Making Predictions

Can anyone predict the future? Weatherpeople are routinely called on to tell us more than just what happened today- they are supposed to say if it’s going to rain and what temperature we can expect. Sportscasters have moved beyond a blank reporting of the Vegas line, say the Dolphins +4, and are expected to put themselves on the line with a solid call every week.

Not economic reporters. When there’s a lot of money on the line no one is willing to stick their neck out and tell you just what will happen tomorrow. That’s especially strange when you realize that a free market economy is all about balancing risk and reward, which is to say at some point boiling it all down to a solid prediction as to how likely an investment is to come in versus the possible gain from it. Business and economic reporters usually get a pass that the weather and sports people must only dream about. But that’s ridiculous.

Barataria is all about making a prediction and standing by it. Let’s refine that model a bit.

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The Big Story

There is a rhythm to economic reporting. More than just the seasonal adjustment that makes up most of the fudge in the economic reports, each story has a progress on its way to becoming something suitable for the mainstream media. The biggest stories often take a full year, passing several well defined milestones.

This delay has to do with several factors.  Conventional wisdom seems to rule, which is to say that old news affects the narrative long after it is not exactly true. But the cycles themselves suggest that the real problem is that many reporters really don’t understand what markets and market movers are telling them.

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