Are you smarter than an economist?

May 11, 2009

Have you been thinking that you may be smarter than the economists and “talking heads?” that your guess may be as good as theirs? If so, here is your chance to try your luck. I am sponsoring a contest to see who will be first to predict the turnaround of the U.S. economy.

The prize for “Are you smarter than an economist?” will be $1,000 U.S. to the first person who predicts the turn accurately; $150 U.S. to the next five (Other terms and conditions apply). The winner will be the person who accurately predicts both of the following measures (Please note: Although I debated for some time which measures to use, I finally decided to use criteria often used and generally understood):

  1. Quarter that seasonally adjusted annual rate of real U.S. Gross Domestic Product increases by at least 2% from prior quarter (This will be measured as reported at this URL, title “Percent change from preceding period.” We’ll use “chained 2,000 dollars”).
  2. Month that seasonally adjusted U.S. unemployment rate is the same or less than the same month in a prior year (This will be measured as reported at this URL; see the chart with monthly unemployment located under the graph).

To be eligible for The Turnaround Blogger™ contest, please provide all information requested in the form below. Since eligibility will be determined by date of entry, Renee’s Rule™ applies: The sooner, the better.

No longer accepting entries.

Contest Results to Date (129 Entries)

Quarter that seasonally adjusted annual rate of real U.S. Gross Domestic Product increases by at least 2% from prior quarter

Month that seasonally adjusted U.S. unemployment rate is the same or less than the same month in a prior year

37 Responses to “Are you smarter than an economist?”

  1. April 3, 2009


  2. April 3, 2009

    I do not want to go against Rene, as it is accepted as common wisdom that if Rene starts that she is sure, then it is fact. If that that ant can move a rubber tree plant, hitch up that ant. But I believe that the extreme condition of loss of employment will not begin to correct until sometime in late 2010 or later. And, if we follow the example of Japan, maybe never.

  3. April 5, 2009

    Okay, well I gave it a go. I never win contests, but what the heck. You know where to find me if I win!!

  4. April 5, 2009

    I am coustious and pesimistic on the labor side, but think recovery will be faster than some ” expert” predict.
    Cool, Rnee. Great fun.

  5. April 6, 2009

    Very cool idea…I ususally have this discussion over coffee and/or beers!

  6. April 21, 2009

    It has been too long – I can only imagine how much work there is in your world. The contest is a great idea – many kudos for the unique idea!

  7. May 12, 2009

    1 – Q4, 2011
    2 – Q3, 2011

    I’m guessing that both of these numbers are going to be influenced by the collective breath of relief of anticipated major troop draw-downs in Iraq at the end of 2011.

  8. May 12, 2009

    1) Q1 2010 should be 2% higher than Q4 2009

    2) February 2010 unemployment should be lower than February 2009 unemployment

  9. May 12, 2009

    1 – Q4, 2009 (only because Tim took the Quarter I wanted)
    2 – January, 2010

    I’m a 1/2 full person. This is starting to turn around. Commercial loan demand is up, companies are more positively focused, and consumer fears have eased slightly.

  10. May 13, 2009

    1- Q4, 2010
    2- Q4, 2009

    Renee, I still stand by my initial thought that I shared with you back in February, that Black Friday in November 2010 will be looked back on as the turning point. Consumer confidence will measurably return, and consumer spending will increase and drive the GDP increase. Unemployment will ease prior to that, however this will not immediatly translate into measurable improvements across the economy as a whole.

    Also, I should add that my views here are not necessarily those of my employer, Wells Fargo. They are mine alone.

  11. May 13, 2009

    He may not be smarter than an economist, but it’s a different kind of smart, after all.

  12. May 13, 2009

    1 – Q2, 2010
    2 – March, 2010

  13. May 13, 2009

    1- Q1 2011
    2- Q2 2011

    Being a mortgage broker I hope the economy will recover much sooner than later but I just dont see it happening until the beginning of the year in 2011.

  14. May 13, 2009

    1- Q1 2011
    2- February 2011

  15. May 13, 2009

    Sorry, this prediction is in replace of my comment above where I didnt specify the actual month for the 2nd question.

  16. May 13, 2009

    1 – Q4 2009
    2 – May 2010

  17. May 14, 2009

    2nd quarter 2010
    May 2010

  18. May 14, 2009

    1. Q4 2010
    2. Q3 2011

  19. May 14, 2009

    1.0 Q4 2009
    2.0 April 2010

  20. May 15, 2009

    1. Q4 2009
    2. March 2010
    Anemic growth after the turn around; nothing to spur job growth for a while.

  21. May 15, 2009

    1. Q2 2011
    2. Q3 2012

    This recession will drag on, followed by an anemic recovery. In “chained 2000 dollars” the recovery from the 2001 “recession” trudged along for another four years, while unemployment kept rising for 18 months after GDP crossed back into positive territory. GDP growth did not become robust until the Fed’s continued easy money policies really began to kick in from 2005 forward. We all know how that ended. Can’t do that again! Some speculate that businesses have overreacted to the downturn by laying off too many people and that, at the first sign of recovery businesses will again overreact with a wave of new hirings. I tend to think employers will have learned how to do more with fewer people; some (perhaps many) of those jobs are gone for good in manufacturing and services Jobs in government and health care (and, perhaps unfortunately, in government healthcare) will continue to increase. I don’t think the Obama Administration can do enough in the near term to manipulate the economy so as to get it fired up in time for the 2010 off-year elections, but I expect that whatever the economy is capable of doing on its own, the Administration will do everything it can to “enhance” outcomes in time for the 2012 election.

  22. May 15, 2009

    1. Q2, 2010
    2. January, 2011

    Did you know that Lori, cousin Joyce’s daughter, works for Dr. Doom? She also got married within the past few weeks. I find it interesting that his predictions got him the nickname of Dr. Doom. Economists (and I have my Economics degree, too) use as much information as possible to predict the future, but we are just making guesses. Add in the decisions of millions of humans. Predictions become MORE of a guess.

    We know that even the meteorologists can not accurately predict more than 3 days in advance, and they have some of the best information! They have the best data and do not need to include decisions made by millions of people! Three days!

    So now we try to predict months and years ahead! Even with all of the information we can gather and all of the models we can prepare, nobody can predict what human beings will do! So our predictions are just guesses – and hopes–including those of Dr. Roubini.

  23. May 17, 2009

    1. Q4 2009
    2. May 2010 (only because Peter Fenner took the month I wanted)

    I agree with Janet Balzer to some degree, but believe that companies will learn to do more with less and learn to become more efficient. Therefore, don’t believe unemployment will start to go down until later in 2010. I work in the industrial automation industry, and we’re selling manufactured components to companies that make tangible, physical product. Demand is starting to pick up, and companies with cash are starting to reinvest where in the highest ROI opportunities exist.

  24. May 17, 2009

    Those of you participating may want to read this May 14th story about a survey of 52 economists conducted by the Wall Street Journal:

  25. May 18, 2009

    Economy Q4 09
    Unemploymen Q1 10

  26. May 29, 2009

    1. Q2 2009
    2. August 2010

    It’s late and I’m tired, but if I read the questions correctly then we should see 2% improvement during Q2 of this year when compared to the previous quarter. We’ll still be negative mind you, but the contraction will have slowed enough to satisfy your #1 criteria, so technically it will have “increased” by 2% from Q1’s dismal experience. Unless you meant expansion or positive growth and then were screwed because that may be a couple years out. As for #2, I predict unemployment will peak during the later half of the year and go over 10%. We should see improvement y.o.y by the second half of next year, so I’ll pick August because it only has to be the same or better. Plus that’s the month I was born.

  27. June 9, 2009

    QII 2010; August 2010

  28. June 10, 2009

    1. Q3 2011
    2. Q3 2011

  29. June 10, 2009

    1. 3Q 2010
    2. Feb 2010

    I think Dr. Doom was a bit optimistic this time around. I expect the decline in GDP to end by 4thQ 2009, but a 2% increase from the prior quarter will only be a transient preceding another decline sparked by a jump in oil spot market price speculation. The US Government will not be able to maintain the high stimulus spending into 2012. The deficit speeding of the next 2-3 years will spark high inflation, tighter credit and interest rates reminiscent of the Carter years — double digit inflation and 30 year mortgage rates over 15%. This will further slow any ‘recovery’ following 2010. Oil prices will jump whenever there is a hint of recovery until it is obvious that the speculators are damaging the global recoveries. Whether any action can be taken to rein in the speculators will determine the robustness of the recovery that will start in 2014. I’ll guess the best quarter will be 3Q2010, therefore the best chance to see a 2% increase over prior quarter for quite a while.

    Unemployment will stabilize in early 2010, but companies will be slow to hire people back. The decline following 3Q2010 will lock unemployment around 9% well into 2012. It will be a major issue in the next presidential election.

  30. June 10, 2009

    GDP 3rd Q of 2009
    Employment July 2010

    Interest rates will remain low for longer than people expect and economy will improve faster than consensus. Inflation will not rise significantly as long as unemployment remains above 6% and oil stays below $100.

  31. June 10, 2009

    1. 2Q 2009 should be 2% better than 1Q 2009, but still less than 2008.
    2. YOY unemployment should go down 2Q 2010.

  32. June 11, 2009

    1. Q4 2009 2% better
    2. Feb 2010 unemployment same or better

  33. June 15, 2009

    You know so many interesting infomation. You might be very wise. I like such people. Don’t top writing.

  34. June 26, 2009


    I will feature your blog on my blog Monday June 29. My post will be viewable early in the morning. Maybe we can see how many of my readers are smarter than an economist!

  35. June 26, 2009

    Thank you, Sam! I enjoy your blog, too!

  36. June 30, 2009

    q1 in real terms, never
    q2 ditto

    The system is still operating at an unsustainable level in so many sectors that any recovery will be either illusory (based on using a different basis to compile the statistics, denial of inflation, etc.) or very short-lived.

  37. July 3, 2009

    This is so cool. Nice work, Renee!

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