Economic forecasters who got it right: what they’re saying about the future

Very few economists, Wall St analysts, government officials, and cable television pundits predicted the Great Recession.  At the Federal Reserve, Alan Greenspan and Ben Bernanke missed it.  The Wall St consensus missed it.  The Bush administration missed it.  Obama and his team missed it.  The so-called experts on CNN, Fox News, and MSNBC largely missed it. 

But, there were a few who accurately predicted the extent of the crisis.  Ignored and summarily dismissed as “gloom and doomers”, they stuck to their guns, claiming their forecasts were based on realistic assessments of the hard data instead of mere wishful thinking, political bias, or intellectual group think. 

The list of successful prognosticators includes Robert Prechter, Marc Faber, Gerald Celente, Ron Paul, Peter Schiff, Nouriel Roubini, Meredith Whitney, and Mike Shedlock (feel free to add others in the comment section if I’ve omitted anyone). 

Now that these economic forecasters have been generally vindicated, it would behoove critically-thinking readers to consider their predictions for the next few years.  Here’s a brief breakdown: 

Robert Prechter–  Based on the Elliot Wave Theory, Prechter is predicting another market crash and an extended, deflationary Depression due to poor economic fundamentals. 

Marc Faber–  Faber believes the US and other developed economies will experience intermittent shocks for the next several years, culminating in a US Dollar crisis down the road due to repeated stimulus packages and excessive debt levels.  He is also warning about the potential for another US-led war as a time-tested strategy to divert attention away from deep economic struggles at home. 

Gerald Celente–  Celente has predicted the Crash of 2010 and the Greatest Depression by 2012.  Like Faber, he believes current trends point to America leading the march toward the first great (world) war of the 21st century.  However, he also contends that America possesses the potential to spawn a new Renaissance if it returns to its more egalitarian, production-based, financially frugal economic roots, as well as to its more constitutionally-minded and non-interventionist foreign policy origins. 

Ron Paul- Unless the current economic system is reformed and the government reins in record-breaking deficit spending, Dr. Paul is predicting a protracted, painful downturn that will eventually culminate in the collapse of the US Dollar, likely sooner rather than later. 

Peter Schiff– Like Dr. Paul, Schiff predicts years of economic pain and an eventual collapse of the US Dollar, unless drastic fiscal and monetary reform are adopted. 

Nouriel Roubini–  Roubini is predicting a long, slow, U-shaped recovery characterized by sluggish growth, high unemployment, and extreme debt levels, although he will not categorically rule out a so-called “Double-Dip” recession.  He also advocates higher taxes and increased “stimulus” spending in order to forestall an even more damaging financial collapse. 

Meredith Whitney–  Whitney has definitively predicted a “Double-Dip” recession in the housing market and expects a significant downturn in the second half of 2010.  She also forecasts high, long-term unemployment and hundreds of more bank failures over the next couple of years. 

Mike “Mish” Shedlock–  Shedlock forecasts years of deep financial problems for the US.  Like Prechter, he believes the Recession/Depression will be characterized by deflation and that the economy will look like an “L” or a “WW” pattern over the next several years.  Shedlock is an advocate of “taking the pain now”, cutting government spending across the board, and lowering taxes. 

Once again, their prognostications are at odds with the current economic and government “consensus”.  Though they defied the consensus once before, it doesn’t necessarily mean they’ll be proven right again.  But, at the very least, their predictive accuracy should cause us to carefully consider what they have to say. 

For the next 6-12 months, we should possess more than enough data to determine which models are proving to be the most credible.