It's the time of year where one celebrates life, plans for the future, buys glittery hats, and looks back at what one got completely wrong in trying to predict for the year. Thus, I present my 2015 prediction recap.
Prediction #1 - The Dow would finish the year up 0-5%
Thanks to a little year-end rally, as of this writing the Dow is down just 0.5% this year. So with a little more oomph, we may land exactly in my range. Include the dividend yield, and we definitely are. Despite the optimism of most strategists, I just didn't see a big year for stocks given the reasons I laid out in my piece from last year. Self-congratulating aside, given that my only investments are my company approved retirement plans, being right about a flat year is nothing to celebrate. I need a return on investment like all of you. Sadly, I don't expect a much better year next year, (see next year's predictions, due soon).
Prediction #2 - 10 year yield ends the year above 3%
Outcome: Horribly wrong
I couldn't have been more wrong about this one. A total failure of a prediction. Wasn't even close. My only consolations are that part of my prediction was that the Fed would raise interest rates this year, which it did, and that the recent trend on rates has been higher. But maybe I'm just trying to hang on to something, or anything, about this awful prediction.
Prediction #3 - Gold ends the year below $1,000 per ounce
Outcome: Wrong, (but stay tuned)
Gold had a lousy year, but not as lousy as I thought. It will end 2015 losing nearly 10% of its value, but still with four digits before the decimal. In trading, being too early on a call also means being wrong, but I suspect we will trade under $1,000 before too long in 2016. I have been negative on gold since it was above $1,700 per ounce, so the long-term prediction has held out. That said, if we go meaningfully under $1,000 I think we could see some buyers step in, so I think my gold prediction days are over. I'll avoid gold commentary next year.
Prediction #4 - A big sovereign default
Given that I did not see a recovery for oil prices this year, a scenario iwhere Venezuela and/or Russia defaulted on their sovereign bonds was not out of the question. They did not default. In fact, Venezuela recently has shown some positive signs it is moving away from the disastrous Chavez/Maduro era. Even with some serious reforms however, Venezuela may have a hard time meeting its obligations should oil prices stay low. Russia is also still suffering from weak oil and a weak ruble, though their weakness is helping the country a bit by growing exports. Either way, if oil stays low for most of 2016, (as I think it will), many of the petrodollar states could have a difficult next year ahead. Outside of oil-driven countries, also watch Puerto Rico's continued woes. I got it wrong in 2015, but 2016 could be a very interesting year on the sovereign side.
Prediction #5 - IBM splits up
IBM was not the worst performer in the Dow this year, but being the fifth worst non-oil company stock in the index can hardly be considered a victory for a company desperately trying to tell the world it is changing. A few months after I made this IBM prediction, the company unveiled a huge reorganization, but it did not include a split of the company. Investors remain disappointed, as shares traded above $200 just a few years ago. Even a Warren Buffett stamp of approval hasn't helped the stock. Unless the continued sales slump reverses, more big changes may be likely for Big Blue. Patience may be growing thin with the current structure.
To wrap up, I could also not predict my predictions would be so off. It was certainly one of the worst years I've had lately. You can recap the recaps of my previous years' predictions for 2014, for 2013, and for 2012.