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New Year: Predictions for 2016

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I like predictions. Part of that is related to my passion for quantifying everything, but another is philosophical, and borne of my antipathy towards charlatanism (I am extremely sympathetic to N.N. Taleb on this issue). In 2005, U.C. Berkeley psychologist Philip Tetlock published a study on expert fallibility spanning 18 years, 284 experts and 82,361 forecasts on economics and politics. Their average forecast was worse than if they had simply assigned equal probabilities to every outcome. Journalists and professors, undergrads and PhD’s, left-wingers and right-wingers – all were about equally (in)accurate. One group in particular stood out for its poor performance. They were the experts with the biggest reputations – the ones always being sought out by the media for sound bytes – making predictions on their own areas of professional interest. To add the incarnadine cherry to the meringue and cream pie, those on-demand experts were also the ones most confident in their own predictive prowess!

impostor

Though xkcd is far too kind to the sociologists.

Now to be sure there are areas, especially the exact sciences, where real experts do exist – that is, experts as in experts who are consistently right. Nobody will hire a physicist who doesn’t understand differential equations. Charlatans are quickly identified. But this is far harder in the social and political sciences, where leading “experts” generally can and do avoid making any falsifiable predictions (not that it matters much since even even those who do make big mistakes, far from being called to account for it, are instead made Ambassadors to Russia). This is a sad if perhaps inevitable state of affairs. After all, good mathematicians merely blow up manifolds. “Good” economists blow up economies. “Good” political scientists might blow up the world.

In any case, now that I am in the habit of regular blogging again – recall that I took a long break in 2014 before I moved to Unz one year ago – I have decided to resurrect my longtime New Year’s tradition of making predictions about the coming year and thus resume my minimal contribution to making the punditry at least somewhat answerable to reality. The one difference from previous years is that I will also now be adopting Slate Star Codex’s method of calibration.

Conflicts

(1) The Syrian government will control a larger proportion of territory in a year’s time relative to today: 80%.

My guesstimate two months ago that the RuAF will be able to swing the balance of military power across multiple local theaters from stalemate to one favoring the SAA appears to be correct. In the most significant development, Kweiris AFB and its environs have been liberated; with the YPG now in control of Tishrin Dam, the Islamic State in the north may now be in danger of being completely cut off. Advances are being made in Daraa, Hama and Homs, and around Aleppo. Rebel offensives are now almost uniformly unsuccessful. Of course large-scale Western or even Turkish intervention against Assad can still change everything.

(2) A majority of these happen: (a) SAA liberates Deir Hafir; (b) Palmyra; (c) All of Latakia; (d) Links up with the Nubl pocket; (e) Maintains hold on Deir ez-Zor airport. 80%.

(3) Assad will remain President of Syria: 90%.

Even in the event that there is a new round of elections, Assad is easily the most popular personality in Syria. This is proved in opinion poll after opinion poll. He wouldn’t even have to falsify anything. If there was ever going to be an internal coup, it would have already happened. Short of a freak death/assassination, or open Western aggression (which Russia preempted this year with its intervention), he is likely secure as never before during this war.

(4) The Iraqi government will control a larger proportion of territory in a year’s time relative to today: 90%.

(5) Islamic State will continue to lose ground in its heartlands and might end the year controlling little more than its capitals, but its overseas franchises – most notably in Libya – will expand further: 50%.

That said I think its “extinction” (in Syria/Iraq) will have to wait a couple more years. Note that there are two separate conditions in this prediction.

(6) The Houthis gain ground in Yemen: 60%.

Not by any means knowledgeable on this subject, but Saudi military performance appears to be atrocious – traditional Arab military incompetence and with no asabiya to compensate.

(7) The War in Donbass reignites: 30%.

In particular I can imagine the Poroshenko regime doing this to draw attention away from Ukraine’s continuing economic collapse (with default on the horizon) and approval ratings that are now even lower than Yanukovych’s in 2013.

(8) Mariupol ends the year in DNR hands: 10%.

Will obviously be lower than the risk of the War in Donbass reigniting. Is the next logical target, but might be preempted by a Minsk III. Also Rinat Akhmetov might well object as he did last time.

(9) “Putinsliv” aka Putin abandons support for DNR/LNR and Ukraine recaptures them: 5%.

I have always been skeptical of this popular theory amongst the more “enthusiastic” Russian nationalists. But Prosvirnin and Co. could conceivably turn out to be right.

(10) A new conflict in the former Soviet space: 20%.

These do tend to creep up every few years. The most obvious (but largely unknown) focal point is Armenia vs. Azerbaijan, and tensions have drastically crept up this year. If Aliev wants to regain Nagorno-Karabakh, now would not be the worst time to go about it.

Russia/Eurasia

(1) Politics – The Russian Duma elections are slated for September 2016. United Russia will comfortably take a majority of the seats: 95%.

United Russia is consistently polling ~45%, which rises to ~70% when people who reply N/A or say they’re not going to vote are excluded. This is unlikely to change much for the worse because the recession will likely be easing up by the time elections come up (see below). In between Orban- and Yanukovych-style election rules changes, this will translate to probably around 80% of the seats in the next Duma on current trends (up from 64% today).

(2) Politics – Electoral falsifications will be less than in the 2011 Duma elections: 70%.

When they were quite substantial (about +7% to United Russia). With the election rules changes, there will be less need of that to guarantee a Putinist majority. There are ways of approximating this so this is a valid prediction. The currently high approval ratings of Putin and patriotic fever in any case make a repeat of the Bolotnaya protests of 2011-12 highly unlikely. Khodorkovsky will remain disappointed.

(2) Economics – The recession will end in 2016: 80%.

As I argued in this article, the Russian recession of 2014 is best viewed as a Volcker-type shock, as opposed to being the result of any deeper underlying problem in competitiveness or political economy. Actually for a variety of reasons I expect the Russian economy to grow unusually strongly in the 2016-2020 period, but that is for another post. I should stress that the great bulk of the decline has to do with the collapse in oil prices and has had little to do with the sanctions (about 10% to be precise).

(4) Economics – There will be overall positive GDP growth in 2016: 60%.

These are the projections of various international financial organizations such as the World Bank and in this case I see no particular cause to take issue with them. That said, the IMF predicts -0.6%.

(5) Ukraine – The recession will end in 2016: 70%.

The Ukraine is an economic disaster zone. Literally. Automobile sales have returned to the levels of 196 9 (fifty years ago in the hypermilitarized “sovok” economy). Almost as much housing is being constructed in Russia’s Krasnodar Kray – population 5 million – as in all of Ukraine – population 40 million. But a consequence of all this is that it really is difficult to see how it could possible go much lower. After all, Ukraine still has respectable levels of human capital, and should peace prevail and should it maintain solvency (and the IMF has given every indication it will stretch the rules to ensure that it does) a resumption in growth from its very low base seems likely.

(6) Ukraine – The Poroshenko regime remains in power: 80%.

There is a very good chance that Yatsenyuk will go but I see no obvious reasons why Poroshenko will not survive 2016 as well as the pro-Western orientation of the Ukrainian state. His approval ratings might be in the gutter, but unlike Yanukovych, he has bloodied hoodlums to ensure his rule, and the acquiescence of the capital. (In contrast Kiev turned on Yanukovych even though opinion polls indicated that as of February 2014 more Ukrainians disapproved of the Maidan than approved of it). More importantly, he has the support of the US in his battle with the oligarchs. The oligarchs turned against Yanukovych because they didn’t want to run the risks of having their assets in the West frozen. To the contrary, Joe Biden is now in no uncertain terms demanding that Igor Kolomoysky – the biggest oligarch who opposes Poroshenko – step in line (which he does). (Incidentally, I am in communication with a very well informed geopolitical analyst who thinks that Ukraine’s pro-Western orientation will NOT survive 2016. My own sympathies regardless, I am betting against him.)

(7) Demographics – Russia will see natural population growth: 40%.

As it has in 2013, 2014, and almost certainly in 2015 (December statistics forthcoming). Incidentally, predicting Russia’s demographic recovery in the first place – I have been doing this since 2008, back when it was a marginal view amongst both professional demographers and the general Western and even Russian punditry – has been the crowning success of my predictive career. That said, a number of demographic realities now intrude on this positive picture. The Russian TFR (total fertility rate) now appears to have essentially stabilized at 1.7-1.8 children per woman, but the number of women in their childbearing age is now (and has been for the past 5 years) declining precipitiously as the “lost generation” of the 1990s reaches their peak fertility years. Assuming deaths remain broadly steady – rising life expectancy balanced against the secular aging of the population – it will now be a close call between deaths and births. (Not that a plus or minus sign at the beginning of a number measured in the tens of thousands out of a population of 145 million is all that significant except symbolically).

Incidentally, apologies for the strong focus on demographics. Its been an obsession of mine since I began blogging (mostly because all the Kremlinologists were getting the most basic facts wrong).

(8) Demographics – Russia will see population growth: 95%.

This is a no brainer. Immigration has always been strongly positive and will easily cancel any possible small decline in natural population growth. Predicted population increase of about half a million.

(9) Demographics – Life expectancy will increase: 80%.

I was right that the cut in alcohol excise taxes only had a very marginal effect on mortality this year (in fact improements continued after adjusting for Crimea), and with this now accounted for, I fully expect to see life expectancy to rise substantially in 2016. I expect Russia’s life expectancy to be around 72 years in 2016.

(10) Demographics – TFR will increase: 50%.

Far less certain because the traditional driver of TFR increases in Russia in the past decade has been the abrogation of 1990s-era birth postponement. This process will gradually draw to an end, while the full impact of the 2014 recession will be making itself felt. Of course due to the age structure of the natural population, even a constant TFR will result in a decrease in births of almost 3%. So that is highly likely (80%?). I expect Russia’s TFR to be around 1.8 children per woman in 2016.

World

(1) US/Allies will impose no fly zone (i.e. attack Assad) over Syria: 10%.

Real possibility in 2013-2014, appears to have faded with Russia’s intervention. Scuffles with Turkey regardless.

(2) US will not get involved in any new major war with death toll of > 100 US soldiers: 90%.

Borrowed from Scott Alexander.

(3) An Islamic terrorist attack in Europe causing more than 100 deaths: 30%.

Although the concern about them is highly understandable, it should be noted that in the past ~decade there were only two such instances – Spain in 2004, and France in 2015. So there’s likely a less than 50% chance of that happening in any one year, regardless of the current increase in tensions.

(4) Brexit: 10%.

Even assuming the referendum is held this year and not in 2017, both polls and bookies still show a large margin for the UK to remain in the EU.

(5) The Euro is here to stay: 90%.

And the EU too. Take issue with Leonid Bershidsky as you will, but for the most part I agree with his conclusions – at least for next year.

(6) China will not go into recession or have a hard landing: 90%.

Happy to take an easy win from the predicted-ten-of-the-past-zero-Chinese-recessions crowd.

(7) End of Western sanctions against Russia: 10%.

Not gonna happen. But they’re not all that significant and they don’t seem to be all that stringently enforced.

(8) Israel will not get in a large-scale war (i.e. >100 Israeli deaths) with any Arab state: 90%.

Borrowed from Scott Alexander. Agreed.

(9) North Korea’s government will survive the year without large civil war/revolt: 95%.

Borrowed from Scott Alexander.

(10) Oil prices will NOT end the year below $40: 70%.

I am highly skeptical about people claiming oil prices will tumble down to $20. When the electronic herd unanimously veers in one direction, it is time to stop and ponder. The equilibrium inflation-adjusted price of oil in the 1945-1973 period was around $20, which suggested that this was the marginal cost of producing an extra barrel of oil during that period back when nobody had even heard of M. King Hubbert. His projections of “peak oil” might have been invalidated by technological innovation – especially the exploitation of shale oil – yet even so, the decline of the easiest to access oil in the four decades since means that it is highly implausible that the longterm equilibrium price of oil is still at $20. EROEI will have gone down in the intervening years. Short of a new global recession (unlikely – see below), I do not see any big further declines in the oil price.

(11) Will be hottest year on record thus far: 80%.

Happy to take an easy win from the ever diminishing global-warming-denial crowd. Likely that 2016 will be even hotter than record setting 2015.

(12) No further large scale civil wars/revolts/revolutions in Middle East/North African countries not already so afflicted: 70%.

I.e., Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Tunisia, Algeria, Jordan, Turkey, Iran, etc. Excludes developments in Syria, Iraq, and Libya.

(13) No large scale civil wars/revolts/revolutions in USA: 99%.

(14) No large scale civil wars/revolts/revolutions in China: 99%.

(15) No large scale civil wars/revolts/revolutions in Russia: 95%.

(16) No large scale civil wars/revolts/revolutions in any EU country: 90%.

(17) China tops 2016 Olympics Gold medals table: 40%.

It has been going up and up over the years. Don’t see this as a particularly illogical prediction. Russia will plummet due to its disbarment from athletic competitions in 2016 Rio Olympics.

(18) Germany will win UEFA Euro 2016: 30%.

The German team continues going from strength to strength. Nobody else is even close. That said, football is unpredictable.

(19) Russia will predictably disappoint at UEFA Euro 2016 and will get knocked out at the group stage: 50%.

England, Russia, Wales, Slovakia. Second place should be a breeze, but Russia fans are regularly schooled on the dangers of abandoning pessimism.

(20) Mount & Blade II: Bannerlord is released: 80%.

I am dying to play that game. Hopefully with the Oculus Rift.

USA

(1) Donald Trump will secure the Republican nomination : 40%.

While the Trump Who Cannot be Stumped might be by far the highest polling candidate, the establishment bigwigs really hate him, and so the bookies give the edge to Rubio. Now for the record I give Trump higher figures than the bookies, and not (hopefully) because of my personal sympathies/biases but because due to my experience of Russia watching, I am currently observing some uncanny parallels between the media campaign against him and against Putin. The Western MSM has gone head over heels trying to deny the popularity of Putin in Russia, and now appears to be doing the exact same with Trump (which incidentally might partly explain why Putin and Trump have banded together in a mutual admiration society). But when you deny an overly obvious thing people tend to just get angry and mistrustful of the Lugenpress (“lying media”) in general, an effect which will massively help Trump. Even so, the deck is stacked against him – unlike Trump, Putin was initially appointed to high office – so I think it is more likely than not that he will fail to become US President or even secure the Republican nomination.

(2) Hillary Clinton will secure the Democratic nomination : 90%.

(3) Hillary Clinton becomes US President: 70%.

Like it or not the Democrats appear to remain poised to hold on to the Presidency, short of a major recession beginning right about now…

(4) The US enters recession: 20%.

But I don’t see that happening for reasons I have already expounded upon.

(5) Peak SJW? I don’t really see how you can go about quantifying that – through Google Trends? – but 2015 has clearly been the year of the Social Justice Warrior. But in between the spectacle of the Pink Guards shouting down genteel university professors and the wave of violent crime that #BLM has ushered in thanks to their vilification campaign against the police, 2016 might see the reaction against it – now mostly confined to pepe- and anime-themed avatars on the Internet – increasingly move into the mainstream.

Establishment attack dogs such as George Will (another charlatan) claim that Trump winning the nomination will destroy the GOP, but frankly I think the risks of that happening are higher if the elites conspire to deny it to him. He would then be in a position to directly challenge the GOP by running as an independent and indeed has indicated he might do just that. A large percentage – possibly a majority – of the Republican rank and file will follow him and allow him to create a genuine third political force purged of neocons and cuckservatives. I put the independent chances of this happening at: 20%.

That said, a caveat is that I do not expect any longterm changes. American Millenials are SJWs. And they will be ruling the country in 20-30 years time. Pray for radical life extension so the old fogies can balance them out!

Myself

(1) I will write a record amount of blog posts: 70%.

This is rather likely even if I do say so myself. I have much better productivity systems in place today relative to start-2014, when I had several other RL commitments besides (one of which basically forced me to take a 2 month break during the summer). I only have to do marginally better this year to surpass my all time record in 2012 and 2013. So long as Unz doesn’t fire me, and there isn’t any big personal crisis-related emergency, I fully expect this to happen. Consequently, I also expect record amounts of comments, visitors, visits, etc.

blog-output

 

(2) I will author or coathor an academic paper: 60%.

I have been putting it off but its hopefully more likely than not this year. The two potential topics are Russian demography (by myself) and the structure of Russian IQ (collaborator).

(3) I will finish writing at least one book: 30%.

This refers primarily to Apollo’s Ascent, though I have a few ideas for sci-fi books twirling about in my head too (problem is that I am very bad at coming up with interesting plots). I really wish it was higher but I know myself better than to indulge in too much optimism. That said, this is one prediction I really hope to fail at.

(4) I will finally heed the advice of my detractors and fuck off back to Russia: 90%.

It’s been years since I was last there and I intend to make a potentially very lengthy visit.

(5) I will end up being underconfident on these predictions: 50%.

Borrowed from Scott Alexander. Predictions <50% will be converted to their inverse for calibration evaluation in one year’s time. There are 50 predictions in total so that allows for a fairly comprehensive analysis.

 
• Category: Ideology • Tags: Geopolitics, Prediction, Rationality 

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  1. (8) Demographics – Russia will see population growth: 95%.

    This is a no brainer. Immigration has always been strongly positive and will easily cancel any possible small decline in natural population growth. Predicted population increase of about half a million.

    Does a large modern economy need more, exactly the same, or or fewer and better people to have the greatest chance of survival in an uncertain future?

    http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/apr/02/muslim-population-growth-christians-religion-pew
    Muslim population in Europe to reach 10% by 2050, new forecast shows

    The Pew forecast was in April and I think you could conservatively triple it since the Merkel initiative, which shows no sign of being reversed (and she just told Germans it was a social and economic opportunity). If the more people the better in Germany’s perpetual peace future then it is going to achieve a dominating economic position. Brexit will happen if the Germans insist on pettifogging EU rules to stop Cameron’s banker pals leveraging their way to faux profit and massive real bonuses (a public inquiry on City ethics has just been shelved).

    Only when the people have to be used to fight wars is natural increase of the indigenous majority good for the ruling elite . The western indigenous majorities are redundant economically and not needed as even as cannon fodder now.

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  2. Very impressive predictions; didn’t find myself in any serious disagreement with any one of them..

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  3. Thanks for such a meaty post! A few thoughts:
    Conflicts 6) Absolutely, even more so. The Houthis have taken out a very impressive proportion of Saudi and Emirati brass with rocket strikes. Yemen, while from a socio-economic point of view it might as well be in sub-Saharan Africa, has a relatively impressive military record. Even Yemeni jihadis are reportedly the most useful contingent by national origin, along with the Chechens, on the battlefield.
    9) More like 0.05%.
    World 4) I certainly don’t see a large margin in the polling, but you are right that the sheeple will probably be scared into staying.
    17) I expect the Russian athletics team to be allowed back into competition before Rio.
    18) Spain have as much or more talent. They could be back.
    19) At least 90%.
    USA 1) Over 50%. Go with your gut.
    3) Too high, because
    4) Over 50%. Have you seen the latest industrial production and survey results? Your linked explanation was all about China.
    Myself 4) Hope you won’t shut up shop if you do. Happy New Year!

  4. PISA 2015 result will be published this year.
    What’s your prediction?

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  5. (No.1) You will publish Apollo’s Ascent: 100%
    Otherwise you will lose lots if your fans :(

  6. The Houthis gain ground in Yemen: 60%.

    If this Houthis actually win this war (I’d still bet against them, though I’m a lot less sure of that now), it might be the most lopsided victory since 1 million Chechens defeated 150 million Russians in the First Chechen War of 1994-1996. A Houthi victory might be even more impressive, since in the 1990s Russia’s military was in a state of utter collapse, while the Saudi coalition pilots and troops are well trained (at least on paper) and well-equipped. In 1996 Russia had a military budget of only $15 billion, while Saudi military spending in 2014 was $80 billion. And the Chechen rebels had a reliable resupply route through Georgia, while Yemen is blockaded and the Houthis have to rely heavily on captured weaponry.

    Putinsliv” aka Putin abandons support for DNR/LNR and Ukraine recaptures them: 5%.

    Do you predict that the rebels will not hand over their border with Russia to Ukrainian control, as Minsk requires them to do immediately after the local elections are held? I would count that as abandoned support, as I don’t see how the DNR/LNR can survive without flow of military and economic aid across that border, and Putin seems to be pushing fairly agressively for Minsk steps to be carried out, at least on the DNR/LNR side (I assume this is because he wants those millions of pro-Russsian Donbass residents voting in Ukrainian national elections again).

    China will not go into recession or have a hard landing: 90%.

    This prediction is non-falsifiable, since no one really knows what China’s real GDP growth rate is. Pretty much every economist agrees that the official figure of 7% for 2015 is inflated, but there is no agreement on how much. Most economists think the real figure is still over 5%, but some argue that underlying metrics such as electricity consumption suggest real growth around 3-4%. If true, that is a rapid enough fall from 10% in 2010 that it would at least come close to qualifying as a “hard landing” (and would mean China is no longer a rising economic power, since 3-4% is no faster than the global average).

    The Russian TFR (total fertility rate) now appears to have essentially stabilized at 1.7-1.8 children per woman

    Not sure why you think it’s “essentially stabilized”, according to Rosstat figures it was 1.69 in 2012, 1. 71 in 2013, and 1.75 in 2014, still an upward trend.

    http://www.gks.ru/dbscripts/cbsd/dbinet.cgi?pl=2415002

    Demographics – TFR will increase: 50%.

    Far less certain because the traditional driver of TFR increases in Russia in the past decade has been the abrogation of 1990s-era birth postponement. This process will gradually draw to an end, while the full impact of the 2014 recession will be making itself felt.

    Rosstat puts Russia’s TFR at 1.89 in 1990, so it seems to me it should continue to rise to at least that level, given that religeous people tend to have more children, and Russia is considerably less secular today than it was then. Also, Russia’s population is more Muslim today, and fertilty is somewhat higher among Russian Muslims than non-Muslims (although outside of Chechnya, not dramatically so).

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  7. Brexit: 10%.

    I’d put that at 2%. The Euro establishment is really, really married to the EU idea. There will be a pro-EU propaganda campaign, and those usually work. If it doesn’t work, they’re still not going to let the UK leave. They’ll just ignore the results of the referendum.

    (12) No further large scale civil wars/revolts/revolutions in Middle East/North African countries not already so afflicted: 70%.

    I would put that probability below 50%.

    “Russia will predictably disappoint at UEFA Euro 2016 and will get knocked out at the group stage: 50%.”

    One of the reasons why Russian football is so bad is that it competes for talent with hockey. Back in the 1980s, when I followed Soviet football closely, Ukrainian players and teams seemed to do better than Russian ones not even in per capita, but in absolute terms. Why? Because the snow-and-ice season is shorter in most of the Ukraine than in most of Russia. So Ukrainian kids play much less hockey. The national hockey team of independent Ukraine is a non-entity. All their talent goes to football. Same for Germany, England, Italy, Spain, etc. But in Russia (and Finland, Sweden, the Czech Republic, Austria (skiing)) the talent pool is divided.

    “the Lugenpress” I love the French term merdia.

    (5) Peak SJW? I think that’s very unlikely.

    I think that the likelihood of Muslims being banned from immigrating into the US is way below 1%. Same thing for the likelihood of millions of illegals being deported. The probability of Trump winning the presidency is small, but the probability of him winning AND fulfilling his most famous promises is close to zero.

    I agree with you that Hillary will likely be the next president. She’ll be much worse on invade-the-world than Obama has been. The size of the bloody mess in the Middle East will grow because of this. Unfortunately a lot of US and European ground troops will perish in that mess, along with much larger numbers of Middle Easterners. The refugee flows will increase.

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  8. [immediately after the local elections are held]

    Known to Augustus as “on the Greek Kalends”.

  9. Do you predict that the rebels will not hand over their border with Russia to Ukrainian control

    This will not happen while Putin is in power in Russia. I’m 99% sure of that. Much harder to say what will happen after him. The Minsk agreement has items that the junta and the US were never going to implement and items that DNR, LNR and Russia were never going to implement.

  10. There is a strong chance Ukrainian economy will slump even further in 2016 as it adjusts to new reality. Beyond that I see depression and a lack of growth because Ukraine in its current format has little to offer. The only way for Ukraine is to stop the war, resolve the conflict in Donbass, improve investment attractiveness, and attract investment from EU. I do not think they will be able to do that in 2016, beyond that perhaps.

    Poroshenko is here to stay because opinion polls among Ukrainian public mean very little for the stability of Ukrainian leaders. More important is having favour of various interest groups and agents. He might even get a second term in the absence of a powerful challenger. The most popular politician in Ukraine now is Saakashvili by the way. It’s this tragic.

  11. I made similar predictions on my blog, even to the point of moving to Russia! A major difference is that I think the ruble will be at 90 this year. Click on the website link above if you want to see the predictions.

  12. ” Lugenpress”

    It’s Lügenpresse.
    You don’t have many predictions about Europe, the refugee influx and Germany (apart from football)…but then I suppose Europe might be drifting into irrelevance so there isn’t much to say anymore.

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  13. Do you know of anyone who predicted all the ridiculous things of that nature that happened in 2015, at the beginning of last year? I certainly don’t.

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  14. Well yes, I certainly wouldn’t have thought them possible, and I’m generally a pessimist.

  15. says:
         Show CommentNext New Comment

    Very impressive predictions; didn’t find myself in any serious disagreement with any one of them..

    I can live with all of them except Hillary as President. I would love for it to be Trump. I can tolerate Sanders or Paul but anyone else and it’ll be like American having a stroke. I was going to use the analogy of a brain tumor, but we will actually have that with a Hillary Presidency .

  16. I love the French term merdia.

    I love it too! Thanks for letting me know about it; I had never heard it before.

  17. Oil
    To keep to Climate Change goals, it is estimated that a third of all current oil reserves will have to remain in the ground forever.

    So if you believe that, or if just Saudi believes it for another 12 months, the taps are full on, and the price of oil will continue to fall in 2016.

  18. I predict I will leave 10 scathing criticisms of your various posts but will continue to read them because you are damned interesting. You are an original thinker and kindly take my criticisms as compliments because you are worth paying attention to.

    I don’t know jackshit about Russia and appreciate your alternative perspectives on Russia and many other subjects you cover. I follow closely the political gambling markets which I find are extremely valuable in knowing the real odds on who is going to be nominated for president. Right now the odds are as follows.

    Rubio -200
    Cruz -320
    Trump-320
    Bush -750

    These odds constantly fluctuate and I have profited in the past by following the betting market and the wonderful blog 538 written by the brilliant Nate Silver and others. Closer to the actual nomination there is more certainty as to whom to bet on so that is when I place my wager, if I place one at all.

  19. Since the first results from PISA are only published the year after they are carried out I cannot exactly make any meaningful predictions about them! ;)

    That said thanks to your reminder I notice that the next round will involve non-elite city Chinese provinces like Jiangsu and Guangdong so we can finally get a more definitive picture of Chinese IQ from an international perspective (as opposed to having to base it on leaks from PISA). Though of course both Jiangsu and Guangdong still likely perform better than the Chinese average, but they will still be far closer to it than Shanghai/Beijing.

  20. I suppose Europe might be drifting into irrelevance

    I hope so.
    This century should belong to Asia and the next one to Africa.

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  21. >(4) Brexit: 10%.

    That seems a bit low.

    Before the Scottish independence referendum I might have agreed. The ties that bind Scotland to the union are immeasurably older and deeper than those that bind the UK to the EU. Yet 9 out of 20 Scots voted for independence – unthinkable at the start of the campaign, and the polls were nearly all badly wrong.

    Also, I fully expect another and much bigger refugee surge. The word that Europe’s doors have been kicked-in is spreading; the migrants who arrived are phoning home; the people-smugglers are recruiting. That could tip the balance.

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  22. Before I joined this comment threads, I used to like and admire Germans, but this public self flagellation is sick. I’m glad I can block you.

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  23. Generally good post. Small quibble:

    In contrast Kiev turned on Yanukovych even though opinion polls indicated that as of February 2014 more Ukrainians disapproved of the Maidan than approved of it).

    The polls showed 40% support for Maidan and 21% support for Yanukovich with the rest supporting neither. So yes, technically, a majority disapproved than approved Maidan but it was still preferred 2:1 to the alternative. One can write similarly of many elections; taking into account voters who chose not to participate, every elected US president had only minority approval (though in almost every case more approval than did the loser).

    At any rate, removal of Crimea and Donbas make a pro-Western orientation pretty much inevitable, at least for a generation.

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  24. Chance of Skynet event occurring <1% and hopefully increasing dramatically in the following years. Best scenario would be for a benevolent Skynet that uses programmed viruses to kill off the 99% of the population who are still savages.

    I mean really, aren't almost all so-called humans really sleeper cell terrorists?

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  25. “This century should belong to Asia and the next one to Africa.”

    Mankind will either destroy itself or be replaced way before that.

    I’m going with 90% destroyed and 10% replaced. His genes are bloodthirsty and relentless.

  26. The odds of US recession are way higher than 20 percent, IMHO. Manufacturing, according to the CEO of Fastenal Co. is in recession already, and services are barely growing. We’ll see cascading devaluations around the world, and strong dollar will finish the US off at year’s end. Imposing no-fly zone in Syria will be the last thing on next President’s mind.

  27. In a generation emigration to Russia will be every able Ukrainian’s wet dream – 80% probability.

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  28. actually when the Arab Spring started in 2010 a lot of people said that this will result in huge numbers of new immigrants. Also right-wing guys do predict in general that the number of immigrants to Europe will rise fast in coming years. So what happened in 2015 was what has been predicted by right-wing guys for quite some time, only now it actually seems to start

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  29. Well, nobody that I know of predicted that the invasion would dramatically rise in intensity in the summer of 2015, that Merkel would spread her legs for it, and that nobody else would do a thing about it.

  30. Actually, after months of Maidan, Ukrainians were fed up with the bomzhatnik. Any sane person would figure that it wouldn’t lead to anything good. In it purest, Maidan was a violent usurpation of the government by some US sponsored figures.

    • Agree: Seamus Padraig
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  31. The D & F will not only continue but will accelerate. 100%

    More people will notice. 50%

  32. I think he’s written that he’s a (non-Western?) immigrant (who apparently resents native Germans), and he only writes short, trollish posts that make little sense, so don’t take him seriously.
    Though in general it’s probably better not to admire Germans, many of them are shockingly stupid and conformist.

  33. Yes, I know, I’ve long worried about that myself, and I know what we have to exspect given population trends in Africa and some countries of the Islamic world.
    The reaction of Germany’s government and of a large part of the public however did surprise and shock me. That was worse than anything I could have imagined.

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  34. says:
         Show CommentNext New Comment

    Ambrose Evans-Pritchard has predicted about 20 of the past 0 Chinese collapses

    Priceless! :D :D :D

  35. of course it is kind of lame to say “I expected it that way” afterwards, but actually that was the exact reaction I expected from politicians and the general public. I think The reason Europe is not yet overrun is not that there are actually some sane people left in important positions – there are no sane people in important positions – but rather that people in Africa still cannot believe how easy it is to get into the swedish or german welfare system, and also that there are still some technical problems with the transport of African masses to Europe. What Europe is experiencing with immigration right now is something like a engine which has some problems while getting started, but in some years the engine will run smoothly, which means millions, tens of millions of immigrants.

  36. another very interesting issue is the TFR of the PR China. With the new family planning law everybody will be allowed to have two children up from January 1, 2016. Of course in 2013 there was already some relaxation, so that practically the majority already had that right, and even before that there were many exceptions, but now everybody is allowed to have two children. Will the TFR rise or not? I say 95% that the TFR will stay unchanged, or that it will even further decrease.
    Another interesting prediction: which countries will see a rising TFR, which countries a falling TFR? I say 80% that the TFR of Brazil will decrease, as it is a middle income country with a economic crisis . Poland might experience a increasing TFR, as the new political situation will give new hope to quite a lot of people, chances at 70%.

  37. In it purest, Maidan was a violent usurpation of the government by some US sponsored figures.

    That’s certainly the Russian fairytale version. I wonder if there exist some bitter Brits who believe the American Revolution was in its essence a violent plot by French-sponsored figures.

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  38. Ukraine’s low point was the second quarter of 2015, sight improvement has already begun, and even 2015 wasn’t as bad (outside Donbas of course) as 2009 or the 1990s.

    I find it ironic that the same people who correctly question catastrophic news about Russia in the western media tell similarly silly horror stories about Ukraine (outside Donbas of course) after its divorce from Russia. Ukraine is to pro-Putin Russians as Russia is to western neocons?

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  39. Best scenario would be for a benevolent Skynet that uses programmed viruses to kill off the 99% of the population

    I’m a pessimist, but I usually think this would be closer to the worst scenario. I wouldn’t want to experience what a malevolant Skynet would do.

  40. Oh, Ukraine is “horrific” enough, no doubt about it. Population is collapsing by 1.2 percent every year, advanced industry is all but gone, national debt is growing, it’s the poorest and by far the most corrupt country in Europe. What’s not to like, according to you?
    Not sure what “improvements” in 2015 you are talking about…feel free to enlighten me, but only with the hard numbers. Anecdotal “evidence” is of no interest to me.

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  41. Not sure what “improvements” in 2015 you are talking about…feel free to enlighten me,

    I know you are a silly troll but anyways, Ukraine’s economy grew in the third quarter 2015 (enough to overcome the second quarter’s loss but that’s all, so far), international reserves are up to 13.1 billion from a low of 5.6 billion in February 2015. Birthrate is also on an upward trend.

    Economy is bad but the worst has happened.

    Keep in mind Ukraine’s large regional economic differences. Six of Ukraine’s oblasts have seen economic growth since the revolution and others have only seen modest, Russia-level or lower declines. Your delight in Ukraine’s poor economy is mostly at the expense of your would-be friends in Donbas. The Novorossiya project did not work out well for Novorossiya’s suffering inhabitants.

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  42. [Birthrate is also on an upward trend.]

    You tell this lie although it was just refuted with chapter and verse on the thread below. Need more be said?

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  43. says:
         Show CommentNext New Comment

    Most economists see the Chinese gdp growth rate as approximately accurate.

    ” There is a difference between smoothing data and totally fabricating it. Evidence suggests that China is guilty of the former (the lesser charge) but not the latter (the more serious allegation).”

    http://www.economist.com/blogs/freeexchange/2015/07/chinese-economy

  44. [Birthrate is also on an upward trend.]

    You tell this lie although it was just refuted with chapter and verse on the thread below.

    The lie is yours.

    http://unstats.un.org/unsd/mbs/app/DataView.aspx?tid=2&cid=804&yearfrom=2000&yearto=2015&p=A

    2015AUG 9.6
    2015JUL 11.2
    2015JUN 9.1
    2015MAY 8.7
    2015APR 9.6
    2015MAR 9.1
    2015FEB 9.9

    Low point was May 2015.

    Need more be said?

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  45. 2-1 proportion in favour of Maidanists? The pro-Russian Kyiv Post (at those times, tbh, not so rabid like nowadays) reported otherwise. http://www.kyivpost.com/content/ukraine/poll-half-of-ukrainians-dont-support-kyiv-euromaidan-rb-334469.html

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  46. So one month above the level of the previous ones, which is not the latest one and was itself down more than ten percent on the previous year, denotes an “up trend”?
    Even an enemy must pity your retardation.

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  47. We were discussing February; your poll was from December.

    Here was February:

    http://www.kiis.com.ua/?lang=eng&cat=reports&id=231&page=1

  48. Yanukovich was overthrown in February 2014. Nine months from that time Ukraine’s birth rate was 9.9, and then it declined reaching its low point of 8.7 in May 2015. It then went up, achieving a high of 11.2 in July 2015 before dipping to 9.6 in August. So yes, the trend recently has been generally positive relative to the low point earlier this year.

  49. Your delight in Ukraine’s poor economy is mostly at the expense of your would-be friends in Donbas. The Novorossiya project did not work out well for Novorossiya’s suffering inhabitants.

    I assume the Donbass figures you are citing are from the territories occupied and administered by Kiev. As far as I know, no one is producing GDP growth figures for the DNR & LNR. However, I would not be surprised if the DNR & LNR achieved very rapid growth rates in the near future as refugees return from Russia and infrastructure is repaired.

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  50. I expect Brexit, the polls are too close, remain needs a big initial lead. The phrasing of the question, the franchise excluding under eighteens and the likely outcome of current negotiations favour leave.

    England and Wales are far superior to Russia, and Slovakia are a match for the Russian football team.

    The Chinese economy will have a better year than the US economy, these trends are already established. The recession should favour Trump.

  51. I assume the Donbass figures you are citing are from the territories occupied and administered by Kiev. As far as I know, no one is producing GDP growth figures for the DNR & LNR.

    Correct and correct.

    However, I would not be surprised if the DNR & LNR achieved very rapid growth rates in the near future as refugees return from Russia and infrastructure is repaired.

    Maybe. However over the years many refugees will not return, and rebuilding will be extremely expensive.

  52. Moldbug is not a Brit, but his view that the American revolution was the work of delusional thugs genuinely afraid of the XVIII century equivalent of black helicopters is, well… I have no idea if it’s true, but it’s still fun to tell Americans that’s how you view their revolution.

  53. […] it wasn’t even clear that the Brexit referendum would be held in the current year and I gave it a 10% total chance of […]

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