Welcome to 2012.....
I wanted to wait this month and produce this newsletter after Standard and Poor's, (S&P) evaluated the ongoing debt issues that continue to plague the E.U. Over the weekend, I was offered the opportunity to speak at a financial services conference out on the West Coast. While I was there, S&P did precisely what I suspected they would do and systematically downgraded almost the entire E.U. There was a time last year when I thought the only way the E.U. was going to get out of this was to split the Eurozone and have more than one currency. This morning, I noted in McVean Weekly that the E.U. is holding pretty tight on maintaining the single Euro currency. Frankly, splitting of the Euro did give me some reason for pause and its encouraging that they will continue to manage through the debt process. LIke us here in the good old U.S of A, they need to continue to cut expenses and monitor the deficits. There has been so much bad news coming from the E.U. over the past couple of months, ANY words of encouragement are welcome.
The Iranian leadership continues to push our buttons on the Straits of Hormuz and unfortunately the situation looks like its going to end badly, one way or another. Between the issues surrounding oil and the fact that its clear Iran has intentions of possessing a nuclear weapon, the entire middle east is looking more and more like a powder keg, again. The world just cannot tolerate a regime filled with Islamic lunatics to possess such a weapon. My guess is that Israel will step in and deal with Iran more sooner than later as the threat to that country is greater than any other. As I look at our situation here in the U.S., the current leadership is planning on cutting over 1 Trillion dollars from our defense budget. Frankly, I think that borders on irresponsibility at the highest levels of our government. I understand that we cannot and probably should not be the worlds police officer, but the larger question is, if we don't do it, who will? The fact is, we live in a world that requires someone to be in that position, like it or not.
Our economy continues to limp along at a growth rate of about 2.1%. At that pace, its going to take considerable time for us to recover from what is being deemed as "The Great Recession". Retail sales where reported up in December, however if you remove automobile and furniture sales from that calculation, retail sales actually fell by .1%. Multi-family housing starts are on the rise but that will likely result in an exacerbation of the single family dwelling surplus that currently exists and make any recovery in the housing market longer. As I've stated previously, the real estate market is in for a long hard road to
recovery. The markets seem to be indifferent to all this activity and for the first time in quite a while we are seeing, dare I say, some stability. Clearly, that comment is going to bit me in the rear end, I just know it.
I normally try and keep this Newsletter about current events. This month I'm going to deviate from that in this section. Over the past 5 months I've been struggling with the issue surrounding changing our name over to Infinite Wealth Advisors, LLC. Fundamentally, Infinite Wealth is an unattainable objective and as most of you know, I have a propensity to under promise and over deliver. Clearly, that does not make me the most exciting advisor in the marketplace, but it does allow me to properly manage client expectations. In January, I asked my client and friend Rick to help me with a core values exercise so I could make sure that my staff and I are focused on the exact same goals. We are about half way through the process but I wanted to share some of the things that my staff and I have in common. Mind you, the exercise has been confidential among my staff and nobody knows what others are writing. The commonalities include, Loyalty, Honesty, Integrity, Client Responsibility, Ethical Conduct and Diligence. Though I'm not shocked by what I've been seeing and reading from my people, it really gives me a great feeling inside to know that we are all aligned. Rick is going to help us obtain some clarity and be more specific how we integrate those core values into the organization and ultimately use them to better manage our client base. The process has made me personally reach deep down inside and anchor those values at both a personal and professional level. So far, its been great fun and I'm really excited to be working with Rick on this process. Rick's been around the block more than a few times and I trust his leadership and guidance. The result will likely be a name change, and it will not be Infinite Wealth. The process is much deeper than just a name and I'm anxious to see the results. I'll update you as we progress.
We have seen lots of activity around the issue of Long Term Care. Unfortunately, most people do not consider LTC a priority. It's expensive and difficult to put value on. Over the past several months, there have been some very interesting products that allow you to obtain coverage without paying premiums and without tying up a bunch of money. I've hired a long term care expert, Steve Spencer, to be the point person on these types of products. If you don't have LTC, you should talk to him and see what options are available to you. Most of the newer products have 100% liquidity and avail you to access your money. I can't think of a reason why you shouldn't have LTC, given that flexibility.