Looking back at 2012 – how accurate were my predictions?

Summary:  Year-end is a time to look back at one’s forecasts, and look forward to what might happen next year.  Today we do the former, looking at the predictions for 2012 made here last December.

We use the finest forecasting tools
We use only the finest forecasting tools

“Always in motion is the future.”
— Yoda, Jedi-Knight

Here are the predictions for 2012 made in December 2011.  How do they look in hindsight?   The predictions about the US were very accurate.  But these were easy, predictions of continued powerful trends — although trends still unseen by many Americans.  As for the rest of the world, the predictions were largely inaccurate — for the opposite reason.  Existing trends continued, but without the effects I anticipated. Perhaps in 2013?

Here is a copy of the 20 December 2011 post, with today’s verdicts in red.

USA

To put 2012 in context, historians might see 2011 as the tipping point for the Republic.  The climax of the rapid decay since 9-11, when our ruling elites realized our weakness — and exploited it.  Now comes the consolidation of their quiet coup, and the attempts at a counter-revolution (probably unsuccessful).

  1. The Constitution will continue to die, sliding ever-faster into the grave.  The American people will continue to slumber while our ruling elites increase their power.  Correct, easy.
  2. Obama will continue to govern with a center-right policy mix, continuing what is in effect Bush Jr’s third term. Correct, but easy.
  3. The GOP will continue to describe Obama as a radical leftist (with their unaffiliated action groups describing him as a illegitimate President, perhaps even Moslem).  Correct, but easy.
  4. The 2012 Presidential election will be decided on two axises:  the economy and the GOP’s ability to select a strong candidate — or one that can be sold to the  American people as such.  Correct, but easy.
  5. The GOP will continue their “the worse, the better” tactics to prevent any effective public policy action by the US government in 2012.  So 2013 will be the year of decision for America, out next opportunity for major reforms.  Correct, but easy.
  6. The US will continue its mad crusade against fundamentalist Islam — bombing people across the globe– its public support driven by information operations run against the American people by the US government.  Correct, but easy.
  7. Our foreign wars (Iraq and Af-Pak) will continue to wind down. As the adrenalin high of the wars fade, we’ll see the damage they’ve inflicted on the US military (see here for details).  Correct, but easy.
  8. The craft of the Navy and Air Force will continue to age, as the Services are unable to convince Congress of the necessity to buy replacements.  Correct, but easy.
  9. The Marine Corps will continue to search for its next life, torn between the nation’s need for a 4GW-savvy mobile striking force and its institutional fantasy to be a second Army.  Correct (epitomized by the cancellation of their Expeditionary Fighting Vehicle).

Europe

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  • The Euro-crisis will accelerate, perhaps even to a conclusion.   Wrong.  No acceleration; no conclusion.
  • Currency flight will continue from the periphery.  Wrong; strong ECB action reduced currency flight.
  • Europe will slide into recession, probably a severe recession.    Partially correct:  slow decline into a so-far mild recession (overall).
  • The combination will shake the foundations of Europe’s political and economic regimes.  We can only guess at the result.  Very wrong.

China

  • China’s (and East Asia’s) economy will continue to slow; the resulting stress will provide the greatest stress on the regime since the period following Mao’s death.  We’ll learn the validity of the China doomsters’ theories.  For a good summary of the situation see today’s column by Paul Krugman: “Will China Break?”    Correct about the slowing (Singapore and Japan slid into recessions); but so far no visible stress.  Some signs of major policy changes in China and Japan.

Global

  • The facade of the global warming crusade will continue to crack, showing the evolving but still uncertain science behind it. Public confidence in science will be the greatest casualty.  Correct about the first; some signs of the latter among conservatives.
  • Cyberwar will become the primary terrain for small wars between nations, replacing proxy wars in the Third World (more on this another day).   Correct about the trend.
  • 4GW will continue to become the dominate form of violent conflict in this century, both within and between nations.  Correct, but easy.

Some of the unknowns for 2012

The effect of slow solar cycle 24 on Earth’s climate?  Solar scientists will learn much from this cycle.  Correct that solar cycle 24 continues to surprise, and that scientists learn much. But not conclusions yet.

Will the ENSO continue to cool the Pacific (with more and stronger La Nina than El Nino cycles)?  More cooling might disrupt crops, boost food prices, and destabilized less-developed nations in East Asia and Latin America.   Wrong; we had ENSO neutral conditions.

Will Obama (desperate for re-election) or Israel (desperate, seeing the ranks of its friends dwindle and its enemies gain power) attack Iran? Often history turns on illogical decisions.  Not a prediction; no attack.

For More Information

Last year’s review:  How accurately did the FM website forecast events in 2011?

See these FM Reference Pages for more posts on these topics:

  1. Predictions – how do they look now?
  2. Forecasts – possible futures for America and the World
  3. Speculation about the future by western military and intelligence agencies, section 6 on Intelligence agencies – how they work, how they don’t

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8 thoughts on “Looking back at 2012 – how accurate were my predictions?

  1. You were a little harsh on yourself in Europe, FM. Your forecast was postponed but hardly averted.

    The ECB’s unexpectedly strong actions suppressed the direct, obvious problems such as currency flight but did not resolve any of the underlying causes which continue to spread to other countries and become larger and more difficult to resolve.

    At some point the can will be too deadly to kick down the road any further and the delay in resolving the issue will not be regarded in a positive light.

    1. (1) “You were a little harsh on yourself in Europe.”

      Always. It’s a feature, not a bug. It’s a distinguishing characteristic.

      (2) “Your forecast was postponed but hardly averted.”

      Agreed.

    2. Not only will Europe’s problems continue, but they will spill over onto the United States.

      This will – finally – put an end to the domestic political farce which FM describes. But the results will be bad because neither Obama, nor the Republicans, nor the Fed, nor the banks, nor the courts have sufficient credibility.

      The only thing that could prevent Europe from setting off this tidal wave would be a prior collapse in China / Asia, which would be even worse.

  2. “Will the ENSO continue to cool the Pacific (with more and stronger La Nina than El Nino cycles)? ”

    Right now we are in ‘neutral’. There are 3 parts to the ENSO cycle, El Nino (bad for Australia), La Nina (good for us, bad for the US) and neutral = basically random ups and downs.

    Being a selfish Australian I hope we don’t have another 15 year drought here again for awhile, it was so brutal.

  3. (1) “There are 3 parts to the ENSO cycle, El Nino (bad for Australia), La Nina (good for us, bad for the US) and neutral = basically random ups and downs.”

    That’s not accurate. There is no “ENSO” cycle in that sense. El Nina, La Nino, and ENSO-neutral periods all occur randomly (not in sequence). From NOAA’s ENSO Cycle: Recent Evolution, Current Status and Predictions, 31 December 2012, pages 21-22:

    The Oceanic Niño Index (ONI) is based on sea surface temperature departures from average in the Niño 3.4 region, and is a principal measure for monitoring, assessing, and predicting ENSO. It’s defined as the three-month running-mean SST departures in the Niño 3.4 region.

    El Niño: characterized by a positive ONI greater than or equal to +0.5°C. La Niña: characterized by a negative ONI less than or equal to -0.5°C. Between is a neutral condition.

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    [caption id="attachment_47511" align="aligncenter" width="462"]NOAA, 31 December 2012 NOAA, 31 December 2012[/caption]

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    (2) “Right now we are in ‘neutral’.”

    The current 3-month ONI (Sept – Nov) is +0.6°C, hence a El Nino.

    (3) “Being a selfish Australian I hope we don’t have another 15 year drought here again for awhile, it was so brutal.”

    I suggest you reply on preparation rather than hope. Australia has had centuries-long droughts (as has the US Southwest). A 15-year drought is not unusual, and will happen again.

  4. Sorry, predictions 6 and 7: “America’s foreign wars will continue to wind down” and “America will continue its made crusade against Islam, bombing foreign countries.” We can do one or the other, but presumably not both.

    1. Good point, as predictions #6 and 7 were not clearly stated.

      We have waged conventional wars in Iran and Afghanistan. These wars are winding down.

      We are bombing foreign nations, supported by small ground forces (mostly special ops, mostly training). We’re doing more of these.

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