What will 2012 have in store for investors?
Things are unlikely to ease up in 2012, but unlike the predictions made by the Mayan prophecy we don't think the world will end - although sometimes it may feel that way as the West's economies come close to recession.
Politicians have spent much of 2011 interfering with financial markets and look set to continue to do so in 2012 as the eurozone problem remains unresolved. However the US and France have presidential elections, and there are more predictable changes of power in China and Russia which will mean the world's leaders' attentions are more likely to be focused at home than overseas.
Russian elections in March could trigger further protests and elections in Venezuela could throw up some unexpected outcomes while the Arab Spring may spread further.
Emerging markets which have been muted in much of 2011 will, for the first time, buy over half the world's imports and China will move ever closer to taking over the US as the world's largest economy. The yuan, or Redback as it is known, could make big strides in joining the dollar as a global currency.
London and the UK will be the centre of attention in 2012, first as the Queen celebrates her Diamond Jubilee and then once again in the summer as the Olympic party comes to London. Whilst London may enjoy a few parties it is likely to also see continued pressure put on its financial industry through regulation and taxation.
Growth in 2012 has already been downgraded, but we could see a period of stagnation as avoidable policy errors send Europe and possibly the rest of the world into recession. The big issue for Europe will be how the euro will be governed going forward. Whilst a currency crisis in 2012 will be unlikely, decisions made next year could lay the foundations for one in the future.
Facebook could well be listed in 2012 triggering a lot of interest in technology and social media. Lesser known sectors are mobile payments, location and augmented reality. Such technologies will be developed by new starts-ups but currently of the big plays Apple will still be the one to beat.
All in all 2012 does not look set to make marked improvements on 2011, but then 2011 started off optimistically and ended worse so with expectations so low for 2012 things may surprise on the upside.
Either way for long-term investors weak markets provide better investment opportunities than over-valued ones.
Generic, loosely-defined term for markets in a newly industrialised or Third World country that is in the process of moving from a closed economy to an open market economy while building accountability within the system. The World Bank recognises 28 countries as emerging markets, including Argentina, Brazil, China, Czech Republic, Egypt, India, Israel, Morocco, Russia and Venezuela. Because these countries carry additional political, economic and currency risks, investors in emerging markets should accept volatile returns. There is potential to make large profit at the risk of large losses.