Forecasts are fickle, fraught with risk — and yet, we love them


Your open-air wedding is two weeks away and you’re checking the weather forecast every hour. You only just keep looking over and over, as if clicking on Environment Canada’s web summon forth 250 times will somehow fend off the threat of rain.

Your hockey bring is tomorrow night and you are printing out stacks of stats to complement the season-preview publications you have pored over. Armed with up-to-date info from the worst hockey minds, there’s no way you’re going to let your office colleague win the pot this year.

Live through and sports are two examples of forecasts we regularly rely on, even though they again flounder. A “chance of showers” becomes a deluge, or the co-worker who doesn’t of hockey and has never studied a stat in his life wins the office team up with.

S till, we are addicted to predictions — the sales targets we’re expected to reach, the budgetary outlook that promises more jobs, even the odd global doomsday crystal-gazing.

No matter the topic, we indulge.

“The truth is that forecasts are like Pringles — nothing thinks that there’s any great virtue in them but, offered with the transitory pleasure of consuming them, we find it hard to resist,” canceled author Tim Harford in the Financial Times.

Too tempting

If you’re in Alberta these days, it’s steely to avoid the Pringles. The oil tch is trying to make sense of the downturn.

“Forewarning oil is a very difficult business. If it was easy and we were able to do it with any exactness, we would all be on a yacht in the south of France,” said Alberta Medium Minister Shannon Phillips. The government’s fall budget forecast oil evaluations at $50 US a barrel this year and $61 US in 2016-17. Currently, prices sit justified above $30 US a barrel.

Even high-level executives running oil com nies aren’t steady where prices will go. Imperial Oil CEO Rich Kruger admitted last May, “I don’t be experiencing a clue.”

Fickle markets

The variables involved in pinpointing the future for oil are hardly as complex as picking the next Stanley Cup MVP, if not more so.

There are layers of involvement. On a global scale there are supply and demand, geopolitics and shifting vigour trends. On a local or regional level one must consider oil transportation, price differentials, excellence differentials and refinery locations.

“It’s a new century, it’s new geopolitics, assumptions are turned upside down. We’re looking at volatility, soreness as well as the gain associated with world markets,” put about Ed Morse, the global head of commodities for Citi Research.

The convoluted status quo represents a near labyrinth of possible outcomes, which doesn’t earmarks of to deter audiences at all.

This month, two different events with oil forecasters in Calgary from been cked, leading to jokes about how eager people are to listen to the “good news.”

Forecasters didn’t see oil prices crashing this improperly, and yet people are flocking to these experts to hear the new projections.

Michael Wittner, with Société Générale, explains his duty as an oil forecaster1:02

Craving information

Just like in sports, the brightest hauls in the industry get it wrong, over and over again.

“Certainty is difficult to stumble upon up with right now,” said Michael Wittner, the head of oil scrutinize with Société Générale, in an interview with CBC News. “Far and away the objective is to try and get it right. Obviously, neither we nor anyone else I think has gotten it good so far.”

At minimum, forecasters need to explain what has happened in the market to get us to the offering time. The next step is the prediction.

FirstEnergy Capital’s Martin Regent seems to enjoy playing with people’s love, hate and ravenousness desire for crystal ball gazing.

His presentation at a recent Conference Board of Canada as it was titled “Positioning for a price recovery.”

“I didn’t specifically say when the fee would recover,” he quipped to the crowd. “I’m glad I didn’t get clear-cut about that.”

These types of events are information exercises, as they methodically go concluded dozens of charts and graphs to tell the story of where have we been, where are we now, and where we are prospering to go.

Forecasts are generally serious, since much is at stake. Oil executives are dispiriting to get a sense of where to set their budgets and possibly how to take advantage of a reclamation.

“Everybody is going to have their own opinion on it, of course. But it’s always attractive thorough to have more information than less,” said Regent.

ExxonMobil released its energy outlook this week, which looks 25 years down the ssage. The report forecasts that in 2040 the world will rely on oil for one-third of its vivacity, which is similar to current levels. (ExxonMobil)

Forecasts are always fraught with threat. Make a bold prediction, like economist Jeff Rubin trade for oil at $200 a barrel, and it can follow you around for years to come. But if you’re only off by a undersized bit, you can always cover your tracks with phrases like “costs overshot to the downside.”

If the energy industry’s crystal ball gazing feels to need some work, it’s in good com ny. For instance, the Hockey Communiqu, a highly respected publication, unveiled its annual NHL predictions last summer.

The Florida nthers were set for mediocrity and to polish off kill fifth in their division. Currently, they are first in the Atlantic. The Winnipeg Jets were chance to have a 60 per cent chance of making the playoffs. Right now, they are basement dwellers in the Main.

Do we blame the Hockey News for these problematic prognoses? Probably not. Varied of their predictions are right on the money. The variables in sports are numerous with outrages, trades and the like.

Besides, the masses will keep flocking furtively to hear the latest prophecy, the irresistible divination to make sense of where this dialect birth b deliver is headed. Right or wrong, we just can’t ss it up.

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