Who was Samuel Benner?
The long-lost market timer.
Samuel Benner, a 19th-century American farmer-turned-prognosticator, emerged as a notable figure in the realm of economic forecasting. Born in 1832, Benner’s personal experiences within the agricultural sector led him to develop a predictive model for commodity prices and economic trends. His work aimed to foresee fluctuations in the market, allowing investors and farmers to better navigate the financial landscape.
Benner’s most prominent contribution was his 1875 publication, “Benner’s Prophecies of Future Ups and Downs in Prices.” This book detailed his forecasts for an array of commodities, including cotton, corn, and pig iron. Benner derived his predictions by identifying cyclical patterns in historical price data, which he attributed to a combination of human behavior and natural forces.
His forecasting method, known as “Benner’s Cycle,” proposed that periods of prosperity, recession, and depression occurred at regular intervals. While some of his predictions missed the mark, others, such as the economic downturns of 1878 and 1893, proved accurate, garnering him considerable attention.
For instance, Benner predicted that pig iron prices would peak in 1878, followed by a decline in 1879, and then reach their lowest point in 1881. Interestingly, these predictions were quite accurate, as pig iron prices did indeed exhibit a similar pattern during that period.
Another example of Benner’s work is his prediction of the cotton market. He foresaw a price peak in 1880, a decline in 1881, and another peak in 1882. While not entirely accurate, his forecast captured the overall trend, with cotton prices experiencing fluctuations in the early 1880s.
Although Samuel Benner’s methods have been critiqued for their lack of scientific rigor, his influence on future economic forecasters is undeniable. His work, steeped in both success and controversy, makes him a captivating figure in the annals of economic forecasting.
Looking at the chart below, we can see that his long-term projections were pretty close to what actually happened.