What's ahead in 2005? Well, the swami says ...
By Andy Serwer

(FORTUNE Magazine) – SO I WAS AT A WINTER CARNIVAL the other day, and I ran into this fortuneteller who looked like a cross between Ivan Boesky during his jail years and one of the guys in ZZ Top. "Hey, Serwer," he rasped. "Want to know what's going to happen in 2005? Your stock picks have been pretty crummy lately." I was about to tell him where he could relocate his crystal ball, but I decided to humor the aging soothsayer. After all, my 401(k) could use a little--how shall we say?--foresight. So I made a contribution to his retirement fund and listened to what he had to say. (All quotes come from the swami. I can't vouch for them.) His predictions:

• Martha Stewart stays in jail. I know, I know. You were expecting said domestic diva to be sprung from Camp Cupcake before the Ides of March. But ... what if she didn't want to leave? Think about it: No lawyers. No media. No gawkers. No SEC. And a captive audience of hundreds of women inside a big house that, lord knows, could use all manner of spiffing up.

• T-Mobile gets taken over. Yes, it has 16 million customers. And yes, it is a subsidiary of the Big Dump-ling (Deutsche Telekom). But after the Cingular/AT&T Wireless and Sprint/Nextel deals, T-Mobile is looking positively pipsqueakish behind those two and Verizon. Caveat to buyer: Must keep Catherine Zeta-Jones as pitchwoman. She beats the hell out of the Verizon and Sprint nerds.

• Eliot Spitzer clears the deck. Bear with me on this one. After his 2005 investigations of the SEC, the World Bank, and Interpol cause across-the-board resignations at the top of those institutions, Spitz realizes the only entity left to investigate would be the New York State attorney general's office. (Nah!!!) Then, deciding that the governorship of New York would actually be a comedown from his role as our nation's Grand Investigator, Eliot decides straight away to declare for the White House in '08. Immediately Rudy, Jeb, Hillary, Arnold, Bill Frist, and Bill Murray all put out press releases declaring they will not run. "It wouldn't be fair," says Senator Clinton. "He'd investigate each and every one of us. It'd make Whitewater look like a rubber-ducky party."

• Google goes public ... again. Why not? It worked pretty damn well last time. "Plus, in today's environment, several billion dollars simply isn't enough," says Larry Page. (Or was it Sergey Brin?) "Another IPO might get us another Barbara Walters interview too." Not to mention another FORTUNE cover story.

• The dollar stops falling. A year ago Street Life went out on a limb (with Warren Buffett as our oracle) and said the dollar would fall--and we got it right. Now the swami says the decline against the euro is almost over, though look for more weakness against the yen and yuan in particular. As for interest rates, if the sky falls, the Fed won't tighten. Otherwise, count on it.

• Merck, Pfizer, and the FDA merge. The efficiencies and synergies boggle the mind. Two drug giants struggling with fallout from COX-2 inhibitor scandals decide to pool resources and fund and provide oversight on their regulatory body (modeled after the successful NYSE prototype). "We could have avoided a lot of problems if we had just done this deal in early '04," says Merck CEO Ray Gilmartin. You bet your sweet bippy you could have, Ray!

• Microsoft makes flu vaccine. It involves intellectual property, biotech, and medical research--all stuff that Bill Gates really likes. Only problem is that vaccines are a really low-margin business, something Bill Gates really hates. Solution: MSFT buys up all the vaccine, garnering a market share of 95%, and begins to charge Americans $95 a copy, uh, I mean a dose.

And with that the swami pulled the plug on our session. He said he'd look even further out for another contribution, but I figured I'd already gotten more than I bargained for.

ANDY SERWER, editor at large of FORTUNE, can be reached at aserwer@fortunemail.com. Read him online in Street Life on fortune.com and watch him on CNN's American Morning and In the Money.