STUMP » Articles » Clearing the Desk for 2015: Predictions and Resolutions » 2 January 2015, 15:38

Where Stu & MP spout off about everything.

Clearing the Desk for 2015: Predictions and Resolutions  


2 January 2015, 15:38

Before I left for Christmas vacation, I was looking at an office that looked like this:

(can you tell I discovered the panorama picture setting on my ipad?)

Similarly, I have a huge queue of pension-related stories (and some other stuff) to post on. Here is the first of my queue-emptyings, relating to Janus, looking backward and looking forward.

I’m not fond of prediction columns, not only because they’re a trope, but because so rarely do the predictors come back later to check how they did.

For some months now, I’ve been participating in the Good Judgment Project, which involves forecasting various world events. Some of the questions I’ve pondered was the result of the Scottish Independence Vote, the extent of polar ice as of mid-September (usually the least extent for arctic ice), various diplomatic brou-ha-has, that sort of thing. I hope to be a superforecaster some day, so I can go to their fancy conference, but it will likely be some time before I achieve that.

I have learned many things from my experience in the project, but mainly two things: revisit your forecast frequently enough, and do a post-mortem. If you never rethink your forecast (especially if there is a time-sensitive element to the forecast, and there often is in the GJP), you may miss developments. If you never check on how you did, you will not improve for the future.

So I am going to make a couple of predictions, with a timeline of when I’m going to check and how I’m going to monitor these.


Obamacare: In February, you will start to see a lot of angry posts and pieces from people who are getting hit with Obamacare penalties/taxes. And not only on conservative sites.

Reasoning: It could start in January, as people could start filing their taxes right now, but the types of people who start their taxes on January 1 are also the type of people who would know the Obamacare taxes are coming their way. I’m mainly thinking of the people who use TurboTax, who automatically upload their W-2s from the internet and push a button.

I just installed TurboTax and did a very simple check re: Obamacare taxes. I may take a screenshot later to show what TurboTax says if you say you had no compliant healthcare coverage in 2014.

The vast majority of individual federal income tax returns lead to refunds. The average size of the refund has been near $3,000 for years.

Guess what the individual mandate tax/penalty cap is?

Federal officials announced on July 24, 2014, that the shared responsibility payment for 2014 will be capped at $2,448 per person and $12,240 for a family of five.

I will be doing some additional figuring over the next few weeks, using IRS info itself, to try to estimate just how many people will get hit by this tax. I may use the Congressional projections as well.

I will monitor this using a google news alerts on “obamacare tax” and “individual responsibility payment” [the government-ese for this penalty/tax] to follow how many search results I get over time. I will be looking specifically for stories in mainstream (i.e. liberal) media.

I will check back monthly on the site to see how my prediction is doing.

Public pensions: Illinois will lose all of its lawsuits on pension reform on the basis that the reform of pensions for current employees (not retirees) is unconstitutional. These rulings will come down in 2015.

I will have to detail the various lawsuits, especially as I expect more will be filed. I am referring only to the lawsuits filed as of December 31, 2014 in my prediction.

I have lots of reasons for this prediction, but this old STUMP post should give you a good idea for my reasoning.

I will check back quarterly on the status of the lawsuits.

Neither of these are very ambitious predictions, but you will see that many people who make predictions that will be checked (as opposed to those who are angling for air time) tend to be very conservative in predictions.

I have a conditional prediction, but I would rather not use that one right now. It involves if there is a stock market “correction”, which I feel is likely to occur in 2015. But let us throw a veil over that for now. I will push it into my (blog) resolutions.


1. Finally explain why Pension Obligation Bonds are OF THE DEVIL

2. Build up database of public pension unfunded liability histories by cause — my priority right now is on Illinois plans

I have some secret resolutions as well, but I don’t want to be overly ambitious. I will come back on April 1 and check how I’ve done on the resolution score.

And now for some other people’s predictions:

Jim Geraghty’s predictions for 2014 — some of them came out quite well:

Regarding 2016 . . .

OUT: Chris Christie Buzz
IN: Scott Walker Buzz


OUT: Ludicrous waiting time to get through
IN: Ludicrous waiting time for an available doctor’s appointment.

OUT: Everybody Fighting Everybody Through Proxies in Syria
IN: Everybody Fighting Everybody Through Proxies Throughout the Middle East

OUT: Jobless Recovery Summer!
IN: Stagnant Wage Recovery!

OUT: Disproportional Blather About Income Disparity
IN: Maximum Hype over the Minimum Wage

Regarding the 2014 elections . . .

OUT: ”Florida Governor Rick Scott has no chance at reelection.”
IN: ”Florida Governor Rick Scott’s giant pile of money has a solid chance at reelection.”

OUT: Liberals’ hopes of gun-control passage being stymied by the voters of Colorado.
IN: Liberals’ hopes of electing Wendy Davis being stymied by the voters of Texas.

Again, nothing too far out, if you think about it.

What got me on this kick was Harry Enten’s Mea Culpa on what he got wrong in 2014.

Here are some bits from his post-mortem:

The fact that Congress’s approval rating was so low in 2014 led me to predict that Republicans would win the national House vote by only about 2 percentage points. Had I relied on only the president’s low approval rating to forecast the House elections, I would have foreseen a Republican win closer to 7 points.

Republicans went on to win the national House vote by a little less than 6 percentage points. It would be a mistake to abandon the idea that congressional approval ratings matter simply because they didn’t appear to in one election. But 2014 was much more about the president than the unpopularity of Congress.

Knowing the key data is very important in making predictions. It’s too easy to get distracted by what looks like salient data.

There are a few other things in there. He should have highlighted what he got correct as well, actually. A top ten list or something.

If you’d like a good laugh, here is what a Westchester psychic has to say about 2015, including the finding of a wallaby that has been on the loose for months (if you think it didn’t die months ago…. and I think it did die quite a while ago, for all the “sightings”. I hope they can distinguish a wallaby skeleton from a raccoon skeleton.)

Here are predictions from National Review folks, some serious, and some…. well….

In the markets, people are going to bet that prices will go up or down, and many of them will lose money. Commodity markets are especially risky, unless you are Hillary Rodham Clinton.

In politics, there will be many confident forecasts about the 2016 election. Most of them will be wildly wrong. A few will be right — not because of any superior insight on the part of the forecasters, but purely by chance. The outcome of the election will hinge on the state of the economy, which nobody can foresee that far in advance. (See the previous prediction.)

Also in politics, pundits will frequently tell us that internal divisions or tactical missteps portend the imminent death of the Republican party. There were a number of such predictions just over a year ago, and they are quite amusing to read today.

Finally, a number of authors will make money publishing books about the large-scale trends that will shape the future of society, technology, and everyday life. Most of these predictions will prove false, but by that time, everyone will have forgotten them. (Note to self: You’ve got to get in on this scam. In a few years, the kids will be in college and you’ll have tuition to pay.)

Those are my types of predictions.

Reminds me of the “psychics predict” headlines I saw in January 1992, which boldly predicted a bunch of scandals would emerge in a Presidential Election Year, and that Duke would or would not win the NCAA championship.

Oh, and I’m not going to leave you in suspense. This is what my office desk looked like at the start of 2015:

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