Sunday, October 10, 2010

Watching the forecasters

Ever planned a big day out, a golf day perhaps, or a family picnic, and checked the weather forecast before making the final “let’s go” decision, only to end up getting soaked? Well I can tell you, it’s happened to me a few times, especially this summer when it seems like the forecaster’s accuracy is getting worse.

The same thing seems to happen with economic forecasts. Let me give you this example, from the AIA web site May 11th, 2010: “Overall machine vision sales should increase by 2.6% to 4.6% in 2010,” Then, in September the very same AIA reported “overall machine vision sales increased by 34.4 percent in the first quarter of 2010 …,” according to “Machine vision growth in view” (Photonics Spectra, September 2010.)

But I’ve saved the best bit. The AIA is now reported in Quality Digest (October 6th, 2010,) as saying, “Sales of machine vision components and systems in North America jumped 60 percent in the second quarter of 2010 over the same period in 2009,”

So what went wrong with the forecast?

Well anyone can make a mistake, but you may recall that back on May 16th I posted that the caution shown by the AIA was seriously in conflict with my personal observation of market trends. At the time I said revenues would be up 10 – 15% for 2010 even though my gut was telling me to aim higher. I didn’t want to blow my credibility though!

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