Wrong or Early?…The Perils of Forecasting

If you would like to be revered as the “All knowing” just forecast what you believe to happen and have it come true. If you want to be shunned and mocked, do the same but with the opposite results. If you want unconditional reverence, my advice is get a dog.

Forecasting is done by everyone. We do it all the time when talking with peers or friends. It usually takes the form as an opinion rather than what can be explained as a forecast. You give some type of answer based on what you think will happen and if it does so be it, it was just an opinion. That same scenario changes dramatically when it goes from opinion to advice. Opinions are worthless and cost the same, everyone has one, but advice is usually paid for and has some form of actionable details contained within. Most people treat opinions and advice as equals. That’s foolish, but that’s for another column.

Whether you own a business or run one you need to forecast. Even if you are just planning a one day vacation, you’ll do it. However what most fail to predict, or neglect to calculate into any forecast is this…If a forecast event happens later than anticipated, was the forecast truly wrong? This is where most get it wrong in both business and life.

Problem with forecasting is most take it out of context. It’s a forecast of what might happen, or what should happen, or based on historical data points what is likely to happen. It’s not an all-seeing what will happen. All one needs to put this into perspective is think about your local weatherman. Look at all the scientific knowledge, computer models, historical data, radar systems, and much more at their disposal and look at the results. How accurate are they really? I give them the benefit of doubt most times, but if ones misses that thunderstorm call by saying afternoon and it comes in the morning? Look out is all I’ll say.

For months I’ve written on these pages that I believe there is a terrible storm brewing on the horizon. I’ll be the first to say I have been wrong in how soon I thought it would land, but I have not changed my original thoughts or calls for what I believe is coming. Many have said I just don’t understand the “New Normal” we are in. Some have said, “Why don’t you just admit you’re wrong.” All are fair points, all might have some validity to them, but I keep looking at the data points which most who are calling me wrong not only wont include, but even worse, act as if they never happened. I might be wrong and so be it, but refusing to look at other possibilities based on hard data is just nuts.

If you think there just might be some validity in the thought of early vs. wrong I’ve included the most recent cover of Barron’s below. As far as everyone is now concerned the stock market is healed and better than ever. Based on this alone, you should be readying the plywood for the windows.

Just a forecast from your lonely weatherman.

Mark