We hope this update finds you and your family in good health and we send best wishes for a healthy and happy New Year. Global stock and bond markets rallied powerfully near the end of 2023 after the U.S. Federal Reserve signaled that disinflationary trends were sufficient to project a shift to monetary easing in 2024. The S&P, Dow and Nasdaq generated exceptional returns of 26.3%, 16.2% and 44.7% with reinvested dividends last year respectively.  For the full year, U.S. large cap growth stocks led all asset classes. A dramatic rebound for the stocks of the seven largest U.S. companies by market capitalization – concentrated in the technology and communication sectors – drove the U.S. equity market’s gain. Most other major asset classes posted a double-digit gain for the year, including real estate stocks 13.7%, high-yield bonds 13.5%, and U.S. value stocks 11.7%. International stocks also performed well with developed markets returning 18.9% and emerging markets 10.3%.

Perhaps the most important lesson of 2023 for investors is that news headlines and economic events don’t always impact markets in obvious ways.  Last year’s positive returns occurred despite historic challenges including the worst banking crisis since 2008, rapid Fed rate hikes, debt ceilings and budget battles in Washington, the ongoing war in Ukraine, the conflict in the Middle East, cracks in China’s economy, and many more.

High inflation affects all parts of the market and economy including forcing the Fed to raise interest rates, slowing growth, hurting corporate profits, and dampening consumer spending.  This is what happened in 2022 but many of these effects reversed in 2023 as inflation rates improved.

The recession that was anticipated by markets a year ago has not yet occurred. While many still expect economic growth to slow this year, it is not unreasonable to suggest that the Fed could achieve a “soft landing” in which inflation stabilizes without causing a recession.  This is why both markets and Fed forecasts show that they could begin to cut policy rates by the middle of the year.

This past year has shown us that it is important to stay invested and diversified across all phases of the market cycle, rather than try to predict exactly what might happen on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis.   


The Department of Labor (DOL) announced a final rule on January 9 that it says will help employers and workers better understand when a worker qualifies as an employee and when they may be considered independent contractors. It will take effect March 11, 2024.  “Misclassifying employees as independent contractors is a serious issue that deprives workers of basic rights and protections,” Acting Secretary of Labor Julie Su said in a statement.

“This new rule restores the pre-2021 multifactor analysis used by courts for decades and means that all relevant factors are analyzed to determine whether a worker is an employee or an independent contractor,” American Retirement Association Chief Legal Officer Allison Wielobob explained. It considers six factors that guide the analysis of a worker’s relationship with an employer where no single factor or group of factors gets predetermined weight.


A bill has been introduced on December 13 that would allow retirement savers to roll over their Roth IRA savings into a Roth workplace retirement plan such as a Roth 401(k), Roth 401(b), or Roth 457(b). The bipartisan bill, which the American Retirement Association supports, notes that workers are currently prohibited from rolling their Roth IRA savings into workplace-based Roth retirement plans, something the bill would address. This bill builds off the Starter-K Act, which was included in the SECURE 2.0 retirement package signed into law at the end of 2022.