In the first episode of the new HBO series "Luck," a group of four dissolute gamblers use the back of an envelope to draw the possible outcomes of a series of horse races, taking into consideration the horses' recent racing histories, the trainers, the jockeys and so on. If their assumptions are accurate and if nothing unforeseen happens, their winnings will be in the millions.

It struck me, watching the show, that each year feels a bit like this pilot episode, with economists and experts predicting the winners and losers in the economy and capital markets for the coming 12 months based on current market valuations, recent economic news and other signs.

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