From the end of 1999 through the end of 2009, all of the popular Wall Street market performance measurement tools were in the red. The average bloodletting level of the DJIA, the S & P 500, and the NASDAQ was a disturbing-to-some minus nineteen percent.

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Most of the investment community is either open-mouthed in shock or strident in blame about the somethings or someones who must be responsible for such horrific performance. Never again they swear to their clients— without ever a hint that they might themselves be the problem.

It won’t be long before the Wizards of Wall Street announce that they have studied the situation, and readied their sales minions to switch the shattered investment public into yet another fail proof (fool-magnet?) portfolio of hedges, gimmicks, signal responders, and panaceas for whatever the new decade brings.

Once again they will attempt to debug the market cycle and create an upward only future for the masses. Try not to be abused again— the markets aren’t broken, just the market shakers. Your portfolio should be up in market value— and not by just a little for the “dismal decade”.

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These are the same geniuses that created the dotcom bubble by cramming valueless securities and speculative IPOs down your throats. They are the same charlatans who created the derivative markets and fraudulently hid their gaming devices in innocent looking rolls of tissue paper.

Wall Street thrives on the boom and bust scenario — because it doesn’t really matter to them how many of you win or lose. The evidence is clear; a boring-but-winning approach has been out there (and ignored) for three equally productive decades. The investment gods are outraged!

The past decade was a fabulous decade for old-fashioned value investors, particularly those with a reasonable selling discipline in their methodology!

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It was a fabulous decade for those who understood that quality, diversification, and income generation are principles as opposed to media placating buzzwords.

It was a fabulous decade for those investors who were able to see over, beyond, and through artificial time constraints to find the long-term opportunities within every beautiful market cycle undulation. There were plenty of gyrations to gyrate to if you only knew how.

Investing is no longer a passive enterprise; and it never really was. If you can’t manage your portfolio throughout the market cycle, without succumbing either to greed, to panic, or to artificial and complicated hedging strategies, just stop. Right now. Listen and learn something old.

The only market cycle hedges needed are quality, diversification, and income— all classically defined. Throw in some disciplined selection and selling guidelines, a cost-based asset allocation formula, and a non-calendar year perspective and success will follow— cyclically.

You may miss a speculative spike or two (i.e., bubbles), but in the long run, Market Cycle Investment Management (MCIM) is a proven methodology for long run investment success.graphdown

You just can’t replace market cycle reality with calendar year gimmickry. Do better. Google investment grade value stock and request the ten-year MCIM numbers.

Change is good.

Steve Selengut

Maybe it’s the holiday season, or maybe it’s just the rare sense of appreciation I felt when I noticed the missing number on the monthly invoice. An epiphany even! This company actually wanted, appreciated, and knew how to retain my business.
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Moments earlier, after wrestling with a 300 pound Sumo telephone menu system, and after too many wasted minutes waiting to speak to a “representative”, my final conclusion was that I really needed to find a more responsive insurance company.
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Consumers waste millions of hours annually punching numbers into keypads, just hoping for the opportunity to scream “representative” at the top of their lungs out of terminal frustration. Yes Virginia, the last thing most companies want you to do is actually speak to a person.
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It’s not really a surprise to see Abu Dhabi hand over another bunch of dollars to its wayward relative Dubai. It had to be so; it was just a matter of time. The bailout or handout or whatever one wishes to call this latest transfer of money was necessary to shore up the reputation of the Emirates.

Dubai Metro

Dubai Metro

It’s the second time that Dubai has had help from it’s more conservative and wealthier neighbour. In February 2009 Abu Dhabi pledged $10 billion to prop up the ailing Emirate in a move to assist Dubai’s $20 billion long-term bond program. The Central Bank of the UAE bought up the first tranche of the bond issue.

The highest Tennis court in the world

The highest Tennis court in the world

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Just before Christmas scores of people feel compelled to write lengthy articles, present lectures, compile videos for YouTube and in general create hot air about the topic of excessive Christmas gift buying.

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Some pontificate about this subject throwing clever economic theories about and others tug at emotional strings while further proponents try to reason that Christmas gifts are a waste of money because most people hate the ones they get.

They certainly have a point. The shopping malls hum at their busiest just after Christmas when people come in to exchange their unwanted gifts.

So why do it?

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Easy answer really. It’s all about guilt. Parents showering their children with gifts do this because they feel guilty that they don’t show their love and caring enough. Adult children give gifts to parents because they feel guilty that they don’t show their love and caring enough. Husbands give their wives gifts because… You get the drift of the argument here.

If this is the reason for the excessive gift season, how did it get so out of hand? Enter the advertising industry whose reason for existence is to ensure their clients sell more and more products.

Holidays based on emotional reasons such as Christmas, Valentine’s Day, Father and Mother’s Day, Teacher’s Day and most other man made public holidays are an advertising executive’s wet dream.
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Emotions and message. They work so well together. If you love your kids, parents, friends, auntie and any other folk you can think of then you have to buy that latest game, just launched designer label perfume, bit of jewelery or that cute little Ferrari.

The bigger the purchase the more perfect is your love. Not always of course. Sometimes   it’s the latest toy that causes the most obsessive gift purchasing quest. Many parents have felt compelled to shred their nerves chasing around the shopping malls to find that last Nintendo game, most recent Bratz doll or zebra striped iPod.

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For many businesses this period of gift feeding frenzy is the main income generating quarter. This is what keeps them going. Sure there are other times during the 12 month trading period where the flat-lining turnover figures show a blip of life, but it’s the Christmas trading period that provides the bulk of their trade.

Florists have a similar love relationship with Valentine’s Day. And chocolate manufacturers have jumped on the bandwagon of Easter for their rush of income. So why should shopping malls not similarly pursue the Xmas dollar.

That’s exactly what shopping malls are doing with great gusto. How else would it be possible for you to find the biggest decorated Christmas tree in an Arab country? And have you noticed how early in the year those Christmas decorations are put up and the cheesy jingles are played? October already.christmasshop-main_Full

In the end it’s truly a win-win situation. Business makes its money. Human beings get to calm their guilt feelings about how the stress and busyness of their lives forces them to neglect their friends and family during the year.  It’s a season of goodwill to all folk all round.

What is your take on this seasonal topic?

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Here are a few money management pointers for women. Are there any aha moments for you when you read this list? Post your comment!

Tip 1: Balancing your cheque book is not rocket science
Contrary to what women believe or in many cases are lead to believe by the male influences in their lives, it is not difficult to work out personal finances. The basic principle is not unbelievably complex. What is paid into your account should cover what you pay out.

Spend what you have. In fact preferably not all you have, put some away. But start with balancing the incoming and outgoing as your first baby step towards financial intelligence.

And if that means cutting up the credit cards, then do so right now. If you cannot afford to pay the full amount due on your credit card at the end of the month, then you have a problem. You are trying to eat more than you have.

2) Take care of your own money
In line with balancing your own cheque book, let’s also understand then that you do not need to abdicate the money management function to anybody else. Regardless of what your father, uncle, partner et al says, guess what – you can do it yourself.

Just because you are a woman does not mean you are incapacitated, even handicapped, when it comes to working with your money. This you might have heard your father say often. Mother doesn’t know how to manage money; I can’t leave it to her.

Do not believe this. You can do the money sums. Trust yourself on this score. And in case you might not be able to add up to ten, go and do a course and learn.

3) Treat your money with respect
Where does it say in the handbook on life that you should throw your money at rubbish? You don’t need that expensive hair cut, the designer jeans, the brand spanking new car.
Because guess what. Nobody cares.
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Why Humans Are never Satisfied!!

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Where are you?

Communist China, 1995— the dawn of capitalism.

The Hong Kong based guide talked about the free enterprise zones, building projects, golf courses, and roads with a chest full of pride and visible excitement. Capitalism was everywhere along the tour route, and judging from the advertisements on billboards and posters, the world was coming to China!

But although the government was embracing “for-profit” business for the first time, the train-ride out of the country evidenced the abject poverty of what would become a willing and able workforce. Another communist built wall was falling; another socialist society was moving closer to “The Force”.

Today, in the very birthplace of capitalism, an entrenched, arrogant, and incompetent congress equates greedy executives with the demise of capitalism while the economic force field it demeans catapults third world nations onto the leader board of global economic growth potential. Capitalism dead? Hardly.

As congressional fat cats lament the corruption of governments throughout the world, they line their pockets with favors from powerful lobbyists on Wall Street, within drug companies and insurers, and seek the bed of every conceivable public and private special interest group, ad nauseum.
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A participant in the morning Working Capital Model (WCM) investment workshop observed: I’ve noticed that my account balances are returning to their (June 2007) levels. People are talking down the economy and the dollar. Is there any preemptive action I need to take?

An afternoon workshop attendee spoke of a similar predicament, but cautioned that (with new high market value levels approaching) a repeat of the June 2007 through early March 2009 correction must be avoided— a portfolio protection plan is essential!

What are they missing?

These investors are taking pretty much for granted the fact that their investment portfolios had more than merely survived the most severe correction in financial market history. They had recouped all of their market value, and maintained their cash flow to boot. The market averages remain 40% below their 2007 highs.

Their preemptive portfolio protection plan was already in place — and it worked amazingly well, as it certainly should for anyone who follows the general principles and disciplined strategies of the WCM.

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