As the year drew to a close, a handful of big-picture issues dominated the investment landscape: the plunging price of oil, positive economic indicators in the U.S. relative to most of the globe, and the ongoing influence of central banks (a key effect of which has been to bolster stocks and other risk assets). In the financial markets, the year saw strong gains for U.S. large-cap stocks and core bonds with lagging performance elsewhere. 

Market Commentary
Financial markets struggled in December, as losses in crude sent shockwaves through the market. WTI crude oil declined by 19% during the month and closed the year at $53/bbl. Domestic large caps were mixed during the month, with sharp gains in utilities offset by losses in most other major sectors. International equities fared worse, with both developed and
emerging markets losing over 3% for the month and realizing losses for the calendar year in dollar‐terms. In fixed income, high‐quality bonds outperformed high yield, as losses surmounted in energy company bonds, while the 10yr Treasury yield ended the year 23% below where it started.

Fifteen years ago, the Social Security Administration (SSA) launched the Social Security Statement, a tool to help Americans understand the features and benefits that Social Security offers. Since then, millions of Americans have reviewed their personalized statements to see a detailed record of their earnings, as well as estimates of retirement, survivor, and disability benefits based on those earnings. Here's how to get a copy of your statement, and why it deserves more than just a quick glance, even if you're years away from retirement.