The year-end look-back is a lazy journalistic artifact we can all do without.
So, here's our year-end look-back.
We exculpate ourselves by arguing that it's really a look-forward.
First: We have a few remarks about shocking recent events that will shape the investment landscape as we slide into 2017.
Second: We offer a roundup of 2016's turnovers in the ranks of chief investment officers. There are a number of fresh leaders who will be steering some important institutions into the new year.
Our village elders on the rise of Trump:
Two oddly similar events dominated the news this year: the UK Brexit referendum in June, and the U.S. presidential election in November.
They both produced the wrong outcome from the point of view of most opinion leaders and market-makers, and both will have continuing influence on financial markets.
All respectable commentators, from the Church of England to the BBC to David Beckham, urged a vote for Stay. Even President Obama crossed the pond to buttress the Stay forces. Learned economists warned that the entire global financial system could melt down if the UK unwisely separated from the EU. Pollsters lined up to assure the nervous that a Stay vote was in the bag.
But, Leave prevailed. Global markets dropped, then snapped back. Despite the dire auguries, Britain carried on, and today you can hardly see the scar.
Across the Atlantic and five months forward, we were dealt another shockingly wrong outcome. Respectable opinion and pollsters were again flummoxed, and here we are with President-elect Donald John Trump.
We were as gobsmacked as anyone and we turned, as we always do, to the investment community's village elders to learn what it all portends.
Ray Dalio of Bridgewater was quick out of the box with some cautious notes one week after the Trump victory.
He seemed to think that, based on "very early indications of what a Trump presidency might be like" there would be more good news than bad news for markets in 2017:
Relatively stronger US growth and relative tightening of US policy versus the rest of world is dollar-bullish. All this, plus fiscal stimulus that will translate to additional economic growth, corporate tax changes, and less regulation will on the margin be good for profitability and stocks, though for domestically oriented stocks more than multinationals, etc.
A month later, he was back with a longer, more considered analysis. He sees momentous change ahead and, on balance, more upside than downside for investors:
The shift from the past administration to this administration will probably be even more significant than the 1979-82 shift from the socialists to the capitalists in the UK, US, and Germany when Margaret Thatcher, Ronald Reagan, and Helmut Kohl came to power.... This particular shift by the Trump administration could have a much bigger impact on the US economy than one would calculate on the basis of changes in tax and spending policies alone because it could ignite animal spirits and attract productive capital.