The Year Ahead: "We Have No Idea," Says Recent Analysis

A recent report on the market year ahead began, “We have no idea.” Authored by Paul Hickey, Justin Walters, and George Pearkes, the report published by Bespoke Investment Group describes trying to “look out one year from now and tell people what the market will or will not do” as “a fool’s errand”. The New York Times summarizes: “what is likely, if not absolutely certain, is that the Wall Street consensus will be wrong.” The current consensus appears to be that the market will rise 7%, but “consensus predictions were inaccurate in every single year” since 2000. Further, “not once since 2000 has Wall Street predicted that the market would decline in a calendar year,” but it “actually fell in five of those years.” While some factors do seem to have a degree of predictive validity, like PE ratio and the level of prevailing interest rates, the Times notes, “at the moment, those two factors point in different directions.” Unpredictability is not limited to new year analysis, of course. Data collected by S&P Dow Jones Indices tracking mutual funds through September 2015 shows that “active mutual funds . . . performed no better as a group than you would expect if their managers had merely flipped coins.”