U.S. investors will be cheering the end of this year rather than doing any celebrating as 2018 draws to a close.
It's been a 12 months to forget, with just about every available asset class in freefall. Even gold, that most nonsensical and useless of investments, has not participated in any "safe-haven" jump until its slender 6.4% rally since early October.
Asia has actually been a pretty good place to hold your ground. Its equity markets have done decently, quite a surprise since global investors tend to sell off emerging markets at the first sign of trouble - whether they deserve that treatment or not.
You wouldn't know it if you look at overall averages. The MSCI AC Asia Pacific index is down 15.9% in the last 12 months.
That's exactly the same pace of decline as the Euro Stoxx 50, also off 15.9% in a year. The Dax in Germany fared slightly worse, down 18.7%; Britain's FTSE 100 has done a little better, giving up 12.0% (so what's all this fuss about Brexit, anyway?!).
U.S. stocks may have taken a recent battering, but they're looking snappy by comparison. Both the S&P 500, with a 9.9% decline, and the Nasdaq composite, off 9.0%, have half the losses that Germans are looking at.
The reason the overall index is misleading for Asia is that it's dominated by two markets: Japan in particular, with a 38.5% weighting, and China, at 18.0%. Australia (10.6%) and South Korea (8.1%) make up most of the difference.
So although the MSCI AC Asia Pacific index covers 14 markets, it's really looking at the region's developed, industrial heartland. Those nations have been hammered by tensions over trade, de-globalization and similar pressures to the West.
It's arguable whether China, in stock-market terms, counts as a developing nation anymore. The companies that dominate its index weightings are some of the largest in the world, let alone Asia: Tencent Holdings (TCEHY) , Alibaba Group (BABA) , China Construction Bank (CICHY) .
They take their place above or alongside Samsung Electronics, Toyota Motor (TM) and Aussie mining giant BHP (BBL) . The latter is surely a more constructive defensive play than gold itself, since the company actually does something - making the stuff, instead of sitting there, like Au in the vault.
True emerging Asia has done decently this year, and at times has made out very well nicely thank you. There's no portfolio pain in India right now.
The Nifty 50, worth following simply for having the coolest index name ever, is up 2.1%. The broader S&P BSE Sensex has advanced 5.3%. (The Nifty 50, lest we forget, follows 50 of India's most-dynamic companies rather than the overall market).
India has seen broad-based gains, in other words, the business-friendly reforms of Prime Minister Narendra Modi paying off, and inflows of foreign direct investment sustained.
Kiwis have a bit of a spring in their step, too, not just because the All Blacks made a cakewalk of the Southern Hemisphere rugby championships this year. The S&PNZX 50 Index in Auckland has advanced 3.8%. Big caps have carried the day; but the broader New Zealand market has held its ground, the S&P NZX All Index grafting out a 0.4% gain.
There's been plenty of hand wringing about the selloff in emerging markets. Not in emerging Asia.
Southeast Asia has held up pretty well, narrowly in the red. The FTSE Bursa Malaysia index is down 4.8%. The Thai stock market has fallen 8.4%. Vietnamese stocks have declined 4.0%, in the form of the Ho Chi Minh Stock Index, perhaps the world's only stock market tracked in the name of an anti-capitalist Communist hero.
Perhaps most surprising is the performance in Indonesia. The Indonesian rupiah this year hit levels last seen during the Asian financial crisis 20 years ago. Yet the Jakarta composite has only edged to a 0.9% loss. It shows how sanguine investors are over the levels of foreign debt held by Indonesian multinationals, far lower than the coffers of U.S. dollars that spelled the death knell of so many two decades back.
Among Southeast Asian markets, the Philippines is the outlier, with an 11.3% fall, double the rate of the rest of the region.
Frontier markets have fared quite well, Pakistani stocks down only 2.5%. Mongolia's tiny, mining-rich market has fallen 4.2%. In Colombo, Sri Lankan stocks are down 4.9%.
Developed Asia is what you're hearing in the overall index, and it has shared U.S. and European pain.
My home Hang Seng index is down 13.3% in 12 months. Hong Kong property prices have finally followed, after an inexorable advance that has made my part of town (globally) the most-expensive, least-affordable real estate in the world.
It's the same story for stocks in South Korea, the Kospi posting a 15.8% fall. Singapore's Straits Times Index has fallen 10.0%; Aussie stocks have given back 9.9%.
Tokyo's broad Topix index has fallen 18.6%. Like in the United States, where the Dow Jones Industrial Average of old-style, large-cap companies has done better than the tech-induced broader market, the Nikkei 225 of Japan's largest companies is down 12.0%, not quite the pasting of Japanese stocks as a whole.
And China has taken a crushing collapse of 25.1% in the CSI 300 index. The Shanghai and Shenzhen stock exchanges show shocking volatility. So after a peak in February has been followed by incessant pain, these will be markets well worth mapping for pleasure in 2019.
All the indicators now are that Beijing is injecting stimulus into the Chinese economy and turning the spigots back on with credit. If the truce in the trade war holds, it's highly likely we will see a rapid rebound in Asia's poorest performer for next year.
Meanwhile, take cover in Southeast Asia and India. They've been the place to hide from the rest of the world's woes.