These are the times that try men's souls; even market optimists like hedge fund master Byron Wien.
Wien told CNBC Wednesday he continues to be optimistic there will be at least some growth in the U.S. economy next year, but admitted his confidence was shaken by events in 2011's second half.
"I’m sure that there were days…where I lost my self-confidence. You can’t watch the market free-fall for two months without feeling that you lost it," said the vice chairman of Blackstone Advisory Partners.
"But I was optimistic, and during that period I did think values were coming up," he added. "During October I felt terrific, because it looked like the market had become rational. But then the European crisis intensified and the markets headed back down. It’s not the same kind of freefall but it can’t make a positive dent."
Back in July, the bullish Wien predicted second-half gross domestic product would be "better than 3 percent" and the federal budget "will be cut and the European credit crisis will be resolved."
Cut to November. Wien told CNBC he is "still playing around" with his 2012 GDP forecast.
"I do think the U.S. economy is going to show growth next year, but it will be slow growth," he said. "Whether it will be sufficient growth to satisfy the policymakers, I don’t know. And I don’t know what they can do about it," since the Federal Reserve "is already as accommodative as possible."
As he said in September, he doesn't believe the U.S. is going into a recession. Even during the worst times, "I never believed that and I don’t believe it now," he told CNBC.
But the failure of the congressional super committee to come up with a way to cut $1.2 trillion from the deficit over 10 years "was a very disillusioning experience for most investors and the public as a whole," one that could have market repercussions.
"I think the question is, can the market be saved by valuation," said Wien. "The valuation is very attractive. But Europe has to get its sovereign debtcrisis over, and maybe it needs the crisis to intensify to do that."