A Market Forecaster’s Report Card

As 2011 came to a close, the usual army of market gurus began making predictions for 2012. I’ve often criticized market forecasters for their embarrassing track records, so this year I made a point of saving a few articles so I could see how accurate their crystal balls would turn out to be.

The first one I bookmarked was called 10 market predictions for 2012—and how to profit from them, in The Globe and Mail. The guru is a portfolio manager for the GMG Defensive Beta Fund, based in New York. Let’s see how accurate his calls turned out to be, and whether you should have acted on them.

1. The S&P 500 will rise by at least 10%.

This probably seemed wildly optimistic a year ago, but it was correct. In fact, the S&P 500 is up about 16% so far in 2012. Unfortunately, the tactical advice was less helpful: “If you have a lot of conviction this prediction will come true, you might consider buying the Russell 1000 High Beta ETF. If you think the election will work its magic, but that the patient still has a bad case of anemia, you might consider buying the Russell 1000 Low Volatility ETF.”

Alas, Russell closed both these ETFs in August. Had you owned them in a non-registered account when they were liquidated, you might have been stuck with a nice taxable gain.

2. Greece will begin official negotiations to exit the euro.

The article predicted Greece would leave the eurozone in a “structured and orderly fashion,” and that it would “reintroduce the drachma alongside the euro for a three-year time frame.”  Talks regarding Greece’s departure from the eurozone did take place in November, but it looks like the country is staying put. About a week ago, Standard & Poor’s said the likelihood of Greek exiting the euro is one in three.

The advice for profiting from this prediction was to “underweight international and emerging market exposure.” Both the MSCI Europe and MSCI Emerging Markets indexes are up about 14% year-to-date.

3. President Obama wins re-election.

This one had a probability of 50%, and it was right. Our forecaster did not offer any advice about how one might have profit from calling the coin flip correctly, though the consensus seemed to be that an Obama win would be bad for stocks. U.S. markets are up slightly since the November 6 election.

4. China will allow the renminbi (yuan) to rise nearly 8 percent against the dollar.

Nope. The renminbi was down for the first three quarters of the year, and only a recent surge has resulted in any increase at all. As of December 19, the Chinese currency had gained less than 1.5% against the US dollar.

5. The commodity bull run resumes in 2012.

“Investors can play this by investing in global agricultural stocks,” the article says. “We are long Monsanto, but Deere, Caterpillar, and the PowerShares DB Agriculture Fund, none of which we own, are also viable candidates. To play the metals side of a surge in commodities, investors can look at PowerShares DB Base Metals Fund.”

Monsanto is up about 30% on the year, but that was the only good call here. Deere and Co. is up about 11% and Caterpillar is flat in a year where US large-caps have gained about 16%. Meanwhile the PowerShares DB Agriculture Fund is negative so far in 2012, and the PowerShares DB Base Metals Fund is up just 3%.

6. Europe will spend most of the year in a recession.

In November, economists declared Europe was indeed in a recession. “Based on these expectations,” our forecaster wrote, “I would recommend underweighting European equities.” As we’ve seen, the MSCI Europe Index is up about 14% year-to-date.

7. The United States will avert recession, with GDP growth below 2 percent.

The US did manage to stay out of recession, but its GDP growth in 2012 was higher than predicted: it increased 2.7% in the third quarter. It’s not clear how anyone could have profited from this call, even if it was accurate.

8. The 10-Year Treasury bill yield will move towards 3%.

Predictions about rising interest rates have been almost universal for more than three years. They have also been resoundingly inaccurate. As of December 19, the yield on 10-year US Treasuries was 1.89%.

9. Brazil’s stock market is going to be one of the best performers in 2012.

Markets around the world surprised everyone with their double-digit returns in 2012—except in Latin America’s largest economy. The MSCI Brazil Index is down more than 3% year-to-date.

10. Another shoe will drop and undermine investor confidence.

This prediction called for a financial scandal like the MF Global collapse of 2011. We certainly saw one of those in July, when the Libor scandal came to light. Barely a week later, a trading glitch at Knight Capital temporarily buggered up the pricing of a number of ETFs. Just this month HSBC was fined for helping drug lords launder money. So this was an accurate call, but it was about as brave—and as useful—as predicting heavy traffic during rush hour.

Did these predictions help you?

So, if you were looking to reposition your portfolio at the beginning of 2012, how useful would these predictions have been?

A few were broadly accurate (US stocks would perform well, there would a financial scandal), but could you have profited from them? Only if you also avoided the ones that were unequivocally wrong (Europe, the Chinese currency, commodities, rising rates, Brazil). Overall, an investor with a broadly diversified portfolio would have been better off ignoring each and every one of these predictions. Quelle surprise.

I have two predictions of my own for 2013. The first is market gurus will again make terrible forecasts and suggest tactical moves that will turn out to be harmful. The second is investors and the media will continue to lap them up while they criticize index investors for “doing nothing.”

45 Responses to A Market Forecaster’s Report Card

  1. gsp December 20, 2012 at 9:02 am #

    “3. President Obama wins re-election.

    This one had a probability of 50%, and it was right.”

    Care to explain how you derived this probability?

  2. Sylvain December 20, 2012 at 9:27 am #

    I understand this one as the prediction as 50% chances to be right. Different from Obama chances to win.

  3. Canadian Couch Potato December 20, 2012 at 10:17 am #

    @GSP and Sylvain: OK, the probability would not have been exactly 50%. All I meant was there were only two possible outcomes in the election (as opposed to predicting the winner of the Super Bowl before the season starts) and the polls were very close in the months leading up to the election.

  4. Mike Holman December 20, 2012 at 12:04 pm #

    Hey Dan. I enjoy these ‘guru’ prediction reviews.

    I will say however that being “stuck with a nice taxable gain” is not exactly the worst outcome. :)

  5. Pat December 20, 2012 at 12:12 pm #

    Right on Dan! Keeping it real. These posts are great.

  6. Canadian Couch Potato December 20, 2012 at 12:43 pm #

    @Mike: Fair enough about the taxable gain—better than a capital loss. But if you just hold a core equity fund rather than getting tactical, you can defer those gains for years.

  7. Noel December 20, 2012 at 2:22 pm #

    @Mike – Yes, “stuck with a nice taxable gain” is not exactly the worst outcome, but when the alternative was to be stuck with a nice gain that wasn’t taxable I’d rather have that (a la the 16% gain in an S&P Index fund).

    @CCP – Your ‘Quelle surprise’ comment made me burst out laughing (and I don’t even speak French ;) as did your two predictions. A great end-of-year post!

  8. Al Audet December 20, 2012 at 4:00 pm #

    Great article. Listening to financial pundits is always worth the “entertainment” value. It is even better in hindsight. “Head for the hills, we are heading for a major correction!!!” ….meh, I’ll rebalance after. (i’ll buy more)

  9. Derek @ Freeat33 December 21, 2012 at 9:19 am #

    I get really frustrated by all the talking heads and their arrogant predictions. Alternatively, you could view them as markets makers as their comments induce fear and/or greed.

  10. Mandy @ MoneyMasterMom December 21, 2012 at 9:21 am #

    Yes, who knew the Canadian couch pomme de terre was bilingual? Quelle Surprise, the talking heads ramble on and on but the market has a mind of its own.

  11. Noel December 21, 2012 at 10:55 am #

    @Derek – I don’t think the predictions are arrogant as that suggests there are predictions that are not arrogant. They’re just predictions.

    My favourite line about economists:

    ‘Economists have predicted 4 of the last 20 recessions.’

  12. Philippe V. December 21, 2012 at 11:22 am #

    This was a fun post to read!

    A famous economics forecaster (forgot the name) once said: the secret to staying alive in this business is: give them a number and give them a date, but never give them both at the same time…

    To faithful readers of your blog your two predictions for 2013 are not very surprising, but much more useful than predicting heavy traffic during rush hour :)

  13. Oldie December 23, 2012 at 10:16 am #

    “Prediction is very difficult, especially about the future”
    (Niels Bohr)
    Similar sentiments have also been attributed to Mark Twain and Yogi Berra.

  14. Noel December 24, 2012 at 1:57 pm #

    A friend who is thinking of index investing brought a recent investment commentary to my attention from a Toronto hedge fund manager who started his own firm 3 years ago. The manager talks about ‘drawdowns’ which he loosely defines as ‘the largest possible loss that could be experienced by an investor if he or she bought at the top and sold at the bottom’. This manager employs a long-short strategy in an attempt to minimize such drawdowns and, so far, has demonstrated he can do so versus the index. He charges a 2% annual fee with a 20% performance bonus on any net increase (with a high-water mark). My friend was concerned about this particular comment in the hedge fund manager’s latest newsletter:

    ‘One argument that is often presented for why one should ignore drawdowns
    goes along the lines of “Markets always go up in the long run so don’t worry
    about the path between point A and point B”. While this reasoning may sit well
    with some investors, it certainly does not apply to us. We can easily imagine
    how we would feel seeing our savings or worse, our clients’ savings, experience
    losses of 10% to 20% on a recurring basis. Losses of this significance are a reality
    of index investing and most long-only funds. We believe we have a better
    approach as demonstrated below…’

    The way I addressed this is that, yes, you will experience recurring drawdowns in index investing, as you will in active management. Perhaps an active manager employing a long-short strategy may be able to minimize the degree of such drawdowns, but at what cost? All data points to the fact that active management, whether employing long-short strategies or long-only strategies over the long-term have a slim chance of beating the market and furthermore, what are your chances of picking the manager who will? The fact is that this manager, in his short history of less than 3 years, has (after all fees and bonuses) only equalled the market in one fund and produce half and one-third the appropriate benchmark returns in the other two funds he manages, respectively, albeit so far having been able to do so with a fraction of the drawdowns of the appropriate benchmark index. But, just because he has been able to minimize drawdowns so far has no bearing on whether he will be able to on the future. Over time, if the performance of a passive index portfolio strategy exceeds the performance of his funds then even after a large drawdown your net asset value will likely exceed that of his so you will still be ahead of the game. Thus, such drawdowns should not bother you as you can take comfort in the fact that you are still ahead of the game. However, if you are so bothered by drawdowns and wish to minimize them as much as possible and feel that this manager can do so by employing his long-short strategy and you also recognize that, even so, his odds of beating the market are slim to none over the long-term, then that’s up to you. Just recognize that it will likely cost you long-term performance.

    Any thoughts on the hedge fund managers excerpt and my take on it?

  15. Canadian Couch Potato December 24, 2012 at 2:10 pm #

    @Noel: I don’t even know where to begin. It sounds like they are promising miracles: all the upside with little downside. If it only it were that easy. A three-year track record is absolutely meaningless, especially since you’re not seeing actual client accounts.

    If you are not prepared to deal with inevitable drawdowns, you need to change your asset allocation, not hire a hedge fund manager.

  16. Noel December 24, 2012 at 4:34 pm #

    That’s what I told him. Another couple comments he made was ‘why don’t active managers switch to passive index portfolios if it’s a better strategy’ (and I say why should they if clients are willing to throw higher fees at them for active management) and ‘it’s almost worth it to have a manager to keep me investing on an ongoing basis as the market does its gyrations. I’m afraid I’ll try to market time using index funds’ (so I told him to click on the ‘Find an Advisor’ link at the top of this page to have someone guide your passive index strategy on an ongoing basis). And, these comments are after reading your Moneysense Guide to the Perfect Portfolio and watching that UK documentary.

    The hedge fund manager he was looking at was waratahadvisors.com, who actually do post all their performance results publicly and on an ongoing quarterly basis, unlike most private wealth managers.

  17. Canadian Couch Potato December 24, 2012 at 9:47 pm #

    @Noel: Hiring an advisor to protect you from bad behavior is a totally legitimate thing to do. It’s just a bit odd to say “I’m afraid I’ll try to market time using index funds, so I’m going to pay a hedge fund manager 10 times more to market time for me.” :)

  18. john December 27, 2012 at 9:58 am #

    Thanks Dan for this. Very prescient of you to hold on to 2012 predictions and check up on it!
    Your post is similar to a book I just started reading “The Signal and the Noise” about how most predictions are bunk. (http://www.amazon.ca/The-Signal-Noise-Predictions-Fail-but/dp/159420411X)

    Guess this week and next we’ll be hearing a lot of 2013 predictions.

  19. Noel December 27, 2012 at 10:14 am #

    This is typically the time of year that active portfolios are measured against benchmarks. However, I have noticed most active managers use the price index rather than the total return index as the former does not include reinvested dividends and therefore makes their returns look better. I haven’t had a problem finding the latter for the current year but where can one find historical total return index data going back up to 20 years or so for, say, the S&P/TSX 60 & Composite Indexes and the S&P 500 index?

  20. Canadian Couch Potato December 27, 2012 at 10:28 am #

    @John: I just finished that book myself and I’m working on a post about it. Investing, baseball and poker in the same book. What`s not to love?

    @Noel: Using a price-only index as a benchmark is truly deceptive. To be fair, pretty much all mutual funds and ETFs use total-return indexes in their reports, which is the only fair comparison. One simple way to find total returns for the major indexes going back 10 years or so is to look at the web pages of ETFs tracking those indexes:
    http://ca.ishares.com/product_info/fund/performance/XIC.htm
    http://us.ishares.com/product_info/fund/performance/IVV.htm

    Another excellent source is Norbert Schlenker`s spreadsheet, updated annually. Note that foreign index returns are reported in Canadian dollars:
    http://libra-investments.com/Total-returns.xls

  21. Noel December 27, 2012 at 10:57 am #

    Thanks for those links. I found Norbert’s spreadsheet before but didn’t understand what he meant by nominal vs real returns. I should have guessed that the former meant returns with reinvested dividends as that set of data was universally more positive in number for each year, but I wanted to be sure. I also knew about the 10 year data posted alongside ETF data but was hoping to find data going back much further. I’ve contacted the TMX about why they do not make available without charge the only data which is useful as a benchmark against their financial advisor’s/broker’s/money manager’s performance. They could at least make this historical data available for the two most important equity benchmarks – the S&P/TSX 60 and Composite, especially given historical price index data seems to be available without charge for most indexes. I can’t believe they are expecting every private individual to pay for this basic data separately.

  22. Canadian Couch Potato December 27, 2012 at 12:15 pm #

    @Noel: Nominal vs. real return is not the same as price-only versus total return. “Nominal” means before inflation; “real” means after subtracting inflation.

    The TMX does not own the rights to S&P data. S&P makes some data available to the public, but otherwise they license it to financial firms and media outlets.

  23. Adam December 27, 2012 at 5:55 pm #

    Interesting read indeed…but when you consider these guys make their living off making predictions and selling magazines etc it is no surprise that there would be alot of bad predictions out there.

    My resolution for 2013 was to start investing again and I am sure glad I stumbled upon this site. I’ve been reading Millionaire Teacher and just bought your MoneySense book from Kobo.

    I am 29 and have ~$150,000, including RRSP, TFSA and company savings plan…Of the 150k roughly 90% is currently un-invested. I was foolish and lost about $25k in the crash of 08/09 and have been very market-shy since. I have no debt, but I do not own a house yet so I figure I’ve got $50k spare to invest like a couch-potato, longterm for retirement – all of which will be split between my personal RRSP and TFSA accounts. I must admit I am a little concerned about market timing considering it’s a large sum to put down at once, but I guess I shouldn’t be worried if my goal is very long-term…

    Anyway, I’m currently considering the following mix:
    30% Canadian Equity – Vanguard VCE ETF
    30% Canadian Bonds – Vanguard VSB ETF (debating with VAB)
    20% US – Vanguard VUS ETF (or could go S&P index instead, but don’t know whether hedged or non-hedged is best, despite reading what I could about the difference)
    20% Global – Vanguard VEF ETF

    Seems Vanguard is basically a one-stop shop…I looked at numerous alternatives but Vanguard seems to be the cheapest option (averaged MER ~0.20%), unless I am missing something… Also, considering I will likely balance with cash in-flows twice a year (planning for $10-15k per year total), ETF’s seem to be ever-so-slightly cheaper than the TD e-series funds since I have 9.99 trades.

    Do you see anything wrong with the allocations I’ve set up? Should I consider adding a REIT or REIT ETF or wait until I’ve got a bigger portfolio to manage? My Dad really likes Dundee but I’ve been burned blindly following his advice before ..

    I am not going to jump in too quickly as I feel I still have alot of reading to do, but at the moment I feel pretty comfortable with what I have laid out. Thanks again for all the useful (and free!) information available on this site – I will definitely be a regular visitor.

  24. Canadian Couch Potato December 27, 2012 at 7:19 pm #

    @Adam: Glad you’re enjoying the site. The Vanguard ETFs are generally the cheapest available in Canada and you can certainly build a well diversified portfolio using only their products, though the TD e-Series funds are also a great choice for a portfolio of that size. In genera, I’d say $50K is too small a portfolio to worry about adding REITs: that can always come later. As you may have read in my MoneySense book, I am not a fan of currency hedging for long-term investors, since it adds an extra layer of cost for a dubious benefit. All the best, and hop you keep reading.

  25. Noel December 28, 2012 at 4:14 pm #

    @CCP – I found out that there is indeed free Total Return Index Values available for the TSE. If you go to http://www.quotemedia.com you can enter the following symbols at the top right in the ‘Symbol:’ box

    S&P/TSE 60 Total Return Index (Quotemedia symbol is ^TX60:CA)
    S&P/TSE Completion Total Return Index (Quotemedia symbol is ^TX40:CA)
    S&P/TSE Composite Total Return Index (Quotemedia symbol is ^TSX:CA)

    This will bring up a current quote page for the index with a chart. Above the chart and quotes are some tabs; the last tab is called “Historical” – click this tab. On the Historical page it provides the last 30 days of trading. The last data item on the right called “TRIV” is the total return index value level for the index. It is the level calculated for the index and incorporates the dividends reinvested and you can change the date period to and from to view historical levels.

    The S&P/TSE Composite Total Return Index data goes back to 1998 while the other two indices go back to 2001. However, I found the values for the TSE Composite Total Return Index going back to 1950 in this report (including bond historical data and other interesting information and charts about TSE returns, etc.):

    http://www.ironwealth.ca/usercontent/documents/don%20andrews%20Canada%20Life%20par%20oct%2019th.pdf

    Of course, if one has a totally indexed portfolio this may not be relevant as you will achieve near market index returns (ie market index returns less the very small MER drag). However, it is interesting to see what happened in the past and to compare against any non-index portfolios you have (especially if you are looking at switching to indexing).

  26. Oldie December 28, 2012 at 6:21 pm #

    @Noel:

    “Of course, if one has a totally indexed portfolio this may not be relevant as you will achieve near market index returns (ie market index returns less the very small MER drag)”

    Sorry, I miss your point. Why would this information not be relevant if I had a totally indexed portfolio? Do you mean it would not be relevant because I have already made my investment choice? Even so, I admit to human frailty, and would still likely look back in history and double check the wisdom of my choice (and maybe gloat a little.)

    Or did you mean something else?

  27. Noel December 28, 2012 at 8:03 pm #

    @Oldie – It would not be relevant because you are investing in funds that replicate the index. So, you will get the index returns. If you had 100% invested in a ETF that replicates the S&P/TSE Composite Index then your returns are going to be the same as that index less the ETF fund MER (the ‘drag’ if you will) and less any tracking error. The only reason to benchmark would be to see what the tracking error was. If you have 50% invested in, say, an ETF that replicates the return of the S&P/TSE Composite index and 50% in an ETF that replicates the return of a bond index then your return will be the same as the average of the actual S&P/TSE Composite Index and the actual bond index less the MER drag and tracking errors in both cases. As you know, the whole idea behind investing in index funds is to achieve index returns.

    But, if you were just picking stocks on your own and not investing in index funds then the index values are useful to benchmark your performance against.

  28. Oldie December 28, 2012 at 11:39 pm #

    @Noel: OK, I get it. Going forward you know with absolute certainty that you’ll get the index return minus the MER drag — that’s a given, although you cannot predict what the absolute rate of return will be. (I was only confused by your comment because I was looking at the situation from the viewpoint of an investor who is only beginning today to invest in indexed funds, and was looking backwards to see what the return of the index had been over the past 60 years, say, and to calculate what my own return would have been if I had been astute enough to have invested in index funds, if they had existed back then ).

  29. Noel December 29, 2012 at 2:00 pm #

    @Oldie – One of my favourite graphs is ‘S&P 500 Best, Worst & Average Annualized [Nominal Total] Rates of Return for Holding Periods Ranging From 1 to 130 years, Since January 1871′. The minimum holding period to not show a loss seems to be about 15 years. Although unlikely (but then black swans appear to be appearing more frequently these days) I always tell anyone investing in equity index funds that it is possible they could have the same one dollar 15 years later if they stay invested and likely even worse if their portfolio is actively managed. Asset allocation and rebalancing could can certainly enhance their returns with the result of shortening this minimum time period so as not to incur a loss. But, the effect of this cannot be predicted. So, I tell them to adjust their expectations for their time horizon based on this graph. And, if one is going all equity to invest only if you don’t need the money for at least 15 years or a bit less depending on your risk tolerance and ability to accept risk. The graph is to the year 2009 and has not yet been updated (they seem to do it about every 3 years). I haven’t found a similar one for the S&P/TSE Composite.

    http://3.bp.blogspot.com/_5aAsxFJOeMw/SjfSXXi4wcI/AAAAAAAACdw/JfsQ3svYcEs/s1600-h/SP500-Best-Worst-Average-Nominal-Returns-Since-Jan-1871-Holding-Periods-1-to-130-Years.PNG

    Also, on the same website, you can get the returns for the S&P 500, both nominal and real and also before and after inflation here:

    http://politicalcalculations.blogspot.ca/2006/12/sp-500-at-your-fingertips.html#.UN87gqzNmSo

    Although the past doesn’t necessarily have any bearing on the future I do find that for many that are exploring index investing they derive a bit more confidence in going the indexed portfolio route after examing data like this.

  30. Oldie December 29, 2012 at 8:18 pm #

    @Noel: This is great — very graphic, and convincingly demonstrates the worst (and best, too) possible scenario over the past 130 years if you had held a portfolio of 100% S&P500 (for the first graph — without inflation). Does there exist a corresponding graph for the TSE going back for more than 15 years? It’s a good incentive to remember to diversify and to add bonds to your mix.

  31. Noel December 29, 2012 at 8:51 pm #

    No, as I mentioned above. However, the TMX was kind of to provide me, free of charge historical TRIV data monthly for the TSE Composite Index going back to 1956 and I was able to find yearly TRIV data before that to 1950. But, the S&P/TSE Composite Index was created in 2002 by renaming the TSE 300 Index and with the involvement of S&P and the TSE 300 Index was created in 1977 so the data before that must have been created by S&P.

    When I have time I am going to attempt a similar chart going back to 1950 and post it.

  32. Noel December 29, 2012 at 8:52 pm #

    I might add that the S&P500 doesn’t really go back to 1871 either and that that data was also created.

  33. Oldie December 30, 2012 at 6:18 pm #

    @Noel: in the very instructive graph that you found ‘S&P 500 Best, Worst & Average Annualized [Nominal Total] Rates of Return for Holding Periods Ranging From 1 to 130 years, Since January 1871′, what exactly are they measuring, for the data points prior to 1923 when S&P published Index didn’t exist (as far as I know) and between 1923 and 1957 when the S&P Index included only 90 stocks?

  34. Canadian Couch Potato December 30, 2012 at 7:09 pm #

    @Noel and Oldie: While it is true the S&P 500 was only created in the 1950s, there are useful data on US stocks going back to 1926: this is the usual starting date used by researchers looking for long-term data. It can be found in the annual Ibbotson SBBI Yearbook. (SBBI stands for Stocks, Bonds, Bills and Inflation.)

    Some researchers (including Jeremy Siegel in Stocks for the Long Run) use data going back to the 19th century, but I would take these with a grain of salt.

  35. Noel December 30, 2012 at 7:33 pm #

    If you go to this link: http://politicalcalculations.blogspot.ca/2006/05/mapping-sp-500-performance-since-1871.html#.UODYlazNmSp it appears to have been created/compiled by Robert Shiller and you he explains here where he got some of the data: http://www.econ.yale.edu/~shiller/data.htm

    Obviously there has not been an S&P 500 since 1871 (or a TSE Index since 1950) so a proxy was created for the index for the time period where there was no such thing. As such, maybe the more recent data is more relevant. Certainly the past worst case scenario could only be better if fewer and more recent data points were used since data points that might have contributed to that scenario might thus be eliminated from the calculations.

    Getting a bit off topic here, but if you wander through the http://politicalcalculations.blogspot.ca/ website you’ll find a lot of interesting information. They refer to a great pdf chart with a wealth of data on the Total Return S&P500 Index and associated information since 1900 (annual dividend yield, inflation, etc on the x axis) which you might find interesting, especially the key events running down the y axis (you’ll have to zoom in or print it off large format at Fedex Office).

    A lot of this is more for curiousity’s sake since most of the detail does not matter. All that matters as a reference point is what the possible range of returns are and their associated holding periods. Past returns do not dictate future returns. They are merely possible but not necessarily probable.

  36. Noel December 30, 2012 at 7:35 pm #

    The chart I refer to in the 2nd last paragraph can be found here:

    http://www.crestmontresearch.com/docs/Stock-Matrix-Tax-Exempt-Nominal4-11×17.pdf

  37. Noel December 30, 2012 at 8:33 pm #

    Ok this will be my last post on this topic as we are veering off the topic of this blog and I am sure Dan doesn’t want that (too much!). This is from http://www.advisorperspectives.com/dshort/updates/Validating-the-SP-Composite.php

    ‘The composite index is just that, a composition that splices the S&P 500, which started in March 1957, with historical data that included the companies in the S&P 90, founded in 1926, the S&P 233 weekly index dating from 1923, and earlier market data painstakingly gathered by Alfred Cowles. Cowles used family money to found the Cowles Foundation and was responsible for collecting comprehensive US stock data from 1871 to 1930. His magnum opus, the 2nd edition of his Common Stock Index was published in 1939 and is now available online in PDF format.

    Here’s the link and the Introduction provides much of the background for anyone who is interested: http://cowles.econ.yale.edu/P/cm/m03-2/index.htm

  38. Brett Wilson December 31, 2012 at 4:44 pm #

    I really enjoyed these predictions. All were fairly accurate except the grexit.

  39. Canadian Couch Potato December 31, 2012 at 5:00 pm #

    @Brett: I think you’re being generous. Four of the 10 were absolutely wrong (4, 5, 8 and 9). A coin-flipper could have got five out of 10 right. And as I tried to argue in the post, not a single one of the forecasts would have been useful to an investor who simply holds a diversified portfolio for the long term.

  40. Moffated January 3, 2013 at 11:21 am #

    Toe Blake once said “predictions are for gypsies”.

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