Far West Capital January 2011 Newsletter

2011 Predictions: just call us Nostradamus.

  • USA GDP will grow 2.5% – 3%, which is higher than most expect. Why? Extending the Bush Tax cuts was a big deal. Now, the entrepreneurial class, which some say is 50%-70% of the “rich,” have more money to invest in growth and will do so. The employment picture is improving and will continue to do so. Although we will continue to have the headwind of higher unemployment, the last 4 months have been upward positive revisions and this is the trend you want to watch.
  • As workout problems get better and banks are healing up, expect bank lending to increase significantly, as those that are able, will be returning their focus back to the customers and their respective marketplace. It remains to be seen what that means for bank performance but because of various regulatory pressures, we don’t expect profitability to return to pre-recession levels anytime soon. However, bankers are starting to open their wallets on lending. In Q4 of 2010, there was a slight uptick in commercial C&I lending of .2%, the first increase in two years. It is estimated that this type of lending will increase 3% in 2011.  Our touches into the local lending scene in Texas show us the same thing: that banks are now on the prowl for new relationships, and although they are nowhere near the crazy times of the past, banks are dipping their toes in the water.
  • Regulatory Unintended Consequences abound in 2011 as the effects of various regulatory come to light, e.g., the number of unbanked grows, pay day lending grows, and the “protected” are now paying even higher rates as credit cards are less available. Dodd-Frank makes Sarbanes Oxley look like a walk in the park. Well-intentioned but severely mis-guided politicians will end up hurting more than they possibly help.

Now that have your budget done; we have one more recommendation for 2011 – become a “minimalist” in your business. We’re not talking about cleaning out your desk or taking pictures off the wall. No, we are talking focus. Focus on the things that drive revenue or increase efficiency and forget all the other BS.

Here is the plan:

  1. Make a list of the “Top Five” things that drive your business.
  2. Share it with your people.
  3. Talk about them often…usually until people start rolling their eyes. Then talk about it some more.
  4. Write the “Top Five” on index cards and scatter them like snowflakes – break room, bathroom and on your mirror at home

Focus 80% of your efforts on these daily.

Xbox Kinect: do you have one of these things?  Pretty amazing standing in front of your big screen and competing in games with the person next to you with nothing but your hands and body. The coolest part is they have these little videos that play after you conclude your match and you get to see exactly how athletic you look while playing your 16-year-old in beach volleyball. Man, I thought I was watching Pee Wee Herman on drugs running from the cops.

Does anyone remember the run-up in oil and gas prices in 2008 and the $147.00 barrel oil?  Does anyone remember the carnage that occurred when they suddenly dropped to $30.00? We do. The shale plays in the USA are a positive for the economy for sure. We see South Texas exploding with growth at the Eagle Ford shale.  We finance several millions for oil field service companies and have a keen interest in what is going on down there. Our inside friends who have relationships with some of the top publicly held companies in the E & P space sent us this funny but all too real explanation of what is really going on with production. We say play, but don’t forget the lessons of the past.

2011 is here and that means The Best of 2010 (insert musician, movie, electronics, news stories, etc. here) lists have been published. Here are a few we thought you’d be interested in:

Billboard’s Best of 2010: Hot 10 Songs
How hip are you? Do you recognize any of these songs or artists?

The year-end most popular songs across all genres, ranked by radio airplay audience impressions as measured by Nielsen BDS, sales data as compiled by Nielsen SoundScan and streaming activity data provided by online music sources.

  1. Tik Tok by Ke$ha
  2. Need You Now by Lady Antebellum
  3. Hey, Soul Sister by Train
  4. California Girls by Katy Perry
  5. OMG by Usher Featuring will.i.am
  6. Airplanes by B.o.B Featuring Hayley Williams
  7. Love the Way You Lie by Eminem Featuring Rihanna
  8. Bad Romance by Lady Gaga
  9. Dynamite by Taio Cruz
  10. Break Your Heart by Taio Cruz Featuring Ludacris

The 10 Highest Grossing Films of 2010
There is no disputing that children and teenagers are in charge of the box office. If you’re going to get into film making, kids films are the way to go.

  1. Toy Story 3 $415 million
  2. Alice in Wonderland $312 million
  3. Iron Man 2 $312 million
  4. The Twilight Saga: Eclipse $300 million
  5. Inception $292 million
  6. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part I $283 million
  7. Despicable Me $251 million
  8. Shrek Forever After $238 million
  9. How to Train Your Dragon $212 million
  10. The Karate Kid $176 million

For more lists, check out Time Magazine’s Top 10 Everything of 2010.

Ted Williams, the homeless man with the golden radio voice but saddled himself with bad choices, has made headlines for the past two weeks. The stories reported have all centered around second chances. While this is a story about second chances, this can also be a story about not waiting to act. Columbus Dispatch videographer and photographer, Doral Chenoweth III, decided to shoot the clip ‘on a whim’, but it stayed on his computer for seven weeks before he did anything with it. Chenoweth wasn’t happy with the video’s technical quality and he was considering re-taping it, but he never saw Williams at the interchange again. Finally, on a slow news day, Chenoweth decided to post it on Dispatch.com. Thank goodness he didn’t wait to reshoot the video or decide to forgo it because it wasn’t perfect. Is there something you want or need to do, but resistance of any kind is standing in your way?

Be sure to check out CBS News for the full story.

Steven Pressfield writes about resistance in his book, The War of Art. As we’ve been blogging about New Year’s Resolutions and goals, we haven’t talked much about what stops us from achieving them. Here’s an excerpt from The War of Art listing activities that most commonly elicit Resistance:

  1. The pursuit of any calling in writing, painting, music, film, dance, or any creative art, however marginal or unconventional.
  2. The launching of any entrepreneurial venture or enterprise, for profit or otherwise.
  3. Any diet or health regimen.
  4. Any program or spiritual advancement.
  5. Any activity whose aim is tighter abdominals.
  6. Any course or program designed to overcome an unwholesome habit or addiction.
  7. Education of every kind.
  8. Any act of political, moral, or ethical courage, including the decision to change for the better some unworthy pattern of thought or conduct in ourselves.
  9. The undertaking of any enterprise or endeavor whose aim is to help others.
  10. Any act that entails commitment of the heart. The decision to get married, to have a child, to weather a rocky patch in a relationship.
  11. The taking of any principled stand in the face of adversity.

In other words, any act that rejects immediate gratification in favor of long-term growth, health or integrity.

Although the book is geared towards writers and creative types, it can pertain to anyone who resists what they are meant to do. Add this fast read to your must read list.

Have you heard about the mysterious mass animal deaths? It started with 5,000 blackbirds in Arkansas on New Year’s Eve, then a few days later 500 dead birds were found in Louisiana, 100,000 drum fish in Arkansas, 100 birds in Sweden and more. Pathologists theorized shock from fireworks for the first occurrence but don’t have any solid explanations yet. Here’s a live Google map of the strange occurrences.

CNN’s Anderson Cooper interviewed Kirk Cameron, the child actor from the 80’s best known for his role in Growing Pains who is a born-again Christian and has appeared in movies based on the end-of-days themed Left Behind books, to discuss whether Cameron thought the dead birds were a sign of the apocalypse. Cameron replied, “Well, I first think that they ought to call a veterinarian, not me.” For the whole interview, check out this CNN article.

Speaking of dead birds, are you an Angry Birds fan? Is it too soon for the photo below?

Rumors about Facebook shutting down circled the Internet two weeks ago, causing many users to panic. The phrase “is Facebook shutting down” was one of the top searches on Google and a number of groups against the shutdown were formed on Facebook, in addition to outraged Twitter updates. Facebook quickly dismissed the obvious rumor, but it has left many wondering if the dependence on one website is too much. If Facebook shut down, would you feel disconnected from your friends? Would you be able to remember their birthdays? Or the details about an upcoming event or party? And (jokingly) how else would you get updates about what your ex-girlfriend from elementary school did over the weekend?

Let’s get real here folks – Everybody wants to look better naked!!!

As 2011 kicks off, we know you are thinking about exercising more. We all do – right? Not only should you be a “minimalist” in business, but it works well in your personal life, too. We see way too many people with a haphazard approach. Fat loss, conditioning, strength training or flexibility – they try to do everything at once and fail big time. Take a long-term approach and focus on just a few things. Don’t be like most people and rush it.

One of the best things you can do this year is to do free-standing squats. Keep your hands out in front (for balance) like the model from our office and simply squat down. Do these 5 days a week for one year. Start slow and progress each week. A good goal would be to do 500 per week after 6 months or so.

Simple, effective, cheap (no gym) convenient, and easy to master.

As we age our legs and mobility are the first to go. There is a Chinese saying that states “ren lao xian lao tui”, which means – “When a person gets old, the legs get old first.”

Disclaimer: The above was written for entertainment purpose only  – Check with your physician – get a clean bill of health before you start an exercise plan.

Speaking of old age, are you saving enough for retirement? If not, you should revisit your plan – especially since you are going to live longer doing squats!

FACT: Baby boomers are turning 65 at the rate of 10,000 per day starting this month. This will continue for the next 20 years.

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