Posts filed under “Really, really bad calls”
Predicting the end of the world has always been a losing bet. We were reminded of this once again when Oct. 7 came and went, and the world didn’t go poof.
It was supposed to. That’s according to the eBible Fellowship, a small online religious group whose leaders somehow interpreted the Bible as calling for Armageddon this past Wednesday, courtesy of the recent blood moon and last week’s total lunar eclipse. Never mind that we get a blood moon several times a decade, and there have had hundreds of them since the Bible was written.
There is a long history of end-of-times predictions, and to date, they have an absolutely perfect batting average of 0.0 percent. The utter lack of success of all who make these predictions doesn’t seem to deter others who try to notch a win — assuming you believe that getting the end-of-the-world forecast right is a win.
The Economist has done us a favor and assembled the major end-of-world forecasts. It goes without saying that if you are reading this, the most recent forecast didn’t come to pass.
Given this track record, one wonders why people still make predictions of this sort — or any other for that matter. We have discussed many times why ordinary prognostications by Wall Street strategists and economists are futile (see this, this, this, this, this, this, and this); a forecast of the demise of the Earth is the sort of thing that looks like a losing bet from the outset (never mind that if you were right, who would know)?
Despite all sorts of adversity, humans have endured 1 million years or so of plagues, famines, droughts, floods, plus plenty of self-inflicted setbacks like wars. Humans are so successful as a species, that we have managed to occupy and dominate almost every corner of the globe.
The most recent end-of-world forecast reminds me of a tale told by the great Art Cashin, UBS’s veteran floor broker. Cashin has more than a half-century of experience at the New York Stock Exchange, and is one of the financial world’s great raconteurs.
Over dinner not too long ago, Cashin related the story of something that happened during the Cuban Missile Crisis. Everyone was on edge as the U.S. and Soviet Union approached the brink. One day, word began to spread that Russia had launched its nukes, which would arrive in 11 minutes. A trooper to the end, Cashin ran around the exchange floor trying to sell short, but was unable to do so. The 11 minutes passed, but nuclear annihilation never came. Soon after, Cashin reported to his boss. He told him what occurred, and was told that in the future, upon learning of the end of the world, the proper trade is to go long, not short.
He asked his boss, Why go long if the world is ending? “It never does end,” his boss told him, and even if it does, “who are you going to settle the trade with?”
One day, the world will indeed end. The sun will run out of hydrogen fuel, turn into a red giant star, and expand until it engulfs the earth. That is about 5 billion years in the future.
In the meantime, you can safely ignore all other forecasts.
Continues at: The World Is Ending? Invest as If It Won’t.
Dodd-Frank has burdened small banks — and the businesses that rely on them — much more than large businesses that have access to capital markets. Is this why we’re experiencing the slowest recovery in two generations? So asks Peter Wallison, a scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, a conservative think tank that advocates for free markets…Read More
Last week, we discussed several developments that have the banking industry up in arms. Each of these trace back to Democratic Senator Elizabeth Warren. The first was the new mortgage disclosure rules from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. The regulations consolidate several documents, mandate greater transparency in simpler language and require a three-day disclosure before a real-estate…Read More
‘Never buy a boat’ and other rash financial advice Barry Ritholtz Washington Post, September 27, 2015 “A boat is a hole in the water you throw money into.” “The two happiest days in a sailor’s life are the day he buys a boat and the day he sells it.” I have…Read More
Awesome column by my BV colleague Mark Gilbert, observing that true ‘Lehman Moments’ must clear certain hurdles — and most that are beinfg termed that simply don’t. It isn’t a Lehman Moment . . . • If people are calling it one. • Unless somewhere in Germany there is a Landesbank up to its neck…Read More
A reader who happens to be a mortgage loan originator send along this awesome graphic. To me, it calls bullshit on the WSJ article I referenced this morning by sending along the following flow chart along detailing the “massive changes about to be unleashed upon real estate industry. Or not . . . click for…Read More
Of all of the many poor domestic tax decisions that came out of the Bush Administration, the massive corporate giveaway that is Medicaid Part D was one of the most offensive. A new study has found that this is a very expensive mistake. Its title: “Medicare Part D pays needlessly high brand-name drug prices compared with other…Read More