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What makes a good forecaster? Superforecasting – a book review

I spent a significant chunk of the weekend with my head buried in a great book; Superforecasting: the Art and Science of Prediction. In this book, Philip Tetlock and Dan Gardner tell the story of Tetlock’s experiments in harnessing the wisdom of crowds to predict the direction of geopolitical and economic events. Tetlock, a renowned social scientist, and his global band of volunteer forecasters…

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Does the Overton Window apply to monetary policy? And four other things.

A few things that I’ve found interesting over the past week or so:

  1. I’m just back from a week’s holiday in France, and my news source whilst I was away was the hotel’s International New York Times. Terrible for English Championship football rumours, but lots about US politics and in particular the recent discussion about the Overton Window.  Joseph Overton’s theory is that there is a limited ra…

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M&G Bond Vigilantes Christmas Quiz 2015 – the answers and the new champion

Thanks very much for another bumper stack of entries to the annual Christmas quiz.  This year’s winner, and new reigning champion is Jake Lewis of Morgan Stanley.  Congratulations, we will be in touch to see where you’d like the £100 charity donation to go.   You also win the Morrissey novel, as do the following brave runners up.  Gary Callow of Investec, (2014 champion) Marton Huebler of Fidel…

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What has the recent fall in oil prices got to do with inflation over the next three decades?

What has the recent fall in oil prices got to do with inflation over the next three decades? Plus robots, charity, Morrissey.

First of all thanks to Business Insider.  Every now and then we come into work to find hundreds of new Twitter followers have joined us overnight – this week it was thanks to BI listing us second in its round up of finance Tweeters.  It’s a great list and pretty much everyone on it is worth a follow – I’d also recommend following Business Insider’s European markets editor Mike Bird (@Birdyword)…

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Robotisation rates are correlated with demographics

“We need to hike…so that we have room to cut if we need to”. Eh? And some robot stuff too.

I keep hearing the argument that the Fed needs to hike, so that if the US economy slows down again it will have room to cut rates once more.  In other words it needs to get away from the zero bound so that the traditional monetary policy tool of rate cutting comes back into play in the future.  In less cerebral moments I may have made this argument myself, but I’m struggling to remember why it …

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Competition winners: 10 copies of Diane Coyle’s GDP: A Brief but Affectionate History

Diane Coyle came in to talk about her study of the history of Gross Domestic Product a couple of weeks ago. You can watch a short interview we did with her here. We also offered you a chance to win a copy of her book, and we had over 60 correct answers to this question: he’s regarded as one of the creators of modern GDP statistics, but in 1934 he told Congress that “the welfare of a nation can …

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The zero bound debate – are negative rates a tightening of policy?

Matt’s and James’s recent blogs outlined some of the issues markets face when rates go negative. This is obviously no longer just a theoretical debate, but has real investment implications. Why do investors accept sub-zero rates when they can hold cash ?

To recap using Swiss Francs for example, it makes sense for a saver from a purely economic view not to deposit a Swiss Franc note into a negat…

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The 2014 Bond Vigilantes Christmas Quiz – the answers and this year’s champion

Thanks for another huge haul of entries to the Bond Vigilantes Christmas Quiz.  Three people got full marks (20 points plus the bonus half mark for spotting the Goldhawk Road rail bridge), but the first out of the hat was Marton Huebler of Fidelity Worldwide Investment.  Congratulations – we’ll be in touch to find out where you’d like us to make the charitable donation to.  You’ll also get the …

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M&G Bond Vigilantes Christmas Quiz 2014

Here is the 8th annual Christmas Quiz. 20 questions, and the closing date for entries is midday on Tuesday 23rd December. Please email your answers to us at The winner will get to choose a charity to which we will donate £200. He or she will also get a copy of “Anger is an Energy”, John Lydon’s new autobiography. Four runners up will also get a copy of the book. Good…

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The Signal and the Noise – why local weather forecasters get it wrong, and what it means for those big market calls

I’ve finally got round to reading Nate Silver’s The Signal and the Noise. It’s a brilliant analysis of why forecasts are often so poor, from the man who called every state correctly in the 2012 US presidential election. In short, predictions are often poor because they are too precise (asserting an absolute outcome rather than assigning probabilities to outcomes); there’s often a bias to overwe…

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