Lessons from 2014's Forecasting Failure

What lessons can investors take from 2014? Don’t listen to short-term economic and stock market forecasts, says The wall street journal’s Jason Zweig.

In a recent column, Zweig notes just how wrong the vast majority of forecasters were when it came to interest rates, oil prices, and stock market moves last year. “As the year turns, investors should remember that they should tune out most, if not all, forecasts and stick with a game plan that will do reasonably well no matter what happens,” writes Zweig. “It also is worth taking a moment to recognize that no prediction is worth following unless you know whether the forecaster is reliable.”

Zweig says that “financial pundits rarely assign probabilities to their predictions and make a variety of judgment calls that can be hard to categorize.” But, he says, “Humans don’t want accuracy; they want reassurance. … People can’t stand ignoring all predictions; admitting that the future is unknowable is just too frightening.”

Zweig offers a couple tips for avoiding the forecasting follies, including checking out websites like www.goodjudgmentproject.com, run by Philip Tetlock of the University of Pennsylvania, who has performed extensive research into the forecasts of supposed experts.