So Long 2016, Hello 2017

Well, it’s been quite a year.

A lot of improbable things happened in 2016, not the least of which was the election of His Majesty King Donald the 1st as the 45th President of the U.S.

It may be difficult to do an inaugural using only 140 characters.

Perhaps foreshadowing Trump’s surprise victory, England voted to exit the EU.

The Cubs won the World Series. They last played in the Series in 1945. Before that the last time they won, in 1908, populist William Jennings Bryan of Nebraska was the Democratic nominee for President. He lost to William Howard Taft, Republican of Ohio.

The Wildcats of Villanova won the 2016 NCAA Men’s basketball championship.

Seven States legalized Pot in the 2016 elections.

In the meantime the FDA ruled that electronic smoking devices like Vape pens and e-cigarettes are to be considered “tobacco products” in spite of the fact that they do not contain tobacco. The regulation became effective August 8th, restricting sales to those over 18 years old.

 

After a fairly rocky start the S&P 500 managed total returns of 9.79% for all of 2016, pretty close to the historical average. 10-year Treasury note rates edged up about 35 basis points over the year.

 

Homicide rates in New York City continued to fall, dropping 13% from 146 in 2015 to 127 in 2016. However, the murder rate in Chicago skyrocketed 58% to 750 in 2016. Over the Christmas weekend at least 60 people were shot, 11 fatally. The population of New York is about 8.5 million and the population of Chicago is about 2.7 million, which implies that Chicago’s homicide rate is more than 18 times that of New York’s.

 

Hamilton continued on with its record setting ways. In 2016 it won a Grammy for Best Musical Theatre Album, 11 Tony awards and the Pulitzer for Drama. And it probably kept Hamilton’s picture on the $10 bill.

 

Bob Dylan won the Nobel Prize for literature, which makes the Cubs victory look kind of ordinary. Especially considering that past winners include Rudyard Kipling (1907), Anatole France (1921), William Butler Yeats (1923), George Bernard Shaw (1925), Thomas Mann (1929), Sinclair Lewis (1930), Eugene O’Neill (1936), Pearly S. Buck (1938), Hermann Hesse (1946), T.S. Elliot (1948), William Faulkner (1949), Winston Churchill (1953), Ernest Hemingway (1954), Albert Camus (1957), Samuel Beckett (1969) and Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn (1970).

More recent winners have included Toni Morrison (1993), Vidiadhar Surajprasad Naipaul (2001), Harold Pinter (2005), and Mario Vargas Llosa (2010). In particular it is well worth noting that Vargas Llosa, has for decades been a powerful voice against authoritarians and fanatics. So maybe the choice of Dylan isn’t so strange after all.

 

Campaign spending by the major party candidates fell from about $2.75 billion in 2012 to about $2.65 billion in 2016. That is a little less than half what the public spent for either pet grooming or legal marijuana, each of which clocked in at $5.4 billion. No word yet on whether the campaign affected sales of weed.

Perhaps we can go for an entire year without hearing from the Clinton’s, but don’t count on it.

Most importantly, let The Force be with you.

JFB

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Joe Benning