National / International News
In 2000, the Central Intelligence Agency released a 70-page report predicting what the world would be like in 2015.
A few of the predictions:
- The world population will grow by more than 1 billion, to 7.2 billion.
That's right on the nose.
- Europe will not achieve fully the dreams of parity with the U.S. as a shaper of the global economic system.
Man, was that prescient as the Euro Zone faces slow growth, and another recession.
- Populations in many African countries will fall because of aids, famine and continuing economy and political turmoil.
They didn't get everything right. The continent's population has grown by about 300 million.
You can find a more complete list of the predictions on Business Insider's website.
Real-estate analysts predict 2015 will be better for the housing market than 2014. How much better?
A 10 percent increase in home sales would be a "realistic expectation," according to Guy Cecala, publisher of Inside Mortgage Finance. "Frankly, if we just continued what we saw in the second half of 2014, we’d be up 10 percent." But, that's only if interest rates don’t shoot up too much, and unemployment continues to decline.
How about prices? What’ll happen to them in 2015?
“We are predicting that the price of the average existing single family home will come in around 2.8 percent year-on-year for 2015, ” says Stephanie Karol, a U.S. economist with IHS Global Insight. In other words, prices will increase around 2.8 percent this year, compared to more than 3 percent in 2014.
So, it’s all sweetness and light for the housing market in the coming year?
Not quite. A housing Grinch looms in the background. “Just put a green face on me,” says Anthony Sanders teaches real estate finance at George Mason University. He says a big shadow is looming over the 2015 housing market: wage growth. Wages have only increased by around 2 percent, but Sanders says we need 5 or 6 percent wage growth for people to have enough money to buy a house.
The jobs being created in this economic recovery don’t pay enough to support buying a home, he says. “Mostly service industry.... You know, wait staff. And those are not people that are traditional homeowners.”
Until wages pick up, Sanders says, we’ll have to rely on foreign investors who still see U.S. housing as a bargain.
McDonald's has hit hard times. Its earnings report in 2014 was the lowest in over a decade.
But the company announced a big change that may help spur sales: It's rolling out custom burgers across the country.
The move towards customization is part of a growing trend in the food industry. Sales for fast food, or quick-service restaurants as they're officially known, have been flat, but fast-casual restaurants like Chipotle and Panera have seen surging growth.
So McDonald's is trying a few new tricks. Last week, the company opened a test kitchen restaurant in Sydney, Australia, called The Corner with fancier fare than the usual burgers and fries. And more upscale options could soon follow stateside.
The interview was wide-ranging and nuanced. Obama touched on topics ranging from Iran to his view of race relations in the country to the new political reality of a Legislature controlled by the GOP.
Along with ringing in the new year last night, Lithuania welcomed the euro, becoming the 19th nation to join the common currency. The BBC's Vishala Sri-Pathma has been reporting from Lithuania and tells us what the change could mean, from higher prices to tensions with Russia.
Listen to the full conversation in the audio player above.
First up, federal contract workers will get a raise this year, making $10.10 an hour at minimum, but it's tough to tell how many of them will actually see a bump. Then: The so-called Internet of things - connected objects in the home, like soccer balls, appliances and locks - reached a turning point last year, and it's poised to be huge in 2015. We look at the first bellwether: the Consumer Electronics show. Finally, Marketplace Tech host Ben Johnson chats about the big tech stories to look for in 2015.