The Track Record of Market Pundits
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At the start of 2017, I compiled a list of predictions that market gurus had made for the upcoming year, along with some items I heard frequently from investors, for a sort of consensus on the year’s “sure things.”
As is my practice, I will give a score of +1 for a forecast that came true, a score of -1 for one that was wrong, and a 0 for one that was basically a tie.
Bonds and the inflation surprise
Our first sure thing was that the Federal Reserve would continue to raise interest rates in 2017, leading many to recommend investors limit their bond holdings to the shortest maturities. Economist Jeremy Siegel at one point even warned bonds were “dangerous.” And on March 15, 2017, the Fed raised interest rates by 0.25 percentage points. It did so again on June 14, 2017, and once more on Dec. 13, 2017.
However, despite the prediction that interest rates would rise having actually come to pass, the Vanguard Long-Term Treasury Index ETF (VGLT) returned 8.6% for the year, outperforming Vanguard’s Intermediate-Term Treasury Index ETF (VGIT), which returned 1.7%, and the Vanguard Short-Term Treasury Index ETF (VGSH), which returned 0.0%. Score: -1.
The second sure thing was that, with the large amount of fiscal and monetary stimulus we have experienced, in addition to the anticipation of a large infrastructure spending program, the inflation rate would rise significantly. On Dec. 13, 2017, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that, in November, the Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers (CPI-U) increased 0.4% on a seasonally adjusted basis. The agency also reported that the index for all items rose 2.2% over the 12 months ending November 2017. The index for all items less food and energy had risen just 1.7% over the same period. Score: -1.