That pesky contrarian point-of-view

by John Hartley

Confession time here folks, my favorite bumper sticker of all time, two words:  "Question Authority." Of course, the crisp, clear black and white world of college days devolves into a murky spectrum of gray as one ages. But question authority or perhaps, question "conventional wisdom" may have its place in the investing world.

Early 2013, market pundits expected a good year for financial markets, the fiscal cliff notwithstanding. Many analysts expected large-cap equity to outperform small-  and mid-emerging markets to outperform international developed and fixed-income yields to remain low.

One year out, what happened: 2013 was a tremendous year, in equities, though small- and mid-cap outperformed large-cap. Emerging markets, particularly Latin America, disappointed. And that darned Fed talk of tapering in the spring sent interest rates up and bond returns down for the year.

So what are the (suspect) market predictions for 2014?

  • Continued improvement in housing and employment lead to broader, yet subdued economic growth
  • Improved economy, low inflation and continuing accommodation by the Fed lead to further record highs in the stock market (but when will that long-awaited, yet normal market correction occur?).
  • And the easy one: it will be a bumpy ride, particularly with Fed tapering and ahead of the mid-term elections this fall.

Believe I'll keep my hands off my IRA, other than rebalancing, and look to the long-term.