3 unsustainable trends looming large

2011 forecast: Euro, U.S. deficit, China growth creating tension

While looking into each new year, I recite the mantra of this blog’s patron saint, Peter Drucker: "Nobody can predict the future. The idea is to keep a firm grasp of the present."

The present today is more slippery to evaluate than usual for an odd reason: It is so similar to the turn of last year. Hardly anything has changed.

Interest rates are the same, near 5 percent for mortgages, near 3.5 percent for 10-year Treasurys, both expected to rise last year as now.

The lack of employment is the same, and so the dearth of tax revenue. The economy was then expected to accelerate in a recovery assumed to be under way, making the Fed’s QE1 and home-purchase tax credits unnecessary, both to expire in spring 2010.