They Said What?

Published in Barron's

Barron’s asked four experts on the economy, politics, and the markets what 2014’s biggest surprise will be.

With the economy improving and stocks routinely hitting new highs, we asked:

What could be the biggest surprise of 2014?

Mark Bloomfield
President, American Council for Capital Formation

An unexpected event shocks financial markets, causing a drop of almost 1,000 points in the Dow. The president and Congress respond with a long-term, binding deficit-reduction plan, including pro-growth tax reform.

Jack Ablin
Chief investment officer, BMO Private Bank

The biggest outside risk is that crude prices tumble, sending Russia, Brazil, and the Middle East into an economic tailspin. Brent crude could fall below $80.

Mark Lehmann
President, JMP Securities

Investors will be surprised by the continued health of the IPO market, the continued rise of the S&P 500 toward 2,000, and a newfound bipartisan tone in D.C.

Nicholas Consonery
Senior analyst, Eurasia Group

The Chinese government will move more aggressively on financial reform than many expect. Instead of using the banks as distribution mechanisms for internal development, as they have done in the past, China’s senior leaders are more likely to focus on alleviating local-government indebtedness and financial weakness in the commercial banks.