I recognize that in a sense this is a dangerous time at which to write on business forecasting. We are in the throes of a great readjustment. Business analysts and forecasters have been and perhaps still are divided into schools. Many new conditions have arisen in business and finance which are difficult to appraise. Old methods of interpretation and old barometers have been abandoned. Our experience with many of the data now available has been too short to make it possible to use them to the best advantage.
But never has business forecasting been more necessary. Business is more complex than formerly, while at the same time control over business has become more highly centralized. These conditions require more careful and more extended planning. Government intervention to aid, direct, or regulate business has grown. One must be impressed with the fact that intelligent forecasting might have prevented the development of the unfavorable situation in the oil industry in 1930, to say nothing of the debacle in copper. Sound and well- considered forecasts of cotton and wheat markets surely might have benefited the Federal Farm Board. In all these cases we find far-reaching plans involved, backed by a high degree of control and great financial strength. The trouble has been that they have not had an equally strong backing in their interpretation of economic conditions and trends.
It is probable that greater confidence in forecasters and forecasting, if such confidence could be deserved and become established, would result in greatly increased effectiveness on the part of sound economic analysis. If the oil or copper executives or the Federal Farm Board could have turned to a well-established system of economic analysis which would have been recognized as authoritative in the best sense of