A Q&A With Yours Truly At Forbes.com

Phil DeMuth at Conservative Wealth Management (and the author of several finance titles, including The Affluent Investor) just posted a Q&A at Forbes.com with yours truly on a topic that receives slightly more than average attention at The Capital Spectator: the business cycle. A sample of the discussion follows below. For the full interview, jump over to Forbes.

Q: You say that the distinction between predicting and nowcasting drives the logic of your book. Why is this important?

Picerno: Nowcasting focuses on interpreting the data published to date and analyzing what it means in terms of reading the “clues” about the business cycle vis-a-vis history. Although nowcasting is imperfect, the odds of generating relatively reliable signals about the state of the economy are considerably higher vs. guessing/forecasting what will happen down the road. In turn, developing robust nowcasting data is valuable because looking for periods when recession risk is unusually high offers timely information for recognizing that the business cycle is deteriorating. It’d be better, of course, if we could predict such events well in advance, but that’s not possible and so nowcasting is the next best thing. Unfortunately, most of the attention is focused on forecasting, which misses the forest for the trees, so to speak.