Forecasting Graph

Forecasts: Reasonable, Methodical, and Wrong

07/10/2024 Written by: Kristine Simmons

Late in 2022 the strategy team at Goldman Sachs Research released their forecast for the U.S. stock market in 2023.1 Based on what had happened the year before and on where the economy appeared to be headed, it seemed to be perfectly reasonable. "Zero earnings growth will drive zero appreciation in the stock market," wrote David Kostin, chief U.S. equity strategist.

As we can all attest, 2022 was not a good year for stock growth. The S&P 500 index (a common proxy for the US stock market as a whole) lost more than 19 percent of its value.2 So, by comparison, the prediction of the Goldman Sachs team was good news. Our investments wouldn't gain much in the coming year, but at least we could expect the double-digit losses to stop.

The whole point of a forecast is to enable you to act ahead of time so you can avoid or at least mitigate the negative effects of some future event. For example, when the weather forecast calls for rain tomorrow, you set your umbrella by the door. In the same way, the Goldman Sachs forecasters made recommendations about where to find growth as the market as a whole was expected to stagnate.

"Our strategists favor stocks that aren't as sensitive to interest rates," they wrote, "like companies in healthcare, consumer staples, and energy." That could seem like excellent sounding advice. It's based on extensive past data, analyzed by industry experts, and it gives specific recommendations.

So, what would have happened to you if you had taken Goldman Sachs' 2023 forecast as a forgone conclusion? First of all, you might have moved money out of diverse funds that tracked the market overall and concentrated it into sectors that the “experts” (and common sense) said were going to outperform healthcare, consumer staples, and energy.

The whole point of checking up on last year's forecasts isn't to feel superior because the experts got it wrong. The point is to remember that no matter their credentials, nobody knows what the stock market will do tomorrow, next quarter, or next year.

Accepting this, the prudent investor will pursue a diverse strategy that seeks to capture gains, mitigate losses, and reach the desired goals over the long-term. It's a strategy that frees you from the anxiety of responding correctly to every short-term trend. If you have questions or concerns about what 2024 and beyond hold for your investment strategy, be sure to talk to one of our trusted advisors.


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