Experts kill me. Economic experts, that is. Corporations, foundations, publications and governments pay them by the bucketful, and they fill buckets with forecasts that change more frequently than white-collar, workers do shirts. What Lies Ahead is the usual title. What Lies would often be more appropriate. If women's hemlines changed as rapidly as an economist's forecasts, the fashion people and the textile industry would be more profitable than any other. In fact, if all the country's economists were laid end to end, they still wouldn't reach a conclusion.
Some of what these pamphlets [of astrological forecasts] say will turn out to be true, but most of it time and experience will expose as empty and worthless. The latter part will be forgotten literally: written on the winds while the former will be carefully entered in people's memories, as is usual with the crowd.
Make then your forecasts, my lords Astrologers, with your slavish physicians, by means of those astrolabes with which you seek to discern the fantastic nine moving spheres; in these you finally imprison your own minds, so that you appear to me but as parrots in a cage, while I watch you dancing up and down, turning and hopping within those circles.
Music forecasts the past, recalls the future. Now and then the difference falls away, and in one simple gift of circling sound, the ear solves the scrambled cryptogram. One abiding rhythm, present and always, and you're free. But a few measures more, and the cloak of time closes back around you.
I have no use whatsoever for projections or forecasts. They create an illusion of apparent precision. The more meticulous they are, the more concerned you should be. We never look at projections, but we care very much about, and look very deeply at, track records. If a company has a lousy track record, but a very bright future, we will miss the opportunity...
We've long felt that the only value of stock forecasters is to make fortune tellers look good. Even now, Charlie and I continue to believe that short-term market forecasts are poison and should be kept locked up in a safe place, away from children and also from grown-ups who behave in the market like children.
In fact, there is no business; there are only people. Business exists only *among* people and *for* people.Seems simple enough, and it applies to every aspect of business, but not enough businesspeople seem to get it.Reading the economic forecasts and the indicators and the ratios and the rates for this or that, someone from another planet might actually believe that there really are invisible hands at work in the marketplace.
I once read about a meeting of economists who agreed that if their forecasts were 33 1/3 % correct, that was considered a high mark in their profession. Well, of course, I know you cannot invest in securities successfully with odds like that against you if you place dependence solely upon judgement as to the right securities to own and the right time or price to buy them. Then, too, I read somewhere about the man who described an economist as resembling 'a professor of anatomy who was still a virgin.'
Gerald M. Loeb
Auto repair, piloting, skiing, perhaps even management: these are skills that yield to application, hard work, and native talent. But forecasting an uncertain future and deciding the best course of action in the face of that future are much less likely to do so. And much of what we've seen so far suggests that a large group of diverse individuals will come up with better and more robust forecasts and make more intelligent decisions than even the most skilled "decision maker."
Intrinsic value can be defined simply: It is the discounted value of the cash that can be taken out of a business during its remaining life. The calculation of intrinsic value, though, is not so simple. As our definition suggests, intrinsic value is an estimate rather than a precise figure, and it is additionally an estimate that must be changed if interest rates move or forecasts of future cash flows are revised.
We will continue to ignore political and economic forecasts, which are an expensive distraction for many investors and businessmen. Thirty years ago, no one could have foreseen the huge expansion of the Vietnam War, wage and price controls, two oil shocks, the resignation of a president, the dissolution of the Soviet Union, a one-day drop in the Dow of 508 points, or treasury bill yields fluctuating between 2.8% and 17.4%.
As those who have seen Jurassic Park will know, this means a tiny disturbance in one place, can cause a major change in another. A butterfly flapping its wings can cause rain in Central Park, New York. The trouble is, it is not repeatable. The next time the butterfly flaps its wings, a host of other things will be different, which will also influence the weather. That is why weather forecasts are so unreliable.
Saudi Arabian oil production is at or very near its peak sustainable volume (if it did not, in fact peak almost 25 years ago), and is likely to go into decline in the very foreseeable future. There is only a small probability that Saudi Arabia will ever deliver the quantities of petroleum that are assigned to it in all the major forecasts of world oil production and consumption.
In those years before mobile phones, email and Skype, travelers depended on the rudimentary communications system known as the postcard. Other methods-the long-distance phone call, the telegram-were marked "For Emergency Use Only." So my parents waved me off into the unknown, and their news bulletins about me would have been restricted to "Yes, he's arrived safely, "and "Last time we heard he was in Oregon, " and "We expect him back in a few weeks." I'm not saying this was necessarily better, let alone more character-forming; just that in my case it probably helped not to have my parents a button's touch away, spilling out anxieties and long-range weather forecasts, warning me against floods, epidemics and psychos who preyed on backpackers.
Nuclear deterrence will remain a vital aspect of security. or Nuclear deterrence will have a smaller role in future security. Sources are split in their assessment of the importance of nuclear weapons and the validity of traditional nuclear deterrence in the 2001 - 2015 period. On the one hand are those who see nuclear weapons as decreasingly effective tools in deterring war. On the other are those experts who concede that nuclear weapons may have a different role than at the height of the Cold War, but who argue that they remain the ultimate deterrent, with considerable effect on the actions of even rogue states. Many experts who state a moral opposition to nuclear weapons have translated this into forecasts of a globalized world in which nuclear deterrence no longer makes sense. With greater economic interdependence, this argument runs, even the so-called "rogue states" will be reconciled to the international order, renouncing or reducing their overt or covert nuclear arsenals.
Sam J. Tangredi