NEW YORK (Real Money) -- In many ways, this was the most obvious of years.
Investors were obviously fearful of anything coming from Washington, including small tax changes at the beginning of the year in order to stop us from falling off the fiscal cliff but were thought to disable the economy.
This was a year when we almost defaulted on our debt, bumbled into something too stupid to happen, a sequester, and shut down our government, which, obviously, should have crippled the economy.
This was a year when international crises like Cypriot bank troubles, a Brazilian collapse and a Chinese slowdown should have reverberated negatively throughout our economy because, obviously, we're all connected, aren't we?This was a year when $100 oil was obviously going to stop whatever consumer spending was left following the horrific partisan rancor in Washington. This was a year when a sudden spike in interest rates almost doubled the yield on the 10-year Treasury, which obviously would deal a deathblow to the housing market and crush auto sales with more difficult financing. This was a year when Obamacare was supposed to crush small businesses, put the brakes on hiring and cause long-term deficit problems; therefore, it had to be stopped at any cost by a small but powerful group of Republicans who thought the whole act unconscionable -- even though it was the law of the land and couldn't be repealed by Congress. Most of all, this was a year when so many companies faltered in sales, and stocks had already gone up so much in price that they would obviously be poleaxed when the Fed finally said it would taper. What happened instead? A very non-obvious annual gain of 25% for the Dow, almost 30% for the S&P 500 and 37% for the Nasdaq as companies and their CEOs triumphed over sluggish growth -- albeit growth that got stronger as the year went on, culminating in a very solid GDP number and the beginning of a hiring boom.