Anyone who has had to regularly produce a written business forecast that goes out more than a couple of months understand all too well Yogi Berra’s famous observation: “It’s tough to make predictions, especially about the future.” Certainly the economic events of the past two years have regularly made forecasts obsolete in a very short period of time. Using the wisdom of crowds can help the accuracy of forecasts in some cases because the impacts of individual biases are largely cancelled out. But surveys of expected business trends turn out to be most accurate in stable business environments when simple extrapolation turns out to be the best forecasting tool. It’s less reliable at turning points because people tend to extrapolate from current conditions. Nonetheless, I think it’s always good to examine surveys of expected business conditions, if only because they accurately summarize current attitudes.
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