Service of Forecasts

August 11th, 2009

Categories: Business Cycles, Fear, Forecasts, Hope, Newspapers

How many days ahead do you start listening to weather forecasts when you’ve planned a beach day, picnic or pool party?

Are you involved with product introductions? Does your company belong to a color forecasting organization so that its bathroom fixtures or towels coordinate with what’s cool in ceramic tile?

Much like people who hope for positive signs or good news from a doctor as they sit by the bedside of a sick friend or relative, I read as many forecasts and prognostications about this economy as I have time for and check out every article that seems to have an answer, looking for inklings of a solid turnaround.

These days, coming to your own conclusions and becoming a forecaster is complicated! Just yesterday, a “Marketplace” headline in The Wall Street Journal screamed, “Maguire Properties Warns of Loan Defaults.” {The article says that Maguire is “one of the largest office building owners in Southern California.”}

The same paper, on the same page, but with a smaller sized, less prominent headline, announced: “Networks Hold Back Selling Ads In Advance.” The reason? They are betting that the economy will improve and are hoping to be able to charge more than now. Before I got too optimistic, I saw in the “Money & Investing” section another bold headline: “Debt Burden to Weigh on Stocks: Consumers’ Inability to Drive Economic Growth Likely to End Big Gains.”

My heart skipped a happy beat when, also yesterday, The New York Times declared: “Seattle Paper is Resurgent as a Solo Act,” and reported that the word “profit” is one that now falls from executive lips at the paper in the Emerald City.

And didn’t we–and President Obama–rejoice just a few days ago over the less-than-expected job loss figures? {Is this equivalent to “the patient’s fever is down to 104°?”}

When Paul Krugman agrees with a bailout, do you sleep better? Or when Alan Greenspan furrows his brow, do you follow suit?

What’s your take on forecasters? Has your faith changed? And what about your antenna for predictions–is it picking up strong signals these days?

2 Responses to “Service of Forecasts”

  1. AL Said:

    They are not fortune tellers……some are very very good and some are awful but, hey, it’s a way to make a living…..

  2. James Thorndyke Said:


    You make a good point. Forcasting accurately is a tough business. Having a profound sense of history helps. Humans tend to learn a way of doing things and repeat what they do, not always, but enough to make a good predictor get it right over 50% of the time. The problem is it is hard to be objective. Your emotions and desires get in the way of cold logic when trying to work out what is likely next.


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