Predictions: the hits

The real challenge in strategy is not in finding the data, nor even in its analysis; in the internet age, bucket-loads of data are readily available, while much econometric analysis is relatively straightforward; instead, the true challenge is to properly assess the functional relevance of the various phenomena. If one is looking at the wrong variables, one will of necessity predict the wrong outcomes …
— Eric Kraus, Truth and Beauty, 14 December 2011

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

Here are a few of the accurate predictions made on the FM website.  As you can see in the comments, most were controversal when written (that does not imply that they were unique, original, or the first of that kind).  Also see:

  1. Forecasts – possible futures for America and the World
  2. Smackdowns – corrections, fails, and rebuttals to FM posts

A list of successful predictions


(1)  The Constitution is dying, and the Second Republic along with it

The big one among the forecasts on the FM website.  Looking more prescient every day.  The first Republic (177 – 1783) ran under the Articles of Confederation.  The Second Republic (1783 – ??) runs under the Constitution.  The Second Republic is dying.  What comes next might not be as pleasant.

(2)  In 2003 saying that the insurgents in Iraq and Afghanistan would prove to be determined and difficult foes

That was controversial in 2003, when the government and war boosters described the insurgents as “dead-enders” and “bandits.”  Articles on the FM website painted a different picture, predicting that the insurgents would prove to be determined and difficult foes.

From Scorecard #2, 31 October 2003 — Note that even today our war advocates often get this key point wrong (ie, foreign armies fighting local insurgencies usually lose).

Coalition forces appear to have lost the vital connection between strategy and tactics. Clear and feasible goals drive strategy, which drives tactics. … 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.

Fortunately, the public in Coalition nations does not seem to know the odds against us. In modern times, insurgents’ successes far outnumber the few successes of western nations.

From Scorecard #3, 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)

General Petraeus’ 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.

… Worse, reports like following foreshadow a next (perhaps distant) phase for the insurgency, where insurgents have effective control of some areas, into which only well-armed Coalition forces can penetrate …

For a full listing see the FM Reference About our wars – Iraq, Af-Pak & elsewhere.

(3) That our assassination of leaders in Iraq and Afghanistan would have little effect

Despite so many years of failure, our leaders still have not learned this lesson.

From my first post:  Scorecard #1, 22 September 2003.

“By all accounts opposition attacks steadily grow more sophisticated. Note the increasing number and sophistication in opposition use of Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs). War is the ultimate form of Darwinian evolution. Guerillas learn swiftly; only the most capable survive.”

From my second post:  Scorecard #2, 31 October 2003.

“The increased sophistication of attacks demonstrates the insurgents growing experience and the Darwinian nature of guerilla warfare, culling the slow learners from insurgent forces.”

In a July 2006 post I borrowed a term from evolutionary biology to describe this process: the Darwinian Ratchet. Here is a post describing its operation: Darwin explains the futility of killing insurgents. It makes them more effective.

(4)  2007: the insurgency in Iraq

In 2007: the insurgents in Iraq were NOT near defeat, that we would leave (having won nothing), and Iraq would divide into three parts – which would then fight for supremacy.

Articles in March and September 2007 forecast that the Iraq insurgency was near defeat; the war was evolving into a struggle between the Kurds, Sunni Arabs, and Shiite Arabs.  Articles in 2008 confirmed that forecast.

  1. The Iraq insurgency has ended, which opens a path to peace, 13 March 2007
  2. Beyond Insurgency: An End to Our War in Iraq, 27 September 2007 — Declaring the insurgency over as breaks into 3 parts..
  3. Iraq, after the war, 20 May 2008
  4. Slowly the new Iraq becomes visible, 18 July 2008. Three parts, whose fight will be the endgame.

Articles in 2009 developed that forecast, predicting that the US would achieve few or none of its political goals in Iraq.

  1. If we won in Iraq, what did we win? Was it worth the cost?, 15 July 2009
  2. We collect our winnings in Iraq, 12 December 2009
  3. The early returns come in:  One criterion of victory in Iraq: when will the oil flow?, 3 February 2010
  4. Validating the forecast: The end of our Expedition to Iraq: our war boosters cheer despite its long-predicted failure, 24 October 2011

For a full listing see the FM Reference About our wars – Iraq, Af-Pak & elsewhere.

(5)  In early 2008 explaining that a serious recession was here

The recession officially started in December 2007.  In January and March these posts had already forecast that it would be so large as to have serious geopolitical effects.  As seen in the articles cited — and the hostile comments — this was controversial, even as late as June 2008.

  1. Geopolitical implications of the current economic downturn, 24 January 2008.
  2. The US economy at Defcon 2, 11 March 2008
  3. Making us dumber, chanting “Dude, where’s my recession?”, 3 June 2008

For a full listing see the FM Reference Page Financial crisis – what’s happening?  how will this end?

(6)  In 2008 and after: forecasting a long and futile war in Af-Pak

These accurate forecasts were the original theme of the FM website, and these posts ran through 2012. Such as this in May 2009:  “They will find their own destiny, and our armies can do little to influence this.  Neither can our flocks of airborne killers, nor our legions of special ops assassins.”

For a full listing see the FM Reference About our wars – Iraq, Af-Pak & elsewhere.

(7)  From 2007 – 2010 predicting that neither the US nor Israel would attack Iran – and Iran was not building a bomb

Looking back it’s astonishing to read the many predictions by major experts that the US or Israel would bomb Iran soon.  Or very soon.  Analysis on the FM website has suggested otherwise (after 2010 the picture grew darker).

(a)  Will Israel commit suicide? More rumors of a strike at Iran , 22 December 2007:

For all these reasons I doubt Israel will attack Iran.  But that is just a guess.

(b)  Will we bomb Iran, now that Admiral Fallon is gone?, 17 March 2008:

Is this analysis, prophecy, or fun speculation for the box-office?  Not much substance here by which to decide.  I suspect the prize is behind door #3:  no war with Iran.  Bush has neither the political capital nor laid a sufficient foundation with either the American people or our allies.

(c)  Are Israel’s leaders insane? Jeffrey Goldberg thinks so., 15 August 2010

… attacking Iran would the point of no return for Israel. I doubt they’ll do it. The leaders of neither Iran nor Israel are psychos.

(d)  The reports in 2009 that Iran was close to having a  bomb were false:  Iran’s getting the bomb, or so we’re told. Can they fool us twice?, 16 February 2009.  Three years later western intelligence confirms this.

For a full listing see the FM Reference Iran – will the US or Israel attack Iran?

(8)  McCain would lose; Obama would win but prove a poor president

(a)  Why McCain will lose the election, 1 July 2008

(b)  Obama would prove a poor president, 26 February 2008 — Excerpt:

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).”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.

For a full listing see the FM Reference About Politics in America.

(9)  Correctly predicting that the inflationistas would be wrong

During the great inflation scares of early 2008 and 2009 readers of the FM website saw forecasts of a deep recession with debt deflation — followed by low inflation.  Still no high inflation, let alone hyperinflation.  These posts  explained why.

Higher food prices, riots, shortages – what is going on?, 29 April 2008:

… What happens If prices of commodities and imported goods continue to rise, but wages do not? We get deflation, as many households are unable to pay their bills and default on their loans. This contraction pushes businesses into bankruptcy, defaulting on their loans and firing their works. And so the effects ripple out through the economy.

A more detailed explanation followed on 17 June 2008::

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.

These were followed by dire warnings of inflation — or even hyperinflation — from the Fed’s qualitative easing. I predicted that these would prove false. In fact inflation fell, by early 2013 hitting 50 year lows by some measures, falling below the Fed’s 2% floor (intended to provide a buffer zone, allowing the Fed time to act to prevent deflation).

  1. Inflation is coming! Inflation is coming!, 7 February 2011
  2. Can Obama turn America into something like Zimbabwe?, 22 February 2010
  3. Inciting fear of inflation in our minds for political gain (we are easily led), 28 February 2011
  4. The Fed is not wildly printing money, as yet no hyperinflation, we’re not becoming Zimbabwe, 2 March 2010
  5. Why the U.S. cannot inflate its way out of debt, 15 March 2010
  6. We can try to inflate away the government’s debt, but we’ll go broke before succeeding, 16 April 2010
  7. The threat of insurgents using MANPADS is exaggerated (SOP for our experts), 31 July 2010 — Three years and no attacks yet.
  8. More invisible signs of looming US inflation!, 22 February 2011
  9. Inflation is coming! Inflation is coming!, 7 February 2011
  10. Inciting fear of inflation in our minds for political gain (we are easily led), 28 February 2011
  11. Update on the inflation hysteria, the invisible monster about to devour us!, 15 April 2011

(10)  That the doomsters’ forecasts were wrong about a peak oil crash soon after 2008

For more about this see the FM Reference Page About Peak Oil and Energy.

(11) In July 2008 predicting the EMU’s possible collapse; in Spring 2010 that the periphery might burn.

  1. Can the European Monetary Union survive the next recession?, 11 July 2008
  2. The periphery of Europe – a flashpoint to the global economy, 8 February 2010
  3. The EU does Kabuki for Greece. Is it the next domino to fall?, 14 April 2010

(12)  Homes would be demolished to removed the excess supply

This was greeted with howls of horror.  As heresy.  Now it’s just news.

  1. Diagnosing the eagle, chapter I — the housing bust, 6 December 2007
  2. A vital but widely misunderstood aspect of our financial crisis, 18 September 2008 — Too many homes.
  3. Destroying houses in order to boost home prices, 16 December 2008
  4. Another step to solving the housing crisis: downsize cities by destroying neighborhoods, 2 April 2009

(13)  The 2009 swine flue epidemic would be less severe than the dire forecasts

  1. What about all the hype, the extreme warnings, about swine flu?, 3 September 2009
  2. Update: about the swine flu epidemic, 9 October 2012
  3. Is the Swine Flu pandemic being used to an excuse to expand government powers (UK edition)?, 14 October 2009
  4. Who to blame for the delay in producing the swine flu vaccine?, 4 November 2009
  5. More about the swine flu pandemic: about Cassandras, 26 November 2009

(14)  The dire warnings of economic collapse from the crash: false!

During the crash and afterwards the media overflowed with predictions of the imminent End Times. Many posts here said that would not happen — but neither would a return to “normal growth”. Instead, slow growth was likely.

(15)  Our response to the NSA revelations would be: nothing

(16)  Mike Few: Increased and spreading Middle East violence in 2014

(17)  In March 2011 predicting that our intervention in Libya would end badly

Rebuttals to these posts were fast and furious from liberals. My favorite was from a well-known figure: “You just have not seen enough people bleed to death.” Thanks to our help to Libya, that’s wasn’t true there.

 (18)  The end of al Qaeda

In September 2008 stating that al Qaeda (the centralized organization was broken.

That proved correct. Regional national insurgencies adopted its name, as informal franchises. Many of those have since faded. The most powerful broke from AQ, changing its name and methods to become the Islamic State.

(19) America following Japan into secular stagnation

Readers of the FM website have known about this since 2010, with more details given in 2013 and even more last year.  Larry Summers introduced it to the world in 2013. It’s still controversial, as seen in Ben Bernanke’s rebuttal this week.

For more about secular stagnation see the posts describing this theory (with links).

(20)  Ebola would not become an epidemic outside of West Africa.

Early in the hysteria I posted An epidemic afflicting America: fear about Ebola. Avoid the carriers. Facts are the antidote, following it with other posts debunking the doomsters:

  1. What you need to know about Ebola. Debunking the myths.
  2. An epidemic afflicting America: fear about Ebola. Avoid the carriers. Facts are the antidote.
  3. While Americans panic at shadows, Ebola strikes hard at Africa
  4. Lessons from Ebola. Let’s hope we learn.
  5. DoD shows its strength, mobilizing to protect us from Ebola (a sad story about America).
  6. We awake from fears of an Ebola pandemic in America. Now let’s ask who’s responsible…,.
  7. Good news about Ebola and its terrifying mortality rate.

(21)  Trump was a revolution, not a carnival side-show

The usual experts were confident that Trump had no chance to win the GOP nomination. Nate Silver’s 538 was bold. In June: “Why Donald Trump Isn’t A Real Candidate” (“Trump has a better chance of … playing in the NBA Finals than winning the Republican nomination”). In Nov: “Dear Media, Stop Freaking Out About Donald Trump’s Polls” (“a 20% chance is substantially too high”).

In August I began a series saying otherwise, starting with The Donald Trump revolution, dismissed as all revolts are in the beginning.  See the posts here: Trump and the New Populism,

(22)  Other predictions

  1. The articles in 2008 saying that the food crisis was exaggerated by the news media and activists
  2. The articles from early 2008 – now warning that the slow unraveling of Mexico’s State would continue
  3. More rumors of war: our naval armada has sailed to Iran!, 9 August 2008 — No, it hasn’t.
  4. College education in America, another broken business model, 3 July 2009 — In 2011 at last this problem at last is getting media attention.
  5. Republicans have found a sure-fire path to victory in the November elections, 5 February 2010 — In mid-2011 our political experts noticed this.
  6. Effective treatment for this crisis will come with “The Master Settlement of 2009″, 5 October 2008 — Slowly people realize that only strong international cooperation can resolve this global crisis.  Too bad we waited so long to start.
  7. Predicting that drones would eventually replace manned craft in many air force operations T– that was controversal in 2009; not so now:  America’s dominance of the sky slowly erodes – inevitable or avoidable?, 22 September 2009.
  8. Not a prediction, just being ahead of the pack:  first writing in 2008 about income inequality in America:  A sad picture of America, but important for us to understand.  And many times since then.  Now the subject has become trendy.
  9. Not a prediction, just good reporting: saying that Rolling Stone’s reporting about the U VA fraternity rape would prove incorrect. And so it was.
  10. Updating you about today’s news confirming long-ago warnings on the FM website, 8 April 2012
  11. In August 2013: ignore the optimists (a boom coming!) and the doomsters (depression or collapse!); expect continued slow growth.
  12. Predicting in December 2009 that the Democratic Party would lose strength under Obama as the Left lost faith in it. This included other predictions which proved false.
  13. Debunking fears in October 2018 of an imminent recession: About the coming recession. No recession in the following 12 months.



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