While the last few years have been highlighted with record swings
in market returns and widely oscillating economic data, we expect 2012 will be
less about the fringes and more about the middle. While volatility is likely to
remain elevated, the market and its economic backdrop may begin to migrate from
the extremes — oftentimes even polarized extremes — toward a more normalized
period where investor sentiment, economic activity and the market’s direction
start to move increasingly in alignment.
While moving away from the drastic extremes will be a welcome
environment for whipsawed investors, the center offers its own distinct
challenges and opportunities. The key hurdle for the market in 2012 will be
finding the right balance.
Recently we have experienced a market of extremes. In 2012,
finding a middle ground, or Meeting in the Middle, is going to be key for growth
in the markets and economy. Consumer sentiment, business leaders, policymakers
and geopolitics are going to have significant impact on the investment