I have just spent a delightful few days in the US on some of Maine’s Grand Lakes. I was there at the invitation of David Kotok, chief executive of Cumberland Advisers. David has been visiting this area, the poorest county in the United States, for twenty five years. His annual fishing expedition has now morphed into an invited gathering of economists and analysts, mainly from the US, but this year including myself and Ross Ashcroft of Renegade Economics.
There are no powerpoint presentations at Camp Kotok; no formal speeches or debates. Just dining (and not a little wining), barbecueing, swimming, networking, singing (country and western, with lots of Johnny Cash) – and fishing. Proud to say my fishing went well…catching perch, bass and on the last day a fine salmon – hauled from a depth of 60ft. The guides and Grand Lake are governed by strict conservation regulation, and – with lures and hooks designed to cause minimum harm – most were returned to the lake. Which eased my conscience a little…
Back at the camp, most of the time was spent in informal discussions, (dis)agreeing over the future of the global or US economy.
During the event, as happens each year, we were all asked to fill in a survey, providing a forecast for the US economy this coming year based on 11 indicators. The PRIME Brains Trust was assembled in its virtual form, and despite the fact the US economy is not generally within our immediate detailed focus, we cobbled together (oops, wrong word), we assembled - with the aid of our superfast data-processing algorithmic companions - a somewhat bearish forecast. A few days ago it may to some have looked a little odd. But China’s devaluation has already potentially affected the US’s prospects. And remember, we are up against some of the US’s toughest and most experienced analysts who live or die by their ‘bets’!
Our forecast is below. The Camp Kotok judges will be monitoring all the forecasts carefully as the year progresses – and the winner will be announced at next year’s Camp. We each placed $5 on every item in the forecast – so PRIME has a vast $55 bet on our bearish estimates. This time next year we will return to this forecast – and proudly demonstrate / sheepishly admit how right (or just possibly wrong) we were.
Here are the questions posed:
By July 2016 where will the following be?
1. 3 month Libor?
2. 10 yr T-note
3. WTI crude price?
4. S&P 500?
5. Gold Price?
6. Dollar per Euro?
7. Yen per dollar?
8. Unemployment rate?
9. Consumer price percent change from June 2015- 16
10. Case- Schiller US HPU percent change from May 2015 - 2016
11. Real GDP percent change from 2q 2015 to 2q 2016?
And here is the table of answers we assembled, which includes the figures for this year, and in some cases a year before, as well as (in bold) our predictions for the year ahead: