Welcome to 2016. Tradition dictates that you spend the first few weeks or so reading forecasts for the coming year. I can say with certainty that most of them will be wrong. A smaller number may hit the target. Unfortunately, no one knows which forecasts will fall into which category.
For the last 16 years my first letter of the year has also been a forecast issue, and I will continue to go with that tradition – but with one major caveat. I do not base my forecasts on mathematical models or some finely honed methodology, but on my sense of where the economic world stands today and where I think it might likely be in the near future.
Actually, I’m going to spend the first few pages demonstrating that the mathematical models used to forecast GDP and all sorts of interesting economic events are basically nonsense.
For me, forecasting the year ahead is somewhat like being an explorer who comes to the top of a high new mountain pass along with a group of his friends and looks far out in the distance and sees another mountain pass, shrouded in clouds but offering the promise that it’s possible to continue the journey. It is clear to him that they should all forge ahead to find a way to that next mountain pass, but between his location and his destination lie all manner of unknown geographical features, not to mention the prospect of unfriendly natives who may want to contest their passage.
So today, as we crest the mountain pass of a new year, I will look off in the distance and tell you what I see. Let me be clear, though, that I’m not coming back from the future and telling you what it’s like; I am merely hoping to get our general direction right. Some years the path ahead seems remarkably straightforward and clear of obstructions. I can tell you right now that this year the challenges seem particularly fog-shrouded. But what’s an explorer to do but to press ahead?
Before we begin, I want to suggest you mark out time in 2016 to attend my Strategic Investment Conference. This year we’ve moved the event to Dallas. The dates are May 24-27.
I’m proud to say that SIC probably has more repeat attendees than any conference I know. This fact speaks to the care with which my conference team organizes the event and the quality of our speakers. A side effect is that the bar is raised a little each year. Somehow I have to deliver a better-than-ever program year after year – and somehow we’ve always done it.
My goal in designing the agenda is to give you a mixture of old favorites as well as new perspectives. Our confirmed speakers so far (in no particular order) are George Friedman, Mark Yusko, Pippa Malmgren, Charles Gave, Lacy Hunt, Anatole Kaletsky, David Rosenberg, David Zervos, Gary Shilling, Louis Gave, and Neil Howe. We will be confirming several others within the next few weeks. You probably know at least some of those names. If not, you should. Just this initial group is quite a brain trust.
This year I’ve juggled the schedule to give us more time for informal networking opportunities. SIC attracts an impressive group of attendees, and every year I hear from people who made invaluable business contacts at the conference. We are going to be using an app for the conference that, among other cool options, will help you network and find people whose ideas and information will enhance your own life. Note that this extra “networking” feature is completely optional. (We are still accepting sponsors, too, if your company would like to reach several hundred high-powered investors and money managers from around the world.)
For more information, you can visit the SIC 2016 website. Register by Jan. 31 and you’ll save $500 off the walk-up rate.