Have the monkeys blown it?

The anticipation and chronicle of the woes soon to befall humankind. If you don't wish to know about bad things about to happen to you then you probably don't want to be here. Otherwise, I recommend you read any numbered topics, like Peak Oil, in sequence. If you comment I suggest you use a nickname, I'd appreciate you being consistent in what you call yourself.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

2005 Predictions Assessed

I made these specific predictions in late December 2004 and have added my assessment of their accuracy in early December 2005 in brackets below each paragraph. Got a couple of fairly stunning long shots (Pope and Israel), but a couple of others failed totally (Bush, Japan). The economic predictions were an average mix, the US $ and economy proved stronger than I expected. I failed to predict two major hurricanes hitting near New Orleans.

2005, the "maybe but probably not" year

I think that 2005 will not see the inevitable coming storms unleashed, but if we are unlucky and / or some semi-random events trigger it then 2005 may be the year "the slide" clearly begins, 2006 or 2007 are more likely.

The two important underlying threats: peak oil and the great global (economic) depression will probably not hit in a big way during 2005. The depression is the more likely, I guess a probability of about 40%. Many events could trigger it: a too rapid decline in the $, rapid increases in US interest rates, one of the US asset or debt bubbles bursting, China or Japan selling their $ bonds, a terrorist or geopolitical event. My feeling is 12 to 18 months hence is more likely as the clear start of the depression.

The sooner the depression starts the later peak oil is likely to hit, and since this is the greater threat maybe we should hope for an early global depression - there is a slim chance that a few years' grace before peak oil really hits may be enough time for humans to devise a way out of the consequences. Hopefully some temporary interruption to supplies of oil will help us see sense, perhaps a revolution in Saudi Arabia which disrupts their supply for a year or two. Without the depression kicking in first or some other major temporary interruption to oil supplies I expect peak oil to be apparent and real by 2008 at latest.

So much for the maybes and important issues.

Iraq will go from bad to worse, well before yearend it will be obvious that a multi state solution or very loose confederation is inevitable. The US will either be humiliated by its inability to maintain adequate security and stability or will have to introduce the draft to provide the troops required (at least double, more likely treble current forces) to have some semblance of control. I do not expect the 'global community' to be stupid enough to help the US out with troops so the US can start conflicts elsewhere.
[30% Iraq got worse but not enough to trigger the drastic US actions I expected]

I feel that neither GW Bush nor Dick Cheney will be US president at 31st Dec 2005. It's not clear how this could happen, the death of both is a possibility but I don't think that occurs. More likely is some impeachment or similar process that affects them both. I think this starts in early May and ends in October.
[0% but I still feel it will happen before the normal end of Bush's term]

If a significant terrorist event on US mainland occurs I feel that will be in March, round about 22nd, but I think it will be averted. I also think that is when China will revalue its currency aganst the US $, I expect the trade weighted value of the $ to be worth over 10% less than currently by late April - that will be its lowest value for well over 30 years - it will be lower still by yearend.
[25% got the China revaluation, though I expected it in April, almost no one expected it before Sept at the very earliest so I was better than them; totally wrong on the US$]

Tony Blair (Labour) will barely win the UK election if held on 5th May - he will have an overall majority of less than 10 seats, if this happens I expect Blair to resign by September. The Liberal Democrats will do (relatively) best but still not have 100 seats, their increased vote will have the effect of giving the Tories some gains (the only ones they get, lol). It is very possible - about 40% - that the election will not be held then due to world events, Blair would win more conclusively if the election were held in October 2005.
[25% Labour did worse than expected but not as badly as I thought]

The Pope dies, in April I think, next Pope is Italian but a black (skinned) Pope comes close to winning.
[80% spot on for J-P II but the replacement, Benedict, is German]

Something very odd happens in Israeli politics, this is the most significant mid-east event of the year (therefore I do not expect Saud to be overthrown), like the Likud party splitting and part joining with the Labour party. In May I think.
[80% though it happened near 6 months later than expected, it happened almost exactly as I felt but I didn't describe it well. This is the most significant happening in Israeli politics for 30 years so I am proud of this long shot]

A major environmental event happens in Japan in early June, probably a problem with a nuclear reactor, perhaps in part due to an earthquake.
[0% on this long shot]

Interesting, the shaping events seem to all happen in the northern spring quarter (March 21st - June 21st) then things seem to go on pause till the autumn quarter (starts 21st Sept). I interpret this as: wait until the spring events clarify before seeking to read further.

Independence Day in USA will be a time of sad reflection and soul searching - I don't think this is due to some dire event, more a questioning of what was taken for granted: self doubt, state doubt, religious doubt? I think it is partly GW Bush related - he is seen as a betrayer.
[0% but, again, I feel this will happen some US holiday in the next couple of years and will be obvious]

The price of oil will fluctuate a bit, with a low of just below $40 in January, a lesser peak of over $60 in April and a higher peak of maybe $75 around late October. US shares are at their maximum early in year, my guess Feb 12th, but the low for year will be more than 25% below that peak, that could happen in April or October onwards.
[60% the oil prices were pretty good, though both the April peak at $58.10 and September peak at $70.85 were a tad lower than I guessed and the second was near 2 months earlier than I expected. Stocks - as measured by DJIA - did peak on Feb 16th but made a very slightly higher peak on about March 12th, I don't think they will beat that in the next month though they are close. Totally wrong on the 25% dip which would have taken the DJIA down to near 8000.]

Assets should be moved out of US and $ denominated stocks and securities, if you are in US open a Canadian account and move surplus money there. Debts should be at the best fixed interest rates you can find, move them if not, US interest rates may double this year.
[0% US stocks have held up, $ has gained, real US interest rates are barely above where they were, but the time is coming...]

An odd year and probably seemingly inconclusive in the scheme of things. Could be the events of 2005 will give decisive shape to what follows soonafter. It could be a very hot summer in several parts of northern hemisphere, mid June to mid July in UK (August wet again, lol) and Europe, August in USA and Canada.
[0% on weather]

[Overall I rate these predictions at 30%, should do better but shows promise. ]


Blogger Friendly Neighborhood Welfare Caseworker said...

Predicting that the Pope was gonna die was kind of like predicting that there would be moose loose in Canada sometime in 2005.

It was a given; he'd been falling apart for years.

3/2/06 00:44  
Blogger Agric said...

I would bandy probability with you. The Pope, in late 2004 looked as well as he had in the last couple of years, albeit frail. There was nothing suggesting his imminent demise. I would suggest the following probability as being realistic: 25% of him dieing in each of the next 4 years, but perhaps a 25%+ probability of him being alive 5 years hence.

So, a 25% probability of his death in 2005, a 2% / month average. Had I got it within +/- 1 month I would take a 6% probability, but I hit the exact month so I claim my 2% probability. How often do you back a 50 to 1 winner?

I made 4 long shot predictions, here are my assessments of the probability of the other 3...

Japan nuclear incident, probability 1% per year (none have ever occurred).

Bush and Cheney neither in power, 2% - again has never happened that neither president nor VP have failed to be in power at yearend in a year without elections.

Israel Likud split harder to quantify, but it is the most significant political event in Israel for 30+ years so I give it a 3% probability.

So, I hit a 2% and a 3% probability, missed a 1% and a 2% probability. If you know a better oracle then please let me know.

I'm still struggling with 2006. Reality may fork widely in late March, but I will post with the best I can say in the next couple of weeks.

7/2/06 01:07  

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