JOHN KENNETH GALBRAITH, an economist, once quipped that “the only function of economic forecasting is to make astrology look respectable.” With normal life thrown off course by covid-19, you might be forgiven for ignoring economists and studying the stars instead.
Prediction markets, which harness the collective wisdom of the crowd, offer another guide to the future. We consulted several platforms—Betfair, Metaculus, PredictIt and Smarkets—for signals on what 2021 will hold for business, politics, covid and culture. Many of these events are one-offs, so a lack of historical data makes prediction especially tricky. Still, with inoculations now being rolled out, these forecasts give some insight into what the “new normal” in 2021 might look like. ■
Sources: Betfair; Metaculus; PredictIt; Smarkets
This article appeared in the Graphic detail section of the print edition under the headline “Stars in their eyes”