SCORECARD: How Blackstone's Byron Wien Is Doing On His Big Predictions For 2012

Byron WienByron Wien

Photo: Bloomberg

Nearly six months ago, Blackstone Vice Chairman Byron Wien released his annual list of surprises — 10 events he said could happen this year.The predictions run the gamut, from a renewed Arab Spring to a revitalized American Economy. He even weighs in on the Euro debate.

It’s still too early to give a final verdict on most of his predictions.

But, he’s nailed at least two so far, and he’s close on a few others. 

He notes that any given prediction has only a 50 per cent likelihood of occurring. Last year that was the case when he predicted an improved housing picture and gold topping $1,600 an ounce.

PREDICTION: Oil prices decline to $85 a barrel

RIGHT

As predicted, oil prices declined sharply after hitting highs at the start of the year. High inventory levels, a surge in Iraqi production and continued inroads in shale all contributed to the price declines. Wien also said that Libya would increase production, and it has.

Tally: 1.0/1.0

Source: Byron Wien, Blackstone

PREDICTION: The S&P 500 heads above 1400

RIGHT

During the first quarter, the S&P 500 appreciated more than 13 per cent in its run up to 1419. The index has since declined, but remains in the green for the year. Wien also said commodity prices would moderate, which many companies noted this earnings season.

Tally: 2.0/2.0

Source: Byron Wien, Blackstone

PREDICTION: Real GDP growth exceeds 3%, unemployment drops below 8%

WRONG...so far

Wien said the U.S. economy should finally take off, with unemployment falling below 8 per cent. First quarter GDP was recently revised down to 1.9 per cent, well below his 3.0 per cent forecast. While the headline jobless rate has hovered right above the 8 per cent mark, it has yet to dip below. Wien still has time for this one to come true.

Tally: 2.0/3.0

Source: Byron Wien, Blackstone

PREDICTION: Obama runs against Romney in 2012

RIGHT...but it's still early

Wien said that President Obama would face Romney in a bid for the White House. He also said that Romney would be seen as a lackluster candidate. However, we'll have to wait for the November election to see if the last part of his projection comes true: Democrats win the House of Representatives, but Republicans reclaim the Senate.

Tally: 2.75/4.0

Source: Byron Wien, Blackstone

PREDICTION: Europe finally develops a long-lasting plan

TOO SOON TO CALL

It's far too soon to see if this call will come true: leaders work together to stop disbandment from the union and keep the Euro as the main currency, Greece restructures, Spain and Ireland right themselves, and Italy voluntarily restructures.

Tally: 2.75/4.0

Source: Byron Wien, Blackstone

PREDICTION: The computer becomes the new weapon of choice

TOO SOON TO CALL (partial credit)

While the computer is a key weapon for both terrorists and governments (look at the Flame virus in Iran), it has yet to be used how Wien predicted this year. He said Eastern European and Asian hackers would find their way into the data centres of major financial powers, causing short-term bank closings.

Tally: 3.0/5.0

Source: Byron Wien, Blackstone

PREDICTION: Investors go long on currencies of prudent governments

WRONG

Wien said Scandinavian, Australian, Singaporean and Korean currencies would rally. But the won, Aussie dollar and Swiss krona have all weakened. The Singapore dollar is about flat year-to-date.

Tally: 3.0/6.0

Source: Byron Wien, Blackstone

PREDICTION: Congress finds a way to cut $1.2 trillion over 10 years

WRONG

Wien said that Congress, after years of malaise, would finish the tasks the Super Committee failed to do. That's yet to happen, and doesn't look like it will be taken up before the election.

Tally: 3.0/7.0

Source: Byron Wien, Blackstone

PREDICTION: The Arab Spring finally matures

TOO SOON TO CALL (partial credit)

Wien said Bashar al-Assad's rule of Syria would finally come to an end when as the Arab Spring gained greater traction. Syria has rapidly fallen into a violent state. neighbouring Egypt has seen the trial and sentencing of Hosni Mubarak and new elections, although the news led to protests after many Egyptians deemed the sentencing too light.

Tally: 3.5/8.0

Source: Byron Wien, Blackstone

PREDICTION: Emerging markets appreciate some 15 to 20%

WRONG

Wien projected that emerging markets would see indices up more than 15 per cent, even as GDP growth slowed. While that latter point is true, the key BRIC markets are far from that 15 per cent surge (except for India's SENSEX, which is up 9 per cent). The Russian MICEX and Brazilian BOVESPA are down 3 and 4 per cent year-to-date, respectively. China's Shanghai Composite is up just 4 per cent.

Tally: 3.5/9.0

Source: Byron Wien, Blackstone

Mid-Year Score: 3.5/9.0

It's still too early to give a final verdict on most of his predictions, with half the year still to come (and many of those predictions that seem far off now could come to fruition).

Stay tuned, at the end of December we'll score Wien again.

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