Reader feedback can be crushing at times. So it was when I was told a couple of years after the Global Financial Crisis that The Edge Singapore lacked a soul. A soul? Why on earth would we need a soul? Are we Adele’s backup band or Singapore’s leading business weekly?

The point the reader was making is that there ought to be more to life than punting in the stock market and splurging on luxury goods. It was a sign of the times. Since the Global Financial Crisis, capital spending has been extremely weak, and financial markets have been driven more by central bank action than actual investing activity. If my Facebook feed is to be believed, for many people, the crisis and years of stagnation that followed were the fault of a rigged system and self-dealing elites.

Even in the local market, the biggest stories of the past year were less about public-listed companies that were investing and growing and more about the long-awaited action against some of the players linked to the scandal-ridden 1Malaysia Development Bhd fund and the penny stock crash of October 2013. In the latter half of 2016, as major global events that will have profound consequences for us were unfolding, being concerned about the direction of stock prices may have seemed particularly absurd and banal to many people.

In fact, the financial media’s assessment of these events was spectacularly wrong. Not only were the outcome of the UK referendum on the EU and the US presidential election unexpected, the impact these events had on the market was a surprise too. While the British pound has tumbled sharply after UK voters opted for Brexit on June 23, the FTSE100 index has actually rallied since then. Meanwhile, Donald Trump’s victory in the US didn’t spark the much-expected meltdown in global financial markets or trigger a big rally in gold. On the contrary, the market now seems to be expecting an acceleration in growth and inflation in the US, which is spurring stocks, pushing up bond yields and driving the US dollar higher.