Forecasters Persistently Fail Us

A large majority of investors have seen their portfolios underperform simple buy-and-hold strategies, despite having followed the stock-picking and market-timing advice of so-called experts.

These “experts” include pundits, gurus and forecasters such as Bill Gross, John Hussman, Nouriel Roubini, Meredith Whitney and, yes, even Jim Cramer. Investors confronting subpar returns are left wondering, “What went wrong?” The answer is that following the advice of “future tellers” disguised as experts is the wrong strategy.

David Freedman, in his outstanding book, “Wrong,” shows that experts are often the reason we get into big messes—whether the expert advice is in the field of medicine, investing, science, psychology, raising children, dieting or business management. With often-frightening examples, he exposes the biases and career pressures that lead to the often-dangerously distorted ways in which experts arrive at their advice.

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