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Keep-PoundingFor those of you who are not inclined to pay close attention to sports headlines, the Super Bowl is this Sunday. It is the 50th Super Bowl to be played, and will find the Carolina Panthers facing the Denver Broncos in Santa Clara, California. Even if you care nothing for the game of football, it promises to be an event worth watching.

Evidence is mounting that the US economy is not immune to the contagion of the global economic slowdown. The Commerce Department announced today that the US economy expanded at an anemic (seasonally adjusted) 0.7% in the fourth quarter. This compares to advances of 2% in third quarter and 3.9% in second quarter of last year. Some argue that seasonal adjustments currently used by government statisticians do not reflect the evolving economy, but it's hard to see how the economy escapes the downdrafts of global slowing, an unprecedented drop in oil prices and a surging dollar.

Snow DayIt's no secret that the stock market has been pretty crummy in 2016. My younger sister Allegra is in college, without much of a vested interest in these things yet, and I just texted her to ask what the stock market has done this year. Her verbatim response was: "I think it's been kinda all over the place? And it tanked recently? Oil prices or something."

Today we experienced yet another round of greater-than-usual market volatility. We empathize with your concerns. While we cannot say how long or how deep the declines will go, it may be helpful to give some insight into some of the underlying causes, look at what the impact has been on the major asset classes, and to provide some historical reference to put it into context.

Market times like these can test our deepest resolve, especially when we are not prepared for the emotional impact of real declining wealth or learning the hard way that our 'expertly designed portfolio' sinks far more easily than we expected. [caption id="attachment_7590" align="alignnone" width="896"] "Winter Swells" by HG DeCortes - Beacon Collection[/caption] We don't...

It’s been a rocky start for 2016, continuing the choppiness that started in August. US stocks as measured by the CRSP US Total Market Index are down roughly 5% since the beginning of the year and almost 9% since the last market peak on June 22nd.

When I started Beacon almost 20 years ago, I wanted to do one thing for my clients: Grow their wealth faster than they could grow it elsewhere. That's still true today, but everything else has changed.

The obvious answer to the title question is 'yes of course,' but only one in five actually accomplishes it. Here's the fascinating part - anyone can join the elite 20% any time they wish and outperform 80% of other investors as long as the 80% continues doing what they are doing. By now, it's widely accepted that most actively managed portfolios, whether mutual funds, private accounts, or hedge funds, fail to beat the benchmarks against which they are measured. Yet most investors continue to chase the goal of market-beating returns, despite the low odds of success.

"But language is a treacherous thing, a most unsure vehicle."
Mark TwainMark Twain said that, and I can't disagree with him. Mastering the technical, dictionary definitions of words is good, but will only get you part way to communicating fully. That's because words don't always stick to their technical, dictionary definitions. They reshape themselves, sometimes drastically, based on the countless different contexts in which they find themselves written or read, spoken or heard.