As I look across the foray of what’s behind, I can’t help but fall in the gap between what was and what might have been.  2022, you started with the wind at our backs and the promise of a bright future ahead.  Then…

In January, markets faltered as inflation reports hit the headlines at figures not seen in a generation.  The powers that be cried “transitory!” and we all, like sheep, believed and followed.  Stress testing our investment portfolios for temporary inflation proved futile as the transitory phenomenon took root in our financial architecture.  7% CPI seemed outlandish.  8% pure insanity.  But by July, the 9% Kraken had risen from the deep.  Fiery arrows of rate increases wouldn’t destroy the Beast.   And by the end of this year, the horrid creature had been nicked, but not slain.

In February, our news outlets were choked with smoke billowing from shattered buildings in Kyiv as Russia took on the Ukraine in a war for power and land grab.  A greedy Tyrant at the helm, thousands of Russian troops stormed into Kyiv not knowing, let alone believing in, the mission.  But their war path destroyed life and futures as innocent bystanders were killed in the senseless conflict.  This, the first major war since the dawn of social media, was greeted with outrage toward the Tyrant, and empathy toward the country of invasion.  Acts of mercy across the globe poured in to assist.  Elon Musk situated Starlink satellites above Ukraine so internet could be restored, and their fighting troops could regroup.  The United States sent billions in aid and military equipment to assist (and continues to send aid to this day).  Yet…the war rages on.  Last count, over 33,000 dead, many more thousands wounded.  Senseless indeed.

In March, my beautiful wife of 23 years sported a birthday.  To which I whisked her off to Arizona for a sightseeing tour of Phoenix, Sedona and the Grand Canyon.  It was Grand indeed.  The beauty of God’s creation on full display.

In April, I turned…well let’s just say…I turned an age.  I took time to reminisce and recount my blessings.  My family is healthy, the business is growing, life is good.  I couldn’t be more grateful.

By June, the west coast port supply chain bottleneck had mostly resolved.  Peaking in January with 109 container ships idling in the Pacific waiting their turn at port, by June the number had fallen to a much more manageable 20 ships.  The fury that pervaded the early part of the year when you couldn’t get your item you bought for days, if not weeks, if not months, had mostly subsided.  Are there still issues?  You bet.  A pair of new garage doors I ordered in June after my new teenage driver backed into our current one took a full 24 weeks to deliver.  They were installed in December, I’ve reminder her to be careful.

In July, in the name of making memories, I overspent on plane tickets, a rental car and a VRBO to take my family on our summer vacation to Yellowstone National Park.  Our economy is a direct function of supply and demand, and pent-up demand post-COVID to get out of your house and go on vacation was on overload, thus driving prices to levels that made my gut hurt.  But making memories is important to Keri and I, so off we went.  Landing in Bozeman and driving to West Yellowstone to stay, my family did indeed create fun and awesome memories.  Yes, I overspent…and yes, I’d do it again.  My kids aren’t getting any younger.  The photo shuffle on my iPhone proves it was well worth the cost.

In August, Eliana turned 16, and I took her on a Daddy-Daughter trip to NYC for a couple of Broadway shows.  August was sweltering hot in the City, but we chose not to complain and we thoroughly enjoyed our time in the Big Apple.  I was reminded that a) big cities are cool and b) but I wouldn’t want to live in one.  We loved The Lion King and Wicked.  Both were performed by very talented actors and actresses.  It gave me a new appreciation for the unique set of gifts and skills God gives each one of us.

In October, our firm celebrated 20 years in business.  And in so doing, we thanked and honored our clients who’ve graciously entrusted us to steward their wealth.  We thanked our family and friends for their support along the way.  It’s been humbling to look back and recount the joy of the journey.  Yet, we’re not done.  We’re just getting started.  I’m confident that the next 20 years will be so much more exciting than the first!

In November, a sturdy round of layoffs in the tech industry ensued.  Turns out that unbridled growth can actually take a pause, forcing celebrity CEOs to eat crow as they purge thousands of employees from their payroll systems.  Sadly, these thousands of employees are actual people, who’s lives have been significantly disrupted, if not wrecked, by these layoffs.  Forced into the unemployment system while they try their best to find another job to pay the bills, it’s a reminder that growth isn’t guaranteed, that stewardship is paramount, and that fiscal discipline is key.  I’m hopeful the lessons these CEOs have learned won’t soon be forgotten.

By the time December rolled around, investment professionals and clients each waited with anticipation that the Santa Clause Rally would take shape.  It didn’t.  In the stock market, the month of December is typically positive, but not this year.  The S&P 500 was down 6% which translates into an ugly negative 19% for the year.  So, what shall we do?  Dig our bunker and load up on dry canned food as we prepare for Armageddon?  No.  Last I checked, America isn’t going out of business.  In fact, by the time the year closes, America will land as the top producer of good and services (as measured by GDP) by a measure of $21 trillion.  By world stock market cap, the USA garners 42% of the value of publicly traded companies.  The next closest is China, which boasts a mere 10%.  We’re dominant by a factor of 4x and we’re blessed in more ways that we can imagine.

2022, despite what you threw at us, humanity survived…even thrived.  You taught us the nothing is guaranteed, it ebbs and flows.  Preparation is key.  You reminded us to get our reps, work hard, fight for it, the early bird gets the worm.  There is power in one more.  You need to get 10? Do 11.  Everyone goes home at 5? Work ‘til 5:30.  Tell your son you love him once today?  Tell him twice.  A dozen roses make your marriage thrive?  Buy her 2 dozen.  Homeless guy on the street ask you for a $5 bill?  Give him $20.  Despite what this year gave us, we move forward.  Heads down and spirits high, we put one foot in front of the other.  We’re weary, but not done.  We’re beaten down, but not broken.

Hope abounds.  Joy reigns.  Peace is within our grasp.

2022, thank you.  It was a good year after all…

Here I stand, glancing over my shoulder to what’s behind, now turning my gaze forward, my eyes widen, my brow furrows, determined, and confident, I step forward into 2023…

The Best Is Ahead…