Forecasting is difficult, especially if it’s about the future

Aug 01, 2009 | 06:42 AM |

Followers of Nostradamus credit him with predicting all kinds of events—from the rise of Napoleon to World War II. But if the medieval seer had been tasked with forecasting the near-term future of the aluminum industry, he might have been left scratching his head.

It's tough to make any kind of prediction in an economy as uncertain as ours. The last time I took a stab at predicting the future, back in 2007, I suggested that while everyone was desperate for exposure to aluminum in boom times, they would run back to downstream assets just as quickly when the market collapsed.

On the face of it, that wasn't a bad guess. As our feature story this month shows, companies like Kaiser Aluminum that have focused on downstream assets are doing well as they are somewhat protected from the volatility of aluminum prices.....

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