Well, God is in His heaven
And we all want what’s His
But power and greed and corruptible seed
Seem to be all that there is - from Blind Willie McTell, Bob Dylan
When planning for the future we often ask, “What will the economy be doing this time next year?” Or, “What will be different ten years from now?” But forecasting is hard. The important events that will shape the future are inherently unpredictable.
Instead, we should be asking different questions: What will be the same 10 years from now? What will be the same 100 years from now?
Knowledge of the things that never change may be more useful, and more important, than an uncertain prediction of an unknowable future.
Morgan Housel, author of The Psychology of Money, argued that financial decisions are driven less by maths-derived data and spreadsheets than by subjective human characteristics and behaviours, such as ego and hype. He further developed this thesis in Same As Ever by suggesting it's better to make predictions based on how people behave rather than by trying to anticipate events. Greed, fear, opportunity, exploitation, risk, uncertainty, tribal affiliations and social persuasion are all common traits to take into account.
In other words, while change captures the attention because it is surprising, the most powerful behaviours are those that never change, and provide pointers to the future.