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.

If you watched any financial news or commentary at all this week you could not have missed the attention given to whether or not the Fed would continue to use the phrasing “considerable period” in their prepared comments.  The words have appeared in their remarks for several months conveying to the financial world that they were prepared to keep interest rates low for an indefinite period to sustain a less-than-robust economic recovery.  The phrase was dropped on Wednesday and replaced with the words can “be patient” before raising rates. 

On Tuesday of this week the government announced that U.S. retail sales rose more in October than in any month in the government's 10 years of record-keeping.  Consumers spent money at auto dealers, department and discount stores, and building supply outlets.  Sales surged 7.1%, almost three times analysts' expectations, after falling 2.2% in September. The Commerce Department's report also showed sales excluding a record increase in purchases from car dealers rose 1% after falling 1.5% in September. The rise in vehicle sales was a result of no-interest financing offered by automakers.  General Motors has announced a continuation of their 0% program through January 15th