6. Google continues its dominance and becomes one of the top three companies in the U.S. in market capitalization. It doubles its advertising share, at the expense of television and print. It also successfully challenges Microsoft for operating-system dominance. Microsoft calls for a government investigation of Google’s power, but no one cares because Microsoft is just too hated for anyone in Washington to champion. The stock roars to $1,000. I like Google enough to put this one at 7 to 1. If you use an $800 target, make it 5 to 2.
7. European companies, eyeing the weak dollar, snap up New York real estate, and offer to buy Merrill Lynch and JPMorgan. John Thain and Jamie Dimon, the companies’ respective CEOs, agree to the bids (Thain sold a chunk of stock to a foreign entity just last week). Colgate, Clorox, Whirlpool, and Black & Decker get snapped up, too. All six companies’ stock prices head north. Lots of moving parts, but let’s put the odds of at least one of these deals happening at 3 to 1. A perfect Pick Six pays 50 to 1.
8. Apple completes its dominance of the music business, as the music producers decide no longer to produce new CDs. It’s just too expensive for them. Warner Music Group files for bankruptcy. Apple goes to $300. Okay, these may not be 2008 events, but they will happen, sooner rather than later. This year: 25 to 1. Next year: 5 to 1.
9. The New York Times, after spending several hundred million dollars buying back its stock while it was in the $30s and $40s, slashes its dividend in half because of a cash shortage. The stock drops to $10. To save the world’s greatest newspaper, the company accepts a buyout offer from Mayor Michael Bloomberg at $20 a share. Don’t be so quick to scoff: The cash is spare change for Bloomberg, who, don’t forget, already owns a small media company. I’d say the $10 share price is even money. That’s how bad it is at the Times. The Bloomberg buyout is probably a 100-to-1 shot, but may be less if he decides not to run for president and needs something else to do this year.
10. An Army of the Foreclosed marches on the White House, then launches a siege at the Federal Reserve, before camping out in front of the Washington Monument. The army demands relief from eviction. Bernanke, recognizing that he did nothing to regulate the mortgage mess in 2006 and then did not cut rates fast enough in ’07, resigns. The siege ends, the new guy slashes rates, and the market takes off. Here, the odds are 1,000 to 1 (as Marx taught us, people have a hard time losing their chains). But if Bernanke or a future Fed chair does cut rates meaningfully, here’s a sure bet: That’s the time to start buying.