Imagine that the Social Security system is running at a surplus by 1994; that the inflation rate is a mere 1.5 percent by 1995 and the Dow Jones Industrial Average ends the decade at a whopping 9500.
Then consider the possibility that America will again become a nation of savers, that the world will operate on a single currency and Missouri Democrat Richard Gephardt is elected president of the United States in 1996.A chapter from a futuristic science fiction novel, perhaps? No, they are some of the predictions contained in "A View from the Year 2000," a research document developed by Shearson Lehman Brothers analysts.
And while some of the forecasts seem a bit far-fetched, Dennis Mooradian, executive vice president and director of national sales of the brokerage firm, says the document was named best guide to the future by Institutional Investor.
Speaking Tuesday at the first-ever "Building Wealth in the '90s" conference held at the Salt Lake Marriott Hotel, Mooradian told executives and business owners that Shearson Lehman Brothers analysts believe the recession is much worse than other economists have predicted.
"We think the economy is in worse shape than a lot of people say. We think the Fed (Federal Reserve Board) is going to do a lot of easing up," he said.
That will drive interest rates down, with 1995 rates as low as 2.5 percent for short-term federal funds and 4 percent on 30-year Treasury bills, he said.
"At those type of levels with the (interest) rate that low, interest in the stock market will be quite revived," he said.
Trading will be so prolific that Mooradian said the Dow will close out the decade at 9500 with an accompanying price/earnings ratio of 25-1. Trading will be enhanced because stockholders will have greater access to information previously available only to brokers and other investment counselors.
But at the same time, average stockholders will need more specialized assistance from brokers because trading will be conducted worldwide by computer and stocks will be triple listed on the U.S., Japanese and European stock exchanges.
The research document also predicts drastic lifestyle changes for most Americans. Government and consumer spending is expected to nosedive in the 1990s and by the mid-'90s, the U.S. budget and trade deficits will be eliminated.
Part of the reason is the "peace dividend." Less money will be spent on defense, and domestic problems will receive more financial assistance.
Consumer products are expected to last longer, thus Americans will postpone the purchase of imported small electrical appliances. Americans will likely save more and be less willing to leverage up to buy more expensive homes. Meanwhile, Japan will become a spending nation, purchasing both real estate and consumer goods.
Mooradian said more Americans will be put in the position of caring for their children as well as their parents and older relatives who, because of innovations in nutrition and health care, will live longer."
But computer technology will enable most people to work, go to college classes, shop and trade stock from computer terminals in their homes. Newspapers, he said, will be "delivered" to homes by fax machines.
The United States will continue to dominate the entertainment industry.
Analysts predict entertainment will one of the hottest exports of the 1990s, and Aug. 15 (the anniversary of Woodstock) will become an international holiday. "Well, maybe not," Mooradian said.