10 Predictions From The Man With The Crystal Ball

Even Byron Wien doesn’t expect to be as right in the future as he has been this year.

Traders work in the ten-year U.S. Treasury Note options pit at the Chicago Board of Trade in Chicago, Illinois, U.S.
Daniel Acker | Bloomberg | Getty Images
Traders work in the ten-year U.S. Treasury Note options pit at the Chicago Board of Trade in Chicago, Illinois, U.S.

Wien is the Senior Managing Director at the Blackstone Group, and if you’re not familiar with his Top 10 list, every year at the beginning of January the famed market strategist releases his surprises for the coming year. Now, as we wrap up October, it is amazing to go back and look at his list for 2009 and how accurate he was.

Here’s what he predicted back in January:

1. The S&P 500 will rise to 1200. It hasn’t happened yet, but after dipping below 700 in early March, the S&P has rallied to close to 1100, and Byron told me on the Wall Street Journal Reportthat he still thinks it will hit 1200 before year end.

2. Gold will rise to $1,200 per ounce. Again, we’re not there yet, but gold is trading comfortably above $1000 an ounce – and could rally even more – after starting the year well below that level.

3. Oil returns to $80 PER barrel. Few thought that would happen. It did.

4. The dollar will experience a “serious downward slide.” Correct, again.

5. The 10-year Treasury will yield 4%. It briefly touched 4% in June.

6. China’s growth will exceed 7%. The latest numbers out of China put growth at about 9%.

7. New York will threaten bankruptcy, with other states to follow. Fortunately, this hasn’t happened, but there are concerns over the financial condition of New York, California and several other states.

8. Housing starts will bottom in the fall. Wein believes that has happened.

9. The U.S. savings rate will not exceed 3%, as most economists expected. He was “sort of” right on this one. The savings rate jumped as high as 6% earlier in the year, but it is now back down to 3% as consumers show signs of spending again.

Winterizing Your Portfolio - A CNBC Special Report
Winterizing Your Portfolio - A CNBC Special Report

10. President Obama will slow troop withdrawals from Iraq and increase U.S. presence in Afghanistan. Another good call

So what does Byron think about his success? “Don’t count on it ever happening again in my lifetime,” he said to me.

Well, he may be overly modest. Byron is well-respected on the Street, and for good reason. He’s already starting to work on his 2010 surprises, and when I asked for a hint of what was to come, he said that one surprise could be “natural momentum in the economy.”

Here’s one prediction I’ll make: We’ll all be interested in what’s on his list for 2010, and you can be sure we’ll talk much more about it in my Investor Brief e-letter (click here to sign up) and on CNBC.



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