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More Predictions That Didn't Come True

(Photo: Julian Povey)

(Photo: Julian Povey)

Thank you, Politico (the Magazine), for taking a look back at various predictions for 2013 to see how they worked out.

In our “Folly of Prediction” podcast, we discussed how the incentives to predict are skewed. Big, bold predictions that turn out to be true are handsomely rewarded; but predictions that turn out to be false are usually forgotten. With the cost of being wrong so low, the incentives to predict are high.

In his Politico piece called “Crystal Balderdash,” Blake Hounshell doesn’t let us forget the bad predictions. A few examples:

Slate writer Matt Yglesias: “I wanted to once again take the opportunity to lay down a marker and say once again that Obamacare implementation is going to be a huge political success.” And here: “…conservatives are certainly fooling themselves if they’re expecting a backlash driven by problems around implementation. … Snafus will be real enough, but broadly speaking, the rollout is going to be a huge success.”, July 17

Republican strategist Karl Rove: “Syria’s Bashar Assad will be forced from power, but Mr. Obama’s failure to provide active, sustained U.S. leadership will result in a new Islamist regime in Damascus friendly with Iran.” Wall Street Journal, Jan. 2, 2012

Citigroup’s Michael Saunders: “We assume Grexit occurs on January 1, 2013, with Greece staying in the EU and receiving external loan support.” Note to clients, May 23, 2012

I post these not in the spirit of ridicule — let’s assume that Yglesias, Rove, and Saunders were right about plenty of other things, or at least didn’t always feel the need to predict the unpredictable — but rather to suggest that the next time you read a prediction like these, you won’t pay much attention. Or at least demand that the predictor put his money where his mouth is.