Tuesday, 15 January 2013

"Malaysian Nate Silver" suspended by Bank Islam?

I wrote before about Nate Silver's popular book "The Signal and the Noise", and ended with:

"Where is the "Malaysian Nate Silver" predicting the coming elections, both overall and per state .....?"

Apparently, there is a "Malaysian Nate Silver", his name is Azrul Azwar Ahmad Tajudin, and he is chief economist of Bank Islam:

In a report by The Straits Times, Azrul Azwar’s calculations found that one of the most likely scenarios was that the ruling Barisan Nasional (BN) coalition would likely win only between 97 and 107 of the 222 parliamentary seats, which are insufficient to form the next administration.

But the result would also mean that PR will only gain a shaky hold over Parliament, far from the supermajority once enjoyed by its rival.

The two other likely scenarios reportedly presented by Azrul Azwar was that there would be a narrow win for BN and a bigger win for PR.

Azrul Azwar had taken into account factors such as race and demographics.

He had also forecasted that under the most likely scenario of a narrow win by PR, a fallout would result, with the stock market set to respond in a “knee-jerk” fashion as well as an extended period of perceived instability.

He also did not rule out the possibility of “economic sabotage” by businesses and the civil service that are aligned with BN.

The above according to an article on The Malaysian Insider. It was first highlighted in The Straits Times, an article that I indeed read, but disposed since it didn't strike me as anything extraordinary. It was presented at an economic forum, I haven't visited many of those, but I do visit regularly investment forums and predictions regarding election outcomes are considered to be very normal.

Bank Islam, Azrul Azwar's employer, suspended him. Not for doing a lousy job, but for "being involved in political activities". Rather remarkable, if you want to predict the Malaysian economy, you have to take into account the level of business, which is (unfortunately) so much interwoven with politics.

Would he have been suspended if he had predicted a win for BN? I doubt it, since I have read many such predictions with no action being taken by their employers.

We have to wait what will happen, may be Bank Islam will wait for the elections to happen, and when PR wins, Azrul Azwar will be reinstated again?

For me, as a Westerner and a mathematician, making predictions based on mathematical models, it all sounds pretty unbelievable that one can be suspended for exactly doing that.

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