Monday, December 3, 2007

How to Become Certain Now or Maybe Later

I'm not necessarily a big fan of economists. Yes, economists. Those guys who think that they can predict what the economy is going to do. Those economists. Just because I'm not a big fan doesn't mean that I hate economists. I don't. I just think that they are always trying to make it sound like they really do know what the economy is going to do and that you should listen to their sage wisdom. In reality, most economists are about as accurate as the weathercaster at your local news station. 50-50. Maybe it will, maybe it won't. That's the best they can do.

Milton Friedman would be the exception to my "not a big fan of economists" rule. This guy was smart and he knew his stuff. He knew that people couldn't predict with any great certainty or accuracy what the economy would do. AND he said so. But there are those out there, some working for major economic/financial businesses, who don't seem to realize that they have NO idea what they're talking about when it comes to predicting when or if there is going to be a recession in this country.

Merrill Lynch economist David Rosenberg issued this "warning" in a note to Merrill Lynch clients: "We are becoming more certain that the recession is either here or no more than two quarters away." Huh? So, it's either here now or it's not, but he's not sure which one it is? Are you kidding me? OK, look, I'm not an economist (I'm barely a consumer) but I could have come up with that.

The really scary part of that is that he is "becoming more certain". That didn't sound anywhere near certain if you ask me. And that he thinks he is "becoming" seems to indicate that he thinks he might be certain, but won't really know until he gets there. Don't you think that one of the qualifications to be an economist would be to have the ability to know if you're smack dab in the middle of something or not? If I ever need an economist, I'm definitely listing that as one of the qualifications when I list the position on craigslist.

How does this guy get to work every day? I mean, as he's driving along, I picture him saying to himself, "Well, I'm pretty sure that I either work in that building or one that's no more than two streets away." I also picture him walking into his neighbor's houses a lot, mistaking them for his own.

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