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The Futility of Predictions

Back in late 2013 I wrote a piece on human nature which was in part inspired by the bullish exuberance exhibited by a MarketWatch article predicting the DJIA at 20,000 in the near term future. Yesterday afternoon, a bit over three years later, that prediction actually became reality and I’m sure the author of that article as well as many other like minded traders popped some champagne in celebration of their awesome ability to predict the future.

A trader from the (near) future.     Image via tumblr.com

Now don’t get me wrong, I’m happy for those guys and for the Dow Jones. Assuming of course that everyone involved actually put their money where their mouth was back then – which ever few do. And that in essence was the underlying message of my post.

In yesterday’s update I briefly touched on hindsight bias and how we all have a knack for bending the past in our respective favor. Nobody wants to look stupid after all. And in hindsight, all of us would have liked to have bought the S&P 500 at 667 in 2008 and then traded it all the way up to just below 2300 today.

Except of course that we didn’t (please raise your hand if you did). And that is quite a humbling lesson to learn in our ongoing quest to obtain riches from market participants who happen to disagree with us. It’s not that we didn’t foresee this event, actually many people probably did.

It is about how difficult it is to actually translate such information or ideas into profits. Back in 2008, as well as in 2013, there was no way of truly knowing where the DJIA or the S&P 500 would be trading all those years later. So what makes anyone think they know what the future holds – today?

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

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