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Predictions 2011: Editor's Introduction

In the world of business and finance, predictions are more common than you might think. They may be called forecasts or estimates, but there's always someone predicting corporate earnings or economic reports.

We've been asking our beat reporters, bloggers, in-house experts and contributors to offer their predictions for three years now.

This year's edition is bigger and bolder. Gutsier calls. More predictions. More graphics.

We've assembled a Fab Five to weigh in on the same five questions , what we call The Big Picture :Maria Bartiromo , Jim Cramer , Larry Kudlow , Joe Kernen and Pete Najarian .

We've also doubled the number of prognosticators from the network and added a Mood Meterto reflect the overall tone of each individual's set of predictions.

Judging The Judges

Of course, what good are predictions, if you don't grade their accuracy and veracity later. This year, we're tougher than ever in doing that. Suffice it to say, the Fed, economy and job market surprised or fooled a lot of people. Look for a 2010 Scorecardfor those prognosticators who contributed in 2011.

On that subject, a few highlights.

Phil LeBeau went two for three , rightly calling Ford's ascent and GM's IPO but underestimating Chrysler's capacity for survival.

Tony Fratto also went two for three, predicting the emerging markets rally and Congress' inability to pass climate change legislation.

Julia Boorstin , Christina Cheddar-Berk , Patti Domm and Darren Rovell ,were also more right than wrong.

Those who fared poorly could be genuinely surprised and—in some cases—write it off to bad luck or extenuating circumstances.

Diana Olick is a good example, batting one for four. She was wrong about the 30-year mortgage rate bottoming out. (In her defense who would have thunk Treasurys would continue to gain and push down rates? Probably only Fed boss Ben Bernanke.)

Andrew Busch delivered an 0-fer, but more than a few other people expected interest rate hikes in 2010, an we can certainly forgive him his loyal optimism and endless hopes about the Chicago Cubs.

You'll also find our annual Winners & Losers poll—a baker's dozen of characters and concepts that were big news this year. Your job is determining whether they are a winner, loser or neither.