Far West Capital September 2011 Newsletter

This past Labor Day weekend, Central Texas suffered catastrophic losses when wildfires broke out in the area. The wildfires have burned at least 1,500 structures (homes and businesses) and scorched 34,000 acres, causing 250 million dollars worth of damage. Thousands of people have lost their homes. In honor of our clients, we have donated $2,500 towards relief efforts.

The easiest way to help is by donating to the American Red Cross of Central Texas. Organizations around town are also accepting supplies for fire victims. Thank you for helping our fellow Texans through this disaster.

The libertarian movement has traction, and it’s setting up a libertarian utopia 200 miles off the coast of San Francisco. Lead by Seasteading Institute, an organization dedicated to launching small countries on oil-rig–type platforms in international waters, the artificial floating nation-state has been backed with $1.25 million from PayPal founder Peter Thiel. The Institute hopes to start next year and have full-time floating settlements in seven years.

Will increasing taxes for the rich help our government’s budget problems? That’s a part of Warren Buffet’s “outcomes rather than policies” thinking. But in this article, Jeffrey Miron, a Harvard University faculty member, argues that Warren Buffet is wrong on taxes. Miron argues the number of super-rich is too small for higher rates to make a difference on budget problems and focusing on this group also stifles the success of those who have earned it by legitimate means. Echoing Miron’s ending words, we should adopt good rules, insist everyone play by them and applaud the winners in the end.

Our VP and superstar athlete, Jason Lippman, accomplished a big goal last month! As you may remember from our last newsletter, Jason was heading to Colorado with his Team Ultra teammates to run in the Leadville Trail 100. He finished the 100 mile race in under 25 hours! To read more about his race, check out our blog post.

The Treasury’s management of the Small Business Lending Fund (SBLF), aimed at boosting lending to Main Street businesses, has been an unmitigated bureaucratic screw-up. Almost a year ago, Congress created the SBLF to provide $30 billion in low-cost capital to community banks for small-business lending. Only 926 of about 7,000 community banks applied for the funding and the total amount from their applications was $11.8 billion. To date, the Treasury has managed to approve about $692 million (less than 10% of the funds) and any funds not doled out by September 27 must go back to Congress. “Sheer incompetence and foot-dragging,” as economist Tom Brown describes it, has wasted a lot of money and does little good for the small businesses the fund was supposed to benefit.  Forget the government solution.

Richard Fisher, president and CEO of the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas, is a great speaker and thought-leader. In a recent speech at a community forum, Fisher gave his rational on why the economy is not growing and he cites uncertainty as the reason. More specifically he says: “…the ugly truth is that the problem lies not with monetary policy but in the need to construct a modern, appropriate set of fiscal and regulatory levers and pulleys to better incentivize the private sector to channel money into productive use in expanding our economy and enriching our people.” To take a look at the rest of this speech and all his past speeches, visit the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas website. He is the leading candidate to replace the current Fed Chairman and would be a solid replacement.

Documentary filmmaker Morgan Spurlock is currently hosting a compelling and informative series called “50 Documentaries To See Before You Die,” a celebration of the most remarkable and moving documentaries released in the past 25 years, on CurrentTV. It examines how the documentary feature has evolved into an increasingly popular genre, becoming a major box office draw and impacting contemporary American culture in ways never seen before. Check out this trailer for the series.

The 2009 tax data recently released by the IRS shows there are less millionaires and billionaires these days, compared with the data from 2007. Almost four of 10 millionaires vanished in two years, and the total taxes they paid in 2009 dropped 42%. As this WSJ article says, “the recession and weak recovery have been income levelers” and the following charts show how the recession has affected the rich.

The Millionaires Who Still Pay Taxes

Income % of Tax Returns % of Income Taxes
$1 million 0.2% 20.4%
More than $200,000 Less than 3% More than 97%

The 2012 Presidential Election Campaigns are firing up, and one particular candidate is growing in popularity. Described as a conservative, Constitutionalist, and libertarian, Ron Paul has been known as one who is true to his principles and stands for limited, constitutional government, low taxes, free markets, honest money, and a pro-America foreign policy. Ron Paul promises to stop spending, create jobs, bring peace and restore liberty, all of which speak to the country’s needs.




In the latest update edition of Economic and Market Perspective, written by James Paulsen, Ph.D., Wells Capital Management’s chief investment strategist, Paulsen offers his analyses of current economic trends:

One of the legacies of the Great 2008 Crisis is it produced a widespread post-traumatic stress disorder we have referred to as “Armageddon hypochondria.” Simply, FEAR has dominated this recovery. Despite one of the strongest two-year advances in stock market history, throughout this period, investors have chronically and obsessively feared yet another overwhelming crisis. The current summer drama represents yet another panic surrounding a list of persistent and seemingly ever-increasing worries.

To read the rest of the article, check it out here.

Paulsen is speaking at the 17th Annual IFA Factoring Conference in April 2012, and we are looking forward to moderating at the event!

Pirate Boy, Mike Leach, Texas Tech’s infamous ex-head football coach has been relegated to traipsing around the country doing a bunch of book signings. He ain’t coaching football and doesn’t seem to have any real prospects of doing so.  Seems kind of sad, but it offers a few lessons in business: #1 – Don’t tell your boss to “F” himself and not expect anything to happen.   #2 – You can always be replaced. #3 – People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.

Mike never fit in with the good ole boys in Lubbock but would still have his $1,000,000 plus per year job if he had an ounce of good ole boy common sense.

Mike’s current lawsuit could have some big implications for Texas, if he is successful, check out this video interview from the Texas Tribune.  He is nothing if not super interesting.

This past weekend was the 10th Annual Austin City Limits Music Festival. The top headliners included Stevie Wonder, Arcade Fire, Coldplay and Kanye West among some other big acts. ACL has brought more than 130 acts, thousands of music fans and a big boost in the economy to Austin. Early bird tickets for next year’s event will be available in October, so get ready. If you didn’t physically attend this year’s event, did you watch the live stream on YouTube? Pretty cool experiencing ACL in my pjs and slippers and without the heat, rain and crowds!

In his book, ‘Outliers,’ Malcolm Gladwell describes the “10,000 hour” rule, basically saying that becoming an expert or extremely proficient in your profession or avocation requires not only good timing, but time, attention and focus most people are not willing to give.  He outlines how The Beatles got most of their practice time in strip clubs in Germany, before becoming an “overnight” success.  These boys look too innocent for strip clubs, but I guess they were willing to pay the price. To read excerpts from the book and learn more about it, visit Gladwell’s website.

In his address to the joint session of Congress two weeks ago, President Barack Obama called for $477 billion in new federal spending, which he said would give hundreds of thousands of disadvantaged young people hope and dignity while giving their low-income parents “ladders out of poverty.” Also, the U.S. Census recently released its annual poverty report, which declared that 46.2 million persons, or roughly one in seven Americans, were poor in 2010. But what does it really mean to be poor in America? In reality, the living conditions of those defined as poor by the government are much different than that popular image – one of destitute homelessness and hunger.

In a new report by The Heritage Foundation, poverty is explained in more, possibly surprising, details. Knowing one-third of those persons defined as “poor” by the Census Bureau have a wide-screen plasma or LCD television doesn’t make homelessness and hunger a problem solved, it makes us realize policymakers and the public need to better understand poverty to know how to change policies and allocate funds more efficiently.

Serious, chronic illnesses such as cancer affect many families in Central Texas and can be a complicated change for children to understand and adapt to. Wonders & Worries, a Central Texas nonprofit, helps children and families cope with the changes and ease the feelings of sadness, anger, and fear at no cost to the families. The effects of Wonder & Worries’s counseling sessions and support programs are life-changing, and I hope to make a big difference for the organization by shooting clay pigeons at the Beretta USA No Worries Classic on October 22nd.

My goal for this year is to raise more than $15,000.00. As of today, I’m raised 60% of my goal. Thank you very much to those of you who have taken the time to donate so far.

You can pledge by the “bird” at $5, $10 or any other amount, and your credit card won’t be charged until I actually shoot. I estimate I’ll hit about 25 “birds.” Please join me in supporting this wonderful organization by pledging and donating.

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