walkitout (walkitout) wrote,

Revisiting Predictions

A while back, I blogged about a strategy that lets me predict the future: just go small and detailed and contingent. So, in 5 years from now, I will either be five years older than I am now, or dead, type of thing. And you can do that for a _lot_ of things: in so many years, my children will be out of high school, etc. This isn't about that.

As I was reading Eichengreen's ludicrous proposals for what we should be worried about and what appropriate fiscal policy response would be in _Exorbitant Privilege_ and in particular his description of a hypothetical future world in which the US Dollar was no longer the/a dominant currency, and how we might arrive at such a place, I talked to R. a bit about why people screw up predicting the future. I mean, you can just _not predict_. R. notes that these kinds of predictions can move books, so that's not nothing -- ya gotta pay the bills, amirite?

But I still think it's worth pointing out the intellectual problem, if not the real world problem of predicting the future incorrectly in a way that will be detectable in the relatively near future when you will _still be trying to sell your ideas_ as plausible. If you're wrong, and people notice, I think you should worry at least a bit about the consequences of that.

OTOH, if everyone is wrong in more or less the same way, generally we all agree that no one is to blame and move on. Or moooooooove on, as the case may be.

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