Thursday, December 11, 2008

The 10 Worst Predictions for 2008

Foreign Policy has the full list. Here are some highlights:

1. “If [Hillary Clinton] gets a race against John Edwards and Barack Obama, she’s going to be the nominee. Gore is the only threat to her, then. … Barack Obama is not going to beat Hillary Clinton in a single Democratic primary. I’ll predict that right now.”

—William Kristol, Fox News Sunday, Dec. 17, 2006

After Iowa, Kristol lurched to the other extreme, declaring that Clinton would lose New Hampshire and that “There will be no Clinton Restoration.” It’s also worth pointing out that this second wildly premature prediction was made in a Times column titled, “President Mike Huckabee?” The Times is currently rumored to be looking for his replacement.

2. “Peter writes: ‘Should I be worried about Bear Stearns in terms of liquidity and get my money out of there?’ No! No! No! Bear Stearns is fine! Do not take your money out. … Bear Stearns is not in trouble. I mean, if anything they’re more likely to be taken over. Don’t move your money from Bear! That’s just being silly! Don’t be silly!”

—Jim Cramer, responding to a viewer’s e-mail on CNBC’s Mad Money, March 11, 2008

Six days after the volatile CNBC host made his emphatic pronouncement, Bear Stearns faced the modern equivalent of an old-fashioned bank run. Amid widespread speculation on Wall Street about the bank’s massive exposure to subprime mortgages, Bear’s shares lost 90 percent of their value and the investment bank was sold for a pittance to JPMorgan Chase, with a last-minute assist from the U.S. Federal Reserve.

3. “[In] reality the risks to maritime flows of oil are far smaller than is commonly assumed. First, tankers are much less vulnerable than conventional wisdom holds. Second, limited regional conflicts would be unlikely to seriously upset traffic, and terrorist attacks against shipping would have even less of an economic effect. Third, only a naval power of the United States’ strength could seriously disrupt oil shipments.”

—Dennis Blair and Kenneth Lieberthal, Foreign Affairs, May/June 2007

On Nov. 15, 2008 a group of Somali pirates in inflatable rafts hijacked a Saudi oil tanker carrying 2 million barrels of crude in the Indian Ocean. The daring raid was part of a rash of attacks by Somali pirates, which have primarily occurred in the Gulf of Aden. Pirates operating in the waterway have hijacked more than 50 ships this year, up from only 13 in all of last year, according to the Piracy Reporting Center. The Gulf of Aden, where nearly 4 percent of the world’s oil demand passes every day, was not on the list of strategic “chokepoints” where oil shipments could potentially be disrupted that Blair and Lieberthal included in their essay, “Smooth Sailing: The World’s Shipping Lanes Are Safe.”

Hopefully, Blair will show a bit more foresight if, as some expect, he is selected as Barack Obama’s director of national intelligence.

5. “[A]nyone who says we’re in a recession, or heading into one—especially the worst one since the Great Depression—is making up his own private definition of ‘recession.’”

—Donald Luskin, The Washington Post, Sept. 14, 2008

The day after Luskin’s op-ed, “Quit Doling Out That Bad-Economy Line,” appeared in the Post, Lehman Brothers filed for bankruptcy, and the rest is history. Liberal bloggers had long ago dubbed the Trend Macrolytics chief investment officer and informal McCain advisor “the Stupidest Man Alive.” This time, they had some particularly damning evidence.

10. “I believe the banking system has been stabilized. No one is asking themselves anymore, is there some major institution that might fail and that we would not be able to do anything about it.”

—Henry Paulson on National Public Radio, Nov. 13, 2008

Unfortunately for Paulson, shortly after his vote of confidence, Citigroup’s stock price plunged 75 percent in one week, closing below $5 for the first time in 14 years.
My own worst predictions for 2008:

1. Bill Richardson would become president. (I even put money on that one.)
2. Bill Richardson would become Secretary of State.
3. John Edwards would become president. (I even put money on that one.)
4. John Edwards would become Attorney General.
5. I would win the Nobel Prize for Literature.
6. Liam would win the Nobel Prize for Literature.
7. Liam would at least finish has dissertation.
8. Hillary Clinton would become president.
9. The Beatles would finally re-unite.
10. Big Brown would win become the first Triple-Crown winner in 30 years.
11. Obama would win the popular vote in the Texas primary, putting an end to the Clinton campaign.
12. My wife would throw me out of the house for listening to Waylon Jennings so much. (Thanks, dear.)
13. Spain would find a way to lose the Euro2008 Finals match against Germany. (Viva España!)
14. The Democrats would find yet another way to lose the presidential election. (Viva Obama!)
15. Fred Astaire and/or Lester Young would finally be recognized with a National Holiday.


Liam said...

Two things:

1) I did win the Nobel Prize for literature, under my French pseudonym.

2) William Kristol is amazing. Sometimes I want to overcome the disgust and nausea he provokes in me and befriend him just so I can ask his predictions on sporting events, and then bet the exact opposite. I'd be rich.

cowboyangel said...

Funny, I kept wondering why their were so many obscenities directed at Republicans and Mormons in a French novel. And those references to drinking at Veinte Uno definitely should've tipped me off.

cowboyangel said...

I hope the last line of that section on Kristol was true: "The Times is currently rumored to be looking for his replacement." He does bring down their quality. There are more interesting and intelligent conservatives out there.

crystal said...

I admire you optimism about the Beatle reunion :)

cowboyangel said...

Hey, you never know.

Jeff said...

Very entertaining post. It ranks about 5 stars on the schadenfreude scale, not including your own lousy predictions, or course.

Is that dunderheaded Kristol really about to get fired from the Times? It would be about time. I don't know how he landed that gig to begin with.

Can I get a job at the Piracy Reporting Center? Is it 9-to-5 with full benefits? Shiver me timbers!

cowboyangel said...

Can I get a job at the Piracy Reporting Center?

You picked up on that, eh? I was also wondering how one trains for that. don't remember any pirate classes when I was in school.

cowboyangel said...

Hey, Jeff, did you get hit by the big power outage?

We've lost power briefly last night. And we still had no internet connection at home this morning.

Jeff said...

No, but one one my co-workers caled me from NH this morning at 11:00, saying his power was still out from last night.

He normally works from home on Fridays. He wanted to know "if the boss thought he should drive down."

The boss-man wasn't pleased.

Anonymous said...

Hmmm, betting on poets, ponies, and politics. Now that is seeing a straight line in the clouds :)

cowboyangel said...

Hey, Lawrence!

Poets, ponies and politics. I didn't even notice that. I'm afraid it goes back in the family. I found out my grandfather, the original William Glenn, raced horses and was very involved in politics. And I'm guessing there was something of a poet in there as well, because his son, my father, wrote poetry and can still recite T.S. Eliot lines at just the right moment. And he also likes the ponies and politics.

Anonymous said...

Cool stuff! Just keep the bets small ;)

cowboyangel said...

The "bets" were campaign donations. They were small.

I haven't actually been to the track in a couple of years. Alas...