It's that time of year again! Regular as the swallows returning to Capistrano, media savant Robert J Coen confides to an expectant world each mid-summer his predictions for the advertising economy. At the same time revising up or down his earlier forecasts.

Coen, svp and forecasting director at the New York office of Universal McCann, sees a sunny 2004 and raised (from December's stab of 6.9%) his estimate of adspend growth in national and local media to 7.3%. Minimal change, you might think, a differential of just 0.4 percentage points; but in fact a swing of almost 5.8%.

Coen believes that next year will also follow the bull trend, with spend increasing over 2004 by 6.5%. "The economic expectations are much brighter," he opines.

But in accordance with oracular best practice, he hedged his bets: "We are more confident a sustained economic expansion is in place … unless, of course [there is] a disaster somewhere, which can blow everything out of the water."

Elsewhere in the oracle biz, Merrill Lynch media seer Lauren Rich Fine also this week increased her earlier guess of 6% expenditure growth to 6.6%. As one media bystander remarked: "Rather like being able to bet on a horse after it's passed the winning post."

Data sourced from: New York Times; additional content by WARC staff