Thursday, 31 December 2009

The Elusive Art of Prediction - The Verdict 09

Back on the 1st of January of this year I trod the perilous path of trying to predict what lay ahead. You can read what I thought would happen here. Did I turn out to be an all knowing sage with my finger on the pulse of economics, world affairs and politics? Well, no. But neither was I hopelessly wrong. Indeed some of my economics predictions were better than the professionals. At the time my prediction of a 4% contraction of the economy was way out of step with the others, none of which thought it would shrink by more than 3.2%. I was notably more pessmistic. In fact I was not pessimistic enough. The eventual figure was economic contraction of 4.75% and we are still not out of it.

Unemployment on the other hand has not turned out to be as bad as feared. I was wrong here. This is largely down to the flexible and sensible approach taken by employers and employees rather than down to government action, whatever they now say.

I was a little too pessimistic about the pound against the euro but not outlandishly so. It is now more or less where I said it would be. And I was absolutely right that the government would have to ride once more to the rescue of the banks. I was even partially right that they would enter the market themselves through Northern Rock, a policy they should have pursued further and may still have to if we get another crisis next year.

I was wrong about there being an election this year. Brown's mini bounce in the polls did not last, although it should give us perspective this year when a similar thing has happened.

The euro has not had the rough ride predicted with some countries being forced out. However my timing may have been out here. It could still happen.

I was wrong about what Obama would do to address the recession. His package was not tax cuts but the vast spending on various projects which has not worked. It was, as I wrote at the time, a bad and hideously expensive package of measures which were really just subterfuge for getting much cherished Democrat policies through. It was a bad start.

I was wrong about China which bounced back from the recession remarkably well. I was also wrong about the battle of the currencies, although this was down to Obama's refusal to take anyone on in the diplomatic sphere. He rolled over for China and was rolled over by Russia and Iran. He is in the process of rolling over for North Korea. It's been a poor year for the new president, even though he won the Nobel Peace Prize for reasons that elude the rest of us.

I was wrong about Russia. Putin is not yet president again. But again this may be about timing rather than the prediction itself which I stand by. He has been making presidential noises of late and will certainly be back. He is even talking about taking on America with more weapons which is startling considering Obama recently agreed not to site that missiles system near to Russia. Perhaps the president will learn a lesson here about the duplicity of Russia and China.

Sadly I was also wrong about Robert Mugabe who remains in power. Things have changed a little in that benighted country and Mugabe has been forced to share power, so I was partially right. It remains to be seen how this will turn out, especially when elections come around.

I was spot on about climate change starting to unravel, although even I would never have dared to predict that it would do so in such a profound way. Of course many are refusing to acknowledge what has happened but this year was a watershed. I was absolutely right about politicians, under economic pressure, backtracking on measures to contain it as we saw just last week.

And sadly my personal prediction was way out. Leah is not at my side and I am blogging more than ever as a consequence. I'll try again this year. One thing that has changed is that I am now blogging from a different location. This, I can predict with absolute certainty, will be changing again in the next few weeks. Watch this space.

So, a mixed success rate. Will this stop me having another go this year? Oh no. I'm going to go further out on a limb than ever. Next year's predictions will be here next year - tomorrow.

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