Start quote. MOL is nationalized, the Századvég Foundation takes over the economic analysis unit. Brutal lay-offs follow. Blog fans go into mourning. Following their initial shock, the editors of Rolling Barrel continue to produce high-quality publications in English; thanks to their famous “Persian Spring” prediction, they are catapulted among celebrity economists, far surpassing the faded reputation of Roubini and his team. End quote.
One of our readers sent this prediction for our “Black Swan beauty contest”. Being personally concerned, we decline to comment.
We had a lot of fun not just making up and writing the extreme 2013 predictions back in December, but also with the responses we received. That post was rather long (but worth reading); however, this time we will try to keep it short.
Around 60 of our readers participated in our anonymous survey, where respondents could rank the probability of various unlikely, but high impact 2013 events, such as China turning green or extreme weather leading to people having steak for breakfast. The usual disclaimer: the responses are not representative. If you still want to place your bets, jump to the previous post.
And the winner is:
The majority of readers thought the “Persian Spring” in Iran is the most likely prediction. This surprised us: we expected the Eurozone collapse scenario to win, which features most often in the news. In fact, participants also believed that most people would vote for this – because we also asked them which prediction they thought the other respondents would choose. The vote on what readers expected others to pick went to the Eurozone collapse. (Perhaps the picture of the pretty, smiling Iranian voting women also contributed subconsciously to the victory of the “Persian Spring”? Now we’ll never know…)
Guesses of what other respondents will pick
“Persian Spring” in Iran
Extreme weather destroys half of the global grain harvest
Unconventionals lead to OPEC break-up
Chinese leadership turns green
US-China trade war
Quine builds brain-driven audiovisual tool
Huge unconventional oil find in Hungary
Kasparov president in Russia
The results, as % of voters *: Based on the weighted average of votes ranked 1st-3rd place. (Weights are 3, 2 and 1, respectively. Ranking may theoretically depend on the weighting, in practice the ranks are robust to changes in weighting.)
Getting back to readers’ ranking, the Eurozone collapse came second following the “Persian Spring”. In third place (also surprisingly) was the scenario of extreme weather conditions destroying half of the global grain harvest (a.k.a. steak for breakfast).
Poor Kasparov came in last: even fewer people believed in Russian regime change than those who expected a huge unconventional oil discovery in the Józsefváros district of Budapest to fundamentally alter Hungary’s macroeconomic situation. (The latter forecast could be familiar to some from the animated movie “Nyócker”. But before we enter into wild speculation on why this option seemed more likely than some form of regime change in Russia, these scenarios received very few votes, therefore the sample is so small that mere chance could have easily played a part.)
However, what surprised us most in the responses was not the actual ranking. It was the fact that 40% of participants thought that they would outsmart the others: they considered the top three most likely scenarios to be different from what they supposed others would choose… Strictly speaking, this is not a logical contradiction as such, but where this non-conformity comes from remains a mystery to us. It seems that when it comes to unexpected and high impact events, many people think they are smarter than the rest. In fact, they probably aren’t… and obviously neither are we – that’s the whole point.
Further black swan predictions we received from our readers. We do not take any responsibility for their contents either:), and have reprinted them unaltered:
MOL is nationalized, the Századvég Foundation takes over the economic analysis unit. Brutal lay-offs follow. Fans of the blog go into mourning. Following their initial shock, the editors of Rolling Barrel continue to produce high-quality publications in English; thanks to their famous “Persian Spring” prediction, they are catapulted among celebrity economists, far surpassing the faded reputation of Roubini and his team.
The Russian budget collapses because of low oil prices.
Bond yields skyrocket, breaking up capital markets. Central banks are powerless in the face of such a tsunami. Bernanke resigns.
Israel goes too far and becomes isolated, like South Africa during the apartheid era. Europe and several other countries boycott Israel.
Viktor Orbán falls from power!
Local nuclear/biological stand-up (stand-off – ed.) between Israel and a Middle Eastern country. And arms get loose…
North Korea goes into a nuclear war with South… US retaliates but poisonous clouds infect the Far East.
Significant technological failure leads to outright collapse of New York Stock Exchange Indexes.
Collapse of North American/European internet services due to a large scale malicious virus.
Previously unknown epidemic from South American jungles spreads “fast and furious” halting all international movement of people and goods thus leading to severe economic slowdown and even famines.
Turkey joins the EU, immigrants flooding the labour market, lowering the wages in the short-term but mid-term increasing EU competitiveness.