As we bid adios to 2016  and anticipate 2017, many of the 'givens' from years past have vanished. The healthcare industry will almost certainly undergo another sea-change, like it did in 2010 with Obama Care. Taxes are apt to fall significantly with both a White House and Congress on parallel courses to cut virtually all tax rates, corporate and personal. International trade is headed for a shakeup as Mr. Trump promises to end or re-negotiate all major agreements on the table and in force that in his view unfairly penalize American interests. Major federally-funded construction projects will renovate highways, bridges, dams, waterways, and airports, but which ones and at what cost to the debt? Immigration laws will be strenuously enforced, impacting families, sanctuary cities, farms, and high tech companies dependent on lower cost visa workers. And foreign policy? If there ever was a case of 'out of the frying pan and into the fire,' we are there. The world is a mess and likely to to get messier, unless and until American diplomacy, backed by credibility and power, is reestablished.

We will get to the economic data shortly, but a good self-evaluation is appropriate every so often, particularly at the first of a new year. When you consider your investments do you make your most significant decisions according to a plan which looks well into the future, or do you tend to let the daily price, data, and tongue wiggles wag those decisions? Consider carefully, because the answer could well impact the quality of your lifestyle.

Currently, the Dow Jones Industrial Index is up 6.4% from its August 16th intra-day low. The Nasdaq is up 7.25%. More to the point, credit markets are showing signs of improving. The four large banks in a show of support for the Fed’s reduction of the lending rate last week each borrowed $500 million at the Fed discount window. Though they paid the money back a short while later, it was an important symbolic show of support. It also indicates that banks have better options than borrowing at 5.75% from the discount window. But there is still not enough data to show whether non-bank mortgage lenders are gaining access to the recently risk-frozen credit markets.