Wall Street vs. Main Street: Who Got It Right in 2015?

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Looking back, who had the most accurate predictions for the 2015 economy? Here's how the man on the street stacked up against the Wall Street suits.

2015 is a wrap, and that means it’s time to look back and take stock of the previous 12 months.

Here at Money Talks News, we started the year by comparing Wall Street professional predictions for the stock market, oil prices and housing to those made by the man on the street – aka Main Street aka your average Joe.

Now, it’s time to see how those predictions stacked up with the economic realities of 2015. You can review the predictions here, and then keep reading to find out whether Wall Street or Main Street knew what they were talking about.

The stock market fooled everyone

With pensions a thing of the past for most workers, the stock market has taken on new importance for people today. Our 401(k)s and IRAs are invested heavily in mutual funds, and a couple of good years for the market could mean the difference between retiring in Phoenix or staying put in Sioux City, Iowa.

So was the market saying “fun in the sun” during 2015?

Not really. The market was essentially flat for 2015, and the Dow Jones ended the year down about one percentage point. The good news is you probably didn’t lose a bundle in your retirement fund, but on the flip side, you probably didn’t make much money either.

Those results fooled both Main Street and Wall Street. According to analysts interviewed by CNN at the start of 2015, the market was expected to grow by 8 percent. Meanwhile, the man on the street was more optimistic and guessed a 15 percent bump for the market in 2015.

Winner: Neither, although Wall Street was less wrong.

Oil prices keep going down, down, down

Oil prices continue to make drivers across the country happy. The national average for a gallon of gas in 2015 was $2.40, according to AAA. That means 2015 had the second-cheapest gas in the past 10 years.

The Energy Information Administration thought we’d see oil prices averaging $62.75 per barrel in 2015, but Main Street was a bit more skeptical. The man on the street told us prices would probably jump to $90 per barrel sometime during the year.

Both were wrong. Oh, so wrong.

In reality, at the close of the year, crude oil prices were $37.04 per barrel. $37.04! The last time prices were that low, President George W. Bush was still in office.

Winner: Neither, although Wall Street was less wrong.

Main Street got the housing market right

So both Wall Street and Main Street didn’t do so hot when it came to making oil and stock predictions. Fortunately, they did a little better on housing.

When it came to how much our homes are worth, real estate website Zillow predicted property prices would see a modest 2.5 percent increase in 2015. However, you knew better. The Main Street prediction was for a 5 percent rise in housing prices.

At the end of the year, the CoreLogic Home Price Index was up 6 percent, making Main Street the winner in round three of our showdown.

Winner: Main Street

And the supreme victor? I suppose you could technically give it to Wall Street since they were less wrong on oil and stocks. But we like the little guy here so we’re going to crown Main Street the champ for being almost spot on for housing prices.

Stay tuned: In two days, we’ll tell you how much more you’ll be paying for everything from food to fuel in 2016. I bet you can’t hardly wait!

How did your 2015 predictions stack up? Share with us in comments below or on our Facebook page.

Stacy Johnson

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I know... every site you visit wants you to subscribe to their newsletter. But our news and advice is actually worth reading! For 25 years, I've been making people richer without making their eyes glaze over. You'll be glad you did. I guarantee it!


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