It seems like yesterday when the New Year started with a bang. The real estate market got off to its fastest start than we had seen over the past couple of years. People were giddy watching the stock market on its meteoric rise reaching an all-time high on February 14th of 29,398.
Restaurants were packed; sports bars were getting ready for college basketball’s March Madness and people were shopping and enjoying life “as usual.” Then came news out of China of a Coronavirus and since then the world has been in turmoil, or so it seems.
As I look back over my life I think of all the upswings and downturns in life I’ve personally experienced and Billy Joel’s 1989 hit song, “We Didn’t Start the Fire,” comes to mind. In just over 3 minutes, he takes us through a recap of history, highlighting man’s greatest achievements and the devastating events that impacted us all from wars, and worldwide epidemics, to political and social unrest. Nothing summarizes this better than his choral lyrics:
We didn’t start the Fire
It’s been always burning
Since the world’s been turning
We didn’t start the fire
No we didn’t light it
But we tried to fight it.
So what have we learned from our experiences? Apparently, not much! Instead of looking back to how we overcame Polio, SARS, Ebola, H1N1 (Swine Flu), Aids and Influenza, we have driven ourselves into a panic that is being heightened by the media and the emotional roller coaster inherent in the stock market.
Now before you think I’m making light of this pandemic and oversimplifying the cautionary steps that need to be taken,
this newsletter is being written by someone who during the seventh grade missed over a month of school due to Whooping Cough. Back then it wasn’t common for someone to be out of school for over a month where homework, class notes and assignments had to be brought home with the expectation that I had to keep up as if I were attending class daily.
Throughout the years, I’ve not only experienced the same worldwide epidemics as most of you, but I’ve gone through economic downturns in the Texas economy in the late ’70s with the devaluation of the Peso and plummeting oil prices. While the rest of the country was experiencing great economic growth, Texas was in a recession. I remember gas lines, as do most of you, the stock market crash in 1987, subsequent recessions, Y2K, the crash in the housing market, and who can’t remember the devastation caused by Hurricane Charley with almost no advanced warning and how our area came back better and more improved than ever? Wow, with that recap I’m starting to sound like Billy Joel myself!
Writer and philosopher George Santayana wrote in his book, Reason in Common Sense, The Life of Reason, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” You would think our past experiences would have enhanced our coping mechanisms, but the example we are setting for this next generation is that of panic and hoarding, instead of seeing the opportunities afforded in challenging times and taking advantage of them.
One of my clients who does financial consulting, restructuring and sales growth for businesses recalls the 1987 stock market crash. He was working on Wall Street at the time and ready to go into a corporate meeting when it was delayed by 45 minutes due to brokers actively working the phones. Conventional wisdom would have you think there was a frenzy with everyone looking to sell, but they were swamped with investor calls from those looking to capitalize during the markdown downturn. He said it was during those times the “men were separated from the boys.”If you were to speak with the likes of Rich Dad, Poor Dad writer, and Entrepreneur Robert Kiyosaki and Warren Buffet, they will both tell you the times we are presently going through are the times that savvy investors wait for and then jump back into the market.
We saw the same thing in the housing market when Hurricane Charley scored a direct hit on Punta Gorda in particular. Most won’t recall that home prices within a week increased by $50-100,000 due to the demand and limited inventory. Then when the housing bubble burst, again some took advantage of great opportunistic buys in a market that had been over-inflated. Those who had bought their homes years before the unprecedented upswing in the market, found themselves still ahead of the game when the market corrected itself.
I feel when the economy is robust and we are seeing meteoric rises in the stock and real estate markets, for example, we get caught up in the excitement, much the same way we do when the team we are rooting for seems to be scoring at will. What we lose sight of during our euphoria is that adjustments or events are going to occur that are going to temper those gains, and those that anticipate those adjustments insulate themselves to a degree from the drastic downturns we are currently experiencing.
In speaking with Faiza Kedir, Director, Business Development Financial Advisor of the nationally recognized Private Wealth Asset Management company of Lansberg Bennet, she stressed how they are a non-commission based fiduciary, whose sole focus is protecting their client’s investments.
In a letter written to their clients a few weeks ago by Principal Financial Advisor and the company’s Chief Investment Officer, Michael Lansberg CIMA, CFP, it read in part:
Your performance is different than what you see on TV.
Does CNBC have you scared to look at your portfolio? You should sign onto the Landsberg Bennett client portal or the fidelity.com webpage and look at your balances instead of listening to all the gloom and doom on TV. Although you will be down from where we were January 1, we think you will be pleasantly surprised by your portfolio’s performance.
In every balanced account (where we own any amount of bonds), we trimmed our stock positions in January to protect some of the gains from a superb 2019. This has given us some more downside protection in this recent sell-off as well as giving us some “dry powder” for when we see some attractive opportunities in the market.
We have been watching market metrics over the last week or so hoping for an opportunity where we would see an abundance of fear creep into the market.
This morning, a number of our metrics gave us a clear sign that a great deal of fear and anxiety had entered the market and provided us an opportunity to start slowly buying at these lower levels.
Baron Rothschild, an 18th-century British nobleman and member of the Rothschild banking family, is credited with saying that “the time to buy is when there’s blood in the streets.” It appears to us as this may be starting to happen, figuratively not literally.
We are not suggesting that the market
cannot go lower from here, but we believe this is a good entry point to start adding to existing positions. For long term investors, volatility is a good thing that allows entry points into the market for those that have prepared ahead and have liquidity. We did and you do.
Michael W. Landsberg, CFP®, CIMA®
Principal, Chief Investment Officer
Not being one to make light of the current situation, just as there is a big difference between calm and complacency there is between panic and preparedness as you see from Michael Landsberg’s letter above.
As consumers, we are always in the market looking for good buys and now we are seeing sellers reacting to the market and making price reductions in their list prices.
Don’t think for one second the real estate market is only open a few months of the year. Some of our strongest selling months have been during the summer and fall, as buyers are not going to let the time of year dictate when they will pounce on an aggressively priced home. With affordably priced airfares we’ve seen more and more clients fly down in a matter of days so as not to miss a great buying opportunity. Just remember, this current situation will pass, but inclement weather and high taxes in many northern cities and states will remain and that is what has led to a very active real estate market these first few months.
The silver lining in all this is our real estate market is not characterized by over-inflated pricing, excess inventory and over-leveraged banking industry.
Our industry is very healthy and to coin a phrase from Denny Grimes, a Realtor who I have great respect, “We are selling water, warmth and a way of life,” and that is what will enable our state to thrive better during this time than those from other parts of the country.
The Perfect Mom
I have often thought about the qualities that would make a mother perfect in the eyes of their children, husband or friends, and I realized not only did I have the perfect mom, but I had married one as well.
To me the perfect mom is someone who is an encourager, a listener, your best friend as you go through life’s ups and downs, a confidant, your best advocate and fierce protector! She typically runs the household, handles the finances, not to mention all the less the glamorous jobs around the home.
She is the social director, your biggest cheerleader and oftentimes the team mom. She has a special way of making the home warm and inviting to family and friends, and no one knows how to make the holidays more special than a mom whose decorative touch and holiday dinners are what memories are made by.
She has that special ability to make you feel loved when you had to be corrected for those miscues, and has an uncanny insight knowing when you need that extra hug or encouraging note for no apparent reason.
Unlike most corporate executives who relish their title and are paid handsomely for their accomplishments, the perfect mom receives no monetary compensation, or title, and is on call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. The only compensation they seek is the appreciation and love from their family.
How do I know all this? When my mom passed away I felt like I lost my best friend and to this day I still feel her loss. All the attributes I mentioned above described my mother. I consider myself very blessed that not only did I have a mother who was nurturing, but enabled me to soar to heights I never imagined. However, I consider myself very fortunate to be married to a woman who has embodied every quality I feel that makes the perfect mother, partner and friend,and I thank God every day for these two special women he has brought into my life.
I hope you will join me in thanking all those “Perfect Moms” for giving so much of themselves to make our lives and those of our children so very special
For those of you not familiar with Young Life, while it is described as a Christian based organization where staff and volunteers alike contribute their time to mentor and assist middle and high school students based on Christian values and principles, it is much more. Kids of all faiths, race and ethnic backgrounds are welcomed into an “authentic environment”where they can talk about the challenges they face in everyday life.
As you know, each month we like to highlight the accomplishments of someone who has given much of himself or herself for the betterment of their community. This month we would like to recognize Maewyn Succat. Who’s Maewyn Succat you ask? He isn’t anyone I heard of and most likely isn’t a name you’ve ever heard of either, yet somehow he has impacted our lives in ways you never thought possible.
According to The Old Farmer’s Almanac, Maewyn Succat was born in Britain and around age 16 (around 400 A.D.) he was kidnapped and taken to Ireland as a slave where he worked as a shepherd. After six years he escaped and returned home and received “a calling” to preach the gospel and spent the next 15 years in a monastery preparing himself for mission work. Once he became a priest his name was changed to Patricius and eventually to Patrick. St. Patrick, as he is known today, was considered a patron saint and national apostle of Ireland and is credited with bringing Christianity to Ireland. It is said he used the three leaf shamrock to explain the Holy Trinity, however, many years later the fourth leaf was added by the ancient Celts as a charm to ward off evil spirits. While the Almanac says there is no direct record St. Patrick actually used the shamrock as a “teaching tool,” in the early 1900’s O.H. Benson, who was an Iowa school superintendent, came up with the idea of using the shamrock as an “emblem for the newly founded agricultural club.” In 1911, the “four-leaf clover” was chosen as the emblem for this national club program, later known as 4-H.
Many centuries later, St. Patrick’s Day marks the day of his passing, but it is far from the somber religious holiday you would think. It is perhaps the only day of the year that regardless of one’s religious, political or ethnic background we all become Irish for a day. The saying that sums this up best for me is, “Irish today, Jewish tomorrow.” This is in reference to the year round Jewish deli staple of corned beef becoming part of the traditional St. Patrick’s Day dinner of corned beef and cabbage. And just like New Year’s, there is a camaraderie and revelry on this day second to none. Irish pubs around the world celebrate this day and none do it better than Punta Gorda’s Celtic Ray Public House.
Opened in 1997 by Proprietor Kevin Doyle, “The Celtic Ray,” as it is known by the locals, has continued to evolve and expand from being one of the only places around offering “the quality of imported beers and the atmosphere of a traditional Irish Pub,” to an eating and entertainment destination. As Kevin Doyle, “Publican” so aptly states on his website, “Bars are filled with lonely people. A pub is a very social scene. “You may come alone, but you won’t be for long,” and if you are around this St. Patrick’s Day, you’ll be in good company with hundreds of Irish men and women just like yourself!
Rich in tradition and personality, the bartenders and wait staff at the Celtic Ray take on Kevin’s engaging wit. In fact years ago there used to be a bartender by the name of “Tess.” Tess was a real spitfire. Rail thin, heavy smoker, raspy voice and known for razzing all those who stepped up to the bar. Years ago, a friend of mine decided to stop for beer. Tess greeted him in her usual manner and in her heavy Irish brogue asked, “What’a ya have luv?” My friend replied, “What kind of beers do you have Tess?,” to which she rattled off several imports. My friend said, “How about a Miller Lite,” to which Tess replied, “What di ya say? ya go on a get the hell outta here.” It was her reply that kept customers entertained and coming back for more. A couple of years ago I went there with our son and saw Kevin and asked if he still kept in touch with Tess, as I heard she returned to her home land. Kevin replied, “She went back to Scotland.” “Scotland?” I questioned, “How’s that working out.” Without missing a beat Kevin replied, “She’s a librarian, and this guy came in one day and asked for a book on suicide. She told him, “Go on and get the hell outta here, you’re not going to return it.” I asked Kevin if he was kidding and he said, “It sounded good didn’t it!” I don’t think you’ll confuse Kevin or his Celtic Ray with St. Patrick and his mission work, but somehow the atmosphere Kevin has created is a place where strangers come from all walks of life leave as friends.
If you are looking to make this St. Patrick’s Day one to remember, or just looking to getting in touch with your “Irish” heritage, even if it is for just a day, be sure you make a visit to the Celtic Ray as part of this special day. “You may come alone, but you won’t be for long.”