The track record of predictions made on the FM website

Summary:  Here’s a snapshot of the FM reference page showing some of the accurate predictions made on the FM website (wrong ones appear on the Smackdowns page).  As you can see in the comments, most were controversal when made.  Per the FM style sheet, they’re mildly expressed even when apocalyptic in nature.

The good ones

  1. The articles in 2003 about the Iraq War, saying that the insurgents would prove to be determined and difficult foes.
  2. The big one, looking accurate so far:  Forecast: Death of the American Constitution, 4 July 2006
  3. The articles from 2007 – now predicting that neither the US nor Israel would attack Iran.
  4. The Iraq insurgency has ended, which opens a path to peace, 13 March 2007
  5. Beyond Insurgency: An End to Our War in Iraq, 27 September 2007 — Declaring the insurgency over as the new Iraq emerges.
  6. About the housing bust, 6 December 2007 — Beginning a long drop, looking at the deep causes.
  7. Geopolitical implications of the current economic downturn, 24 January 2008 — At the 2 month mark, forecasting it would be so large as to have serious geopolitical effects.
  8. Obama would prove a poor president, 26 February 2008
  9. The US economy at Defcon 2, 11 March 2008 — The recession started in December 2007
  10. Many denied the recession even in June 2008:  Making us dumber, chanting “Dude, where’s my recession?” (esp see the outraged comments from conservatives!)
  11. Rising oil and food prices plus tight money => debt deflation, 17 June 2008 – controversal then, but not now.
  12. Why McCain will lose the election, 1 July 2008
  13. The articles in 2008 saying that the food crisis was exaggerated by the news media and activists
  14. The articles from early 2008 – now warning that the slow unraveling of Mexico’s State would continue

Some excerpts

(1a)  Perhaps the most accurate forecast on this website, this written in October 2003 about the Iraq War: 

Coalition forces appear to have lost the vital connection between strategy and tactics. Clear and feasible goals drive strategy, which drives tactics. Also, Coalition leaders lack clear and popular goals to maintain domestic support for the War. Feasible strategy and tactics maintain domestic confidence in Coalition leadership. With popular support success in long and painful conflicts becomes possible.What are the Coalition’s goals and strategy? If these are in fact uncertain, as they were in the Viet Nam war, development of successful tactics becomes difficult. Maintaining domestic support and confidence becomes problematic.

… The tentative evidence available suggests that Coalition forces have been pushed onto the defensive. Worse, our civilian administrators seem increasing isolated from the Iraq people, our military increasingly viewing the local people as potential assailants and/or targets.

(1b)  Another example of early reporting about the Iraq War:  Scorecard #3: about the Coalition’s Progress in Iraq, 9 November 2003

What do we know of the enemy?

“There are former regime members who want to disrupt the successes achieved here in the north,” Major General David Petraeus, commander of the 101st Airborne Division, said. There are also “criminals … who are willing to be guns for hire,” in addition to “some foreigners who have come in small numbers and have been involved in this as well.”
— Associated Press, 9 November 2003

His opinion deserves respect. But describing insurgents as bandits goes back to the Chinese revolution, and probably beyond. Perhaps natural bravado, but lack of respect for one’s opponents is a bad sign. Especially given their progress in achieving objectives and their growing tactic skills.

If they continue to develop at this rate, soon “insurgency” will no longer be a correct label. Per Webster’s: a condition of revolt against a government that is less than an organized revolution and that is not recognized as belligerency.

How have our tactics and intelligence adapted to the rapid evolution of the insurgency?  News reports like this, describing broad sweeps through Iraq towns and almost random displays of violence, suggest little progress, and less useful intelligence:  “Military in Iraq Deepens Resentment of US”, Associated Press.

(8)  Obama would prove a poor president, 26 February 2008

As these problems reach critical dimensions and our economy sinks into what is (at best) a severe recession, our national leadership will likely move into the hands of someone with astonishingly little capacity to govern.  Barack Obama has amazing rhetorical gifts and the potential for greatness, but becomes President with his skills immature, his vision on major questions of public policy unformed, and no executive experience.  His brief career and campaign of empty rhetoric — appealing to the best of America’s history and aspirations — tell us little about the course he will chart for America, or how he will respond to the terrible choices that lie in our future.  He provides a frame into which his followers project their dreams — a virtual reality candidate.  (Candidates’ white papers, like party platforms, have historically proved poor guides to their actions)

This is our failing, not his.  High office in America goes to those with both drive and hunger for fame and power.  That Obama goes along with our childlike dreams says much about us, but nothing bad about him.  However the election might result in weak leadership for our national government during tough times, unless he grows in office (which would be wonderful, but not something we can rely upon). 

(11)  From Rising oil and food prices plus tight money => debt deflation – controversal then, but not now.

For example, as we see today, rapid global growth can increase consumption faster than capital investments can increase the supply of commodities.  As food and energy consume more of people’s budgets, expenditures on other things must drop.  Discretionary purchases go first, and so the economy slows as those business reduce spending (capex, headcount, hours, wage rates — it all adds up).  Eventually some people cannot make their monthly loan payments (credit cards, auto loans, mortgages, etc).  Now the financial sector suffers from rising defaults.  This is deflation, caused by rising commodity prices and too-tight monetary policy.

To recap this greatly simplified explanation:
*  Rising sector prices plus tight money can create deflation. 
*  Rising sector prices plus easy money can create inflation.

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