Trainees took on 2018: did we predict the unpredictable?
2018 certainly will not be forgotten in a hurry, and what a year it was. Brexit negotiations dominated headlines, Theresa May's 'Dancing Queen' routine went viral, and England made it to the semi-finals of the World Cup! No, we didn't predict that either.
The blog editors take a look at the 2018 predictions to see how good our trainees were at predicting the year ahead. Spoiler alert – none of us have any plans to step away from the day job.
When it comes to the economy, the trainees were right on the money. The UK avoided a recession despite Brexit uncertainty and modest consumer spending. As of the third quarter, the UK economy had grown 1.5% year on year. Sadly, this was below the average for both the EU and the OECD.
The trainees also correctly predicted that Jeremy Corbyn wouldn't make it to 10 Downing Street. When the country went to the polls in May for the local elections, Labour saw a less than emphatic gain of 79 seats. On the other side of the House, it was a tough year for Theresa May, who saw her leadership criticised almost as heavily as her dance moves. The predicted return of David Miliband never materialised, but who knows what 2019 holds.
Happily, none of the more pessimistic predictions have come to pass. There was no pre-emptive nuclear strike by the United States, which likely avoided both political and nuclear fallout. President Trump and Kim Jong-un did meet in June 2018; the first time leaders of the US and North Korea had ever met. Both stated their desire to move towards less hostile future relations and it will be interesting to see what long term effects the meeting will have.
The trainees correctly anticipated that the Republican majorities in the Senate and House were at risk in the 2018 mid-term elections. Democrats took control of the House, but Republicans just retained control in the Senate. No one predicted how many celebrities would try to use their influence ahead of the election – Taylor Swift, Rihanna and even Justin Bieber all got on board to encourage people to vote.
The trainees were correct when they predicted that President Trump would be crossing the pond in 2018. As anticipated, the visit prompted protests across the UK (who can forget the Trump Baby – was it disrespectful or is Trump fair game?). The President seemed to take it in his stride and ended his visit with a few ‘tips’ for Theresa May on Brexit and how he would have conducted the negotiations.
Legal and Business:
With incredible foresight, our trainees correctly predicted that concerns over Brexit would continue to dominate legal and business discussions in 2018. Most were right in assuming that the wrangling over the terms of Britain's exit from the EU would continue into 2019.
A few were more optimistic, believing that any deal put forward by the Prime Minister would be accepted on the basis "it's all gone too far for anyone not to." Theresa May's postponement of the vote on the Brexit deal in early December and the subsequent leadership challenge she faced showed just how much further there is to go before a deal is reached.
Following the delay to the vote on the Brexit deal, the pound fell to its lowest value for 18 months, as predicted by our trainees. Although given this happened in December, it seems that the cost of summer holidays – one of the key economic concerns for trainees at the start of last year – would have been largely unaffected by this fall.
As our trainees predicted, the value of bitcoin continued to fall in 2018, and our clever lot weren't that far off guessing the value of one bitcoin on NYE 2018. The average prediction was £3,564.57, whilst the actual value was £2892.94. At the time of writing (first disclaimer of this year), the current value of one bitcoin was £3,047.15 so even closer to the mark!
Elsewhere, it seems that the trainees were a little too optimistic about 2018's technological developments. Enhanced digital assistants continued to grow in sales throughout the year, but sadly still require people to get up. Driverless vehicles do exist, but haven't yet replaced our trusty old manuals. And, worst of all, we can confirm that automated bundling was not introduced at RPC.
'Meghan mania' was all the rage back in May with the Duchess of Sussex getting 42% more search traffic than Brexit in the build up to her wedding with Prince Harry. The trainees had predicted viewing figures would reach the eye-watering heights of 3 billion; however, the newlyweds will have to be satisfied that only 1.9 billion people tuned in to watch Bishop Michael Curry's 'impassioned' sermon.
The trainees were right in predicting that the mishap at the 2017 Oscars would not be repeated. Nevertheless, Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway returned to present the best film award to The Shape of Water, which none of the trainees correctly predicted… shame on us!
Ed Sheeran's hiatus from chart domination during 2018 was correctly predicted; however, this was purely so he could complete the highest-grossing tour of the year, beating out the likes of Beyoncé and Taylor Swift. Making a measly $432 million, we're sure we can forgive his lack of number one singles.
It so almost came home. Two easy wins in the group stages meant that most trainees, who had predicted a group stage exit, were hopelessly wide of the mark. A brilliant Rashford miss against Belgium, a rare penalty shoot-out victory and, admittedly, a lucky quarter finals draw meant that England surpassed all expectations and made it to within a Pickford's foot of the final. Gareth Southgate, predicted to be sacked, is now a national hero and, of course, 'It's Coming Home' made it to number One in the charts.
On the subject of the Winter Olympics, the trainees predicted that Team GB would pick up a gold, with Curling as their main hope. The Curling team did not collect a medal but the trainees were right in predicting success as Lizzy Yarnold picked up her second Olympic gold on the Skeleton.
The trainees were spot on in predicting that Manchester City would win the Premier League. Guardiola's side set a number of records including most consecutive victories and, most impressively, hit the 100 point mark, a first in English Premier League football. A mention must go to the bold trainee who predicted that Burnley would turn their season around (if not win the league), as they finished 7th, the highest they had ever finished.
Keep an eye on the Trainees Take on Business blog for the RPC trainees' 2019 predictions!