Our presenter at this, our first meeting of 2019, was Chad Latour, from the investment firm of Lord Abbett.  His objective was to provide an overview of the performance of financial markets in 2018 as well as to share the firm's thinking on expectations for 2019.  This was well-timed, given the significant decline in market valuations in the last quarter of 2018.  The net result was that both the Dow and S&P indexes were down about 7% for the year.  Virtually every category of investment lost ground in 2018.  This was as compared to 2017 in which every asset category made money and despite the fact that corporate earnings were widely up in 2018.  Why?  Letour attributed most of the market decline to fear that the Fed would raise interest rates substantially in 2019.  After the strong market reaction late in 2018, the Fed did back off its plan to raise rates, which has helped the market recover somewhat in the early days of 2019.  Lord Abbett projects that the S&P will improve by about 8% in 2019.  Inflation is expected to continue at the relatively low rate of just over 2%.  There is some fear that global growth rates will slow during the year, driven greatly by expectations for a slowdown in China's economic growth.