Annual Investment Update: Economic Review & Outlook - December 31, 2013

Welcome 2014! We want to thank you for continuing to support the investment strategies we have in place to protect your wealth. The total return in the S&P Index in 2013 of 32.4% now has the index up an astounding 173% since the low in March 2009. The market climbed the wall of worry at the beginning of the year and came out on top! We start the new year with a more robust economic growth profile and our expectation is a solid 3% trend growth rate in the U.S. economy. The upticks in consumer confidence and home prices continue to fuel the recovering economy. If this continues, there could be concerns that the Fed will move to “tightening” from “tapering,” and a possible shock to the markets this year. We will continue to monitor the situation in the economy, as the Fed wants inflation, and what that means to your portfolio. On the upside, we will be looking for an increase in business confidence and the fading of the fiscal drag. We believe global growth will quicken more than anticipated as well. Even if we pause in 2014 with mid-high single-digit returns for the S&P, we expect 2015 to push higher still. We hope this year brings health, happiness and prosperity to you and your family.

2013: From recovery to relief. Though the financial crisis of 2008 is now five years past, most economists speak of the current growth in the economy as part of a “recovery.” In 2013, however, the slow but steady employment growth, low inflation, rising home prices, and 2+% GDP growth felt less like a recovery and more like a normal operating environment. Some recent signs of market strength include a better-than-expected 4.1% increase in U.S. GDP in the 3rd quarter, a possible end to Europe’s prolonged recession, and some indications that Japan is winning its battle against deflation. Also, in Washington D.C., the House Republicans and Senate Democrats struck a two-year budget agreement that lessened the possibility of more policy shock. The Federal Reserve expressed its confidence in the economy by tapering its monthly bond-buying program modestly from $85 billion to $75 billion. Improved investor confidence sent stocks soaring as money flowed into risky assets.

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