— The sedan car — the basic automobile that has been with us since an engine was bolted in a carriage — is in retreat. Incredibly, the great top-end manufacturers are offering SUVs. They win for rugged feel, headroom and, with all-wheel drive, they’ll plow through snow and mud. In the West, luxury pickups are claiming more drivers every year for the same reasons.
— No longer are electric vehicles going to be for the gung-ho few environmentalists. Even as the big automakers are gearing up for more SUV production, they’re tooling up for electrification on a grand scale, although the pace of that is uncertain. Stung by the success of Tesla, the all-electric play, General Motors is hoping to get out in front: It is building on its all-electric Volt. Volvo is going all-electric and others want to hedge the SUV bet. The impediments: the speed of battery development and new user-friendly charging.
— The money we have known may not be the money we are going to know going forward. In currency circles, there is revolution going on about a technology called “blockchain.” Its advocates, like Perianne Boring, founder and president of the Chamber of Digital Commerce, believe it will usher in a new kind of currency that is safe and transparent. A few are making fortunes out of bitcoin, which has risen 1,000 percent in value this year so far. A fistful of new currencies are offered — and even bankrupt Venezuela is trying to change its luck with cryptocurrency. For those in the know, blockchain is the new gold. Will it glitter?
— The proposed merger between CVS, a drugstore chain, and Aetna, an insurance giant, may be one of the few mergers that might really benefit the consumer as well as the stockholders and managers. It will lower drug prices because both the drug retailer and the paymaster will be at the same counter. Expect this new kind of health provider to drive hospital charges toward standardization.
This holiday season, consider the changes in the way you live now. Watch out for whom and how you kiss under the mistletoe, and for how internet purchases get to you. If a new car is in store for you in 2018, a difficult choice may be to venture electric, go SUV or stay with a sleek sedan. And will you pay for it with the old currency or the new-fangled cryptocurrency?
Llewellyn King is executive producer and host of “White House Chronicle” on PBS. He wrote this for InsideSources.com.