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2009 Newsletters

U.S. Economy-

It has been a little over a year since the Wall Street/banking meltdown took what should have been a garden variety recession into a “second great depression” free fall. In retrospect, what happened? In addition to the
underlying toxic real estate loan problems, I believe two key factors put the “panic” into this recession: 1) banking problem transparency – high level, public discussions of potential nationalization, closures and fire sale mergers of large financial institutions became a self fulfilling prophecy. If you announce that a big bank could be under-capitalized if depositors withdraw their money, people will pull their money out and it will become undercapitalized…

The “New Normal”

Like the aftermath of 9/11, I believe that the United States will have some lasting implications from the near collapse of our financial systems and our current worldwide asset devaluation. I have been an interested observer, as you may have, in the rapid unwinding of asset-backed leverage and the subsequent damage it has caused across all investments and previous assumptions of what is safe and truly secure.

Investment Summary-

The second quarter of 2009 continued to see the global economic “Great Recession” slow its decline and saw confidence grow that the GDP will turn back up in the second half of the year. Prices of stocks, bonds and commodities all rebounded sharply in April and May before
stalling in June. A tension exists between balancing the early signs of recovery with prospects of a “jobless recovery” and economically unhelpful government policies presently being proposed. Our near-term outlook is neutral with little expectation of further price appreciation. Our overall strategy continues to be focusing on low/medium risk income producing investments along with a smaller allocation to inflation/weak dollar hedges.

Investment Summary-

The first quarter of 2009 started with the continuation of the scary economic declines from the fourth quarter and ended with the hope that the worst was behind us. We now believe that the combination of worldwide economic/financial stability crises and the US stimulus/economic spending budgets/deficits are finally fully discounted in today’s current financial asset values. However, reaching the bottom still means that we have a long way to go until the damage is repaired and markets go back up to historic valuation norms.