Thursday, December 31, 2009

2009 Predictions Revisited

Prediction is very difficult, especially about the future.
-- Niels Bohr
It's that time of year again; time for me to give my predictions a reality check and to once again learn that I'm overconfident.

Jonathan scores me 2 out of 8; I think I deserve a score of 5.5 out of 10. Here's how I figure it:

I got 2 things 100% right:

6. General Motors will declare bankruptcy after getting billions more dollars of bailout money.

I wouldn't have predicted that we'd STILL be giving GM money AFTER they declared bankruptcy, but just today the news is that GMAC, the financing arm of GM, is getting $3.8billion more in bailout money.

9. Lance Armstrong will not win the Tour de France again.

Maybe he'll win the 2010 Tour.

Completely wrong about these 3:

1. Oil prices will continue to be wildly volatile; oil will cost more than $100 per barrel again on at least one day in 2009.

They were volatile, but didn't get much above $80 per barrel.

7. Now that Home Depot is open, Rocky's Ace Hardware in Hadley and Leader Home Center in Amherst will close in 2009.

Nope, both still open.

10. I'll only get 7 of these 10 predictions right.

By my count, if I'd got one more completely right, this one would've been correct, too. (I was really hoping to get exactly 7 of the other predictions right, in which case the tenth prediction would be neither right nor wrong, but would be a logical paradox).

Too soon to be sure, but I was probably wrong:

3. The economic recession will last through the entire year.

Unemployment is still high, and they keep revising the GDP numbers down, and the National Bureau of Economic Research hasn't yet said that the recession is over, but I predict that I'll be wrong on this one.

I'd give myself full credit for these three:

4. Conservatives will claim that the stimulus is causing the recession to last longer.
5. Progressives will claim that without the stimulus we'd be in the Second Great Depression.

Jonathan thinks those don't count as predictions, since that's what conservatives and progressives were saying BEFORE the stimulus passed.

8. Mark's Meadow school in Amherst will be closed.

I think I got this right; the school committee did vote to close the school, and it will, barring a miracle, be closed after the 2009-2010 school year ends.

Stuff I got half right:

2. Congress will pass, and Obama will sign, an economic stimulus package larger than $900 billion.

I think I should get half-credit for this one; the stimulus did pass, it was just 13% smaller than I expected ("only" 787 billion dollars).

What's going to happen in 2010? I dunno. My crystal ball isn't very reliable; I think I'll try reading tea leaves (organic, fair-trade, of course) this year.


Anonymous said...

Wow, Professor Gavin, where were you when I needed my termpapers graded?

I'm with Jonathan on the "predictions" about progressives and conservatives and their claims: no credit. On the other hand, he's being stingy if he doesn't give you the point on Mark's Meadow. The heavy political lifting has been completed on that one, and I admit that I wouldn't have made that call last year at this time. I think that, love that decision or hate it, it was one of the more remarkable political feats we've seen in quite some time in these parts AND by a unanimous vote. And you called it early.

So, on the business of predictions, will the trend line toward shorter spring Town Meeting sessions continue in '10? This is a development not being sufficiently trumpeted, a blow for democracy in Amherst. AND many more Town Meeting members are doing their homework BEFORE the actual meetings. There's a subterranean revolution of zealous moderates at work in Town Meeting, completely unreported by the local press. And the ringleaders know who they are, and deserve our thanks.

Rich Morse

Gavin Andresen said...

I admit it-- I grade myself on a curve.

And funny you should mention length of Town Meeting; one of the six predictions I've jotted down over the last couple of days is "Spring TM : 5 nights."

Anonymous said...

I believe that TM reached what I thought was an unattainable ideal: no more than 8 sessions in the spring and no more than 4 sessions in the fall. Those ceilings, if maintained, go a long way to eliminate the "I don't have time, I have a family" excuse to not serve in Town Meeting.

By the way, someone should note, before the blessed moment passes, how relatively sane the whole governmental picture is in Amherst, in terms of those folks elected and currently serving: School Committee, Select Board, Town Meeting. (Library Trustees? Maybe not.)

I say this because I see a bad moon rising in town politics, especially for Select Board, a bad moon similar to the in-retrospect disastrous SB election of 2005, that added Greeney and Kusner to SB to form The Gang That Couldn't Get Out of Its Own Way. And then all the crazy stuff ensued for 2 solid years before Alisa showed up.

The candidates crazy enough to run AND sane and judicious enough to serve well don't exist. The job is just too much. We owe the current crew a debt of gratitude, knowing that they are an endangered species.

Rich Morse

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