It’s a new year, which means a new crop of economic forecasts and “expert” predictions on everything from fashion to food.
Here are 10 things you can expect from 2015, according to financial experts across the web…
1. More millennials will buy homes, despite rising housing costs.
As more millennials get raises and start families of their own, they’ll start buying homes, too. Realtor.com says that increased employment opportunities will also lead to more home ownership for millennials, and MarketWatch predicts a “mini baby boom” in 2015.
2. States will make more money from legalizing weed.
The New York Times made headlines around the world earlier this year when its editorial board compared criminalized marijuana to Prohibition and urged Congress to let states make their own laws regulating it. Colorado is projected to make between $60 and $70 million off pot when the fiscal year ends in June 2015 — and if it makes more than that the state may have to refund some of it to consumers.
Washington, Alaska, Oregon, and the District of Columbia have all legalized recreational weed this year.
3. Fast food spending will slow.
McDonalds is in the midst of a rude awakening. In just the third quarter of 2014, the fast food chain saw a 30 percent decline in net income, and analysts think it’s likely the worst year since 2002 for the company, partially due to the popularity of “fast casual” restaurants like Chipotle and Panera.
Other analysts say that McDonalds has an image problem — namely, their food isn’t healthy enough and they don’t pay their employees a living wage, which resulted in protests across many major cities this year.
Other major fast food chains aren’t struggling as much as McDonald’s, according to Fortune, but it’s still the biggest — which means there are still a lot of fast food dollars shifting to “fast casual” alternatives.
4. Worldwide debt will continue to rise, with countries like Russia headed for an economic recession.
Falling gas prices are great news for us, but not so much for countries like Russia and Venezuela. Russia’s rouble lost half its value in 2014, partly because of its dependence on energy exports.
What’s bad for the energy industry is also in some ways bad for everyone. Heidi Moore of The Guardian put it this way: “The large debts held by oil and gas companies mean defaults are likely to increase in the coming year. This spells trouble for the banks lending to those companies, as well as for the rest of the economy, since data from Deutsche Bank show that the energy sector accounts for one-third of all capital expenditures in the S&P 500.”
5. Your credit card probably won’t get hacked, but your hospital might.
Due to a “perfect storm” of large amounts of data being stored by hospitals and the relative ease with which their systems can be hacked, identity theft expert Steve Weisman says hospitals will be the victims of most major data breaches in 2015.
Websense, an Australian web security company, predicts that the value of your stolen credit card will go down, and so will your chances of it getting hacked, as credit card thieves “morph into information dealers,” a far more lucrative endeavor. Now they’ll go after everything else — from medical information down to the customer loyalty programs you’re part of.
6. Mobile payments usage will increase in popularity, and more stores will offer it.
Bill Ready, CEO of PayPal-owned Braintree, predicts that the shift to digital wallets will begin in earnest in 2015. Between all the credit card hacks and the investment of time and resources companies like Apple and Samsung have put into wearable technology and mobile payment systems, he’s probably right.
7. Gas prices will continue to fall as America drills for more natural gas.
For the first time in years, some parts of the country are paying less than $2 for a gallon of gas. Analysts predict that those prices will continue to stay low well into 2015, largely due to America’s shale boom which has increased American oil production to its highest level in three decades.
8. People will stop buying memory sticks (thumb drives, USB drives) as cloud storage use increases.
Though the celebrity nude hack earlier this year made some skeptical of the safety of Apple’s iCloud, there’s not much doubt that online data storage like Google Drive, Dropbox, and Microsoft OneDrive will make USB drives obsolete. As MarketWatch says, “Memory sticks can sometimes be cheaper than cloud storage, but they can spread viruses from computer to computer, and unlike the cloud, they can be left behind in a cafe.”
9. You’ll spend money on a smart home device this year.
The Internet of Things, or the phenomena of having one smart device directly communicate with another, will revolutionize the way we heat our homes, buy our groceries, and entertain ourselves. Experts have been saying that for a few years, and it hasn’t quite happened yet — although a majority of Americans had smartphones by the start of last year.
The great news is that all of this new technology doesn’t have to be expensive, and can sometimes help pay for itself through improved energy efficiency.
10. Startups, especially in social media, will earn billions as they continue to reinvent themselves and attract investors.
Uber, Snapchat, Airbnb: These are just the ones you’ve heard about. Altogether, it’s estimated that more than $12 billion was invested in 850 deals in this year alone. Next year, that number is expected to increase, especially in cloud computing and social media, with Facebook’s possible launch of Facebook at Work.