Economists sort-of confess that their predictions are not very good.
In an autobiographical essay published 20 years ago, the left-leaning economist Kenneth Arrow recalled entering the Army as a statistician and weather specialist during World War II. “Some of my colleagues had the responsibility of preparing long-range weather forecasts, i.e., for the following month,” Arrow wrote. “The statisticians among us subjected these forecasts to verification and found they differed in no way from chance.”
Alarmed, Arrow and his colleagues tried to bring this important discovery to the attention of the commanding officer. At last the word came down from a high-ranking aide.
“The Commanding General is well aware that the forecasts are no good,” the aide said haughtily. “However, he needs them for planning purposes.”