd quarter of 2023. If this does happen, all bets are off on the semiconductor manufacturing front. Honestly, such an event would probably kick-off World War III - so between us, I hope that cooler heads prevail.
As companies lift-and-shift workloads from on-premise data centers to the cloud - without properly re-engineering them for this purpose, or hiring / training talent to handle such initiatives - I fully expect a historic volume of data breaches and security incidents to follow. Because of this, I believe 2023 will be another banger of a year for security professionals. Take as much time off as you can in advance of these “lift-and-shift” initiatives, because you’ll want to be well rested when the incident calls start coming in.
Likewise, I think that we will continue to see software engineers and IT professionals re-skilling to join the ranks of security professionals. This has the opportunity to be a positive change for many experiencing stagnant wage growth and a lack of demand for talent in other areas of technology - only so long as those of us in the industry continue fighting against a history of gatekeeping and misogyny in our profession. If my technology prediction above comes true, we will need all the help we can get; and besides, there’s plenty of room for people from all walks of life to add value in our industry.
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With continued support from the United States and its allies, I expect Ukraine will take back Crimea and continue to push out Russian forces from other Eastern regions. As a result Putin will be seen as weak and vulnerable, which could lead to him having a tragic accident whereby he falls out a very high window.
On the other hand - if Putin somehow holds onto the reigns of power I expect his continued military defeats in the field will cause him to go nuclear. Whether that means causing a nuclear catastrophe at the occupied Ukrainian nuclear power plant in hopes that they can claim it was an accident - or using one of their nuclear armaments - is still something I’m uncertain of. But if this happens, I think it means that NATO will commit to troops on the ground in Ukraine and close the skies to Russian forces and armaments.
Let’s hope that Putin falls out a window. Slava Ukraini! 🇺🇦
Also - as I mentioned in the technology section, there’s always the possibility that China will invade Taiwan after they get their COVID-19 outbreak under control. If that happens, the ramifications will be felt globally from the world’s concentration of semiconductor manufacturing being totally consumed by a militant China. For the sake of peace, I hope this doesn’t happen.
Given what we’ve seen in 2022, I expect we’ll see somewhere between five and seven “catastrophic” climate events in the coming year. And by “catastrophic” I mean events that lead to substantial loss of life and/or property; the kind of events that shock the global populace into recognizing that climate change is both real, and is something that is happening right now.
Whether these events cause entire cities to lose power for long periods of time during extreme weather conditions, or cause mass crop failures and/or species loss is hard to say. That said, I think we’ll see Hoover Dam reach a “dead pool” level in 2023 - which will have downstream impacts (some pun intended) on cities like Los Angeles, and in communities all along the Colorado river. This will be one of several events globally that has the potential to reshape entire regions.
When I share thoughts and predictions with my wife like those I’ve written above, she often reacts by asking “So why go on living? What hope do we have for the future in spite of all this?” To which my response is usually this:
Tomorrow is not written in stone. By sharpening our tools and practicing how to use them, we have a greater opportunity to write the history we want to see tomorrow.
To that end, any number of events could positively shape the future in 2023. China could reimpose a lockdown to get COVID under control, and in doing so show the rest of the world that we don’t have to live with this virus; That we have measures which can work when vaccine efficacy fails us - such as universal high quality masking, far UVC, ventilation, and scrubbing the air with better filtration. This could lead Western countries to coordinate a similar effort and break the cycle of infection. It just might buy us the time we need to get ahead of the virus, where we might discover a universal vaccine that prevents infection.
And if China’s manufacturing does not falter as a result of their getting COVID under control - we could see inflation continue to dissolve, leading to lower interest rate increases from federal reserve banks. This would certainly calm global markets - and turn a sharp eye on corporate greed. If corporations that participated in price gouging are called on it through coordinated taxation efforts in Western nations, we might actually get inflation back under control.
Anyway, my point is that tomorrow is a new day - and a new year! There’s so much opportunity for things to go right if we put forth an effort to see it through. Even if things don’t go right, if we’re prepared for the worst case scenarios then we can find a way to carry on until things get better.
After all, there’s always hope that Putin falls out of a very high window.
Thanks again for stopping by to read my pseudo-random musings 😊 While taking some time to rest and reflect here at the end of 2022, you can
git checkout other (usually off-topic) content I’m reading over at Instapaper - or read my series on the DevSecOps Essentials as you consider the challenging market dynamics we’re likely to face in 2023.
Until next time, remember to
git commit && stay classy!
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