So this column would like to suggest five potential surprises for 2016. The definition of a surprise is something that the consensus (as judged by betting sites or polls of fund managers) does not expect.

The first surprise may be that the dollar weakens, not strengthens. The consensus view is that the Federal Reserve, having pushed up rates before Christmas, will tighten monetary policy two or three more times in 2016. Higher rates will make investors eager to buy the dollar, especially as both the European Central Bank and the Bank of Japan will keep their rates near zero. However, the dollar has already had a very good run, so higher rates may already be priced into the currency. As it is, investors seem to doubt that the Fed will tighten as much as the central bank currently projects. The actual outcome may be feebler still.

The second surprise may be too familiar to deserve the name. Commentators have been calling an end to the bull market in government bonds for many years now, and the pundits are expecting much the same in 2016. But persistently low inflation and the support of central banks have kept yields low to date, and may keep doing so. It is all reminiscent of Japan: since 2000, so many investors have failed to profit from betting on higher Japanese yields that the trade is known as the “widowmaker”.

In the developed world, pension funds, insurers and retired workers are all eager buyers of fixed-income assets. Perhaps bond yields will edge higher in 2016, but not by very much.

These two surprises may have a common cause: the failure of the global economy to grow as rapidly as some hope. In turn, economic sluggishness seems likely to drive voter discontent. And that may lead to the third and fourth surprises.

American political risk could dog the markets in late 2016. At the start of 2015, investors probably anticipated a dynastic clash between Jeb Bush and Hillary Clinton. But the Republican candidate seems more likely to be either Donald Trump or Ted Cruz. The former has argued for a ban on Muslims coming to America and a wall on the southern border; the latter’s proposals include a flat income tax, a sales tax and a monetary system linked to gold. Although Mrs Clinton would be the favourite in a race against either man, she is a flawed candidate, mistrusted by many voters. The prospect of a Cruz or Trump presidency would lead to considerable uncertainty in the markets: should either man be elected, would they try to stick to their campaign pledges and would Congress let them? Indeed, this uncertainty might be another reason why the dollar may struggle in 2016.

Political risk might also be a problem in Britain, which is likely to hold a referendum on leaving the European Union in 2016. It is widely assumed that Britons will vote for the status quo: that outcome has a 78% probability on the PredictIt website. But opinion polls show that the “remain” and “leave” camps are almost deadlocked and the press is fairly Eurosceptic. Voters might use the referendum as a means of protesting against high levels of immigration, which the government has promised, but failed, to reduce.

If Britain votes for exit, there will be much uncertainty about the country’s attractiveness to foreign investors. Scottish voters are much more pro-EU than English ones, and Brexit would prompt calls for a second independence referendum so Scotland could stay in the single market. David Cameron, Britain’s prime minister, would surely have to resign if his referendum gamble backfired. All this might be good reason to sell the pound.

The final surprise might be more benign: emerging markets could perform rather better than investors expect. A poll of fund managers in December by Bank of America-Merrill Lynch found that pessimists on emerging markets outnumbered optimists by 27 percentage points.

There is plenty of bad news: China’s slowdown, falling commodity prices and recessions in Brazil and Russia, for example. But this may have been built into prices; the MSCI emerging-market index has fallen by 20% over the past six years while the S&P 500 index is up by 40% (see chart). It may be time for a rebound.

Not all of these surprises will come to pass, of course. But it seems likely that at least one or two will. Predicting which ones may mark the difference between success and failure for investors in 2016.