I Scream, You Scream….Not everyone screams for ice cream

I was sitting through an investment presentation from a mutual fund company. They were discussing Global Investing and where they see opportunity to invest. Not necessarily investing in or on a specific country, but investing in companies that would benefit from their exposure to those specific countries. They started discussing per capita amounts of specific countries (understandably boring to most, although I find intriguing at times) but then something fascinating, and humbling was mentioned.

They were mentioning that with the rise out of poverty of the per capita of India to the $1,000 – $2,000 middle class range for many in that country, one of the most popular “luxury items” that people are buying is Ice Cream. They even mentioned that the average American spends $25. per year on Ice Cream, which equals about .25 cents a week on Ice Cream. The average person in India spends the same .25 cents a year on Ice Cream.

This started me to think about how spoiled we are as Americans and how we too often take things for granted. Luxury items to us are cars, flat screen tv, gigantic houses and boats. To these people, luxury items are things like indoor plumbing, clean water, toothpaste, and Ice Cream.

Just something to think about, the next time you are having trouble making a decision about which of the 31 different flavors to choose from.

Chicken Dinner

It was date night and I took my wife to a Financial Education Workshop (seminar that promised a free steak and shrimp dinner)…..Hey don’t judge me, we are on babystep #2 and it was a free steak and shrimp dinner. Let he who has never crashed a sales presentation for a free giveaway, cast the first shrimp.

It was actually a great learning experience (given my profession) and would have made for a nice tax deductable business dinner, except for the fact that…oh yes….we didn’t have to pay.

I did learn a few things not to do. As well as confirmed some things that I would never do.

1. Never talk for an hour plus, without getting food in front of your audience. I learned this years ago from Hollywood Improv (two drink minimum and some hot wings always seems to loosen up the audience and get more laughs).

2. Avoid using certain words like, “seminar,” “annuity,” life insurance.”

3. Do use certain words and phrases that people like to hear, even if misleading half-truths such as; “principal guarantee,” “no commissions or sales charge,” “guaranteed annual increase.”

4. Never be pushy and have your assistant go around the room after listening for an hour and 15 minutes with stomaches growling at dinner time and make every person schedule an appointment with you before they are allowed to get their food.

5. Very important, do not mislead people. When the flyer states that “no products will be sold,” do not pitch the crowd on a fixed index annuity and make them meet with you when you told them no products would be sold. And for Pete’s sake (whoever this Peter is) do not advertise gourmet steak and shrimp dinner and give us dried chicken and a small slice of roast beef.

Guess that’s what I get for being cheap and crashing a sales presentation. The bright spot is that it was an excuse to take my wife out on a date (not that that is the only way I would ever take my wife out…although I do confess that I am guilty of not taking her out enough), wife was a great sport during the riveting evening and I do believe that it did make me a better more transparent advisor to my clients.

Chicken Little

The stock market has been dow in each of the last six weeks and the DOW is now below the 12000 mark. This makes for some great water cooler talk which stems from what one colleague of mine likes to refer to as “financial pornography,” from the so-called experts on television. Just as sex sells, so does bad doom and gloom news. I very much look forward to the 2nd coming and the new Heaven and new Earth when the report from the Jerusalem Press will be the same each day; Nobody died (whatever that means) today. Nobody went hungry (whatever that means) today. No tears (whatever that is) were shed today. Nobody was without today and the forecast is 70 and SONshine with chance of rainbows.

Of course that report would not get good ratings on CNBC and would not be allowed to air what with the Bible reference involved. What is allowed on the news today is all the nonsense from so-called experts that are predicting a double dip recession, market collapse, 2nd wave of housing market drop, inflation, buy gold and silver, $150. oil prices…..”The sky is falling, the sky is falling!”

Aren’t these the same Chicken Littles that have been saying the same thing since the markets hit bottom in March of 2009?

Everyone needs to just relax, take a deep breath…..and count to 10. Lets take a step back and look at this elephant from a far. The market had one of the greatest two-year bull market rally in history. Markets do not move in a straight line. It does go up and down. Coming off such a great run, it was due for a breather. A little pullback. Remember the saying, “Sell in May and go Away?” We were due for a pullback. Has the chaos in Greece and rise in the unemployment rate have something to do with this decline…sure. Instead of looking at the sky is falling, double dip recession approach that sells well…..why not look at this as a buying opportunity. Macy’s is having a sale. Blue Light Special at Kmart. Market has been down. Great time to be adding to your current investments.