Wall Street strategist and '10 Surprises' author Byron Wien dies at 90

Byron Wien, Vice Chairman of Private Wealth Solutions group, speaks during the Reuters Global Investment 2019 Outlook Summit, in New York

By Svea Herbst-Bayliss

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Byron Wien, who guided investors on what to buy and sell and authored a widely anticipated yearly list of "10 Surprises" as one of Wall Street's most prominent and enduring market strategists, has died, Blackstone Inc said in a statement.

Wien was 90.

Wien built his wide following on Wall Street during two decades at investment bank Morgan Stanley where he rose to be the firm's chief investment strategist of the United States. He also wrote the annual list, a monthly strategy essay, and worked with colleagues on putting together a model portfolio of stocks.


He moved from the investment bank to hedge fund Pequot Capital Management where he worked until it went out of business in 2009. Soon after, at age 76, when most people were enjoying retirement, Wien joined private equity firm Blackstone to offer direction and guidance. He was vice chairman of Blackstone's Private Wealth Solutions group.

"Byron's life was remarkable in so many ways," Blackstone Chief Executive Officer Steve Schwarzman and President Jon Gray said in a statement to Blackstone employees. "He was always building new relationships and pushed everyone around him to think about the risks and opportunities that lay ahead."

His annual list, which he published for 38 consecutive years, focused on a range of topics from who might win U.S. presidential elections, to the role China would play in markets, to where the stock index would move next.

He called the list a "defining product" adding people all over the world identified him with it. "I put myself at risk by going on record with these events, which I believe are probable and hold myself accountable at year-end," he said earlier this year.

While the list was closely watched, it also drew some scorn.

"My wife hopes I give this up as soon as possible," Wien told the New York Times about writing it. "While people are enjoying the holidays, between Thanksgiving and Christmas I am in a total panic, working quite hard on developing these," he told the newspaper in 2001.

In addition to calling how markets might move, he offered life advice and encouraged people to "read all the time," to "get enough sleep" and "travel extensively."

Wien was orphaned as a young man but was sent by a guidance counselor at school to apply to Harvard where he ended up earning his undergraduate and graduate business degrees.

He found his way to Wall Street after stints in advertising and consulting.

He told the New York Times in 1985 "I'm not sure I can do this job," about the strategist role at Morgan Stanley. "But if I can do it, I will derive more satisfaction from this job than from going somewhere else and being a portfolio manager."

One of his life lessons, published in February, was "never retire."

"If you work forever, you can live forever. I know there is an abundance of biological evidence against this theory, but I’m going with it anyway," he said.

(Reporting by Svea Herbst-Bayliss; Editing by Chris Reese)