#1 and winning a special award is William Kristol, who at the end of 2006 boldly predicted that Hillary Clinton would be president and that “Barack Obama is not going to beat Hillary Clinton in a single Democratic primary”. Then, after Obama took Iowa, he completely flip flopped and predicted that Clinton would lose New Hampshire, saying “There will be no Clinton Restoration.” Wrong again.
#2 is Jim Kramer on Mad Money in March of this year, responding to a reader’s question “Peter writes: ‘Should I be worried about Bear Stearns in terms of liquidity and get my money out of there?’ No! No! No! Bear Stearns is fine! Do not take your money out. … Bear Stearns is not in trouble. I mean, if anything they’re more likely to be taken over. Don’t move your money from Bear! That’s just being silly! Don’t be silly!”
#3 has Dennis Blair (who some expect to be Obama’s director of National Intelligence) and Kenneth Lieberthal, predicting that oil tankers are safe because “only a naval power of the United States’ strength could seriously disrupt oil shipments.” Just a few months later, Somali pirates in inflatable rafts hijacked a Saudi oil tanker carrying 2 million barrels of crude oil.
#4 is Donald Luskin in the Washington Post in mid-September claiming that “anyone who says we’re in a recession, or heading into one — especially the worst one since the Great Depression — is making up his own private definition of ‘recession.'” Just one day later, Lehman Brothers went bankrupt.
#5 is from The Economist, who one week before Kenya’s presidential election ran an editorial praising the quality of the country’s democracy and predicting it might “set an example” for the rest of the continent. The botched election ignited a month of rioting and ethnic bloodshed that left more than 800 dead and 200,000 homeless, not to mention the government delegitimized.
#6 is from BusinessWeek, who got just a little too excited about Michael Bloomberg entering the presidential race. “His multiple billions and organization will impress voters—and stun rivals. He’ll look like the most viable third-party candidate since Teddy Roosevelt.” Instead, Bloomberg decided to sit this one out.
#7 is from scientist Walter Wagner, who predicted that turning on the Large Hadron Collider could create a black hole that would likely destroy our planet. Unluckily for him (but good for us) it was turned on in September, and we’re still here.
#8 is Goldman Sachs oil analyst Arjun Murti, who ruined his formerly stunning predictive powers by saying that $150-$200 barrels of oil were likely. Oil peaked at $147 less than two months later and is down to around $40 now, and still declining.
#9 is Charles Krauthammer on Fox News, predicting that Russia would replace the government of Gorgia with a puppet government. They didn’t. Krauthammer followed up this bad prediction by claiming that the Ukraine was next on Russia’s hit list.
#10 is Henry Paulson, who in mid-November said “I believe the banking system has been stabilized. No one is asking themselves anymore, is there some major institution that might fail and that we would not be able to do anything about it.” Shortly afterwards, Citigroup’s stock plunged 75% in one week.