Flying back from Rwanda earlier this week gave me hours (33 to be exact) of time to reflect on many things. When I completed notes from my meetings in Kigali, I spent some time looking ahead to next year and what we as investors might expect. While I'm usually optimistic, the logical conclusion seems to be pointing considerably more negative than positive. Odds are for a slow-down, maybe even the 'R' word.

The US economy continues to plow persistently ahead despite the strong headwinds of high unemployment and restrictive fiscal (government spending) policy. The economy added 195,000 jobs in June and has added an average of more than 200,000 each month this year. But the improvement in jobs, while steady, is not so robust that the Fed is going to soon reduce its generous stimulus measures of quantitative easing (QE3) or very low interest rates.

Today’s much-hyped jobs report does little to help either candidate’s 11th hour election message. From the recovering perspective, job growth accelerated in October as the number of new hires increased by a seasonally-adjusted 171,000 people. But from the sluggish perspective, the unemployment rate rose from 7.8% to 7.9% in October. More people re-entered the job market than new jobs were available to offset. Today’s stock market is down, ceding some of yesterday’s 1.1% gain on worsening damage from Hurricane Sandy, some poor earnings reports, and an election too-close-to-call; in short, uncertainty remains.

Earlier this week, Stephen Covey, a hero of mine and a champion of how to live a better life, passed away. Covey was best known for his mega-bestseller The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. His common-sense, yet profound counsel to “Begin with the End in Mind,” to “Be Proactive,” and to “Seek First to Understand, Then to Be Understood” have been fundamental concepts in the shaping of Beacon. We thank him and will miss him greatly.