How Do They Know?

Ben Rodriguez

ONE OF MY FAVORITE pastimes is listening to podcasts. I subscribe to about 20—half of them related to finance.

One series, produced by a large Wall Street investment house, features three-to-five-minute episodes. They’re usually about market trends or economic analysis. Truthfully, they aren’t among my favorite podcasts. But I like their short length when I don’t have time for a 30- or 60-minute episode.

On a recent podcast, listeners were told that the firm’s economists believe that U.S. stocks will decline 5% in the next six months. I chuckled at the hubris of such a prediction. How could something like that be known with such specificity? What else did they know that they weren’t telling us?

Maybe I should believe them. After all, it is a well-known Wall Street firm. On the other hand, if the firm possessed this kind of clairvoyance, wouldn’t it be bigger than Vanguard Group, Amazon and Apple combined? And why would the folks there give away such knowledge for free? Something tells me that their specific predictions in the past must not have panned out.

I’ve heard it said that the only people who can always be wrong and keep their jobs are meteorologists and economists. I have yet to meet anyone who can predict the direction of the markets with any accuracy. My plan: Assume that I won’t be able to, either. I stay invested and keep contributing every month to meet my goals, no matter what the market’s doing.

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