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Turn of the year is traditionally the time when people like to make predictions. Superforecasters do it better and see the future sooner. In the spirit of welcoming 2021, here is Part 1 of a two-part series sharing the Superforecasters’ personal* expectations for the new year. The Superforecasters kicked off this exercise, challenging themselves to come up with 2021 predictions in each of three categories:
Safe But Not Boring (events that are 75% or more likely to happen in 2021)
Coin Flip (45% – 55% likelihood of happening in 2021)
Long Shot (5% – 25% likelihood of happening in 2021)
: Vaccine distribution is expected to go well in the US, but regional pockets may refuse to inoculate at very high rates. The UK could complete its vaccination program by May.
: However, at least one Superforecaster predicts IT system failure in keeping track of inoculations, causing missed targets in the UK.
: While most Latin American governments are currently saying mass vaccine distribution will not start before 2022, one Superforecaster thinks they are underestimating the odds: “I expect mass campaigns to begin in nearly all of the region’s largest countries by Q3 of 2021.”
: Working from home is here to stay, with local public hot desk/office spaces and an increase in a “hybrid” work environment, e.g., gathering for periodic meetings, precluding workers’ need to commute five days a week.
: This, however, should spell disaster for commercial real estate sector, with one Superforecaster calling it a “slow-motion train wreck.”
: More online learning is in the cards for schools and universities. “My kids’ generation will be the first to never experience snow days,” one Superforecaster writes. “These are now e-learning days.”
: In-person, large-scale academic and business conferences may return in the West.
: Travel could bounce back to 2019 levels, and before the end of the year, majority of airlines may require proof of vaccination as a precondition for international travel.
US economic recovery will largely depend on Americans’ decisions regarding inoculation, masks, and social distancing.
: One Superforecaster gives even odds that Americans will continue to ignore these measures, which would erode the economy into a recession.
: Another Superforecaster pins hopes on inoculation to enable a rapid recovery in the services sector in the second half of the year and a drop in unemployment under 4%.
: Fed is expected to keep interest rates near zero, and there should be a major stock market correction (20 pct +) in 2021.
: Will inflation in Q3 exceed 2%? It’s a coin flip.
: Meanwhile in the UK, employment and GDP should remain lower than in 2019, and UK car production is expected to drop below the 2019 level.
: At some point during the year, the British pound and euro should trade at 1:1. Another Superforecaster predicts the euro and Chinese yuan should end 2021 stronger versus USD.
* This article is based on views of individual Superforecasters, without aggregation. As Dr. Tetlock states in his book, Superforecasting: The Art and Science of Prediction, on average, teams are 23% more accurate than individuals. That’s why our Superforecasters work as teams, bringing out the best in each other. However, to celebrate the New Year, we broke this rule for this piece, presenting individual forecasts as opposed to well-reasoned aggregates.
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