This post doesn’t have a lot to do with marketing, except for the smart strategists who use third-party data such as that supplied by economists. Because that reference point has reached a new low in hedging and waffling, it’s time to question whether anyone in marketing should find use for economists anymore.
Most economists were late in calling the recession, including the official scorekeeper, NBER. For most of 2008, marketers carried on without a care. It wasn’t until Lehman Brothers went down the shitter in September of that year that the wake-up call was answered, and coincidentally NBER bravely signaled December, 2007, as the recession’s start point. By then, of course, it was too late.
The Fall 2008 implosion grabbed everyone by the ass and dragged them into the abyss. Marketing bloggers started mentioning the recession for the first time. The economists? Even more useless.
Some of their “insight” then:
“A National Association of Business Economists survey [October 23, 2008] shows that the vast majority of economists believe the economy has fallen into a recession [DUH !] that will continue throughout all [ !!! ] of 2009…90% were more pessimistic about the economy than they had been in July [GENIUSES !]. The economists indicated a recession is likely to continue through the end of next year, with 79% saying the economy will grow less than 1% [BOLD PREDICTION !] and 38% saying the economy will shrink next year [OOPS !].”
Then in May 2009, “moving target syndrome” set in:
“About 74 % of (NABE) economists expect the recession to end in the third quarter.” Revisions continued apace throughout 2009.
The only reason to pay attention to economists today is to bet on when they will finally declare the recession over. Today, a shocking update from the New York Times:
The NBER plans to announce next week that it cannot yet declare an end to the recession…reflecting a lingering worry that the economy could turn downward again in a so-called double-dip recession…they said the duration and severity of the contraction have made it hard to determine with authority that a recovery has begun.
“Hypothetically, if there were a new sharp downturn that came along tomorrow, would it count as a new recession or part of the same recession?” asked Jeffrey A. Frankel, a member of the panel…
If you had any balls, genius, you wouldn’t worry about it. And you might ask a few of your colleagues why they have made public statements that the recession is already over. Finally, go check the definition of “double-dip recession.” It requires one to be over before the next one begins.
The key input to good forecasting is insight, not “more data.” Because there’s never enough.