The key to drawing useful information out of noisy data is to rely on multiple “sensors.” Alone, each sensor may capture only a small portion of the true signal, and may not be greatly useful in and of itself. The power comes when the sensors are used together in order to distinguish the common signal of interest from the surrounding noise.
This is going to be a short letter summarizing my impressions from the last few days I spent in Washington, D.C.
It may not be my money, but it is my job. — Charles Ellis in Investment Policy: How to Win the Loser's Game
We would like to take this opportunity to extend our warmest Holiday Wishes to all of our clients and their advisers. 2016 certainly was a year for the history books – from the Brexit surprise to the November surprise; the year certainly was not one that improved the reputation of pollsters!
I gave you my own thoughts last week (see “Skeptically Optimistic”). Today we’ll review several other forecasts from people who deserve your attention. Of necessity, I must leave out some good ones, but I think the ones I cover will give you plenty of useful information.
“We are not enemies, but friends. We must not be enemies. Though passion may have strained it must not break our bonds of affection. The mystic chords of memory, stretching from every battlefield and patriot grave to every living heart and hearthstone all over this broad land will yet swell the chorus of the Union, when again touched, as surely they will be, by the better angels of our nature.” - Abraham Lincoln, 1809-1865 16th President of the United States
One of the attempted barbs tossed my way at various points in the past 20 years is “Cassandra.” Frankly, I kind of like it.
As we’ll see, a great deal will happen in the first third of the year that could (and likely will) radically change the course of events in the last two-thirds. Furthermore, the possible outcomes are in the hands of inherently unpredictable individual humans otherwise known as politicians (and not just in the US, thank you very much!) instead of dispassionate market forces. Fancy quantitative models will be of little help.
Outcomes are not independent of initial conditions. While there are certainly policy shifts that could encourage greater productive investment and raise the long-run trajectory of economic growth, no shift in economic policies is likely to produce rapid, sustained economic growth in the next few years because the underlying factors that drive rapid, sustained growth aren’t presently in a position to support it.
In 2016, the U.S. economy navigated some difficult challenges including low oil prices, a strong dollar, tightening financial conditions, and the threat of deflation.