STRESS-FREE INVESTMENT STRATEGY
The following Special Report is designed to help Americans learn to reduce their financial stress by self-assessing their current ability to withstand further economic volatility, regardless of what the government bank "stress-test" results may (or may not) reveal.
Most Americans – Democrats included – detest bailing out Wall Street. Since day one Swiss America has been against the $700 billion TARP bank bailouts, seeing them as a means of gaining political and economic control and prolonging the economic pain by steamrollering over the free market.
With the national debt is now over $11 trillion, "YOUR Family Share" has grown to $100,000, and is rising daily. Historically government bills, notes and bonds have been considered a "safe" because they have a guaranteed rate of return, based on faith in future US tax revenues, but as new trillions are being poured into the banks many experts believe a day of reckoning is fast approaching.
The $700 billion in bailout money approved by Congress last fall has dwindled to about $135 billion, which Treasury Secretary Tim Geitner says should be sufficient. But anxiety is still high over the health of the nation's largest banks with Congress hesitant to commit more money. What's needed is an exit strategy from the continuing cycle of bailouts.
"If the government released the true results of the "stress tests" it could cause a run on the banks. This would further cripple the government's ability to borrow the massive amounts of money needed to finance Obama's agenda, while crushing confidence in the dollar," writes Swiss America CEO Craig R. Smith.
"Regardless of the results of the government's stress tests, you can be sure of one thing: Every bank will come in above average, just like all the children who live in Lake Wobegon. Like it or not, this is how the government will have to present the results. And guess what, if these are, indeed, the results, they will be essentially worthless," writes Irwin Keller at MarketWatch.
"These phony 'stress tests' might be laughable if only the truth behind them wasn’t so terrifying: Our own government is clearly cooking the books — using false criteria to deceive you; hoping you’ll trust banks that are clearly hanging by a thread," reports Dr. Martin Weiss of Money&Markets.
1. What is your total net annual income? (Are you a 1 or 2 income family)
2. What percentage of income are you presently saving? (Bank -- IRA/401k -- college funds)
3. Are you satisfied with your asset diversification? (Is growth or income your priority?)
4. List financial assets -- real estate -- stocks -- bonds -- mutual funds -- CDs -- hard assets -- other
5. What is your estimated total net worth? (Total assets minus total liabilities)
6. Do you make all financial decisions alone or in harmony with your life partner?
7. How many years do you have until retirement? – (total nest egg target goal)
8. Are you satisfied with performance of retirement accounts? (Have you investigated alternatives?)
9. How well have your investments performed? last year -- five years -- ten years
10. Will your living standard be affected if the recession deepens or lasts until 2010-11?
11. Do you have a contingency plan if government spending pushes inflation sky-high?
12. Which assets in your portfolio serve as protection/insulation from future inflation?
Before jumping into any investment today it is critical to assess the damage to your financial house the last 5 to 10 years. Investor portfolios typically include; stocks, bonds, real estate, commodities and cash. Let’s compare a $10,000 investment into each of these five asset classes over the LAST 5 years for some direction on trends over the NEXT five years.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average is a composite of the biggest and brightest corporations in America. Over the last 5 years Dow has traded as high as 14,000 before plunging to 7,500 in 2008. Today equities are testing 6-year lows as the recession deepens. So far Obamanomics have failed to inspire investor confidence. $10,000 invested in 2004 would be worth about $7,500 today.
3-Month T-Bills are considered a bellwether for short-term yields with safety. Interest rates are perceived to help offset inflation. In 2004 rates began at 1% following a series of Fed rate cuts, then zoomed to 6% in 2007 as inflation ticked up, then fell to zero by the end of 2008. The 2009 outlook is for a negative real rate of return adjusted for inflation. $10,000 invested in 2004 still be worth $10,000, but much less after inflation.
3) Real Estate
The U.S. housing market hit a government-induced crescendo in 2007 as the average home price soared from $250,000 to nearly $350,000. Today home prices are near 2004 levels, with some predicting another 20-30% drop in 2009 before reaching a final bottom. Lesson: Your home should never be considered an ATM machine for personal consumption. $10,000 invested in 2004 would be worth roughly the same today.
The CRB Commodity Index, driven largely by rising oil prices, experienced a major bull market cycle over the last 5 years. Oil prices rose from $20 a barrel in 2001 to nearly $150 in 2008, then slid back down below $40 in 2009. Prices for other commodities have fallen an average of 50% from last year’s peak. $10,000 invested in CRB would be worth $14,000, a 40% increase. Note: historically commodity bull markets last 15-23 years.
5) The Dollar
Since 1915 the U.S. dollar has been gradually losing buying power thanks to inflation. The dollar’s most recent rapid descent began in 2001, taking the index from 120 to a low of 70 in 2008. Since then the dollar has been strengthening as the global credit crisis has sent investors fleeing to the perceived safety of the dollar compared to other paper currencies. In 2009 this trend will reverse as the trillions of new dollars the government is printing devalues the currency further.
Gold has been the financial light of the world since 2001. Starting below $300 gold has steadily grown in value every year since. Gold is the ultimate currency without counterparty risk, which offers safety, liquidity and excellent growth potential even as it approaches $1,000 an ounce. Savvy investors know that $2,000 an ounce gold is now not a matter of if, but when. $10,000 invested in gold in 2004 would have bought 25 ounces of gold at $400 an ounce, today 25 ounces are worth $25,000! Some historic U.S. gold coins have grown even more.
Gold prices can rise with or without a bull market in stocks...
Gold offers the safety of bonds plus 100% liquidity and growth potential...
3. Real Estate:
Gold appreciates like housing on inflation, but is not bubble-prone...
Gold is both a commodity and a currency, i.e. the king of commodities...
5. The Dollar:
Gold is a dollar hedge, usually moving opposite to the buck, but since fall of 2008 gold has begun to break this trend, rising together with the dollar.
Four-digit gold signals investors are losing confidence in paper currencies, the U.S. government and Wall Street. Gold's secular bull market has already swept prices up nearly fourfold since 2001 as the ultimate safe haven. Although past performance is no guarantee of future performance, the last 5 years illustrate the wisdom of asset diversification, a concept first mentioned in the Bible (Eccl. 11:1-2). True wealth was first defined in the Bible as silver, gold, land and livestock. As our nation faces very challenging economic times --- may we all learn from history how critical it is to own a golden life preserver to protect our future.
by Louise Morganti Kaelin
1. Identify and live by your values. When we know what our values are, and our goals and actions are in harmony with our values, we are seldom stressed or in conflict about what we are doing.
2. Complete the Past. Sometimes we hang on to voices or perceived injustices from the past, long after the person or situation is dead and gone. By bringing closure to these events, we are free to move forward.
3. Plan for the Future. It is important to know where we want to go and to have a rough idea of how we plan to get there. While it is important to give up final control to God or the Universe, we need a sense of focus and direction to our lives. Planning for the future gives us that sense of direction.
4. Live in the Present. This is key. Once we have completed the past and planned for the future, we need to stay focused in the here and now. There is very little that we cannot handle in the moment. (A clue: if you are feeling guilt, you are in the past. If you are feeling fear, you are in the future. The absence of those feelings generally means you are planted firmly in the present!) .
5. Understand that if you can dream it, you can achieve it. If we are -- truly -- not capable of something, then it is practically impossible for us to dream about it. Knowledge of what we are capable of is in each and every cell of our being. So no matter how wild and far-fetched your dream appears, the very existence of the dream means that you can achieve it if you are willing to commit to it.
6. Allow others to live their own lives. Allowing others to be themselves and to live their own lives is the first step in being able to be yourself and living your own life. If you have any 'shoulds' or expectations of others, let them go. Shoulds kill relationships faster than any weapon I know of and fill our lives with unnecessary stress.
7. Recognize God in everyone. Everyone (literally, everyone!) is a reflection of God. Sometimes we have to dig a little deep to see it as our perceptions, expectations and fears cloud our vision. But when we can recognize how God is mirrored in each person, our lives are calmer and freer!
8. Create reserves where you need them. Stress is often created through lack, either right now or right around the corner. Create reserves of time, space, money, love, vitality and meaningful action, starting where you feel most stressed.
9. Focus on being and not doing or having. When we are focused on who we are, what kind of person we are, we tend to be on a journey of spiritual evolution, which in itself tends to have less stress (or the stress is less stressful!). When we are focused on doing or having, we are not focused on our higher selves, but only on certain dimensions of who we are (and usually on what we think that means). Be a being, not a doing!
10. Choose to be the best you possible. Making a choice to be our best selves, to live life to our fullest potential, typically allows us to transcend our lives and reduces much stress because we understand that the source of stress is temporary. Also, don't forget that today, you are the best you've ever been!