Friday, February 17, 2012

Predictably Unpredictable

By Eric Burkholder, Portfolio Manager
A 2011 review of market outcomes and the “experts” who failed to predict them.
 “Prediction is very difficult, especially if it's about the future.” - Niels Bohr, Danish physicist
Entering 2011, many investors had great hope in the world economic recovery.  Equity markets had just tallied two straight years of strong performance, central banks remained committed to low rates, and major developed countries were working to resolve debt issues.  As would be expected, pundits were out in full force predicting another great year for stock investors.  A survey conducted by CNNMoney of 32 “experts” found the average prediction for the 2011 S&P 500 return was 11%.  In fact, not one of the experts thought the S&P 500 would decline.[1]  How accurate were they?   The S&P 500 ended exactly flat in price at yearend and eked out a 2.11% return with reinvested dividends.