This is the third extraordinarily successful year in a row for MoneyShow's Howard R. Gold, also of The Independent Agenda, who credits a middle-of-the-road approach that tunes out talking-head gibberish for having his hits greatly outnumber his misses.
It's now time for my annual review of this column's "performance." Though I don't manage other people's money, I do give investment advice, and being accountable comes with the territory.
In brief, I had my third consecutive year of correctly calling the big moves in the market. Going back to 2010, following this column's recommendations would have kept you more heavily invested during major advances and less exposed during corrections. (I never recommend being 100% in or out of stocks.)
I've made mistakes and have sometimes featured advisors who got it wrong. But my columns were pretty much on target.
It actually started before the calendar turned. In a November 10, 2011 column called "2012 Could Be a Good Year for Stocks," I wrote: "If we can stay out of recession in the US and avoid one in the developing world, earnings of US-based companies may hold up well enough to support somewhat higher stock prices."
I also wrote that election years historically were the second best of the four-year presidential cycle for the stock market "and during years in which incumbent presidents run for re-election, the market has beaten its average election-year performance significantly." The S&P 500 is up 13.7% since then.
- Read Howard's piece "2012 Could Be a Good Year for Stocks" on MoneyShow.com.
On January 5, in my first column of the new year, I laid out six big themes for 2012, and five substantially came to pass:
- The European debt crisis will drag on, but there may be some progress. "And don't underestimate the willingness of the European Central Bank under Mario Draghi to take a page from Ben Bernanke's playbook and flood the zone with cash if things get rough." Check to both.
- Still, several European countries will go into recession, and some could lose their AAA rating this year. Standard & Poor's downgraded France and Austria from AAA a week later, and the Eurozone had negative GDP growth in the second and third quarters.
- The US will avoid recession for much of the year, and growth will be decent. "No great shakes, maybe 2% or so-and continued slow improvement in private-sector employment throughout the year." Bingo on both counts.
- US stocks should have a decent year, too, though the cyclical bull market is near its end-we covered that, but I'm not sure about the second part yet.
- Emerging markets continue to lose their luster-and ETFs tracking them have lagged the S&P 500 badly since September 2011.
My only big theme that didn't pan out was that "black swans are lurking," but since black swans by definition are unpredictable events, I'll call that a draw.
- Read how Howard's political predictions for 2012 turned out on The Independent Agenda.
The following week, I wrote a column called "US Stocks Are Still Investors' Best Bet," in which I repeated my long-held belief that investors would do well investing stateside.
I didn't foresee the strong performance of German and other developed European stock markets, but if you had most of your equity exposure in US stocks of all sizes and some other money in diversified international funds, you reaped most of those gains, too.
NEXT: Sell in April and Go Away