Far West Capital December 2010 Newsletter

ALERT! More bad news on the housing front, women are invading the “man-cave.” Listen to this short interview from WSJ. When is a Man Cave a Man Cave?

Brad Womack, Austin’s local celebrity and owner of four well-known bars, decided to take a second chance at love while trying to win the hearts of women everywhere. Brad appeared on ABC’s “The Bachelor” in 2007 where he publicly rejected the two final contestants, angering women everywhere. Brad is a successful entrepreneur who co-owns four bars in downtown Austin: Chugging Monkey, The Marq, Uncle Flirty’s and the Dizzy Rooster. Let’s hope he can be as successful in his next appearance on “The Bachelor.” The new season begins on January 3. Good luck, Brad!

Flush with Cash: Since the end of 2008, corporate balance sheets of non-financial US companies have grown by 21% to nearly $1 trillion. 20 Companies make up 37% of that and Microsoft, Google and Cisco account for $105 Billion. As the economy continues to stabilize, the hope is this cash will be used for hiring and expansion, however, since capacity utilization is still low, look for it to go into M & A, which is good for our 401(k)s but not necessarily good for the employment picture.

Okay…we know we are stepping (no pun intended) into dangerous territory here, but is it our imagination or is every woman in the world wearing boots these days? We personally like the Pretty Woman style…if you can pull it off. Ladies, do some research on boots before you step outside (there we go again). FYI – the blonde is wearing Louis Vuitton Thigh High boots!

How’s your 2011 Budget coming? We still see companies operating without one. It doesn’t matter if you are small or big, a budget is worth the effort. Putting together a workable budget is definitely a quadrant 2 activity (see next section for diagram) and one that you can’t put off forever.

Here is the process we use at FWC – which we are more than happy to help you with – customers or non-customers.

1. Our first run is a quick and dirty from 30,000 feet. We look at it for a few days and then get to work on refining it.

2. The next run we start looking at detail and looking back over the prior year for unusual items that we missed. We like to mull this one over for a few weeks – looking at it several times during that period. This is a good time to ask hard questions i.e. “what can we do better?” or “how can we increase revenue 10%?” We might do 3 or 4 runs like this until we get the final run. Don’t rush the process – take some time and use this time to think strategically.

3. Many owners and managers avoid sound budgeting because it is hard to look out for one year and predict. We have an answer for that too.

4. We like to lock the budget down and not change it all year. However, starting in January we start dropping in our actual performance for the month and then budgeting the remaining months based upon new information. We can always refer back to the original budget, but the reforecasting model becomes “our dynamic budget”.

Speaking of quadrant 2 activity – here is a refresher on all of Stephen Covey’s 4 quadrants.

This video is a bit long (4 minutes) but well worth it. It’s an amazing perspective on the progress we have made as a civilization. We are living in very good times. My grandfather rode a horse to school and now my kids have more computing power at their fingertips than NASA did just a few short years ago. No telling where we will be in a few short years from now. The singularity is near as Ray Kurzweil says.

If we were separate nations what would Texas say to bailing out California if they were going broke because they do things like pay their prison guards $100,000 and continue to spend like crazy? This is what Germany and the other “stable” nations are having to ask themselves about the Irish and the Greeks. The deficit problems are real and even harder to solve when you are as disjointed as the EU. Makes you glad to have our problems.

Speaking of deficits and problems – us Texans have a dose of budget issues ourselves – $24 billion. We are tax averse and seem to have cut all we can from the budget, so it will be interesting to see how Perry and the biggest Republican majority since the Civil War will solve this little issue.

We often speak of the unintended consequences of government regulation and how well intentioned busy bodies can sometimes do significant damage. Here is an example of how that can work in the real world. The banning of DDT, which was done under the Nixon administration by one man at the EPA has resulted in the unnecessary deaths of millions in Africa. Find out how you can do something about this.

http://www.3billionandcounting.com Merry Freaking Christmas, huh?

Speaking of unintended consequences, the 2010 Motor Carrier Safety Act, which was introduced in June, could have significant impact on freight prices and the number of independent freight brokers. Currently there are 22,000 freight brokers that are registered as active in the USA. This bill intended to “increase the effectiveness of Federal oversight,” by raising the bonding requirements from $10,000 to $100,000. It is estimated that 80% of them will not be able to afford this new requirement. If you follow the money, it is the “large” brokers that are behind this lobbing effort and it has nothing to do with stated objective; it is about putting money in the hands of the big guys at the expense of the little guys. As they control more, prices will go up, jobs will be lost and competition will be reduced. Call your congressman and let them know you are not in favor of this type of legislation.

Recently, seven people were trapped for eight days in a pub due to a snowstorm in the UK. The “victims” were forced to partake in hours of drinking, eating and playing games. The pub is also a bed and breakfast, so some of the people were able to sleep comfortably during their extended bar stay.

Did you know Facebook has 500 million users in 70 different languages? Did you also know more people spend time on Facebook than Google?

Facebook recently got a new look as it gave profile pages a complete overhaul. The new look focuses on photos and personal information at the top of your profile page. Unfortunately, many users dislike (insert thumbs down icon here) the new changes. Is it change we don’t like or is the new look really hard to ready, messy and unorganized?

Speaking of Facebook, have you joined the Far West Capital Page yet? “Like” us and invite all of your friends! Can you help us get to 100 by New Year’s Day?

We got our hands on the 2011 TSA calendar this week…here is a glimpse of Miss July!

What’s the highest price you would pay for a rare book? $10 million? “Birds of America” by John James Audubon sold at a London auction for that amount to an anonymous telephone bidder this month. The 3 feet tall and 2 feet wide book contains 435 hand-colored illustrations. The most expensive coffee table book?

National Geographic holds an annual photography contest, and as you might guess, there are many stunning entries. The Boston Globe posted a few on their website. These breath-taking photos (and accompanying captions) will sure make you thankful for life and the beauty in it.

We wish you and yours a joyous holiday season and a Happy New Year!

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