It was not a great year for financial markets. The S&P 500 Index could very well post its first annual decline since 2008.
But 2015 was a good one for Wall Street Daily.
Among many other important developments, co-founder Louis Basenese returned to WSD after a brief sabbatical to launch his own independent equity research firm focused on disruptive technology investments.
Lou, now our Chief Technology Analyst, made an immediate impact for Digital Fortunes subscribers, guiding the portfolio to an average return of 1.1% during 2015.
This is “Best Of” week at Wall Street Daily, a traditional approach to the holiday season.
Over the past four days we’ve highlighted the most talked-about articles, the most important commodities and income articles, and the top tech articles we’ve published over the past 12 months.
Lou figured prominently in the latter. And he’s also contributed highlight-making content in this space.
Over this and next weekend we’re going to take a look back at the very short history of our new “Saturday Spotlight” feature, which today is exactly three months old.
This weekend we’re going back to November 7, 2015, when Lou used his time in the Saturday Spotlight to explain “a handy couple of tools that will help you become a better investor.”
This is timeless advice, which is yet another reason I’m so pleased it was, according to the data we use to measure such things, the No. 2 most engaging Saturday Spotlight among the 13 we’ve produced over the last three months.
Next Saturday we’ll reveal the No. 1 most engaging presentation.
(Keep this in mind, however, as you ease into the New Year: The junk bond market just posted its first loss since 2008.
And in this widely watched video, one of my colleagues identified a key credit spread signal and provided some context for what may be the epicenter of the next financial crisis.)
Technology is a notoriously story-driven investment sector. And that means it’s susceptible to hype.
Lou’s discussion of the Gartner Hype Cycle and the Google Trends data will help you avoid money-losing tech situations that sound exciting in the telling but aren’t poised for widespread adoption.
The November 7 Saturday Spotlight offers a great glimpse at Lou’s savvy.
As I noted then, “Lou and his research team at Digital Fortunes provide insights, analysis, and actionable advice based on the world’s most transformational technology trends. But they also help make sure you won’t get rolled up by hype.”
This week, as is tradition at Wall Street Daily, we’ve taken a look book at the year that was.
On Tuesday, we highlighted the five articles you, our readers, found most engaging. No. 1 on this list is Martin Denholm’s look at driverless car technology from January 9.
Chris Worthington’s July 9 review of artificial intelligence also generated a lot of discussion on our Facebook page, as did Tim Maverick’s August 6 assessment of Donald Trump and his chances of securing the GOP’s 2016 Presidential nomination.
Tim scored another social media hit with his February 4 analysis of the sugar market.
And Wall Street Daily Founder and Publisher Robert Williams got 2015 off to a socially engaged start with his interview of Peter Schiff, the high-profile CEO of Euro Pacific Capital, author, and one-time U.S. Senate candidate in Connecticut.
We followed up on Wednesday by focusing on the big story in the commodities sector: the ongoing collapse of oil prices.
Former Wall Street Daily analyst Karim Rahemtulla, writing from Hong Kong, noted on March 26, “Inventories are continuing to rise, and storage tanks are close to capacity.” These were signs producers would “likely flood the market,” setting the stage for another leg down for crude.
Karim followed on April 28 with a look at what CEOs of Super Oils Exxon Mobil Corp. (XOM) and BP Plc (BP) were saying about the future of oil prices – and the outlook wasn’t bullish.
One of the thorniest geopolitical issues of the year is also relevant in this discussion, as Senior Correspondent Shelley Goldberg assessed the potential impact of the global oil market in the aftermath of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action on Iran’s nuclear program on July 17.
On August 17, Tim Maverick weighed in on the crude discussion with a look at U.S. shale oil producers, whose plans to maintain output amount to a decision “to commit seppuku – ritualistic suicide.”
Tim summed things up on December 3, noting, “The news from the oil patch is, in a word, ugly.”
That was after global oil production reached 97 million barrels per day and the International Energy Agency reported that there were more than 100 million barrels of oil in storage at sea on supertankers.
On Thursday we took a look at what was the most interesting question of the year for income investors: When will the U.S. Federal Reserve finally raise interest rates?
Martin Hutchinson provided the political frame for the waiting game when he dissected “The Fed’s Easy-Money Era” in a pointed June 30 piece that asked whether there was any hope for a return to sane monetary policy as a result of the 2016 federal elections.
Tim Maverick asked on October 9, “Are central bankers nuts?” as the people who run global monetary policy started floating the possibility of “negative interest rate policy.”
This, in the aftermath of the failures of quantitative easing and “zero interest rate policy” to adequately stimulate global growth.
On June 19, Chief Income Analyst Alan Gula pointed out the distortive impact of such abnormal approaches to managing money supply, identifying “ludicrous valuation multiples” placed on some dividend-paying stocks.
Alan has also been circumspect about U.S. economic data since at least May 18, when he warned that the world’s second-largest economy was nearing recession.
It’s still a critical issue with the Fed only 25 basis points off the “zero bound” and with little room to maneuver to counter another, inevitable downturn.
The wait finally ended on December 16.
As Chris Worthington noted on March 23, the watch intensified during the first quarter of 2015 when the Federal Open Market Committee removed the word “patient” from its March 16 statement announcing the decision at that time to keep rates on hold yet again.
Many of the factors Chris identified as weighing against a hike – a strong U.S. dollar, low inflation, weak economic data in the U.S., even weaker economic data from the rest of the world – persist.
And that means 2016 should only add to these interesting times.