2018 – Back to the Future!

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Dianne C. White, CPA, CA, CFP, TEP

December 29, 2017

Image used with permission: iStock/grapestock


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2018 – Back to the Future!

This is it. I can really feel it this time. 2018 will be the year the Toronto Maple Leafs return to glory and win the Stanley Cup! Apologies to my husband for this, as he is a diehard Boston Bruins fan. The Leafs have been given 1 in 8 odds to win this year.1 Plus, Toronto is on a roll. The Argos and Toronto FC are newly minted champions. I figure this signifies a trend. The Raptors will be next.

Right, now that the life-changing stuff is out of the way, let’s dust off that crystal ball to see what else is coming in 2018. Just kidding, sort of. At Nexus, we know that nobody can predict, with any certainty, what’s going to happen in the real world or in the markets. But there are definitely a few things we can count on.

I am 100% positive there will be change. What’s more, that change will disrupt how we live and work and how businesses operate and make money. And we have technology to thank. Moore’s Law will continue to work its magic as computing power continues to double every 2 years, paving the way for more advancements in AI and machine learning that will lead to even smarter self-driving cars and more human-like robots. Essentially, the Fourth Industrial Revolution, where technologies converge and blur the lines between the physical, digital and biological, will really start to take hold.

Here is a roundup of some of the expected leaps for 2018 (brought to you by people who know about these things)2:

  • Elon Musk’s Hyperloop train idea, which according to Musk is a “cross between a Concorde, a railgun, and an air hockey table” will gain traction. He has received verbal approval by the U.S. government to build a loop that would connect New York City, Philadelphia, Baltimore and Washington DC in 29 minutes.
  • A remote-controlled contraceptive implant that lasts 16 years will become widely available (I’m not making this up). The project was backed by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation for a humanitarian application to help governments and organizations bring family planning to more women in the developing world.
  • 3-D printed cars will be used for more than concept cars and prototypes and there will be a shift in auto manufacturing.
  • HP’s latest computer invention, The Machine, could be available for purchase and is 6 times more powerful than current servers.
  • More connectivity. There will be one Wi-Fi hotspot for every 20 people and global Internet traffic will grow to 132 exabytes. (One exabyte is a unit of information equal to one quintillion bytes or one billion gigabytes).

2018 is also expected to be the year that we see more Human-Robot Interaction. Robot Pepper is already working as a receptionist in hospitals in Belgium and humanoid Sophia is a recognized citizen of Saudi Arabia, although this has caused some controversy because apparently Sophia has more rights than the actual women that live there.

Amazon and ecommerce will continue to dominate, forcing traditional retailers to up their digital game by creating experiences for hard-to-impress shoppers. Expect companies to be introducing new digital technologies like the ‘augmented reality selfie’ video as a virtual fitting tool.

Of course, technology is not the only disrupter. I am also 100% positive that Donald Trump will continue to be unpredictable. He will persist in ignoring the grown-ups—I mean the advisers—in his administration. So get ready for more tweeting tirades from the Oval Office. Since we’re all still here, international leaders seem to have become inured to the tantrums, and so I predict they will look away (thank you in advance!).

Now, for a topic near and dear to my heart: income tax. It’s been a fairly unsettling time on this front thanks to Finance Minister Bill Morneau’s proposals on split income and passive investments in holding companies. There is still no draft legislation on the latter and there won’t be until the budget comes out in 2018. The good news: every time the finance minister speaks on the topic, things look a little better for the taxpayers affected. More good news: the Senate is already trying to get him to delay implementation of these proposals until 2019. My wish: that the government has a change of heart and scraps these incredibly complex rules in 2018.

Tax changes are coming in the U.S. too as the Tax Reform Bill was passed by both the House and Senate at the end of December. U.S. changes will be in effect starting today. If you are a U.S. citizen living in Canada these changes will apply to you. The general theme of the bill is a reduction in tax rates. Many clients worry about the exposure they have to U.S. estate tax due to citizenship or owning U.S. situs assets. You will be happy to know that the estate and gift tax exemption is doubling—from about $5.5m to $11m.

Since we’re talking money, don’t be surprised if we see more interest rate hikes this year. Or maybe not…

And here’s a prediction borrowed from the CEO of the Canadian Olympic Committee: Canada will win 31 medals (six more than Sochi) and take gold in curling, snowboarding, freestyle skiing and, of course, hockey at this year’s Olympics.

Speaking of hockey, Go Leafs Go! Happy 2018 everyone.

1 Terry Koshan, “The Toronto Maple Leafs are now Stanley Cup favourites – and they don’t care”, National Post, October 21, 2017.
2 Quantum Run, “What 2018 will look like”, Future Forecast.

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