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Future Perfect’s forecasts for 2023 — Covid, Putin, inflation, and more

This will be the fourth year in a row that the staff of Future Perfect has given itself the task of trying to predict, well, the future. It’s in the name of the section, but forecasting is something that can benefit you as a thinker whether or not you can accurately see what’s to come. As my colleague Dylan Matthews wrote last year, “the most critical skills for forecasting are thinking numerically, being open to changing your mind, updating your beliefs incrementally and frequently instead of in rare big moments, and — most encouragingly — practicing.” Practice makes Future Perfect, in other words.

So here are our best guesses — with probabilities attached — to what we think will happen as some of the most important stories of 2023 unfold. Will we dip into a recession? Will inflation continue unchecked? Will China launch an invasion of Taiwan, and will Vladimir Putin still be president of Russia at year’s end? Will the Philadelphia Eagles win the Super Bowl? (This one might be of interest only to me.)

It’s important to remember that each prediction is made probabilistically, meaning we assign each event a probability of between 10 and 95 percent. A very high percentage — say, 80 percent — doesn’t mean that an event will definitely happen (something we all should have learned after the 2016 election). It simply means that if we make five predictions at 80 percent, we expect four of them to come true. And we’ll be keeping track, reporting back next year on how we did. (You can read our review of our 2022 predictions here.) —Bryan Walsh

The United States

Joe Biden will be the frontrunner for the Democratic nomination heading into 2024 (70 percent)

Presidential reelection years are approximately half as interesting to political reporters as open-seat races because only one party has competitive primaries. Naturally, this means that every such year features rampant speculation about improbable primary challenges or running mate swaps by the incumbent: Maybe Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan would challenge Trump in 2020! Or George W. Bush would swap Dick Cheney for Rudy Giuliani in 2004! (Neither happened.)

Will Biden run again?” is perhaps the most understandable of these speculation cycles, given the incumbent’s age — he’d be 82 on Election Day 2025 — but I think it’s very unlikely he declines to run. The last two incumbents to decline an attempt at reelection (Lyndon Johnson and Harry Truman) were former vice presidents who ascended following the death of their predecessor, had already served more than a full term, were prosecuting increasingly unpopular wars, and, most importantly, faced tough primary challenges.

Biden, by contrast, is not facing any equivalently large backlash within the Democratic Party. Moreover, there seems to be a substantial incumbency advantage to the presidency, making Biden by far Democrats’ most electable option. That’s why I think he’ll be the frontrunner heading into the election year, as measured by Polymarket (or, if Polymarket shuts down, another high-volume prediction market). —Dylan Matthews

Donald Trump will be the frontrunner for the Republican nomination heading into 2024 (60 percent)

We might as well start with the polls: Despite a recent dramatic outlier, the most recent ones listed by FiveThirtyEight tend to show Trump ahead of Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, who has emerged as his most likely challenger.

But of course, polls can only tell us so much this far out, especially in primaries, which tend to shift more rapidly and dramatically than general elections. Maybe Trump gets indicted by this or that prosecutor, which damages — or maybe helps! — his standing with GOP primary voters. While Trump dominated the 2016 primary cycle, there was a brief moment when Ben Carson was beating him. Anything’s possible.

My belief that Trump’s the frontrunner (and will remain so per Polymarket come December 2023) comes from having seen Trump perform in a competitive national primary before, and from knowing that DeSantis has not waged a campaign at this scale, and not against Trump.

A Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis sticker and one reading, ‘Trump 2024 No More Bullshit’, are plastered on a vehicle near the Mar-a-Lago home of former U.S. President Donald Trump before he speaks this evening on November 15, 2022 in Palm Beach, Florida

A Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis sticker and one reading “Trump 2024 No More Bullshit” are plastered on a vehicle near the Mar-a-Lago home of former US President Donald Trump before he speaks on November 15, 2022 in Palm Beach, Florida.
Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Those of us who watched all of the 2015 debates will recall that Trump wiped the floor with his myriad opponents. In retrospect, this makes total sense: He’s a TV star who has spent decades practicing that kind of performance. At the time, the conventional wisdom was that Trump’s performance in debates and ability to control the news cycle wouldn’t be enough to overcome his inexperience and alienating persona. But they were enough. I suspect they’ll be enough again, though the messiness of primaries means my confidence is relatively low. —DM

The Supreme Court will rule that affirmative action is unconstitutional (70 percent)

My colleague Ian Millhiser listened to the oral arguments in the Students for Fair Admissions cases challenging affirmative action at both the University of North Carolina and Harvard, and left persuaded that explicit racial preferences for admission are a goner: “Even if one of the conservative justices who expressed some reservations today surprises us,” he wrote, “that would still likely leave five votes teed up against affirmative action.”

That makes sense. As Millhiser notes, there are six Republican appointees on the Court today, all by presidents opposed to affirmative action and all reared in a conservative legal movement where opposition to the policy is taken for granted. Even the most comparatively moderate of them, Chief Justice John Roberts, is famously hostile to considering race in attempts to address past discrimination.

The reason I’m not more confident is due to a nuance Millhiser noted, which is that Roberts appeared open to racial preferences at military academies, noting the federal government’s argument that the military needs a diverse officer corps to succeed. If such a carve-out is included in the ultimate ruling, my prediction here will be wrong: I’m predicting they’ll strike down affirmative action across the board at public or publicly funded institutions. —DM

The US will not meet its target for refugee admissions this fiscal year (80 percent)

President Biden has set the refugee admissions target at 125,000 for fiscal year 2023 — the same level as in 2022. I think the US will fail to hit that target for the same reasons it failed last year (when it admitted fewer than 20,000 refugees). Chief among them: The Trump administration gutted America’s resettlement infrastructure, and it still hasn’t fully recovered. Under Biden, there have been efforts to restaff the government agencies that do resettlement and reopen the offices that had been shuttered, but advocates say the rebuild has been too slow. There just doesn’t seem to be enough political will to make it a priority.

You might be wondering: What about all the Afghans, Ukrainians, and Venezuelans that the US has welcomed? Well, the thing is, those who came to the US via the legal process known as humanitarian parole only get stays of two years. They don’t count toward the number of refugees resettled as refugees are given a path to permanent residency. I hope the US will grant full refugee status to the full 125,000 it’s targeting for 2023, but sadly, I doubt that will happen. —Sigal Samuel

The US will slip into recession during 2023 (70 percent)

“The state of the economy is weird,” as New York’s Eric Levitz put it in a recent piece. The US keeps gaining jobs, and unemployment remains near historic lows. Inflation is declining, as are gas prices. Yet there is striking uniformity among economists and business executives that a recession is incoming.

What gives? Not the Federal Reserve, which has shown no sign that it is ready to significantly moderate interest rate increases, as it seeks to curb spending and investment and tame inflation. Pulling that off without thrusting the US into a recession would require orchestrating the kind of soft landing for the economy that the Fed hasn’t pulled off since 1994, as my Vox colleague Madeleine Ngo wrote recently. Every part of the economy that is vulnerable to high interest rates — home purchases, manufacturing output, retail sales — is already slumping.

Put the current data and the historical analogies together and it’s hard to believe that the US won’t avoid at least a mild recession next year, especially since economic decision-makers are all basically acting as though one is imminent. As John Maynard Keynes put it, many of our economic decisions — from whether to buy a house to whether to close a factory — come down less to hard data than “animal spirits.” And the spirits are flagging. —BW

Inflation in the US will exceed 3 percent (60 percent)

This past year, I predicted that inflation would stay below 3 percent because that’s what the Federal Reserve and private forecasters predicted. That was extremely wrong: The surge in household cash resources from various stimulus measures, combined with shocks like the semiconductor shortage and the disruptions of the Ukraine-Russia war, meant that prices by the Fed’s preferred metric were 4.9 percent higher in the third quarter of 2022 compared to the third quarter of 2021.

So, how does one go about trying to predict 2023 inflation when major forecasters all got 2022 wrong? For one thing, I’m going to be less confident. I was 80 percent certain last year; I am much less so this year.

As of December 14, the Fed is projecting that inflation will fall between 3 and 3.8 percent in 2023, and the Survey of Professional Forecasters suggests inflation will start at 3.8 percent in the first quarter and fall to 2.7 percent by the end of the year. So an undershoot below 3 percent is certainly possible, especially if the Fed continues to tighten and especially if the economy dips into a recession (see above).

But wage growth remains quite strong as of this writing, in a range where even the doves at Employ America think some tightening is required. That’s why I think a rate above 3 percent is more likely than not. —DM

There will be no Supreme Court vacancies in 2023 (90 percent)

Last year, Vox’s Dylan Matthews correctly predicted that Stephen Breyer would retire from the Supreme Court. Now, the whole court is relatively young, with four justices in their 50s and none in their 80s (the eldest justice, Clarence Thomas, is a spry 74 years old).

United States Supreme Court Associate Justice Clarence Thomas poses for an official portrait at the East Conference Room of the Supreme Court building on October 7, 2022 in Washington, DC

United States Supreme Court Associate Justice Clarence Thomas poses for an official portrait at the East Conference Room of the Supreme Court building on October 7, 2022, in Washington, DC.
Alex Wong/Getty Images

Could Justice Sonia Sotomayor have retirement on her mind since there’s a high likelihood Republicans will gain control of the Senate in 2024? Hard to know for sure, but a 2023 retirement would certainly be premature — if she goes that route, she could wait until the summer of 2024. Aside from retirement, there’s death. Using the Social Security Administration’s actuarial tables, the cumulative odds of any justice dying in 2023 (based on age alone) is a little over 11 percent, with Thomas the highest (3.1 percent) and Barrett the lowest (0.3 percent). But the justices aren’t your average Americans — their high education status and wealth reduce their chance of early death and increase their likelihood of survival, so I’m predicting just a 10 percent chance of a vacancy. Kenny Torrella

The world

Vladimir Putin will still be President of Russia (80 percent)

This past year has likely been the worst for Putin’s survival chances since he first ascended to the presidency at the end of 1999. He launched a brutal and illegal war that made his nation an international pariah; the resulting sanctions and mass mobilization of young men from that war are wreaking havoc on an economy that’s also suffering from now-falling oil prices. On top of all that, he’s losing that war to a country with less than a third of Russia’s population. All of these are conditions where coups start to become imaginable.

That said, it’s important to keep “base rates” in mind: How common are coups in dictatorships, generally? A 2021 paper from John Chin, David Carter, and Joseph Wright looked through a database of coup attempts and found that in autocratic countries, 6.3 percent of years featured a coup attempt. “Regime change coups,” their term for attempted coups that totally change a country’s governance structure (as opposed to, say, replacing one general with another), are much more common in personalist regimes like Putin’s, with attempts in 7 percent of years. But in general, only 48 percent of coup attempts they studied succeeded.

This paper might lead one to think there’s perhaps a 3.5 percent chance of a successful regime-change coup against Putin in a given year (and it’s hard to imagine a coup against him that doesn’t constitute a regime change). Given all the stressors listed above, I think that’s much too low an estimate. That said, the low overall rate of coups makes me think it’s more likely than not that Putin stays in power. —DM

China will not launch a full-scale invasion of Taiwan (90 percent)

People I take seriously are genuinely concerned that China is gearing up for an invasion of Taiwan this decade. Ben Rhodes has a thorough, thoughtful take in the Atlantic, and Phil Davidson, the retired admiral formerly in charge of US military operations in the region, has argued China will be ready for an invasion by 2027. Not controlling Taiwan is clearly a major psychic injury to Communist Party leaders, and taking over a world leader in semiconductor production that’s strategically placed in the South China Sea would have geostrategic benefits, too.

But I have a hard time getting over the fact that an invasion would be outrageously costly for China in terms of blood and treasure and international esteem, and that these costs would almost surely outweigh any benefits. Mattathias Schwartz at Insider has a useful rundown of the challenges an invasion poses, not least of which is that Taiwan is an island and amphibious invasions are extraordinarily difficult. John Culver, a veteran CIA analyst on China, argues that there would be clear signs before an invasion, like “surging production of ballistic and cruise missiles; anti-air, air-to-air, and large rockets for long-range beach bombardment; and numerous other items, at least a year before D-Day.”

While China has stepped up its probes of Taiwan’s defenses, none of those warning signs are visible yet. We saw preparations for the Russian invasion of Ukraine months ahead of time; it wasn’t clear whether Putin was serious or feinting, but he was definitely up to something. The situation with China and Taiwan just isn’t the same, and the debacle that is the Russian invasion of Ukraine probably doesn’t make Xi Jinping more inclined to repeat Putin’s mistake. —DM

At least one new country will join NATO (90 percent)

Sweden and Finland formally applied to join NATO in the aftermath of the Ukraine invasion, in a massive reorientation of Nordic defense policy. While Sweden was secretly cooperating with NATO throughout the Cold War, it was publicly non-aligned during those decades and often vocally critical of the West. Meanwhile, Finland was so thoroughly under the Soviets’ thumb that the USSR once forced a Finnish prime minister they didn’t like to resign.

The national flags of (LtoR) Latvia, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Iceland, the Netherlands, Lithuania, Norway, Sweden and the United Kingdom (Union Jack) are displayed during the Joint Expeditionary Force (JEF) leaders summit in Riga on December 19, 2022

The national flags of (from left) Latvia, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Iceland, the Netherlands, Lithuania, Norway, Sweden and the United Kingdom are displayed during the Joint Expeditionary Force (JEF) leaders summit in Riga on December 19, 2022.
Gints Ivuskans/AFP via Getty Images

Turkey, a member since 1952, has reservations about the Swedes and Finns related to their support for Kurdish causes, which has been delaying their accession. This means that Sweden and Finland joining is not a totally sure thing, but I think it’s pretty close. The consensus among most observers is that Turkey is trying to extract a few concessions from its Western defense partners and understands that the massive benefits the new members bring to the alliance outweigh any downsides. —DM

Finland will remain the world’s happiest country, while America won’t crack the top dozen (75 percent)

Every year, the World Happiness Report ranks countries in terms of the happiness of their populations. It’s an attempt to pay more attention to indicators of subjective well-being as opposed to raw GDP.

Finland has been the happiest country for five years running, thanks to its well-run public services, high levels of trust in authority, and low levels of crime and inequality, among other things. And in 2022, researchers noted that its victory wasn’t even a close call: Its score was “significantly ahead” of every other country. So I think it’s likely to hold onto the top spot in 2023. As for America, its ranking did improve recently — from 19th place in 2021 to 16th place in 2022 — but it has never made it into the top dozen spots. —SS

Science and technology

A psychedelic-based mental health treatment will win US regulatory approval (60 percent)

Research into the therapeutic potential of psychedelic drugs has been undergoing a renaissance over the past decade, and it’s now bearing fruit. A May 2022 letter from the Health and Human Services Department disclosed that President Biden’s administration anticipates regulators will approve MDMA for PTSD and psilocybin for depression within the next two years.

MDMA will probably come first; some experts say that by the end of 2023, it’s very likely to become FDA-approved for PTSD. Meanwhile, psilocybin will probably get approved for depression the next year. But with such a delicate issue as this, it’s always possible that some late-stage questions will emerge around the clinical trials or plans for implementing an approval, and that could bog things down, so I’m only giving this prediction 60 percent odds. —SS

The US will not approve a nasal vaccine for Covid-19 (90 percent)

For a long time, we’ve been hearing about how Covid-19 vaccines delivered through the nose would likely prevent more infections than shots in arms. And China, India, Russia, and Iran have already greenlit vaccines taken through the nose or mouth. Alas, not the US. Nasal vaccines created by American researchers have been tested in animals, but human testing has been held back for a few reasons. A big one is the lack of funding: Biden has asked Congress for more money for next-generation vaccines, but Republicans have resisted. Current estimates put nasal vaccines years away for the US. That’s depressing, but the indications suggest it’s accurate. —SS

An AI company will knowingly release a text-to-image or text-to-video model that exhibits bias (90 percent)

AI that lets you turn a few words into an image or a video made stunning advances in 2022, from OpenAI’s DALL-E 2 and Stability AI’s Stable Diffusion to Meta’s Make-A-Video and Google’s Imagen Video. They were hailed for the delightful art they can make and criticized for exhibiting racial and gender bias.

They won’t be the last. I feel confident that this pattern will repeat itself in 2023, simply because there’s so much to incentivize more of the same and so little to disincentivize it. As the team at Anthropic, an AI safety and research company, put it in a paper, “The economic incentives to build such models, and the prestige incentives to announce them, are quite strong.” And there’s a lack of regulation compelling AI companies to adopt better practices.

In assessing whether this prediction comes true, I will judge an AI company to have “knowingly” released a biased model if the company acknowledges in a model card or similar that the product exhibits bias, or if the company builds the model using a dataset known to be rife with bias. And I’ll judge whether the product “exhibits bias” based on the assessments of experts or journalists who gain access to it. —SS

OpenAI will release GPT-4 (60 percent)

In its brief history, the research group OpenAI has released four large language models capable of producing intelligible text under the name “GPT,” or Generative Pre-trained Transformer. The first iteration came out in summer 2018. Then in early 2019, they unveiled GPT-2; in summer 2020 came GPT-3, and as part of the very high-profile ChatGPT product they revealed in late November 2022, they announced they had created GPT-3.5. The question then naturally arises: When is GPT-4 coming?

OpenAI logo seen on screen with ChatBot logo displayed on mobile seen in this illustration in Brussels, Belgium, on December 12, 2022

OpenAI logo seen on screen with ChatBot logo displayed on mobile seen in this illustration in Brussels, Belgium, on December 12, 2022.
Jonathan Raa/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Impressionistically, I find GPT-3.5 outputs much more convincing than GPT-3 ones, but OpenAI did not judge the advance significant enough for the name GPT-4. The release schedule also seems to be slowing down somewhat. But the rumor mill points in the opposite direction, with the New York Times’s Kevin Roose reporting murmurs that GPT-4 will come out in 2023, and TechCrunch’s Kyle Wiggers more evasively suggesting “perhaps as soon as 2023.”

I’m inclined to give the rumor mill some weight, which is why I think GPT-4 in 2023 is more likely than not, but I’m not confident at all. —DM

SpaceX’s Starship will reach orbit (70 percent)

Starship, the new reusable spacecraft being developed by SpaceX, has been in the works for roughly a decade now. While the company has signaled that the next step is an uncrewed test flight reaching Earth orbit, that project has recently seen some delays. On November 1, industry news sites were reporting that the craft’s first orbital launch would come in December, but by December it was clear the launch wouldn’t come until 2023 at the earliest.

But smart observers are still optimistic. “Based on a couple of conversations, I think SpaceX has a reasonable chance of making Starship’s orbital launch during the first quarter of 2023,” Ars Technica’s Eric Berger wrote on December 9. More to the point, delays, which are pretty common with SpaceX and spaceflight generally, sometimes are a sign of caution, which means the actual launch attempt has better odds.

Starship is a totally new system, but SpaceX has an enviable track record with its other rockets: a 99 percent success rate on nearly 200 launches. Most of the drama with Falcon launches these days has to do with whether SpaceX also successfully lands the reusable first-stage booster without damage. The odds of a failure are higher in an early-stage program like Starship — and crewed launches like the shuttle operate under even more stringent safety standards — but SpaceX’s track record gives me hope.

I put the odds that SpaceX will attempt a launch in 2023 at around 90 percent. If it attempts a launch, I put odds of success at some point in 2023 (if not necessarily in the first attempt) around 80 percent. That’s lower than its 99 percent success rate for the Falcon rockets, but fair given the newness and relative complexity of the system. 90 percent times 80 percent gets us around 70 percent odds that a launch succeeds in 2023. —DM


At least three lab-grown meat companies will begin selling their products in the US (50 percent)

In November, the nascent lab-grown or “cultivated” meat field reached a major milestone: The US Food and Drug Administration gave Upside Foods, an early player in the sector, the green light to sell its cultivated chicken. But you won’t find it for sale just yet — the startup still needs USDA approval, which I predict it’ll get by the end of 2023. Not only that: I predict similar approval for two other startups in the coming year.

If these moves happen, cell-cultured meat won’t be available for mass consumption immediately. Upside has plans to first partner with one Michelin-starred restaurant in San Francisco, and cultivated seafood startups Wildtype and BlueNalu will first work with high-end sushi restaurants. The first movers will have to be high-end — cultivated meat is still costly to produce, especially compared to $1.50-per-pound factory-farmed chicken.

Availability at just a few elite restaurants is far from the industry’s real ambition: stealing a sizable share of the conventional meat market. But it’s significant that the startups in a sector that began less than a decade ago are now slowly migrating from the R&D lab to the manufacturing plant. It’ll be the first real test for the $2 billion gamble on lab-made meat. —KT

The Supreme Court will rule in favor of the pork industry in National Pork Producers Council v. Ross (70 percent)

In 2018, over 62 percent of California voters supported a ballot initiative called Proposition 12 to ensure that pork, eggs, and veal sold in the state come from uncaged animals, whether those animals were raised in California or not. The law inspired fierce backlash in the form of three lawsuits from meat trade groups, and the Supreme Court took up one of them intended to invalidate the part of the law that covers pork. (Disclosure: From 2012 to 2017, I worked at the Humane Society of the United States, which led efforts to pass Proposition 12.)

The industry’s core argument is that Prop 12 violates the “dormant commerce clause,” a legal doctrine meant to prevent protectionism, or states giving their own businesses preferential treatment over businesses in other states.

Close-up of pig on a farm in an agricultural area of Gilroy, California, May 31, 2020

Close-up of pig on a farm in an agricultural area of Gilroy, California, May 31, 2020.
Smith Collection/Gado/Getty Images

I think that argument is spurious — many producers have already begun to transition their operations to comply with Prop 12. But I’m not on the Supreme Court. My pessimistic instinct is to say that a majority of the justices will side with business interests, in keeping with the court’s increasingly business-friendly trends.

However, it’s not an open-and-shut case. There could be some swing votes, as Justices Clarence Thomas and Neil Gorsuch don’t like the dormant commerce clause, and Justice Samuel Alito dissented when the Court struck down a federal animal cruelty law. Hence, I’m pegging my confidence in this prediction at 70 percent. —KT

Over 50 million birds will be culled due to US bird flu outbreaks (40 percent)

In 2015, a catastrophic avian influenza outbreak in the US wiped out 50 million chickens and turkeys raised for food. Most of them didn’t die from the disease but instead were culled, or proactively killed (in disturbing ways) to prevent further spread. It seemed like a black swan event, but as of mid-December, over 53 million birds have been culled in this year’s outbreak. Europe set its own bird flu outbreak record this year, too.

Some experts say the highly pathogenic influenza may be here to stay, and there’s good reason to worry they’re right. Usually, avian flu viruses subside during the summer months, but this summer they continued to circulate. European officials say the disease may now be endemic among the continent’s wild bird populations, who spread it to farmed birds as they migrate. And the virus is spreading faster, and to more species — including more mammals — than past outbreaks.

Given the alarm among those who closely track bird flu, increasing calls for vaccination against bird flu (a long-taboo topic among governments and poultry producers), and the fact that this year’s virus hit 47 US states (compared to 21 states during the 2015 outbreak), I think the chance of another disastrous bird flu outbreak is fairly high. —KT

Beyond Meat’s stock price will break $30 at the end of the year (30 percent)

It’s been a hell of a few years for Beyond Meat. Six years ago, its flagship Beyond Burger made plant-based meat cool, and its stock market debut in 2019 was the strongest-performing IPO since 2008.

As of mid-December, its stock price is half of its $25 IPO, and just 6 percent of its $235 high in July 2019. Beyond Meat’s sales have fallen sharply — a 13 percent decline in pounds of plant-based meat sold in this year’s third quarter compared to last year’s. And it has accrued a mountain of debt, due in part to its big plant-based jerky launch, which underperformed expectations. It has also launched a range of other products in the last year, including steak tips, new kinds of chicken, and at least nine distinct products for restaurant partnerships.

Beyond Meat isn’t alone in its struggles; the whole plant-based meat sector is down. To course-correct, the company recently laid off 19 percent of its staff and told investors it plans to get back to basics, with a focus on growing its core offerings: sausages, burgers, and beef. It may also benefit from a recent contraction in competition and slowing inflation.

That could all help its stock price rise, but financial analysts are skeptical a short-term turnaround is possible. The mean price analysts predict for the end of 2023 ranges from $10 to $16, with the highest at $32. —KT

Antibiotics sales for farmed animals will increase in 2022 (65 percent)

Nearly two-thirds of medically important antibiotics in the US are fed to farmed animals, which worries public health experts as some bacteria are evolving to become resistant to the lifesaving drugs, ushering in a post-antibiotic area.

The FDA and the companies that produce and sell meat are under pressure to tackle the problem. But the FDA seems reluctant to wade into the issue, and advocacy groups say grocers and restaurant chains that pledged to reduce antibiotic use in their supply chains aren’t following through. Given governmental apathy and corporate laggards, and the fact that beef production — which uses far more antibiotics than pork and poultry — is projected to have grown 2 percent in 2022 (compared to 2021), I think antibiotic use will have slightly increased in 2022. —KT

Culture and sport

Top Gun: Maverick will not win Best Picture (75 percent)

After Dylan Matthews biffed it last year when he predicted that the 2022 Academy Award for Best Picture would go to Belfast, a movie that I’m still not 100 percent sure was real, I’m hesitant to wade into Carpetbagger territory. This is compounded by the fact that of the 10 films Variety projects have the best chance at taking home the gold statuette, I’ve seen precisely two: the honestly overrated Everything Everywhere All at Once and the 131 minutes of “America! Fuck yeah!” that is Top Gun: Maverick. You have that right: I am the reason that critically acclaimed films are bombing at the box office.

But even though I’m no cineaste, I’ve watched enough Oscar telecasts to have a pretty good idea of what the Academy is looking for. And it is not, apparently, movies that audiences go to see. While nearly every Best Picture winner between 1980 and 2003 was among the 20 top-grossing movies of the year, only three winners since have cracked that list.

Top Gun: Maverick isn’t just the highest-grossing film of the year, it has nearly doubled the performance of its closest competitor, Black Panther: Wakanda Forever. Add that to its summer release — recently, the Academy has mostly preferred films released near the end of the year — and the odds are bad for the fighter plane flick. If I had to choose a winner, it would be Tár, because why wouldn’t an industry facing an existential audience crisis choose a critically acclaimed film that no one has seen? But I do expect Top Gun: Maverick to take home the award for Best Visual Effects, both for the amazing, real-life dogfighting sequences and for whatever it is that keeps 60-year-old Tom Cruise looking ageless. —BW

The Philadelphia Eagles will win the 2023 Super Bowl (25 percent)

Let’s get this out of the way: I am part of that shadowy cabal of journalists, as described in a recent Ringer story, who are inexplicably devoted to the Philadelphia Eagles football team. And for most of my life, this has been a one-way relationship filled with disappointment and heartache. Sure, we’ll always have Nick Foles and the “Philly Special” at Super Bowl 52 (though my favorite memory from that game isn’t Foles catching a pass; it’s then-Patriots quarterback Tom Brady dropping one). But this is a franchise with an all-time loss record of .490 as of the end of 2021, one tick lower than the Cleveland Browns. The Browns!

Jalen Hurts #1 of the Philadelphia Eagles talks with Quez Watkins #16 and DeVonta Smith #6 against the Chicago Bears at Soldier Field on December 18, 2022 in Chicago, Illinois

Jalen Hurts #1 of the Philadelphia Eagles talks with Quez Watkins #16 and DeVonta Smith #6 against the Chicago Bears at Soldier Field on December 18, 2022, in Chicago, Illinois.
Michael Reaves/Getty Images

This year has been different, though. With a 13-2 record as of the last week of December, my Eagles sit at the top of the NFL. We have an exciting young quarterback in Jalen Hurts, a trio of elite wide receivers who all for some reason have Batman-related nicknames, and a left offensive tackle approximately the size of two Jason Momoas. At of December 27, the sportsbooks at Fanduel put the odds of an Eagles win in Super Bowl LVII at 16.9 percent. That’s just behind the Kansas City Chiefs at about 18.2 percent and the Buffalo Bills at 22.2 percent, but I’m going to give the Eagles a boost on the basis of my “nothing good happens to Buffalo” theory, which historically has been very accurate, and because Philadelphia fans are familiar with Chiefs coach Andy Reid’s inability to read a game clock. And should the Eagles fail, I can offer a prediction with 100 percent certainty: We will boo them. —BW

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