9/11 Reminds Us

Some people say
It’s what we deserve
For sins against g-d
For crimes in the world
I wouldn’t know
I’m just holding the fort
Since that day
They wounded New York
Some people say
They hate us of old
Our women unveiled
Our slaves and our gold
I wouldn’t know
I’m just holding the fort
But answer me this
I won’t take you to court
Did you go crazy
Or did you report
On that day
On that day
They wounded New York

-Leonard Cohen, “On That Day”

. . . . .
For a brief moment, sixteen years ago today, the global tapestry was perfectly interwoven in a spirit of loss, love and commitment.

63 seasons have since elapsed. Time’s incessant march. Families have formed. Infants gulped their first breaths. Children have become adults. Loved ones have passed.

Like a fresh wound, every new sensation in the immediacy of that aftermath brought pain. A nation permeated by grief. We huddled together. Seeking solace.
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Week In Brief: Sep 8

Sixteen years ago, America was attacked. We watched helplessly as 3,000 countrymen perished at the vile hands of radical Islamic fundamentalists.

That morning, our downtown office building was evacuated, I returned home to find my wife glued to the dramatic scenes unfolding on TV. We were newlyweds. And had no idea how the world would soon change.

The United States responded as expected. We cried. Screamed. Mourned. Loved. Raised money. Rallied. Went to war. All the while, honoring the memory of those we’d lost.
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Two Roads Diverge? Take the Higher

“Two roads diverged in a wood, and I,
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.”

-From “The Road Not Taken,” by Robert Frost

. . . . .

Strolling recently through the oasis that is Hyde Park Square. Stretching my legs. Clearing my head. Enjoying a beautiful summer afternoon. When I came upon a ruckus.

An altercation involving a guy in a sport coat and a parking cop. Didn’t need a psychology degree to discern that Sport Coat had returned to his car just as Parking Cop was writing a ticket. Which represents a quick and unsatisfying way to lose $65. A matter in which I’ve some expertise. As I too have strolled to my car and watched a Meter Cop place a ticket upon my windshield. So, I was familiar with the idea that, once Parking Cop begins to write a ticket, he is obliged to leave it on the windshield. With zero discretion, as to whether the fine will be levied. As it must. Leaving no ability to be wooed by a well-articulated tale of woe. Continue reading

Week In Brief: Aug 25th

Last week saw equities rise. Happy, perhaps, to see Congress on vacation. while the private sector continues providing jobs, products and services. As companies continued to post excellent earnings. Still, investors saw reason to despair — a positive contrarian indicator.

Yet, a troubling trend has resurfaced. Indicative of the Credit Crisis. As rising home prices have made borrowers comfortable with the idea of tapping homes for cash.

Home-equity lines of credit and cash-out mortgage refinances, products that enable consumers to spend the windfall of home ownership, are back. Reflecting growing economic confidence. Not to mention the age-old American ideal, spend it if you’ve got it. Continue reading

The Middle Class Is Dying. Here’s an antidote.

Most Americans believe the middle class presents roughly 50 percent of the nation. A notion that writer Charles Hugh Smith refutes. He believes that the middle class comprises only 10 percent of U.S. households. The 10 percent just below the richest 10 percent of Americans.

The remaining 80 percent, Hugh Smith explains, are lacking the essential attributes historically indicative of a middle-class lifestyle. Attributes that were once affordable on a more modest income.

So, when did the nation’s middle class begin to fall from grace?

For the past 40 years, explains Pew Research Center, household net worth has risen only in the top 10 percent of the population. 90 percent of Americans have had no increase in net worth for four decades.

Concurrently, median wages have been flat. And even with a more liberal definition of middle class, households that meet that criteria have dropped by 11 percent.
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Week In Brief: July 18

“The stupidity of people comes from having an answer for everything. The wisdom of the novel comes from having a question for everything.”

– Milan Kundera

Last Week in Brief

Last week, a spike in equity market volatility sent stocks lower across the board. As investors contend with rising geopolitical tension, stocks have hit a lull. Leaving investors to consider heretofore trivial details like fundamentals.

You’ve heard the adage, “Sell in May and go away.” This year, however, would have really cost you. As the S&P 500 has risen 4.20 percent these last three months. Moreover, closer scrutiny reveals that the period of seasonal weakness actually begins around August 1. Sell August one and go have fun… ? Not as catchy. But more effectual.
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Churchill and Orwell: 20th Century Giants

Looking back on the twentieth century, historians have traced the lives of innumerable fascinating figures. Men and women who impacted the lives of those around them. Who left their footprints in the sands of history.

Perhaps none, however, left their marks on the twentieth century more than two. Winston Churchill and George Orwell.

Both Brits. Both independent, critical thinkers of the highest order. These two men used their considerable talents to bend history to their liking. Churchill, by leading the charge against Nazi tyranny during World War II. And Orwell by penning two of the most revered anti-authoritarian tomes ever written. Books that continue to stand as beacons amid the dark pall of tyrannical governments 67 years after his death.
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Week In Brief: Week of July 28

 “Since the Great Recession, which is now eight years old, we’ve been growing at 1.5 to 2 percent in spite of stupidity and political gridlock, because the American business sector is powerful and strong… It’s almost embarrassing being an American citizen, and listening to the stupid shit we have to deal with in this country… What I’m saying is that it would be much stronger growth if there were more intelligent decisions and less gridlock… We need infrastructure reform. We need corporate tax reform. We need better skills and education. If we don’t focus on these things, we are hurting average Americans every day.”

-Jamie Dimon, CEO of JPMorgan Chase, railing against Washington gridlock and the inability to deliver policy changes on taxes, regulation and infrastructure

Last Week in Brief

Spent the last two weeks in Colorado. Family. Friends. Hiking. Fishing. Biking. Reading. Eating. Drinking. Even visited clients. In all, another restorative visit to what ranks among the nation’s loveliest, most remarkable areas.
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