At the beginning of 2015, I set out my road map for 2015 with 12 predictions for the year ahead.
We're well past the halfway point now, so I wanted to check in on the plan and see how I'm doing.
There's quite a lot we can learn...
My top 12 – some belters and some absolute shockers
I make quite specific predictions, so, beware – there's a lot that can go wrong. The scoring system is as follows: I score two points for a hit, one point for a near-hit, no points for a miss, and minus one for what my youngest would call an 'epic fail'.
I suggested $1,350 an ounce as the high for the year and $1,050 as the low. We haven't made either target yet. The high for the year was $1,307 and the low $1,070 – so not too far off.
For now, I'm giving myself zero points. If I was an analyst in a bank I'd be 'revising my targets lower'. $1,350 is starting to look like a big ask. But who knows? Anything's possible.
2. Gold miners
Ouch. I thought the falling oil prices would make miners more profitable and thus more attractive. Wrong. I suggested a high for the year above $100 for the XAU – the index of the 16 largest gold miners – it got to $83. And I suggested $250 for the HUI – the index of the largest unhedged gold miners. The HUI got to $211.
A rather better performance here. Here was the call: "A high for the year near $1.62. As for the lows, I think we'll break last year's lows of $1.48, head below $1.45 and perhaps even get within spitting distance of $1.40."
So far the high for the year has been $1.59 and we hit $1.45 in April. The current price is $1.56. There's a good chance we'll see $1.62 and possibly even higher by 2016. As for the lows of the year – they're already in the past.
4. The euro
With the euro at $1.21 on 1 January, I suggested a low for the year of $1.08 and a high above $1.30. I was right about the direction, but the target was exceeded – the low for the year is $1.04. Current price is $1.10. A high of $1.30 is looking almost as unlikely as $1,350 gold.
5. UK interest rates
I said they're not going anywhere and, so far, I've been right. Perhaps we'll get a little nibble upwards later in the year, but I'll stick with this one.
Using the WTIC benchmark, I suggested a low of $40 a barrel and a high of $60. The low was $42 and the high $62. I'd say that's a pretty good call. We're now at $47 and in a downtrend – we could yet see $40, who knows?
7. US stock markets
I was ambivalent about US stocks, and the jury is still out on this one. My prediction was that the Nasdaq would be the stand-out performer and manage a re-test of its 2000 high at 4,800. That's been a fair call. It's outdone the S&P 500 and the Dow. 4,694 has been the high. Almost there. Current price is 4,560. The retest could still happen.
8. The FTSE 100
As for the FTSE, 6,900 was my target high and 6,000 the low. We actually got to 7,122 – so target exceeded. The low so far has been 6,300. We're now at 6,600 so that 6,000 target would entail a 10% sell-off. It's still possible, we're in a downtrend, but I'm not setting too much store by it.
9. The general election
I predicted a lot of "twists, turns, fear-mongering, gerrymandering, tactical voting" and "devious manipulation of statistics", but "socially, nothing much would change as a result". I was kind of right about that, but I was wrong about the main show: I predicted a win for a Tory-led coalition of some kind.
10. The EU
I said it would somehow stay intact for another year. So far it has. Somehow.
11. UK house prices
The general call was that the market would continue atrophying, particularly for property above £1.5m, but that there might be a pick-up for property beneath £925,000. That seems to be the pattern. Volumes have crashed, prices haven't.
My outright bearish call for new high-end, new build prices in Vauxhall to fall has also proved good. Take a look at some of the price drops on Zoopla. There are plenty of them with 15% or more off the asking price. That number is only going to get bigger.
12. The footy
Chelsea would win the league. Burnley, Hull and Leicester would go down. Three out of the four right. Pretty good. If only Leicester hadn't put in that amazing run towards the end of the season. Never mind, they'll go down next season. I'm not sure Ranieri is the right man for the job.
I'll tally up a proper score at the end of the year, but, so far, I've made some very good calls and some shockers. There is a take-away here.
Just reading through those January predictions, it's amazed me how much the investment landscape has changed. The general election result, the strength in sterling, the re-eruption of Greece, the commodities collapse, the China collapse – in just eight months this is quite a different world.
It's vital to have, as Alastair Campbell puts it, an objective, a strategy and tactics. Your objective is to make money. Your strategy is to invest it well and manage your risk. Your tactics – buy this, sell that – have to change if the investment landscape changes.
You cannot get too wedded to an idea. You have to be flexible. The truth of that idea is in the price.
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