Thursday, January 03, 2013


"Nate Silver makes it all look so easy. The New York Times statistician who predicted Barack Obama’s presidential win says his methods for forecasting the outcome of elections or sporting events are “not that complicated”. But not everyone gets it quite as right as he does. Undaunted, the Financial Times’ experts are putting their reputations on the line by making their own predictions. They have no handy algorithms to weigh the probabilities. They just have to rely on knowledge and instinct or, at the very least, boldness – like Clive Cookson, our science editor. Last year he predicted that scientists would confirm the possibility of travel faster than the speed of light. Unfortunately he was wrong. The result from the initial experiment that got everyone excited was due to faulty wiring. But who cares? The journey was entertaining. This year he takes a punt on the discovery of life on Mars. Martin Wolf’s choice was no less risky, however. A year ago the euro was on the endangered list. Few were bullish about its continued survival. Except Mr Wolf, who put the sceptics in their place. Edward Luce also deserves a medal for beating Mr Silver to the prediction of an Obama win. Alison Smith accurately forecast a bumper year for UK dividends, while Ben Fenton was on the mark with his warnings on the travails of the newspaper industry. Not everyone can be mentioned here. But, right or wrong, the FT’s experts are back again with more bets for 2013".
Peggy Hollinger, "Raising the curtain on 2013." The Financial Times. 3 January 2013, in
I cannot claim by any means to have been quite so accurate a Presidential election forecaster as Mr. Silver. Albeit, I like Mr. Luce did foresee that the incumbent President would retain office in the American Presidential elections. However, leaving that aside, I would like to take this opportunity to make some predictions, whether they merit being characterized as 'bold' or not is for you dear reader to judge. So here goes:
i.) The Eurozone will survive intact anno domini 2013. Given the fact that the hard hit, peripheral, Eurozone countries have managed so far (in the case of Greece by the skin of its teeth) to remain in the Eurozone, it is difficult to imagine that the European Union pays legal, will tolerate a failure on this point now. After all, if there was ever a time for a Greek Eurozone exit, that probably was best accomplished back in late 2009 / early 2010. Approximately three years later, with the entire prestige of the European Union involved in the crisis, to allow a Greek and or other default and subsequent exit to occur would be both absurd and catastrophic. Hence, I do not see it occurring at this stage. Faite de mieux perhaps but so be it.
ii.) The Americans will avoid going over the 'fiscal cliff'. This of course as of two-days ago 'old news', to an extent. However, even if the crisis has been postponed till the very end of February 2013, I for the life of me, cannot fathom that either the House Republican leadership, nor the American President himself, will have the courage to play another round of va banque. It is au fond, a game with no winners and too many losers. Accordingly, come late February / early March, there will be another 'muddle through' exercise and 'resolution'. And while this is by far not the best that can be hoped for, given the fact that the American economy has had the highest GDP growth rates for the leading Industrial economies for the last year and probably will have the same record this year as well, one may be forced to conclude that a little muddle seems, at least in economic terms to go a long way.
iii.) The crisis in Syria, will I predict still be with us a year hence. Whether or not the regime of Assad Fils, remains in power in Damascus, or conversely, if it only retains shreds of its former political hegemony, it is my firm prediction that Assad and his circle will still control the largest amount of territory and will still be the most formidable military force to be found inside Syria's borders. Which is not to gainsay the likelihood that the rebel forces may be able to contest Assad's control of Damascus, just as it has contested the regime's control of Hama and Aleppo in the past six months.
iv.) The standoff over Persia's ambitions to build a nuclear bomb will continue without any resolution. And while it is the case that the American President would dearly love to negotiate a solution to the issue, it is difficult to imagine that with an election in the offing in Persia, that the regime will have the strength of will to climb-down and negotiate away its potential nuclear weapons programme. And in the absence of a near complete climb-down by the regime of Mullahs, it is impossible to imagine, that the American President and his confreres in London, Paris and Berlin will have the will in turn to merely give up the game at this point in time. Especially, with the danger (admittedly perhaps merely imaginary) of an Israeli 'pre-emptive' air strike on Persia, if such an outcome were to emerge as being likely.
v.) The tensions in the East China Sea between Peking and Japan will continue but it will not result in any military clashes between the two countries. Why so? For the very simple reason that au fond, this particular jeu is for the leadership in Peking merely that a jeu, a game and nothing more. The islands themselves are not intrinsically worth the bones or anything else of a Pomeranian or for that matter, Chinese grenadier. The whole crisis has been gotten up by Peking, for reasons of domestic politics. In short for reasons of primat der innenpolitik. Whereas an outbreak of fighting between Japan and China will inevitably involve the Americans under their defence treaty with Tokyo. And it will take little by way of prediction powers to imagine the winner in any conflict involving the Americans the Chinese. And of course the leadership in Peking knows this as well as anyone else. Therefore look for the tensions over the islands to continue, but for the peace between the two powers to hold. At least for anno domini 2013.


At 10:51 AM, Blogger thibarine said...

faute de mieux!


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