Wednesday, February 1, 2017

2016 in Review

This is my last column for 2016. What a year it was, I am quite confident that there are many fortune tellers and others who predict the future that are scratching their heads and saying, “I didn’t see that coming.” I suppose every year is like that but this year seems even more surprising and unforeseen. But you must admit it was kind of fun, like a roller coaster or a movie with a great plot twist.

I know depending on your point of view it was entertaining or horrifying but just for one second remove your personal feelings and interests and look at what happened. TV writers couldn’t have come up with a better script to keep you on the edge of your seat. Again, you may have had your hands over your eyes or been pumping your fist. I am almost certain that no matter what your viewpoint you did both this year.

Yes, it was entertaining but I hope the events of this year are not a pattern or a sign of things to come. It seemed like everything was taken to the extreme. In the elections (let’s face it, the elections were the biggest, strangest, most entertaining event of the year) we had a choice between the two extremes. I guess the middle has become boring so we are attracted to the far end of the spectrum. Was it exhilarating for horrifying. I guess that depends on your own personal views and I prefer to keep mine to myself.

The work of our government also followed this pattern of extreme. Seemingly gone are the days of compromise and civil discussions. It appears you are a winner or a loser and the only way to get your point across is to shout down your opponent. Heaven help us if you lose, then pouting and protesting seems to be the order of the day. I certainly miss the days of civility and grace.

The markets also seem to have followed this trend of extremism too. Whether it is the stock market or the commodity markets, I do not ever recall such big shifts at one time. I remember the good old days when there were patterns to the market and you kind of knew what was coming. Now a gain one minute can be followed by a big loss in just a blink of an eye. I suspect there is a pattern to all of this but I have trouble seeing it.

Even the weather is marked more by extremes than I ever remember. Just look at last week. We are just coming off one of the nicest fall weather patterns in recent memory and boom, we go right to the coldest weather in many, many years. Then all the sudden we are right back into a nice, mild pattern in just the span of a couple of days. I know this is Kansas but give me a break.

I suppose most years are like this if you take the time to look at them in the rear-view mirror, but this year seems pretty wild. I remember when I used to watch TV dramas with outlandish plot twists because they were entertaining and thought provoking. Now I watch even the most far out show with the most outrageous script and that little voice in the back of my head says, “you know that it could happen.”

The one thing I will say about 2016 is that it was not boring. Years from now we will look back on this year with more clarity and know exactly what kind of year it was. Will 2016 be an outlier, one marked with extremes and once in a lifetime events or will it be just a marker on a trend line. I suspect the answer will be yes. Some of the events will be extreme and “once in a lifetime” happenings while others will be an indication of the future. Only time will tell.

Will any of this be an indication for what 2017 will be like? Maybe, all I really know is that I have no idea what will happen next year. I know, just like 2016, some of next year will be good, some will be not so good but all of it will happen no matter what I think of it.

However, as we bring 2016 to a close all I can say is that it was one of the wildest years I ever remember. In fact, it was so intriguing that I am anxious to see what plot twists and unexpected surprises the next year will bring us. All I can say is, take a deep breath, buckle up and hang on for dear life, here comes 2017.

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