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Book Review: Changing the Conversation by Gary Klaben

Changing the Conversation : Transformational Steps to Financial and Family Well-Being
Author: Gary Klaben
304 pages
Navigator Press (October 1, 2010)

I agreed to read and review this book because I was a stockbroker for almost 30 years. The author Gary Klaben is a Chartered Financial Consultant (ChFC) and possesses a MS in Financial Services. I was around when stockbrokers started financial planning by getting their Certified Financial Planner (CFP) designation. A ChFC is a step up from CFP and requires passage of three more tests for a total of nine.

One day at the dog park, JD told a story of a husband and wife that wanted to distribute some assets for estate tax purposes.  They had been farmers for many years, worked from sunup to sun down and had been fortunate.  They decided to give $33,000 to their son each year at Christmas.

Well, when the son received his money, he immediately got married, traveled to Nepal, wined and dined his new wife and bought her a whole bunch of jewels.  When he arrived back home he was immediately looking forward to Christmas again.

This year when he opened his present he found a shirt and a towel.  His Mom said, “We got you the towel so you wouldn’t get tears on your new shirt.”  It’s hard for parents to see their hard work frittered away.

In truth, Klaben writes, we don’t prepare our children and grand children to deal with money.  The New Year  seems an appropriate time to look at how we need to change the conversation about money.

Klaben argues that the financial products industry needs to change the conversation.  Wall Street needs to change from creating products that extract money from the customers to one that is concerned with meeting their clients needs.  “The consumer is now in the driver’s seat.”  The new business needs to provide deep support.  The need is for business or anyone in the service business to offer trusted expert advocacy in our complex world.

In the goal setting section, Klaben says that successful people have goals, write them down and are disciplined.  They practice the necessary things to reach their goals.  At this time of year what better question to answer is Klaben’s:

“If we were meeting here three years from today, and we were to look back over those three years to today, what has to have happened during that period, both personally and professionally, for you to feel happy with your progress?”

Later, Klaben tells us how to reach our goals by breaking the goal down into small steps.  He uses the example of wanting to run a marathon a year from now by breaking it down into three month goals and then into 30 day goals.  You are forming a habit.

Gary Klaben is a refreshing throwback to an earlier time.  In the chapter “Do the Correct Thing” he writes, ” All the money and material possessions we pass on pale by comparison to what we stand for and how we conduct our life.”

This is an excellent book and easy to read.  The author fulfilled his intent to help you anticipate life’s inevitable changes by understanding the role of money.

I encourage you to comment on this book review. Whoever writes the best comment will receive my copy of “Changing the Conversation” free.



Outlook For the U.S. Dollar in 2011

I think the U.S Dollar looks like one sick puppy! Sure it’s not as bad as the Euro, but it’s likely that our debt will hit 100% of GDP this year and I see no end to QEs. The FED now owns more Treasuries than any country in the world (isn’t that monetization?) Sheldon Filgerat the Hiuffington Post thinks so. He wrote in August, 2010:

In a step that will be one of the markers on the road to economic and financial catastrophe, the Federal Open Market Committee (otherwise known as the FOMC) of the Federal Reserve, made a bombshell policy decision on August 10, 2010, one fraught with dangerous long-term consequences for the American and global economy.

Why is 100% of GDP so important? That seems to be the level of no return. Once a government hits that level interest payments eat you alive.

Technically, the USD appears to be rolling over after running into resistance at its 40 week moving average. I expect a challenge, that will fail, of the 79 level on the index and then a test of the lows of november of 2009 and 2010 or the 75 area. (see chart)

Tags: Predictions for 2011

Market Outlook for 2011

I was struck by this Chart of the Day:

The S&P 500 has tracked in direction and time what occurred since the crash in 1929. That points to a bottom in the market near 2012.

I’m concerned about debt in this country and around the world, the trouble in Euro-land, the slowdown in China brought on by their inflation and mis-allocation of resources (whole cities are sitting empty). I think the banks here are choked with commercial real estate that needs to be written down, housing may suffer another 20% pullback and cities and states have a long way to go before they are on sound fiscal footing. Unemployment is likely to stay high and even given a push higher by laying off of government employees. In addition, the likelihood for violence when unions are confronted by cuts in pay and pensions could rival what we’ve seen in Europe.

The government has spent $2 Trillion fighting this recession in 2010 and still we can look forward to more spending even though our debt is likely to hit 100% of GDP in 2011. And what has it bought us? Commodity prices are reflecting uncertainty, fear of shortages and fear of a declining dollar. How can the stock market continue higher? In my opinion it can’t!

My opinion on the markets in 2011?

I think we are looking for the DJIA to test the lows of 9600 to 9800! (see chart)

Tags: Predictions for 2011

Gold Outlook For 2011

2010 marks the 10th straight year that the closing high for the year is higher than the previous year. I remember like it was yesterday withdrawing $1,200 from my bank and driving down to the coin shop and purchasing three gold Ameriican Eagles. Today, I couldn’t purchase one for that amount of money. Here’s the closing price each year since 2000:

2000 — $273.60
2001 — $279.00
2002 — $348.20
2003 — $416.10
2004 — $438.40
2005 — $518.90
2006 — $638.00
2007 — $838.00
2008 — $889.00
2009 — $1118.40
2010 — approximately $1419

What’s my outlook for 2011?

The low in July of 2010 was about $1.156 and the recent high was about $1,430. That’s $274. If we think of the trading the last two months as a flat or flag, a breakout could give us a target of $274 on top of $1430 or $1,704! Interestingly, Jim Sinclair at JS MineSet has looked for $1,650 for a long time and recently $1,764. (see chart)

Tags: Predictions for 2011

Silver: New Paradigm

Silver was up in price 80% in 2010 and is near $31 an ounce. I am fascinated by the talk that Silver could trade higher than Gold as in this video from Future Money Trends:

My take on the 2011 target for Silver: The metal is extended and a considerable distance above the exponential 40 week moving average at $22.60. That means despite the video, we could always have a correction. I would get half my position in Silver at this price and if there’s a pullback into the mid- to low-twenties, buy the other half. (see chart)

Tags: Predictions for 2011

More Bowl Upsets

#18 Nebraska 7. Washington 19 (Washington was a 14 point underdog!

The North Carolina/Tennessee was a heck of a game. Tennessee scored a touchdown late to go up three and missed the PAT. North Carolina tied it up with one second on the clock with a field goal to send it into overtime and North Carolina wins it in the 2OT by a field goal.

And how about in women’s basketball #8 Stanford upsetting #1 Connecticut, winner of 90 in a row. The last loss before the streak started was to Stanford. 90 wins later they again lose to Stanford. Sweet night for the PAC Ten.

Even the Blazers won against Utah for the second time in a row.

The 112th Congress Has The Whip In Its Hand!

Dr. Jack Wheeler writing at To The Point (by Subscription only) quotes Senator and presidential candidate Barry:

I have little interest in streamlining government or in making it more efficient, for I mean to reduce its size. I do not undertake to promote welfare, for I propose to extend freedom.

My aim is not to pass laws, but to repeal them. It is not to inaugurate new programs, but to cancel old ones that do violence to the Constitution … or have failed their purpose … or that impose on the people an unwarranted financial burden.

I will not attempt to discover whether legislation is ‘needed’ before I have first determined whether it is constitutionally permissible.

And if I should be attacked for neglecting my constituents’ ‘interests,’ I shall reply that I was informed that their main interest is liberty, and in that cause I am doing the very best I can.

That’s certainly not “Barry” Obama, but Barry Goldwater!

Dr. Wheeler outlines the job of the 112th Congress in 2011-2012:

Pass bills to repeal the most onerous and publicly-despised legislation of the 111th, ObamaCare in particular – with the full awareness that they will be vetoed and not overridden. This puts the Dems on the defensive, the Pubs on the offensive, and forces the president to make unpopular vetoes.

Repeal legislation is thus all for political show and positioning. Actual repeal will be done by defunding – very selective defunding wherever there is popular support for it, or to block implementation funding for recently-passed legislation to which the public has had no time to get addicted.

Focus particular energy on defunding edicts of the EPA and other examples of clear agency overreach. Focus on defunding any and all efforts of federal agencies to hamper and restrict all forms of hydrocarbon energy production.

Focus on defunding corporate welfare, subsidies, and protection from marketplace competition. Focus on defunding regulatory barriers to capital formation and the establishment/expansion of small business, as it is small business which creates the most jobs.

In sum: the defunding mechanism is the most effective means to begin dismantling the Unconstitutional State; it is not subject to Senate approval nor a presidential veto. If a simple majority of the House does not vote to fund a given federal activity, that activity is defunct, period.

Further, the 112th starts with a clean slate. All government funding for any program ceases on March 4th (the expiry of the Continuing Resolution passed at the end of the 111th‘s Lame Schmuck Session). After that date, neither the Senate, the President, nor any federal agency can spend money without it being first authorized by the House.

Our nation is at a crossroads.We have an opportunity to stem the tide of socialism and recover our Liberty. If the Republicans pay the same old game of spending more than is taken in; if the Republicans spit on the values of the Tea Party, then it may be too late and we will go over the edge to Tyranny and Capital Controls and Restricted exits and failed currency. It will be a long and violent struggle to get our Liberty back.

Tales From The Yellow Bus

As many of you know I drive a school bus for five hours a day; about 2.5 hours in the morning starting at 7:00am and again 2.5 hours in the afternoon at 2:30pm.  This is my fifth year and I make about $15 an hour.  I do it because I love the kids, it allows me free time to write and it pays the health care for Bev and me.  Last year I was taking home after dealer, prep and options, about $150 per pay period every two weeks.  I have reached the point in longevity with the company that they pay all but 5% of my health care, but none of Bev’s.  I expected to take more home each paycheck this year versus last year.  To my surprise each check I received was $0; zero dollars.  Something must be wrong, I thought.

Last year our health care was calculated on ten months.  We weren’t covered in the summer.  This year they calculated the monthly premium deductions based on twelve months and then Kaiser, I discovered, raised their rates 33%.  That was why I was getting zero dollars for a pay check.  I complained loudly!  Why does it cost so much to insure my wife; $1,200 a month?

I found out we have a golden health care program, with no deductibles and a $5 co-pay for doctor visits.  Granted, the costs come out pre-tax, but still I’m just working for health care!

The company negotiated with the Union and came up with a change: go back to last years calculation, 10 month health care.  The bottom line: my health care would be free to me, but Bev’s would cost $500 per pay period.  I called Kaiser to see if I could insure Bev individually after tax and cancel the spousal part at my employer.  Kaiser told me I could have the Prevailing plan for $508 per month, with a $750 deductible and once that was satisfied I would pay 20% of all charges or I could choose the Portability plan for $448 a month with a $1500 deductible.  Once that was satisfied, I would pay 30% of all charges.  In addition, we have dental coverage.  For Bev that would cost an additional $38.50 a month.  Keep in mind, Kaiser has a rate change pending that will in all likelihood raise rates above those I just outlined after the first of the year.

What to do?  We decided to leave things as they are.

Why is it that we could move to Mexico and have high quality health care for about $300 a year vs $10,000 for Bev for ten months?  Sure Obamacare fixed some things like portability and insurance for pre-existing conditions and health care for dependents over 21 years of age, but our costs here are ridiculous.  I had great care when I came down with cancer in my prostate.  The bill was over $25,000.  I paid something like $1,100 or $1.200 and Kaiser paid over $5,000.  Someone got to write off almost $20,000!  But, is this what we want for health care?  No other developed country in the world pays what we do!  Something is wrong.

We could go back to the old way of having Landfair Furniture Pay for health care, but that impacts our cash flow.  Seems we just have to swallow this bitter pill.

3.6 Quake In Maupin

It’s been awhile since we’ve had anything to write about concerning the geology near Maupin, Oregon. Today, one of the biggest quakes to hit near the city, a 3.6 magnitude quake,  struck the same area as before, 8 miles ESE (112°) from Maupin, OR.


Football Bowl Upsets

Louisville 31, Southern Miss 28
#12 Missouri 24, Iowa 27
#22 West Virginia 7, North Carolina St. 23
#24 Hawaii 35, Tulsa 62

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