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Showing posts with label Economic Forecasting. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Economic Forecasting. Show all posts

Saturday, May 11, 2013

The Truth About Economic Forecasting


Astrologers, palmists, and crystal-ball gazers are scorned while professional economists are heralded for their scientific achievements. Yet the academics are no less mystical in trying to predict the direction of interest rates, economic growth, and the stock market.
Forty years ago, Thomas Dewey was defeated by Harry Truman, stunning the political experts and journalists who were certain Dewey was going to win. While questions about “scientific” polling techniques naturally arose, one journalist focused on the heart of the matter. In his November 22, 1948, column in Newsweek, Henry Hazlitt said the “upset” reflected the pitfalls of forecasting man’s future. As Hazlitt explained:
The economic future, like the political future, will be determined by future human behavior and decisions. That is why it is uncertain. And in spite of the enormous and constantly growing literature on business cycles, business forecasting will never, any more than opinion polls, become an exact science.
We know how well economists forecasted the eighties: from the 1982 recession and the employment boom to the Crash of 1987, no major forecasting firm came close to predicting these turns in the market.