c.2013 New York Times News Service

c.2013 New York Times News Service

If Shinzo Abe and Mario Draghi were being compensated by investment banks rather than taxpayers, they would both be looking forward to some pretty hefty year-end bonuses.

Abe, the prime minister of Japan, and Draghi, the president of the European Central Bank, were responsible for policies that helped deliver huge gains to stock market investors during the last year.

How many hedge fund managers can boast 56.7 percent gains? That was how much Tokyo’s Nikkei average rose in 2013, thanks in large part to Abe’s aggressive stimulus policies intended to shake Japan out of its economic torpor. It was the Nikkei 225’s best performance in 40 years.

And who would have thought a year ago that the best-performing stock markets in Europe would include Greece, up 28.1 percent during the year, and Ireland, up 33.6 percent? Much of those gains, in countries that have been among Europe’s most troubled, can be attributed to Draghi’s success in convincing investors that the ECB would not allow the eurozone to break apart — though improvement in the Irish economy and signs of stability in Greece also played a big role.

“This year has marked the end of the financial crisis,” said David Thébault, head of quantitative sales trading at Global Equities in Paris. “Now we’re beginning to see recovery in the real economy. The U.S. is growing and the European economy is stabilizing.”

Yet the unexpected swiftness of the rebounds in equity markets, which far outpace actual economic performance, has also created a palpable nervousness among investors. Gains that robust will be almost impossible to repeat in 2014, and could easily be reversed, analysts say.

To many investors, the list of bad things that could happen in the year ahead is long. It includes a resurgence of the sovereign debt crisis in Europe and global repercussions from the withdrawal of monetary stimulus in the United States.

Analysts are particularly concerned about the potential for disappointment in Japan if the government does not follow up with measures intended to make the economy perform better, such as allowing more competition in the energy business.

In general, emerging markets lost some of the glamour they have enjoyed in recent years, when they often made stocks in developed countries look staid and boring. The Shanghai stock market’s performance was slightly worse than the 6.7 percent annual decrease of the main share index in Thailand, where street protests have seized the nation’s capital for weeks. In Indonesia, the main index finished down 0.98 percent from a year earlier, as investors grew concerned over lofty stock valuations amid signs that growth was slowing.