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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.

I took a good look at my to do list yesterday. You know the list we add things to and instantly feel we've accomplished a big part of the task merely by writing it down? My list contains things like cleaning the gutters, fixing a crack in...

[caption id="attachment_7475" align="alignleft" width="300"]President Obama Signs Budget On Monday President Obama Signs Budget On Monday[/caption] First the good news: the House and Senate passed a new budget deal last week that suspends the debt limit until 2017 and increases funding levels for a number of federal programs. President Obama signed the deal into law on Monday, avoiding a government debt default and reducing the risk of a government shutdown in December.

[caption id="attachment_7450" align="alignleft" width="300"]Fed Chair, Janet Yellen Fed Chair, Janet Yellen[/caption] The financial news is dominated by speculation of when the Fed will increase interest rates. It matters because the Fed is the only economic policy maker with any potential or apparent willingness to stimulate our economy. The Administration continues to pile on regulations and complicate the tax structure, while the Congress, through its brokenness, allows sequestration to continue cutting more deeply into the areas of government spending (defense and social) that are actually stimulative to economic growth.