Byron Wien vs. Doug Kass: Who Has Better 'Surprises' Forecasted for 2016?

Editors' pick: Originally published Jan. 6.



This is one of the areas where Kass and Wien differ.

Kass believes more terrorism will happen. "I am fearful that were going to see a more systemic frequent terrorist incidents and these are not simply isolated events," he told TheStreet. "I think we face a broad aggressive wave of terrorism" that will significantly disrupt the global economic market and take down multiple sectors including hotels, entertainment and airlines.

He also makes a case that terrorism enters the cyber-world as hackers from the Middle East, Russia and China "successfully invade U.S. financial system's computers at various points throughout 2016."

Wien had predicted a large-scale cyber-terrorism event would happen in 2015. But for 2016, Wien said in one of his "Also Rans" (surprises that didn't make the cut), that a major terrorist attack would be avoided. "As a result of enhanced security efforts, terrorist groups associated with ISIS and al Qaeda do NOT mount a major strike involving 100 or more casualties against targets in the U.S. or Europe in 2016," he wrote. "Even so, the United States accepts only a very limited number of asylum seekers from the Middle East during the year."




Kass suggests that the U.S. will fall into a recession as stocks tank in 2016. "Too much debt, too little growth, fiscal-policy paralysis, a 'spent' Federal Reserve and limited capital spending (which adversely impacts productivity) weigh down stocks in 2016," he wrote.

"I predict 2016 will see the seventh recession in the last 45 years, with stocks experiencing a 20% decline," Kass wrote.

Wien acknowledges that the markets will end 2016 down but is not calling for a recession.


The U.S. Dollar


Regarding the dollar, Wien predicts the dollar to decline to $1.20 against the euro. "I think the U.S. economy is going to be weak and that is going to reflect on the currency. The election confusion is going to also contribute," he told TheStreet.

Kass agrees, but for different reasons. "The U.S. dollar's bull run ends. Our currency fails to appreciate as the consensus expects. Instead, it slumps in response to terrorism within our borders and to cyberattacks directed at our financial system," he told TheStreet.




Wien says oil will "languish" at around $30 a barrel. "There is too much supply out there and too much inventory," he said. "The price of oil will go up, but not this year."

Kass believes that oil will exceed $60 a barrel in 2016, noting that he had a contrarian view on oil falling to below $40 in 2015. This year he is of the opposite view. "A Mideast attack on oil facilities lifts oil to $60 or more," he wrote in a follow-up email to TheStreet.


10-Year Treasury Yield


Wien predicts that the 10-year Treasury yield will stay below 2.5%.

"The soft U.S. economy and the weakness in the equity market keep the yield on the 10-year U.S. Treasury below 2.5%. Investors continue to show a preference for bonds as a safe haven," he wrote in his market commentary.

Kass believes there will be a commodities "scare," such as a drought (not to mention oil), increasing agricultural commodities prices dramatically and taking the 10-year yield to 3%, he said.


Interest Rates


Here the two investment strategists are of similar minds.

Kass makes a bold statement for 2016. "I think 2015's rate hike will prove to be a policy error," he wrote in his list of surprises.

Wien predicts that the Fed will only raise rates one time in 2016. "A weak economy, poor corporate performance and struggling emerging markets are behind the cautious policy. Reversing course and actually reducing rates is actively considered later in the year. Real gross domestic product in the U.S. is below 2% for 2016," he wrote.


China Suffers in 2016


Both Wien and Kass believe China's growth will fall below 5%, with Kass suggesting that the Chinese government will be forced to "clamp down on social media" as unemployment rises and riots ensue.


No More European Union?


It's an idea that both strategists foresee as a possibility.

Wien writes that breaking up the EU is again on the table as a result of the refugee crisis, creating a strong division between its members. While no decision is made about an EU break up, "the long-term outlook for the euro and its supporters darkens," Wien said.

Kass, on the other hand, suggests a far worse scenario.

"German Chancellor Angela Merkel's open-door immigration policy backfires and causes her to resign, while Britain leaves the EU (a 'Brexit') under the assault of Euro-skepticism," he said. "Separatist initiatives in Scotland and other countries advance and France's National Front party rises to new heights in the face of immigration fears. Support to Greece and other EU peripheral countries diminishes, causing another emerging-market crisis. European borders are shuttered and trade comes to a halt."


Drug Prices


Wien has quite the bullish outlook for pharmaceuticals in one of his "surprises" that didn't make the official cut.

He believes that 2016 will be the year of breakthroughs for several drugs, including those that treat cancer, heart disease, diabetes, Parkinson's and memory loss. And the cost to develop these breakthrough drugs will "encourage the political candidates to soften their criticism of pill pricing," he wrote.

Kass suggested that if Clinton wins the election the pharma sector will be one of the worst performing sectors in 2016 as the Clinton administration "comes down hard" on drug prices.


Who Wins the Presidential Election? Hillary!


Again Wien and Kass come to the same conclusion but from different paths. Both think Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton will prevail in this year's presidential election.

Wien says Clinton will battle it out against Republican candidate Ted Cruz.

"The biggest hit I ever had was in 2008 when ... I picked [President Barack] Obama to be [the Democratic] candidate," Wien said. "That was probably the gutsiest 'surprise' and the biggest win and I did it based on the momentum. And that's why I picked Ted Cruz this time around."

Kass believes that the presidency will be a contest between Clinton and Donald Trump (with Cruz as his running mate) and a very tight race (with Clinton beating Trump 293 electoral votes to 245 votes).

"We have this huge movement to the left and the right this year as both aisles of the pew reject the notion of the status quo. Trump is a beneficiary of that as is Bernie Sanders, but I think in the end Hillary will easily advance," Kass says.


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