Far West Capital February 2011 Newsletter

Are You Happy?

According to Dan Buettner, the author of Thrive: Finding Happiness the Blue Zone Way, happiness is a cake recipe. “The most important ingredients are: Where you live. Do you have a good job? Did you marry the right person? Do you have engaging work? Do you volunteer in a way where you get a feeling you’re giving back. And, connections are more important than things because things can’t give anything back to you.”

Do you have the right mix to lead a happy life?

We have mentioned this in prior months, but it’s worth repeating again and again. Reconcile your account, people! We continue to see instances where people are not taking care of basic fundamentals.

Today’s minimalist checklist:

  1. Check to see if we are reconciling our bank accounts monthly. If not, start today.
  2. If someone else on your staff is doing the reconcilement:
  3. a.  Check reconcilement for accuracy.
    b.  Look for odd reconcilement adjustments.
    c.  Look for old stale items.
    d.  Ask questions.

  4. Set up a procedure to review monthly.
  5. Make it known that you will be reviewing monthly.

Investment of time 15-20 minutes – savings?  Maybe your company.

Fun with Numbers:

  • Five billion text messages are sent daily
  • 294 billion emails are sent daily
  • 151+ hours a month is how much the average American spends watching TV
  • 111 million viewers watched the Super Bowl XLV, making it the most watched television program of all time
  • 31% – nearly a third of all mobile consumers in the United States own a smartphone, cellphone with app-based, web-enabled operating system

How Often Do You Think About the Wars in Afghanistan and Iraq?

Did you know the current wars in Afghanistan and Iraq are the longest in United States history? They are longer than World War II and Vietnam. Reporter Tom Brokaw recently sat down with Oprah to discuss America’s lack of engagement with the wars our soldiers are fighting in. Brokaw says our country’s level of engagement is what makes these wars different, not just the length of them. Brokaw stated, “Less than one percent of the American population is bearing 100 percent of the burden of battle.” The wars are not something the average American thinks about on a daily basis. According to Brokaw, World War II united our country in an effort to save the world. Although America was divided during Vietnam, the whole country was still very aware with what was happening. Brokaw says, “However you feel about the war and the appropriateness of it, you must honor these people and their families.”

To read more about Brokaw’s interview and his quest to help American’s fully understand the sacrifices made for our freedom, go to http://www.oprah.com/oprahshow/The-Bravest-Families-in-America_1

Matt Mathias of Matt Mathias & Co. sent us some great information about Austin’s economy a few weeks ago. Take a look at these stats.


  • In-migration of 32,000 residents in 2009 occurred (total population growth of 50,000), in a year where Austin had the “best” job growth at -1900 jobs.
  • Austin MF (multiple family) occupancy increased in 2009 to just under 90% occupancy.
  • The housing market was slow but prices were stable.


  • Austin grew in population (55,000 per Angelos Angelou, Founder and Principal Executive Officer of AngelouEconomics, an economic development and site selection consultancy based in Austin; in-migration is not yet known but is expected to be higher than 2009).
  • Austin was a leading job producer in 2010 with 15,000 new jobs.
  • Austin finished the year with MF occupancy at 95%, with Austin absorbing 8,800 units in 2010.
  • MF rents climbed 11%. Rents are at an all-time high. Rents in downtown units are well above $2.00 per sf.
  • According to one expert, 2010 was the best-performing year for MF on record.
  • The for-sale housing market (per MLS) bottomed in July 2010 at 7.4 months supply. In 5 months, the MLS inventory has declined to 5.6 months. This improvement in inventories is about twice as fast as Austin’s recovery from the previous two recessions.
  • House prices rose in 2010. Yes, rose. One source says 2% and another says 4%.


  • Angelou predicts Austin will grow 60,000 people and generate 18,000 new jobs. Based on 2010, this seems reasonable.
  • MF absorption should meet or exceed the 2010 number of 8,800 units.
  • With under 1,800 MF units being delivered metro-wide, rents should continue their upward trend, maybe more strongly as the market tightens.
  • For sale housing should continue its tightening. Barring any catastrophic events, Austin will move to a seller’s market (below 5 months supply) in the second half of 2011 or early 2012. The rate of change would indicate sooner.
  • Expect house prices to rise, more quickly in the Class A locations, then moving to lesser locations.
  • The banking regulatory environment continues to keep many developments from moving forward.

Also, check out this interesting video that takes a look at the Austin economy as it pertains to real estate: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zowLTpJSu94

Need to confess your sins? There’s an app for that!

The Roman Catholic Church has approved the new iPhone “Confession: A Roman Catholic App” available for $1.99 on iTunes. The developer designed the app to help engage Catholics in their faith through digital technology, a sentiment made by the pope in last years’ World Communications Address. While the app doesn’t replace traditional confession and you still have to go to a priest for absolution, the app takes you through an “Examination of Conscience” to figure out what your real sins are.

Weighing In on the Cost of Obesity for Employers

The latest results from a 2009 study about obesity in Texas show some unnerving numbers. According to the report by the Texas Comptroller, obesity costs Texas employers $9.5 billion annually in health insurance costs, absenteeism, reduced work productivity and disability. 66.7 percent of all adult Texans were either overweight or obese in 2009 – higher than the national rate of 63.2 percent. Obese children (aged 10-17) have an 80 percent chance of staying obese their entire lives, and 20.4 percent of Texas children were overweight or obese in 2009. The solution calls for a lifestyle change of eating healthier and exercising regularly. Add that to the mix of a happy life.

What’s in a name? That which we call a rose, by any other name would smell as sweet.

Austin, Texas made national news earlier this month but not from making it onto another “cool city” list. Austin’s Solid Waste Services Department decided it needed a new name, so they asked Austinites to suggest and vote online. The overwhelming choice had more than 28,000 votes: The Fred Durst Society of the Humanities and Arts. (Fred Durst is the front man of the rock band Limp Bizkit.) Other name suggestions included: Department of Neat and Clean, Ministry of Filth, Hufflepuff, Lemon Party, Austin Recycling and Waste Reduction Department (RWRD = “Reward), Stephen Colbert Solid Waste Department, and Austin Dept. of Are You Gonna Eat That? among many others. The department’s deadline to vote was last week and they will announce a name in late April. Of course, the city has said the poll was just for public input and the name will ultimately be decided by the city manager.

Going the Distance

A recently released study reports that two-thirds of Americans believe it’s important to plan for long-term care, but only 44% have taken steps to protect themselves and most of those steps only involve boosting their savings accounts. It seems that many are underestimating the need and cost of long-term care and/or are looking to depend on the government in the future. While the government has created the first publicly funded long-term-care insurance program (the CLASS Act) as part of the health care reform legislation, the voluntary program will not be open to sign-ups until the terms and details are finalized in October 2012.

No question that another round of massive consolidation is coming in the banking business, if you are a bank that is under $500mm in assets. Because of the increased capital requirements and the regulatory pressure combined with weak loan demand, it is extremely hard to make the type of returns investors were used to in the old days.

Question for your business? If your bank is acquired, what would happen to your lending relationship? Many times if you have a “relationship” deal, you could be moved out or have the terms changed on you significantly, are you ready for that? We can show you how to prepare. It is always a good idea to have your head around your alternatives. Give us a call.

While recently in the Bahamas with 40+ of my peers, presidents of commercial finance businesses in and outside of banks, from across the USA, the overwhelming mood was positive and most are aggressively looking to grow their portfolio. Two years ago, our main topic was “surviving and thriving,” the equity people said no, the mezz people said no and the lenders said no. Time heals all wounds, I guess. The companies that survived the downturn seem quite a bit smarter and ready to roll.

Austin RISE Week is March 7-11 and we’re excited to be teaching a session called “Working Capital Finance” on Thursday, March 10, 2011 from 10-11:30 a.m. We’ll discuss different alternatives for new ventures or growing companies to bridge the gap between their income statement and their bank account. Our session is limited to 25 people, so sign up today! RISE Week offers entrepreneurs a combination of interactive learning sessions, inspiring keynotes, unique competitions, funding opportunities and celebratory networking events. For more information, visit their website.

Here is something good to think about today and pass along to your people – “Life begins at the end of your comfort zone”. We all need a little push from time to time.

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