Unstable equilibrium in 2010
Prognosticating about the ensuing 12 months was like shooting fish in a barrel over the past few years.
The big facts about the noughties were first that there was too much cheap money sloshing about, and then - inevitably - that there was too little.
So my predictions for 2006, 2007, 2008 and 2009 were "boom, overheating, crunch and bust", respectively.
But for the first Hogmanay in ages, I have little confidence in what the coming year will bring for business, for savers, for investors and for borrowers.
Why am I so wobbly? Well, it is because of the manner by which we avoided a depression in the UK, the US and much of Europe.
With banks, non-financial businesses and households all de-leveraging, all trying to reduce their huge and unsustainable debts, a massive economic heart attack was avoided by a reduction in official interest rates to almost zero, to ease the squeeze on the private sector, and by increases in public spending.
Or to put it another way, any fall in private-sector indebtedness has been offset by a rise in public-sector indebtedness.
Which means that viewed across all economic sectors, the UK and the US are still submerged in debt: the aggregate borrowing of households, companies and government is equivalent to more than three times the value of everything we produce, still greater than at any point in peacetime history.
If you add to that the liabilities of banks that should be viewed as unsustainable because they are provided or guaranteed by the state, then the indebtedness of much of the West can be seen as greater still.
So the big intolerably uncertain question for Britain and America (and for Greece, Ireland and others) is can we reduce our debts in an orderly way - one which would be gruelling for us, as we save more and consume less, but not unbearable?
Or will our creditors lose patience and demand their money back - in which case we would have to pay massively more for credit while draconian cuts in government and household spending would be forced on us?
To put it more succinctly, we are balanced precariously.
The most likely tilt on the axis takes us to an indeterminate period of low growth, which won't be painless - because our standard of living and public services would stagnate and unemployment would continue to rise.
But we cannot discount a violent tilt in an altogether more unpleasant direction, where sterling would plummet and the cost of borrowing for government and for us would soar.
What's worse, our fate is not wholly in our control.
We could be a domino knocked over in a chain reaction started by the default of another too-indebted nation.
Or we could be victimised by investors if the current recovery in property and share prices came to a sticky end, since that would lead to further losses for our still rickety banks.
Or inflation could rise faster than the Bank of England expects, which would force it to put up the official interest rate in a manner that dangerously sucked out all that additional cash given by it and the Treasury to consumers over the past year.
Or we could become a pariah for investors if the resolve of the next British government to reduce public-sector borrowing was doubtful.
To put it another way, we're probably in for a period of low growth and slow steady recovery - but a further shock cannot be wholly discounted.
What price shares and gold?
There are also huge uncertainties about the outlook for assorted financial markets.
Take share prices. Even after rising 50% from their lows of early 2009, they don't look particularly expensive on the basis of historical averages for the relationship between prices and earnings or between prices and assets.
But those historical averages may well have been massively distorted by the share-price inflation of the dot.com bubble of the late 1990s and the cheap-money bubble of the mid-noughties.
So if those speculative bubbles are viewed as aberrations, shares may be expensive.
Or take gold.
If we are in for a period of slow steady recovery, in which interest rates rise, gold is greatly over-valued.
But if the dollar and sterling were to plunge - well, gold would glisten even more than it has.
Is there no forecast that can be made with confidence?
I suppose there are just two about which I feel a bit more certain.
The first is that the Chinese currency must surely rise. China's authorities will surely be unable to keep the cork in the bottle, when their economy looks so much stronger than the US's.
Second, even without a sterling crisis, the interest rates paid by the British government must surely increase and the price of gilts (of all maturities) must surely fall.
Gilt prices have been boosted by investors' curious conviction that lending to governments like ours was safer than lending to banks or to the private sector.
But now that the penny has gradually dropped that the banks and public sector are more or less indistinguishable, it has gradually become a tiny bit cheaper and easier for banks to borrow and it will probably become harder and more expensive for governments to borrow.
Update 1145: A number of you spotted a typo which I have now corrected. I wrote that the "price of gilts... must rise", when I meant to say that they must "fall". Sorry for the confusion.