‘Answer hazy, ask again later’

The first issue of the year is always rich in forecasts and predictions.

Two things to keep in mind on this theme. First: Predicting the future is easy; predicting the future accurately is very difficult. Reader-beware rules apply.

Second, as national economic statistics appear troubling, let us consider something Joe Appel mann, president of Stock Building Supply, told HCN during a visit earlier this month: “This is the ninth housing market downturn since WWII; there will be a tenth.” That’s hard to dispute, and good to know.

Here are the predictions :

After a tumultuous 2007, Home Depot will experience a quiet year, relatively.

More, not less, confusion and conflicting definitions will develop around the industry’s meaning and understanding of “green products.”

Credit card debt will emerge as a bugaboo of the business pages to rival “sub-prime crisis.”

Lowe’s Canada will grow its business organically, despite suggestions that an acquisition is necessary in Canada’s mature market.

Building on its acquisition spree of 2007, Pro-Build Holdings will grow at a pace of about one significant acquisition per month, or higher.

Despite dealer frustration and a near successful attempt by unsanctioned owners to secure a board seat, Ace Hardware will ride out its accounting error while avoiding the kind of mass defections suffered by Tru Serv almost a decade ago.

After a roller coaster year on Wall Street, the Dow Jones Industrial Average will end on a high note of 13,500.

For the 56th time in a row, the American people will elect a man for president. (Note to female voters—this is a prediction, not an endorsement.) Interestingly, at any other time in the history of America, this prediction would be a lock.

Massive, high-ceilinged, energy-draining entry foyers will fall out of favor.

Home Channel News TV (available free at HCN.com ) gains in viewership as television writers’ strike continues deep into the year.

Special lock-of-the-month prediction: Nation’s economists and pundits produce forecasts and predictions with an accuracy rate of about 50 percent.