NEW YORK ( ETF Expert) -- Las Vegas odds-makers believe the San Francisco 49ers will beat the Baltimore Ravens to win Superbowl XLVII Sunday. That's what is implied by a four-point spread. In contrast, if the professionals did not feel that the 49ers had a definitive edge, there would neither be a spread nor a so-called "favorite."
Yet, an equal percentage of gamblers are likely to bet on a Ravens victory. Some will choose the Ravens because they expect the 49ers to win by three points or fewer. Some will choose the Ravens because they expect the team to win outright. Others will choose a team based on little more than a hunch that one squad will prevail.
Why am I bringing up the big game? In part, it's to illustrate that nobody has any idea who will hoist the Lombardi Trophy. Professional odds-makers, gamblers, grandpas, the guy down the street -- there's not a person who knows how the future will actually unfold. (Note: For what it's worth, I like San Fran.)
Bringing the conversation back around to the world of finance, how many economists successfully "predicted" that U.S. gross domestic product (GDP) would contract in the final quarter of 2012? I haven't seen a single credible "call."Similarly, how many investment gurus expressed confidence that Greece would still be a member of the European Union by the end of 2012? Didn't an overwhelming majority of folks insist that a "Grexit" was imminent? Even when a superstar goes out on a limb with a bold prognostication, he/she did not actually know how the future would ultimately play out. Consider hedge fund sage John Paulson. The wunderkind was supposedly prescient for shorting sub-prime loans prior to the 2008 financial collapse. Yet, he went on to lose -53% in 2011 and -18% in 2012 -- hedge fund category returns that ranked "dead last" and second-to-last respectively. Predictive powers do not exist. Still, the media frequently ask if I am bullish on this or bearish on that. Yes, I have definitive opinions... I was born and raised in New York, for heck's sake. On the other hand, my finest quality as an asset manager is understanding how to minimize the loss when I am wrong.