Abby Joseph Cohen is retiring after 30 years at Goldman Sachs, and we shall miss her. While perhaps not exactly a household name today, during her first decade at the Vampire Squid, amidst the Clinton boom years, she was one of the most influential investment strategists around, earning both a partnership at the firm (a depressingly rare achievement for a woman, so you know she must have been good) and the coveted title “oracle” from the media. But as you know, we in the media love to build people up just to tear them down, and so it was with Cohen, who admittedly helped out by spending the last two decades being wrong about most things.
- Later in 1999, she noted that the market’s big gains could not continue indefinitely, and advised clients to “take a little bit off the table,” projecting a moderating growth rate. Of course, the market was not moderating, with the S&P 500 up nearly 20% that year.
- In 2000, she predicted the S&P 500 would rise 8-10%, based on expectations of strong earnings and economic growth. Instead, with the dot-com bubble bursting, the index fell 9.5%.
- In 2008, she missed the warning signs of the financial crisis (to be fair, just about everyone did). She predicted that the S&P 500 would hit 1675 in 2008. It closed at 903, nearly 50% off from her prediction. After that, she was replaced as Goldman’s senior forecaster by David Kostin.
Not that she considered that a demotion, as she made clear during this spectacularly awkward interview with The New York Times, in which she managed to say the wrong thing even while refusing to say anything. Since then, she seems to mostly have been biding her time ‘til hitting 65 by getting New York Times reporters fired, turning rhetorically impressive but empty phrases and having a few laughs with Leon Cooperman. Enjoy the golden years, Abby.