Friday, December 16, 2011

GDP Estimates 2012 Vs. 2008 and More Economic Consensus Groupthink

The Wall Street Journal recently released it's December Survey of Economists. This is where you generally get to hear about the current consensus groupthink. In the survey, 54 economists gave their projections for GDP in 2012 (among many other things). I decided to compare this years projections for the year ahead to what these great minds saw coming in December 2007 (the month the last recession started). Does anything about this strike anyone else as quite similar........
Now just maybe if they would have added a negative sign to their 2008 forecasts they would have been pretty spot on (considering GDP for the year finished down -2.5%). The December 2007 survey included 51 "economists"....yet not 1 came up with a negative GDP projection. Here we are now in 2011, with the European situation, the rest of the developed world including the US and Japan soaked in debt, and China trying to build ghost cities until someone rises from the dead, and not one of the 54 "economists" is willing to project anything lower then 1.3%? Interesting......

What else do they have to say?
With the unemployment rate right now at 8.6% (due to massive labor force shrinkage) the consensus is things will essentially stay as is. Funny, anyone know what the unemployment rate was in December of 2007? 5.0%. And what was the consensus for the end of 2008? 5.1%. In reality it tuned out to be 9.9% and yet not one of the economists predicted anything above 5.6%. Nice work guys.

Some more on unemployment....
Yikes, they can't predict one year ahead and now their being asked about the unemployment situation 3 years out? Anyone know how I can get in touch with James F. Smith from Parsec Financial Management who made that 5.0% projection? Because I would gladly pull a Mitt Romney on him and bet him $10,000 that's not gonna happen!

Alright, What about Treasury Rates?

Looks like they are calling for rates to rise from the current level of 1.85% to 2.75% (we can be sure this is due to their more optimistic view of the overall economy and not worries of the US ever expanding debt situation). In Dec of 2008 when it was 4.1% consensus said it would move up slightly to 4.28% (the yield ended 2008 down to 2.25%)

So what about their views on the probability of a recession in the US in the next 12 months?

23% and nobody puts the odds at higher then 40%? What about the Eurozone? Surely they must realize the Eurozone is already in a recession -- After all, the OECD already declared as much (and they are never the first to spot anything)


Really? You can't even get them to admit "yes" on a Eurozone recession which is clearly already happening? Well, what should we expect.......this is what they thought in July 2008 (7 months after the last US recession already started).
Ok so maybe we should interpret anything in the 50% range as their version of certainty LOL!

Will at least one member leave the Eurozone? 48%? Guess that should mean it's pretty near certain!
That may be about the biggest dispersion of views you will see on a subject from these groupthinkers.

Ah the joys of "economist" forecasts!

3 comments:

  1. Interesting observation.

    When you have time could you post a correlation between the markets / sectors and time after the end of a war. Although the Iraqi conflict has not been as large as Vietnam or WW II and has been tapering for sometime it has been a significant financial drain. TIA.

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  2. @Anonymous I might consider putting something together but I think this "war" has been of a much different nature. I agree it has been a financial drain....which is why using an arbitrary date of when governments 'claimed' something was over might not be the most useful way to go about it. It might be more useful to look at the increase or decrease in spending and the resulting correlations.

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