Every four years about this time a popular question arises - 'if so-and-so is elected, how will the stock market react? It's a fair question because presidents set the tone for government policy for the coming four or eight years. These policies can be beneficial or harmful to various businesses and industries, directly impacting their profits and stock prices.

Persistence is defined as "continuing without change in function or structure." Webster's second definition of politics is "a person's opinions about the management of government." Persistence describes a purposeful struggle against shifting winds to hold a course, while politics and politicians seem more and more purposeful in going with the shifts.

We had some really bad weather this week in North Carolina (as did other places in the Southeast). Between tornadoes and severe thunderstorms and all that accompanies those events, it was probably enough to make you think more deeply than you're accustomed to about what's really important.

Today's Brief is inspired by Seth Godin's blog entitled How to talk about your project. We've taken the liberty of broadening Seth's focus from project to "life goals." Like Seth encourages his readers to look beyond marketing, we encourage you to think big picture, of purpose, life goals, and how you communicate them 'strategically, to yourself, your partners, your coaches and your investors (yes you have investors).'

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...