Saturday, June 21, 2008

And the Winner is . . .

Prior to writing and publishing Petey’s Pipeline Blog, I wrote and published Petey’s Pipeline E-zine. The “articles” section of the e-zine, Random Ramblings & Miscellaneous Musings, was the precursor—the prototype, if you will—of Petey’s Pipeline Blog. And, as some—but not all—of you know, Petey is the personification of the acronym PT, which stands for Perfect Text, the name of my Web site.

It’s fair to say that I don’t report the news, I comment on the news. Anything pertaining to environmental, social, political, economic, and cultural subjects is in play and potential grist for my mill.

From a personal standpoint, half the fun of blogging derives from commenting on specific topics and sharing my opinions with readers who can opt to agree or disagree and post comments accordingly. Of course, if my opinions were worth anything, people would actually pay me for them.

The other half of the fun comes from prognosticating about future events based on current or emerging trends, then waiting for those trends to play out and events to unfold to see if my predictions have merit. Sometimes I call ‘em right, sometimes I don’t. To be sure, Allison DuBois has a better track record than I do, but then, my premonitions don’t come to me in dreams; I have to process a lot of information before something takes shape.

Except for cases of self-fulfilling prophecies, making predictions is a dicey game at best. In some respects predicting is a lot like a game of poker, except that it’s almost impossible to influence the outcome of the game. For instance, you can’t bluff the outcome of a prediction the same way you can bluff a poker hand. You can’t up the ante, you can’t raise the bet; you get one call, and if you call it wrong, you lose. No big deal unless the fate of the world hangs on the outcome of your prediction.

Succumbing to the lure of forecasting future events leaves one open to the inevitable barrage of verbal insults hurled by insensitive skeptics and others incapable of thinking outside the mainstream of conventional wisdom. Dare to venture out onto the prognosticator’s precarious limb and you’ll soon become intimately familiar with terms such as bonkers, fruitcake, nutcase, and whack job if you’re frequently wrong. Add freaky and scary to that list if you’re not.

The following excerpts, culled from various past issues of Petey’s Pipeline E-zine that were published between September, 2005 and June, 2006, originated in editorials and articles that I wrote for the e-zine. Some of these predictions are uncanny in their accuracy, while others stray somewhat wide of the mark. I have no explanations or excuses for why things turn out the way they do, and I have no means of forcing a particular outcome. Things are what they are.

Muddling Along (Issue #15, 9/19/05)

“Back in January I predicted that gasoline prices would top $3 per gallon before the end of this year. That prophecy was fulfilled by mid-summer in the Bay Area and in most other areas of the country post-Katrina. What's next? When pumping and refining capacity comes back on-line in the Gulf region, look for gas prices to decline slightly, but don't be surprised if they don't get down to where they were before Katrina's rampage. Then, in the spring of next year (2006), look for prices to start climbing again, hitting $3.50 per gallon by Labor Day. Expect $4 per gallon gasoline by mid-to-late summer of 2007, $6 per gallon by late summer of 2010.”

Okay, my timing was a little off on this one, but the dollar amounts were traveling in the predicted direction. On an accuracy scale of 1‒10, I’d rate this one a 6.

Sane Fiscal Policy or Grand Delusion? (Issue #16, 10/03/05)

“A shortage of living-wage jobs and increasing real estate prices team up to swell the legions of homeless. It may well be impossible to get an accurate count of the number of homeless people in the U.S., but one thing is certain; the real estate bubble has added to the numbers. The inevitable bursting of the real estate bubble will only add to the misery.”

The real estate bubble did burst in 2007. Need I say more? Gave this one a 10.

Speculating in Real Estate (Issue #22, 1/02/06)

“As long as populations continue to grow there will be a demand for additional housing. But when normal demand, low interest rates, double-digit percentages of annual appreciation and perceived opportunity converge, the dynamics of real estate investing change dramatically. Add creative financing strategies to the mix and you have a formula for huge profits—or a financial disaster.”

Huge profits and a financial disaster. Gave this one a 10, also.

Wheels of Progress (Issue #30, 5/01/06)

“International airlines will be among the early casualties. Most of them are already facing financial difficulties, and it can only get worse. Of course, this will surely spell disaster for the aircraft industry and all businesses that supply it or in some way benefit from it.”

Airlines are feeling the pain, which is beginning to ripple across the aircraft industry. Because it’s not fully realized, I rated this prediction a 7.

Business After Peak Oil (Issue #31, 5/15/06)

“Global demand for oil is on the increase; so are gasoline prices. In spite of this people still buy heavy, gas-wasting SUVs and high-performance vehicles with performance capabilities they'll never tap into. People still drive everywhere they go. Yet they bitch, relentlessly, about high gasoline prices, as if their own behavior has nothing to do with it.”

Not so much a prediction as straight observation, so I didn’t rate it.

If there’s a point to foretelling the future, it primarily has to do with raising people’s level of awareness to help prevent them from being blindsided by otherwise sudden unexpected changes to the status quo. And if there’s a point to telling you this, it’s to draw your attention to the fact that I call ‘em like I see ‘em, and that, for the most part, I make good calls.