At the beginning of the year, I half jokingly considered including in my 2017 forecasts the prediction of a British royal engagement. If I had, it would have been a rare success story in 2017!
Reviewing my forecasts for 2017 has been a sobering experience with every one failing to hit the spot. This does not include my special British general election forecast of an increased Conservative majority of which I have already autopsied in my post-election equivalent to eating humble pie.
So what went wrong? To summarise, I over-estimated the electoral appeal and political calibre of the radical, populist and anti-immigrant/euro politicians on the Continent and failed to anticipate the strong anti-Trump/Brexit backlash from the liberal wing of the electorates. However, in my defence, I do think I captured the broader dynamics going on, even if my specific predictions were a bit off-piste.
Marine Le Pen did succeed in getting into the second round of the French presidential elections, as predicted, and had she faced Francois Fillon (“Fillon”), the conservative arch-Thatcherite candidate, may have had a better chance in the final result. As it happened, when I wrote my forecasting post, Fillon was still ahead in the polls with Emmanuel Macron (“Macron”) only starting to emerge into the limelight.
I would also note in my defence that I twice forecast, once the 1st round was over, that Macron would win the French presidential elections, which you can read here and here. Overall, I consider the French elections, considering the volatility of the race, a reasonable success story for me.
The Dutch elections is a classic case of me going along with the frankly near-hysterical liberal response to the Trump victory rather then doing my own further research into the Dutch far-right firebrand Geert Wilders (“Wilders”). After all, Wilders campaigned on a platform of shutting down mosques and banning the Koran, positions which make President Trump an arugula eating liberal by comparison. In the end Wilders came second, not first as I forecast, and increased his overall share of the vote compared to the last election with 13% of the national vote.
A similar tale emerged during the German federal elections which humbled the German Chancellor Angela Merkel. The Alternative for Germany (“AfD”) party, which had collapsed in the polls earlier in the year, roared back to win 13% of the vote in a result that shook the German political establishment. My post “make Germany great again” explored the rise of the nationalist Right in a country which had been relatively immune to populist politics.
Whilst the AfD failed to hit my ambitious forecast of getting into second place, the strong performance by the nationalists in the federal elections validated my view that populist politics would transform German politics in 2017.
A Bloomberg article noted that contrary to the post-Macron consensus from the Pundocracy the forces of political populism continued to rise throughout 2017. The article notes “A Bloomberg analysis of decades of election results across 22 European countries reveals that support for populist radical-right parties is higher than it’s been at any time over the past 30 years.” So to conclude, whilst my specific forecasts were mainly wrong, I did successfully capture the broader dynamic of a continued wave of populist politics transforming European politics.
The Saudi princes being allegedly tortured in the five star Ritz-Carlton hotel in Riyadh might wish they had removed Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (“MBS”) when they had the chance. I did predict, with a 55% probabilistic chance, that MBS would be sidelined or removed but in the end, MBS moved first to seize power in the Kingdom. MBS is certainly a man to watch in the coming years and it is conceivable that the reforms unleashed under his Ceasaresque reign will eventually bring down the House of Saud.
My final forecast was that President Trump would partially or totally remove Russian sanctions. This turned out to be totally wrong, with the alleged collusion before the election between the Trump team and the Russian government, aka “Russiagate”, destroying any changes of an easing of the sanctions regime in 2017. Ironically, the rise of right-wing populist politicians to power across central and Eastern Europe, including the Austrian Freedom Party, increases the chances that this may happen in 2018 when EU sanctions on Russia come up for renewal.
My 2016 forecasts on a narrow victory of the Leave campaign and the rise of Donald Trump to the American presidency were spot on and it was probably unlikely that I could achieve a similar success rate for 2017.
One of the ironies of 2017 is that whilst readers who had placed political bets on a Le Pen victory or an increased Conservative majority would have lost money, if they had brought the crypto Ripple, following my crypto-currency post on 1 December, they would have made over 1,000% return in the weeks that followed. The Ripple price soared from 24 cents to over 3 dollars from the beginning of December to after New Year.
Other cryptos whom I tipped, including Ethereum and Dash have seen big increases in value since the publication of my crypto post on FI, and I remain bullish that 2018 will be a strong year for the crypto-currency space.
I will soon be publishing my forecasts for 2018 and we will see if I have a better success rate this year then 2017.