One podcast I’ve enjoyed throughout this pandemic is The Osterholm Update: COVID-19 with Dr. Michael Osterholm, director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota. Every week, I tune in for his latest news and wisdom on the state of the pandemic, or perhaps more accurately, to find out yet again that first, things are still very bad; second, no one knows where they’re headed (and anyone who says they do “likely has a bridge to sell you,” according to Dr. Osterholm); and third, that I am thankfully not the only person on the planet still taking what many would call extreme COVID precautions.

He typically begins a podcast by sharing that each morning, he wakes up and tries scraping a tiny bit of mud off of his mud-encrusted crystal ball. When the Omicron variant emerged, he said someone had taken his mud-encrusted crystal ball and baked it in the oven for an hour at 350°.

This seems like a pretty accurate way to view the nature of making predictions – whether about COVID, the economy or even the future of the financial services industry – these days. And if that’s true, and the crystal balls we once relied on for an even fuzzy glimpse into the future are now useless, maybe it’s time to put predictions on pause and instead focus on planning for various possible outcomes, from decent to worst.

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Natasha Chilingerian

Natasha Chilingerian has worked in the credit union space for over a decade. She joined CU Times as managing editor in 2015 and was promoted to executive editor in 2019. Before that, she served as a communications specialist for Xceed Financial Credit Union (now Kinecta Federal Credit Union) in Los Angeles from 2013-2015, and as a CU Times freelancer from 2011-2013. She has been a professional writer and editor for more than 17 years, specializing in news and lifestyle journalism as well as marketing copywriting for companies in the finance and technology space.

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