NEW YORK — What's in store for the New Year? From think-tank gurus and elder statesmen alike, from seasoned forecasters to the man in the street, the predictions are in. And if there's any definite early word on Anno Domini 1995, it's that time alone will tell.
Will interest rates continue their upward climb? "I wish I had a crystal ball," says one prominent economist. "I don't want to go out on a limb, but if the lessons of a lifetime teach anything--it's that the more things change, the more they stay the same."
Turning to the international scene, pundits differ on the scenario in '95. "Scenario," one longtime observer notes, "is a funny word." Another plays his cards closer to the vest: "Anything can happen," he predicts, "when you consider all the imponderables. But one thing is clear: Those who ignore the lessons of history are doomed to repeat it."
"What you gain on the swings, you lose on the roundabouts." It's an oft-quoted European political scientist, speaking off the record. "From what I've seen so far, it could go either way. It takes two sides to make an argument, after all. Much depends, as always, on whose ox is being gored. But as for predicting the flash points, well, I'll take a rain check."
But let's read the tea leaves on the all-important domestic front. "If the people inside the Beltway keep their ears to the ground and their noses to the grindstone," opines one Washington insider, "Joe Lunchbucket is going to vote with his pocketbook in '95--because when the Fed catches a cold, Wall Street sneezes."
Yes, but--and it's a big but--what's in store on Capitol Hill? "Lawmakers will be damned if they do, damned if they don't," pronounces one so-called spin doctor. "If things go their way, the Democrats will be in the catbird's seat. But don't write off the Republicans just yet. They've got their finger on the pulse of the electorate, a chokehold on major committee appointments and blood in their eye."
Congressional gridlock--bogyman or old wives' tale? "A bit of both," fumes one House mover-and-shaker. "But let's not take anybody to the woodshed just yet.
Around here, the unexpected has become the expected. The corridors of power are still rife with back-room wheeling and dealing and at this early juncture I wouldn't count anything as a done deal."
Meanwhile, the Supreme Court's 1995 actions may result in landmark decisions on issues affecting Americans from Maine to California if--and it's a big if--the center holds. "That's the funny thing about the court," observes one eminent legal scholar. "When the first Monday in October rolls around, it's anybody's call."
And as for the thorny issue of budget reform? "It's not the dog in the fight but the fight in the dog." At least that's how one top politico sees it--adding, portentously, that in our nation's capital today, "Failure is an orphan, but success has many fathers."
So when it comes to sizing up the New Year, what the experts tell us, in so many words, is: You pay your money and you take your choice--to coin a phrase. It may or may not be just what the doctor ordered--let he who is without guilt cast the first stone--but as the wise man once said, and it bears repeating here, "Physician, heal thyself." A word to the wise, in short. And as wise men say, the only certain things about 1995, as in every year before, are death and taxes.*