Trail Financial Planning, LLC is a fee-only financial planning and investment management firm located in Bellingham, WA

Q4 investment markets review

Q4 investment markets review

This post is our Q4 investment market review.  In it you will find our thoughts on some areas of the markets, as well as links to resources to help you gain a better understanding of investing and the economy.  This is a general email.  For our clients, you will receive a separate email with personalized information about your portfolio.

Our Thoughts

The market staged a bit of a recovery in the fourth quarter.  It felt like a sigh of relief in contrast to a painful 2022.  Next year may see further investment declines, accompanied by our worry and fretting.  Or, markets may advance, kindling hope and joy.  Reactions like joy or worry are natural, they are powerful, and they should be respected – they are an essential piece of being human!

We KNOW that investments will experience down cycles as investors and businesses adjust to changing economic conditions, and thus stock and bond prices adjust as investors buy and sell.  It is as natural for markets to have down cycles as for humans to feel sad.  Neither a down market nor a feeling of sadness indicates something is broken or wrong.  Nevertheless, neither sadness nor down markets feels good!

Emotional reactions have the potential of tugging on our decision-making.  That is why it is important that our investment strategy is constructed within the context of a broader financial plan that addressed questions like, what are you trying to achieve?  What is the purpose of your investments?

Once purpose has been established, you still need an investment plan that you can stick with.  In order to do so, it is helpful to understand investments more, to understand yourself more, and perhaps to have a trusted partner to do so with.  The next section is meant to help with the first point, understanding investments and markets.

The Economy and Markets

There are lots of things going on in the economy and investment markets.  I am particularly interested in the bond market, I will be sending out a general message on bond investing soon.  For a thoughtful assessment on many “issues financial,” the following resource is a 4-minute read on the “Biggest Financial Topics of 2022.”  The webpage was created by the fine folks at Dimensional Fund Advisors, our partner in investment management.  It is a 4-minute read, and provides some excellent, digestible information about topics like,

  • Market Volatility
  • Stock Performance in Recessions
  • The impact of the Federal Reserve on investment markets
  • Benefits of long-term investing
  • Value stocks vs. growth stocks

I am particularly interested in how interest rate movements (prompted by the Fed) are affecting markets, as they are having a big impact on bond returns.  To visit this post, click on the following link which will open up the webpage in another tab:

Dimensional’s Takes on the Biggest Financial Topics of 2022

Detailed Market Performance

To view a detailed analysis of investment performance in the US and global stock and bond markets, click on the button below.

The report is prepared by Dimensional Fund Advisors (DFA), our partner in investment management and client support.  If you would like to find out more about DFA, you can visit their website directly at:

Other Items Worth Sharing

Last Pass data breach

This is a big one.  I use Last Pass to save and manage my online passwords.  We use Last Pass in our business to save and secure our online passwords.  Many of our clients use Last Pass.

What Happened?  In August 2022 Last Pass was hacked, and password information that customers entrusted to them was stolen.  That information is compromised.

How concerning is this?  If you are Last Pass user, and you have important passwords saved in their system, you should be concerned.

What to do?  If you are a Last Pass user, you should learn more and probably take action. At the bottom of this blog post is a section where I’ve included a link to read how we responded to the Last Pass data breach.  The linked report includes more information about what happened, possible responses and what we did to secure our information.  You might find it useful as you think about your next step(s).

Does this mean that password managers are inherently unsafe?  I do not think so. There is no such thing as perfectly secure systems, or totally unsafe systems.  Almost every security measure is better than nothing, and they all have weaknesses.  There are only more secure and less secure systems.  Security is always a trade-off between convenience and… security.  Last Pass has some firewalls in place to prevent this breach from actually causing damage.  A strong master password.  Plus, you can add other layers of protection like multi-factor authentication.  However, there is still risk.

Trail FP Incident Response to Last Pass Data Breach

Click on the link below to see what we did in response to the Last Pass Data Breach.

Trail FP Incident Response to Last Pass data breach

Please keep in mind that we are not cyber-security experts, only humans trying to figure out the best way to do things in a complex world.  Thus, please don’t take our response as prescriptive advice for your situation.  We would recommend you consult with a trusted cyber security expert who could help you IF SUCH EXPERTS EVEN EXISTED FOR THE REGULAR PERSON!  I don’t think they do.  That’s why I am sharing what we did!

Disclosures and end notes

Information contained within is meant to be generalized investment information.  It should not be considered investment advice.  There is information about investment and market performance.  Past investment performance should not be used as a predictor of future investment performance.  Investing in markets carries an inherent risk of losing money.

John Chesbrough

John is a financial planner and investment manager. He, along with his business partner Elizabeth Snyder, founded, a fee-only, independent financial advisory firm called Trail Financial Planning (Trail FP) in Bellingham, WA. John and Liz enjoy working with people who care for others and their community – parents, firefighters, therapists, doctors, nurses, and teachers. They work with people by appointment. To learn more, or to schedule some time with John or Liz directly, please visit