Traditionally, the New Year is a time to look forward, for hopeful resolutions, for celebration.
But the annual predictions for 2021 may be something of a harsh reminder for analysts and investors of how much they struggled to correctly predict. The pandemic immediately mocked all forecasts.
“A funny analysis of what U.S. chief executives would say in 2020 by data company Sentieo for the New York Times found a 70,000 percent rise in the usage of “unprecedented” over the previous year, while “humiliated” tripled – maybe code for “it wasn’t my fault, but you can still pay me the same.” To be honest, it just seemed like no one had an idea what to do in March – not even governments –
In 2020, London’s FTSE 100 benchmark index dropped 15 percent, the worst result since the financial crisis of 2008, but not as conspicuous as the wider economic downturn, on a scale not seen in the UK. As early as 1706.
The pandemic in the U.S. has been added to the impressive domination of major tech firms such as Apple, Amazon and Google, so that in 2020 the S&P 500 only gained about 15 percent. The big question for 2021 is how much of the turnaround that has taken place since the dark days of March remains. The promising findings seem to have at least laid the foundations for a return to something resembling normalcy for what is shaping up to be a number of vaccinations.
Analysts are cautiously positive about the year ahead, considering the efforts of the past year, and at least one uncertainty has been addressed.
The U.K., following the noise and considerable frustration, Leaving the EU at 11 p.m. Thursday – Central Europe celebrated the romance of disengagement, in a final sting in the tail of the negotiators, at midnight Central European time. The jury is still out on the dubious merits of the trade deal, but at least businesses know just how much additional paperwork is coming their way – although with a shamefully limited time to plan. UBS’s Nick Nelson was among the braver U.K. He said the FTSE 100 will end the year at 7200 points, which would be a gain of about 10 percent on the 6460 points at the end of 2020. Goldman Sachs projected that the S&P 500, the U.S. benchmark, will end the year near 4300 points, which would be a gain of about 15 percent, while a number of other Wall Street investment banks believe 3900 points i.
Central banks have been the only game in town – and the referee to boot – since the global financial crisis and its lengthy aftermath. The pandemic demonstrated that the U.S. In order to avoid a default, the Federal Reserve, the European Central Bank and the Bank of England were more eager than ever to do whatever it took.
Betting that they will help the markets for as long as possible is the closest thing to a sure thing in the sense of the last decade and a half.