Tracking My 2010 Predictions

Today is a good opportunity to engage in my annual exercise in humility, evaluating how well my predictions for 2010 fared.

Things I Got Right

  • Iran will not test a nuclear weapon.
  • Nouri al Maliki’s government will be re-elected in Iraq.
  • The Chinese will report at least 8% growth for 2010. They’re actually reporting over 9% growth.
  • Pat Quinn will be elected governor of Illinois.
  • Rod Blagojevich will be convicted of at least one charge.
  • Housing prices as measured by the national Case-Shiller index will remain pretty flat, between -10% and 10% for the year. The actual change in the 20-city index was a decline of .8% year-on-year.
  • Real GDP growth as measured by the BEA will be less than 3%.
  • There will have been a substantial correction (between 1,000 and 2,000 points) in the DJIA but it will have clawed its way back to 10,000 by year’s end. There was a 1,600 point correction between May and July. I underestimated how high its recovery would be.,
  • The Congress will pass a healthcare reform bill.
  • The Congress will pass another stimulus package.
  • The winter of 2010 will be a cold and hard one in the United States. Proponents of the idea of anthropogenic climate change will take this as proof of their views; opponents of the idea of anthropogenic climate change will take it as proof of theirs.
  • 2010 will see a heightened level of at least nominally covert U. S. military activity in Pakistan, Somalia, and Yemen. One of my predictions that was too right.
  • The current Iranian regime will not be overthrown.

Things I Got Wrong

  • The U. S. will have more troops in Iraq and Afghanistan combined at the end of 2010 then we did at the end of 2008. It’s a little hard to ferret out these numbers but my best calculation is that we had a total of about 200,000 troops in Iraq and Afghanistan combined at the end of 2008 and we currently have about 150,000 troops in Iraq and Afghanistan combined. I’m glad to see I was wrong here. Unfortunately, we can’t take too much solace from this development. Afghanistan was always more dangerous than Iraq, i.e. greater mortality per 100,000 troops and it’s always been more expensive to maintain troops there. My back-of-the-envelope calculation suggests that the new troop levels probably mean that we’re spending about 25% more now than we were in 2008.
  • No major Chicago sports team will win a championship in 2010. I really should stop making sports predictions. It’s not something I’m particularly interested in. Congratulations, Chicago Blackhawks on winning the Stanley Cup!
  • The United Nations Security Council will not impose additional meaningful sanctions on Iran. I could quibble with this one on the basis of what constitutes “meaningful” but I’ll count this one as wrong. I underestimated the UNSC. I wouldn’t have thought such a thing was possible.

Things I Got Part Right

  • At the end of 2010 there will be at least 60,000 U. S. soldiers in Iraq. We currently have about 50,000 U. S. soldiers in Iraq. We haven’t withdrawn completely (or even ahead of schedule) but we don’t have over 100,000 soldiers there, either. I’m giving myself partial credit for this one.
  • At the end of 2010 the U. S. national unemployment rate will be at least 10%. The unemployment rate currently being reported is 9.8%. Either I underestimated the BLS’s ability to finagle the numbers with the birth/death ratio or I underestimated how quickly people would become “discouraged workers”. Close enough to claim partial credit.
  • Speaking of Somalia, at least 3 oil tankers will be captured and held for ransom by pirates in that area in 2010. By my count it was two. Plus some other major non-oil tankers so I’m giving myself partial credit.

The final tally is 13-3-3. Once again that’s roughly the same as last year. However, also once again I missed some of the biggest stories of the year which are the rise of the Tea Parties and the Republicans taking control of the House.

7 comments… add one
  • john personna Link

    Very good score.

  • I’m claiming a 1 .000 percentage and not showing my homework either. It’s what I do.
    “Because the Only Good Progressive is a Failed Progressive”

  • PD Shaw Link

    One of my predictions for 2010 (from Dave’s comment thread) was:

    “I predict no Gitmo detainees housed in Illinois in 2010.”

    Though honestly I thought there would be more movement on this issue by now.

  • steve Link

    OT-Economics of Contempt has a great 2 part bit on Dodd-Frank and bank resolution. Looks like Steve V may be wrong. Link to second part and can find first at site.


  • Drew Link

    This seems like a goog blogpost for, as they used to say on the old Monty Python skit, and now for something completely different.

    To Dave: I hope you continue to fund this blogging thing interesting and successful. This site is one of the most interesting and thought provoking around.

    And to Dave and all the commentors, I sincerely wish all of you, and your families, health and prosperity in the coming year.

  • Drew Link

    steve –

    I read that Dodd-Frank reference 3 times and was left scratching my head. It was entirely unpursuasive and somewhat disturbing. The writer is a lawyer, and it shows. He is process focused, and gives short shrift to the essential economic tug of war among the cap structure participants.

    Specifucally, he goes to great lengths to note that the record keeping and reporting requirements, and the traditional splitting of the spoils activities are unchanged from current practice. Absolutely true; so then why Dodd-Frank?

    But of course the other show drops – the FDIC (govt regulators) will now be in total control. Super. He gives no credence to the notion that representatives of the various creditor groups and equity should engage in arms length negotiations, that the FDIC folks may not have the entire cap structures interests in mind, or that these folks might not be up to the task. I know some FDIC people. Fine folks. But let’s just say there is a reason they work for the government. And after all, the current mess went undetected because accts and raters got outsmarted by the bankers. So the FDIC will be different?

    I fear that in an effort to get the case “off my desk” the buyers will get a disproportionately good deal. And on that point, I don’t know what the discussion between you and Steve V was, but it appears to be about the effects of D-F on too big to fail. Well, as the writer correctly observed, most cases will be a partial sale of assets. But to facilitate sale and continuation of the bank’s operations the D-F provision is for (his words: 80% subsidy to the buyer). If that’s not a taxpayer bailout in the name of too big to fail I don’t know what is.

    As for pre-identifting buyers, and filing documents as to what terms, that’s absurd on its face. I couldn’t really take him seriously after reading that. Lastly, I detect intellectual dishonesty. His invokation of Bear and Lehman while discussing BHC’s is just dishonest. They are two different animals. And he knows it.

  • Thanks, Drew. I plan to keep posting as long as I continue to have something to say, particularly something important that I don’t think is receiving enough attention. So far, so good.

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