2019: THE YEAR IN PREVIEW.

Position:FIRST TAKE: OPINION
 
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COLUMNIST DAN BARKIN OFFERS A GLIMPSE OF THE NEXT 12 MONTHS--GUARANTEED MORTAL-LOCK, 1-900 PREDICTIONS--TO GUIDE YOUR BUSINESS DECISIONS IN THE YEAR AHEAD.

JANUARY

The search for a replacement for outgoing UNC System President Margaret Spellings continues under a special Board of Governors committee consisting of BOG Chairman Harry Smith of Greenville.

MARCH

The much-anticipated recession does not arrive in the first quarter of 2019. Economists predict it will come in the second, third or fourth quarters. Or in the first quarter of 2020. It's coming, dang it.

FEBRUARY

N.C. Treasurer Dale Folwell says he's moving the state's $100 billion pension fund into bitcoin, saving hundreds of millions now going to "greedy" Wall Street investment managers who prefer risky stocks and bonds.

APRIL

The Carolina Hurricanes squeak into the National Hockey League playoffs for the first time since 2009, thanks to Coach Rod Brind'Amour's up-tempo "shoot at the other goal more" offense. Sadly, the Canes lose to the Buffalo Sabres in the Eastern Conference finals, but not before a new generation of Caniacs discovers how very annoying many of their Buffalo-born neighbors are in the PNC Arena. Really, really annoying. And they seemed so nice at the pool.

MAY

More than 54,000 students Y * graduate from North Carolina's 16 public universities. Most of them owe loans equivalent to the cost of a new Subaru. After graduation, they will pack up and drive their parents' 10-year-old cars back home, where they will live as they start 20 years of tuition-debt payments. Mom and Dad are glad to see them, sort of.

JUNE

After years of complaints from drug mules and gun runners, the N.C. Department of Transportation begins work on the first phase of the Interstate 95 rebuild. The $700 million project will widen the vital north-south artery that carries so much traffic between Miami and New York--and even some North Carolinians.

JULY

A small, enthusiastic group of supporters of fracking celebrate the fifth anniversary of the General Assembly's passage of legislation permitting drilling in the state. Former Gov. Pat McCrory brings his patented chocolate-chip cookies. Fracking supporters promised it would "rain money down on the state." No drilling yet. No rain in the forecast.

AUGUST

Ginni Rometty retires as CEO of IBM after the tech giant completes its acquisition of Red Hat. The board names Red Hat CEO...

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