By Josh Katzowitz, WCI Content Director

Three hundred and thirty-six days ago, we published the 2023 crystal ball predictions from White Coat Investor readers. Like usual, I was pretty sure most of them would be wrong. Maybe somebody would get lucky, but for the most part, we know there’s a reason why one of the mantras on this site has always been (and I’m paraphrasing here): Yeah, don’t ask me to predict the future, because my crystal ball is cloudy.

At the time I wrote the 2023 crystal ball predictions column that ran last January, a bad bear market the year prior combined with high inflation had been bad news for those who were itching to retire. Though crypto had tanked in 2022, there was still plenty of optimism surrounding Bitcoin and other digital currencies. Meanwhile, ChatGPT gave us a chance to write a fun (and mostly harmless?) column about the advent of AI.

Twelve months later, the world has changed dramatically. Just like it does every year.

Since I’m a sucker for history (ancient and recent), let’s, for just a moment, return to the time of January 2023—when people didn’t know what they didn’t know but gave valiant predictions anyway—and figure out if anybody got anything right.

[Editor’s Note: I’m going to publish the 2024 version of Your Crystal Ball Predictions in a couple of weeks. I’d love to hear your thoughts on what’ll happen in the next 12 months. I don’t care if your prediction is obvious or outlandish, funny or fiendish. You can be anonymous or you can shout your name from the rooftops. I just want to know what you’re thinking. Email me at [email protected] and give me your best crystal ball predictions or leave them in the comments below.]

 

2023 Prediction Results 

Note: all of the January 2023 predictions below are italicized.

 

A selection of predictions from WCI Columnist Dr. Daniel Smith:

  • The Fed will crash the economy harder than a drunk daredevil in a Cessna. Cash will be king as the economy slows to a drip, and bankers fret over possibly having to wait another year to upgrade their G-Wagons.
  • Pressure mounts on Russia, which eventually exits Ukraine with its tail between its legs and missing either Crimea or Georgia . . . China, seeing Russia thusly chastened, cools the bellicosity toward independent nations it considers part of mainland China (Taiwan)—its attention turned instead to the tottering yet behemoth property developer, Evergrande.
  • Elon Musk announces the Tesla Model F, short for frog, which navigates dry land and (inland) water as well; purchasers of the Model F still manage to look smug despite driving a glorified station wagon named after a warty amphibian.

Daniel went 1-for-3ish. Though there are still whispers the economy could face a recession sometime soon, the S&P is up about 20% for the year. Russia and Ukraine are still locked in their war, though China hasn’t yet started anything with Taiwan. But with a yield of more than 5%, cash has had a great year. Also, the biggest move Musk made in 2023 was continuously setting Twitter on fire and then pushing it off a cliff into a sea of boiling oil.

 

From WCI Columnist Dr. Rikki Racela:

I am an eternal optimist, and considering the average bear market lasts 388 days, I say in 2023 we bounce back from the bear market and get back to new all-time highs by the end of 2023. I also predict one day in 2023 that my son will finally not hit his sister.

He’s not wrong. The US economy seems to have bounced back, though it’ll be interesting to see if voters really think so when they decide if they want to re-elect President Joe Biden. The Dow’s all-time high was 36,799.65 (from January 2022), and on Wednesday, it fulfilled Rikki's prediction by climbing to 37,090.24 and shattering the record. So, yeah, Rikki and his optimism nailed it. I don’t know this for sure, but I imagine his final prediction about his kids didn’t come true either.

 

From Dr. Vaughn Johnson, an orthodontist from Colorado:

  1. The Dow will finish at 33,851 (as of early January, the Dow was nearly 34,000).
  2. Inflation will end the year at 4.2% (as of December 2022, inflation was 7.3%).
  3. Massive selloff in TIPS during Q3.
  4. WCI podcasts and newsletter properties acquired by Bloomberg in Q4. Will result in rebranding as “Wild Crypto Investor”—discussion of index funds will be prohibited in the Facebook group.

The results:

  1. The Dow performed much better than he expected.
  2. Inflation, as of November 2023, was 3.1%.
  3. Nice prediction
  4. Hasn’t happened yet, but there are still 14 days left in the year.

 

From WCI Columnist Dr. Margaret Curtis:

  • Inflation will stay high but not reach double digits. The stock market will continue to have bucking-bronco moments but overall will continue growth. The housing market will continue to correct. I don't think we are going into a full-blown recession: there, I said it.
  • Crypto, like COVID, will become more background and less front-page news.
  • The (alleged) fraud at FTX will come to light, and we will all resolve never to invest in a novelty company with a wunderkind CEO. This will last until 2025, when a new novelty company will emerge.
  • And if we are really lucky: Elon Musk and Twitter will assure each other's destruction.

Inflation has dropped fairly dramatically in the last year and the housing market is a mess, but we aren’t in recession territory, as of now. Though crypto has come back into focus because Bitcoin has had such a good year (up 127% through the end of November), Sam Bankman-Fried of FTX could get a triple-digit prison sentence.

 

From Scuchy McBuchy, WCI commenter:

  • The markets continue to go down, with the next bottom near 3200ish S&P, unless something breaks and swans it even further—which is possible. Recession is here, but in 2023, few will have a problem still lying about it, and the mainstream media will finally admit it. Others will know, reading between all these lines, that we’re closer to a depression. But hey, all these are just terms anyway, I get it.
  • BTC will go down with the markets but will also reach its bottom in the cycle, and at the middle to end of 2023, it will ascend, making new all-time highs in 2024. This move will likely coincide with late year 2023 pivoting by the Fed, which will take a while to affect stocks. But they’ll go up after that too.
  • Major geopolitical heat hits in earnest in 2023. We are already in WWIII, but most just don’t know it or act like it.

All of these predictions were misses (Bitcoin is still 37% below its all-time high), though who knows what will happen in the Middle East.

 

crystal ball prediction results

From WCI Columnist Dr. Charles Patterson:

  • The market will end +/- 5% of where it was at the end of 2022 (the Dow Jones finished that year at 33,147.25).
  • It will be an awesome snow season out west, exemplary for shredding that super-ill pow-pow.
  • Real estate will stagnate, with home prices dropping as interest rates creep to 9%+.
  • Healthcare as a market segment will convulse, as hospital systems across the country roil in deficits exacerbated by the pandemic.
  • My wife will become more patient than ever, as my poorly conceived whim tries her fortitude and wearies her enthusiasm for my misadventures.

As of this writing, the Dow was up 11.9% from where it ended in 2022. Charles was right about real estate, and though hospital systems aren’t convulsing, plenty of the people who work inside them are fed up and striking. And as for his last prediction, I’ve never met Charles’ wife, but knowing Charles like I do, patience with him is a must.

 

From Dr. David Spilker, a retired ER doc from California:

S&P reaches all-time highs in the second half of [2023].

The highest the S&P has ever been was 4,796.56 at the beginning of 2022. As of Wednesday, the S&P stood at 4,707.09.

 

Dr. Howard Zhang, a radiologist:

  • Fed will continue to increase the rates but much milder than 2022.
  • Inflation will come down slowly but will be a ways from the Fed target of 2%.
  • Bonds will probably remain flat or mildly down or up but less than 2%-3% percent.
  • REIT and US stock will remain flat to mildly down from 2022.
  • Value stocks will continue to beat growth.
  • International stocks will beat US total stock.

The first two predictions are, more or less, correct, but let’s look at the rest of them. Bonds and REITs haven’t done great (though bonds have had a better 2023 than they did in 2022), but US stocks have had a tremendous year. Growth stocks are up 9.49% through November, while value stocks have risen 5.62%. Meanwhile, international stocks have been strong this year at 9.91%, but compare that to US stocks at about 20%.

 

From HM, WCI commenter:

  • I-bond popularity fades as inflation decreases and people start to migrate more towards TIPS
  • BTC has less volatility than the S&P 500
  • One of the most anticipated recessions doesn’t come to fruition in 2023.

No. 1 and No. 3 were fantastic predictions.

 

A selection of predictions from WCI Founder Dr. Jim Dahle:

  1. The stock market is going to finish in the black this year, but that won't be entirely clear until the very end of the year.
  2. Publicly traded real estate will outperform private real estate this year.
  3. Inflation will be back under control by the end of the year (under 4%, perhaps even under 2% year over year).
  4. Congress will pass very little of substance this year and there will be an immense fight over raising the debt limit.
  5. Cryptocurrency will continue to “muddle around” with neither a huge drop nor massive gains. The non-Bitcoin crypto performance will generally be better than Bitcoin this year.
  6. Small-value stocks will beat large-growth stocks again.

You can always bet on No. 4 to be right, and what do you know, it was. But Bitcoin rewarded the HODLers, and small value stocks (up 5.62% through November) got destroyed by growth stocks (up 40.74%).

 

I was a little surprised that some of those predictions actually came true. But we also got more wrong than we went right, meaning the cloudiness of the crystal ball never fully subsided.

 

Again, reach out to me at [email protected] to let me know your crystal ball predictions for 2024. Let’s have some more fun about being totally wrong!

 

Money Song of the Week

While Jim Croce’s song “Operator (That’s Not the Way It Feels)” isn’t about money, I’ve always liked the image of some poor sap depositing 10 cents (75 cents in today's money) into a payphone so he can call the woman he loves who now lives with another man (“my best old ex-friend Ray”) and then basically tells his story of woe to the operator who was supposed to connect his long-distance call but now has to listen while this dude sheds tears over his lost love.

Anyway, Croce sings toward the end of the song when he’s given up all hope:

“Operator, well let's forget about this call/There's no one there I really wanted to talk to/Thank you for your time/Ah, you've been so much more than kind/You can keep the dime.”

 

 

About a year after the song’s 1972 release, Croce—and the guitarist in the video, Maury Muehleisen—died in a tragic plane crash, cutting Croce’s life short at the age of 30. A few decades later, Croce’s wife Ingrid wrote a book, via the New York Post, and talked about just how poor the couple was when the singer-songwriter died—even though he had multiple No. 1 singles.

“Until [his death], we lived on $200 a week. Money didn’t flow then like now. Artists signed contracts that existed in perpetuity,” she wrote in 2012. “A best friend suggested we sign this piece of paper. Jim signed. Neither of us ever saw that contract again. After Jim died, they sent me the first $5,000 I ever got. I live in regret that he never saw it.

“. . . No pension, no savings, no security. Not even insurance when I got pregnant. He sold his guitar to pay rent. He drove a truck when he wasn’t performing just so we could live . . . Jim was on the road 300 days a year, and they collected $10,000 each concert but always claimed lots of expenses. Besides performing, he wrote these hits. I kept saying, ‘This makes no sense.’ And that contract guy was his best friend.”

Though Croce wasn’t a musical superstar on the scale of, say Taylor Swift or Beyonce, in his day, it seems that he should have been paid enough where he could afford not to have to live in a tiny apartment on the edge of a farm in Pennsylvania where he and Ingrid had to pay $100 per month and pick flowers for the landlords to afford to stay there.

“We both were [broke],” she wrote. “Always. Never had a dime.”

 

Tweet of the Week

I don’t know, maybe everyone is just happy to go into debt.

What are your predictions for 2024? Comment below!

[Editor's Note: For comments, complaints, suggestions, or plaudits, email Josh Katzowitz at [email protected].]