How did my prophecies for 2018 pan out?

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At the beginning of each year, I make some fun predictions for the year ahead.

And at the end of the year I go back and review what was said then and compare it to what is now.

And that is what we are doing in  today’s Money Morning …

What are the scores?

It’s amazing just how wrong you can be, particularly given the incremental effects of a year’s worth of change, compared to comments made in “real time”. But that’s part of the fun – to make me look silly and bring some humility to the inflated ego sat at this desk.

To remind you of the scoring system, I score two points for a direct hit; one point for a near miss; zero points for a miss – and minus one for an abject fail.

There are ten questions, plus your annual Brucey-bonus sports prediction. Thus the maximum I can score is 22, while the minimum is -10.

22 is impossible, as is -10. You should be looking to get 10 or above, really. Above 14 is pretty darn good. Below seven or eight is pants.

Although I say that without having actually read through last year’s predictions yet, so I may live to regret that.

So here we go.

1: Sterling goes above $1.40

That was my first call. I was bullish. Brexit looked quite different back then. Apparently, it meant Brexit.

Prime minister Theresa May was about to give her Lancaster House speech, outlining a very different Brexit to the one she proposed eight months later at Chequers, and even more different to the deal she is currently trying to get through parliament.

Nevertheless sterling did go above $1.40. $1.43 was the high.

But it also went below $1.30 – when I said didn’t think it would – $1.25 was the low last week. So all in all, I get one point for a near-miss.

2: Oil gets above $80 a barrel

And doesn’t go below $50. That was the call. The high for the year in Brent was $87 (using rounded numbers); the low was $58. Two points.

3: The FTSE 100 breaks through 8,000

So close! The high for the year was 7,910. The low was 6,675 (and I projected 6,800). I’m tempted to give myself a point, but at this stage in the article I am still trying to curry favour with you. Zero points.

4: The Bank of England rate doesn’t get above 1%

“We get one, possibly two quarter-point rises, even if the inflation rate goes over 3%.”

We got the one quarter point rise in August, taking us to 0.75%, and inflation did briefly go above 3% back in January (2.4% to 3.1% has been the range). Two points.

5: Gold gets back above $1,400 an ounce

“And doesn’t go below $1,200”.

Wrong. $1,370 was the high (not too far off), while $1,170 was the low. $30 out on both sides. Not bad, really, but zero points.

6: Gold miners are good-ish

Wrong. They’ve been awful, as per usual. Zero points.

7: Inflation means commodities in general see some improvement

I thought inflation would make an unwelcome return in 2018. The QE-driven asset-price inflation of the early part of this decade would spill over into commodities – that was the logic.

The call was not unreasonable and the CRB commodities index did rise in the first five months of the year, peaking in mid-May. But the CRB spent the second half mostly in decline, so that it will end the year lower than where it began. One point. Just.

8: Theresa May is here to stay, like it or not

I’m going to quote in full because this one gives Nostradamus a run for his money.

“A combination of staying power and always taking the safest option means that Theresa May does not stand down, but is still prime minister this time next year. Nobody quite knows how or why; she’s just one of those things that always seems to be there”.

Two points.

9: US stocks stay strong – for now at least

Here is what I said. “Both the Dow Jones and the S&P 500 continue their strong 2017s into the first half of 2018. I’m not sure where they’ll be by the end of the year, but at some stage they’ll both be a good 13%–15% higher than where they are now”

At time of writing, the Dow was at 24,800 and the S&P 500 at 2,600. Both had a sharp sell off in February but recovered to make new highs in later in the year, the Dow at 27,000 and the S&P 2,940. That S&P high was precisely 13% higher! Mystic Meg or what? The Dow, however, only managed 10%. They’ve both mean mucky, to put it mildly, since.

I want to give myself two points for that – what’s 3% between friends? – but one point it is.

10: Bitcoin? You ain’t seen nothing yet

Haha. That was my big zero pointer. I couldn’t make my mind up: “Do I go stupid and say $50,000, or do I play safe and say crash?” was what I wrote, projecting a move back to $4,000.

It should really be minus one, but given the clear ambivalence of the call, I’ll let myself off with one.

Finally, there was my Brucey-bonus sports prediction, which was that England would have a good World Cup. However, I said quarters, not semis, so I only get one point.

And that brings my grand total to 10, which is, all in all, the bare minimum. Last year I got 14 out of a possible 26, so I did better.

Shucks. “See me” as my teachers used to say.

I’ll be back in the New Year with my predictions for 2019. In the meantime, may I take this opportunity to wish you and your loved ones a Happy Christmas.

And thanks so much for reading these Money Mornings. I do so enjoy writing them!