Five Economic Events That Never Happened in 2009

Asked to peer into my Google-powered crystal ball/computer screen and offer my economic predictions for 2010, I was going to write about the rise of Africa. The economy of the world's most underdeveloped continent is expected to grow at a strong 5.5 to 6 percent clip next year. Its political leaders have been stepping up on the global scene too; most recently, at the Copenhagen conference, they symbolically showed the world's wealthier, Western nations that Africans can't be pushed around anymore. And all eyes will be on South Africa this summer as it hosts the continent's first major sports event, soccer's World Cup.

However, as I sat down to write the post, I had to admit that economic predictions are notoriously difficult to make. Africa's day will someday come but I can't really say whether it will be in the next year, decade or century.

So, rather than predict the future, I figured I should take a look back over the past year or so to see which bold business-related predictions for 2009 never materialized.

  • Prediction: "Steve Jobs relinquishes the CEO title and remains as Chairman." (via Reality check: Not only does Jobs remain as Apple's CEO, he is the planet's best, according to Harvard Business Review
  • Prediction: "Chaos ensues in February [of 2009] when U.S. broadcasters cease analog TV signals." (via BusinessWeek) Reality check:The switch to digital TV was delayed a few months but the transition caused no chaos for the entertainment industry or consumers
  • Prediction: "Malls, as we know it, will be dead and most will turn into outlet mall like structures." (via The Budget Fashionista blog) Reality check: 166 malls went into bankruptcy when General Growth Properties went down last year but the mall still reigns supreme
  • Prediction: "[M]illions of newly (and not so newly) unemployed will be scrambling to start their own businesses." (via the Wall Street Journal) Reality check: There were plenty of prognosticators picking entrepreneurship as 2009's hot trend but it's too soon to tell whether more Americans decided to start their own companies last year; I'm going to predict that the well-publicized lack of small business loans, combined with extended unemployment benefits, probably dissuaded quite a few from taking the plunge
  • Prediction: Problems stemming from the economic crisis "will lead to increased crime and civil unrest with protests in the streets, bank runs and an increased police and military presence trying to bring stability to cities" (via Seeking Alpha) Reality check: Violent crimes, burglaries and property crimes all dropped in the first half of 2009, according to FBI figures released on December 21
Which predictions for 2009 were the most off, in your opinion? Feel free to add to the conversation in the comments section.