The following commentary comes from an independent investor or market observer as part of TheStreet's guest contributor program, which is separate from the company's news coverage.By David Sterman NEW YORK ( StreetAuthority) -- At the start of this year, many economists predicted that an economic crisis in Europe would grow larger, and Washington would be unable to develop a bipartisan consensus around a fix for our persistent budget deficits. They were right on both counts. Economists also expected corporate profits would stay strong and suggested a bit more upside for stocks as the year unfolded. Right again. The S&P 500 Index rose roughly 10% in the first four months of the year. By that time, the S&P 500 had doubled from its March 2009 low. Yet the market has largely been on a downward slope since the late April peak, and we'll likely finish the year in the red unless we get a Santa Claus rally.