Byron Wien is one of those Wall Street gurus who investors pay attention to. Now a vice chairman at Blackstone (BX - Get Report) , he's spent decades in the business working for top firms and for the past 32 years has released a list of "10 surprises" for the new year. The list includes financial, economic and political events that Wien believes have a better than 50% chance of happening, even as the average investor puts the odds of occurrence at less than 30%. The list is eagerly awaited and fun to read, even if the predictions aren't always accurate.
Politics tops his list of surprises this year, with a prediction that President-elect Trump will move away from his most extreme positions "on virtually all issues to the dismay of right wing loyalists."
Wien believes all of the treaties and agreements Trump promised to scrap on his first day in office are modified, rather than trashed entirely. Wien also believes 2017 will bring a real growth rate of 3% for the U.S. economy, and productivity improvements for the first time since 2014. He also believes the stock market will surprise to the upside, with the S&P 500 hitting 2500. But before investors get too excited about that, they should take a look at Wien's calls last year, as a few of them missed the mark big time.
Last year's list of surprises included a bad call on politics. Wien wrote "riding the coattails of Hillary Clinton, the winner of the presidential race against Ted Cruz, the Democrats gain control of the Senate in November." Clearly he got that wrong on all counts, although he certainly wasn't alone in making the incorrect forecast on politics.
Wien also projected a down year for the stock market in 2016. All the major indexes posted solid gains last year, led by the Dow Jones Industrial Average, which climbed better than 13%.
Wien was right on the Federal Reserve, projecting one 25-basis-point hike in the year, which is exactly what happened in December. We'll have to wait and see if he has a better track record with this year's predictions.