Possible Improbables

by: Barry Ritholtz

Doug Kass is out with his annual list of long shot events that have a better chance of occurring than most people expect. They are, as always, quite intriguing and thought provoking.

Interestingly, almost half of Kass' last year's improbable surprises came to pass (up from 33% in 2006 and 20% in 2005).

It's subscription only, but will eventually get moved to the free site. Consider this a teaser -- these are just the headlines, without the full analysis/explanation.

Without further ado, here is the excerpted list of 20 improbable surprises:

Kass' 20 Surprises for 2008

1. The Housing Depression of 2007 morphs into the Retail Spending Depression of 2008.

2. Corporate profits drop by 10% in 2008.

3. The S&P 500 Index falls by 5%-10% in 2008.

4. Volatility pushes even higher. Daily moves of 1%-2% become commonplace.

5. The Federal Reserve eases monetary policy in 2008, with nearly every meeting accompanied by a 25 bp cut.

6. Growth in the Western European economies deteriorates.

7. The Chinese juggernaut continues apace. Chinese stock market doubles again in 2008.

8. The Japanese market puts on a surprising resurgence.

9. The housing bust accelerates. High profile bankruptcies in 2008 include Countrywide Financial (CFC), Beazer Homes (NYSE:BZH), Hovnanian (NYSE:HOV), Standard Pacific (SPF), WCI Communities (WCI) and Radian Group (NYSE:RDN).

10. Financial stocks fail to recover.

11. Research in Motion (RIMM), Apple Computer (NASDAQ:AAPL) and Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) move into bubble status and their shares double in 2008.

12. Yahoo! (NASDAQ:YHOO) and eBay (NASDAQ:EBAY) merge. So do Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN) and Overstock.com (NASDAQ:OSTK).

13. General Electric (NYSE:GE) will sell NBC Universal to Time Warner (NYSE:TWX), which will not sell or spin off AOL.

14. U.S. dollar's value falls by over 10% in 2008; Gold rises to over $1,000/oz.

15. The price of crude oil eclipses $135/barrel.

16. Acts of cyberterrorism occur that compromise the security of a major government. Financial markets will be exposed to hackers.

17. The hedge fund community is disintermediated in 2008. Outflows accelerate.

18. There are several Enron-like accounting scandals in 2008.

19. Democrats Clinton/Kerrey and Republicans McCain/Crist represent their parties in the Presidential/Vice Presidential contest in November. Democrats grab the White House.

20. Sovereign Wealth Funds become targets of American politicians.

Thanks for putting this together, Doug. It's a terrific, fun exercise in creative thinking. (The full version can be seen at Real Money Silver).


Kass' 20 Surprises for 2008
Doug Kass
Real Money Silver, 12/31/2007 7:56 AM EST