There's no denying that April 2008 was a really good month for the equity markets. To that I say -- it's about time!
After the worst first quarter in recent memory, stocks finally showed everyone that the bears hadn't taken up permanent residence on Wall Street. Now in the wake of the admittedly very good performance we witnessed in April, many pundits have taken to asking if the credit and equity market crisis is now over.
In my opinion, the answer to this question is a definite no.
The movement of small business owners throughout their day is a constant transition from darkness to light. When something good happens, our world seems newly illuminated. Every struggle, every setback, seems to cause darkness to return.
But we know every dark moment is an opportunity for light. The only question is, will our efforts produce a flicker or a beam? And isn’t not knowing what makes the anticipation sweeter?
Should we long for a life without struggle? Wouldn’t constant light become boring? Remember, the enemy of light is not darkness - it’s glare.
This morning (April 23, 2008), the newspaper Investor's Business Daily interviewed me for an upcoming article about how a lot of companies are likely to start cutting their dividends.
In my opinion, we are at the beginning of a new wave of dividend cuts, especially from traditional dividend-paying sectors such as banks and other financial institutions. I really am bearish on banks right now, and for that matter any company that makes a living by loaning money.
There comes a time in the life of every small business when we’ve done everything we’re supposed to: developed a plan, worked the plan, stuck to our budget, focused on the fundamentals, and we’re still not absolutely sure we’re on the right track toward success. So what keeps us going? Hope.
If you've spent at least a few years in the marketplace, there is an excellent chance that you've reinvented yourself at least once.
There was probably a moment, an inspiration, an event, a conversation, or a pink slip that caused you to start that new journey. And if you're a small business owner, it's also a safe bet that you've discovered you must keep reinventing your business, too.
"Where's the pain?"
As we discussed recently, this is the newest question to get to the point of what's preventing a business from accomplishing its goals. It's an important question. Because when pain occurs, like when expenses get out of control, it's essential to quickly identify and reduce that pain.
There are two kinds of out-of-control expense pain:
1) The kind that happens because you aren't managing your business properly;
By now I suspect that most of you are intimately acquainted with the bailout of Bear Stearns (BSC) by the Federal Reserve and rival bank JP Morgan Chase & Co. (JPM). That's why I am not going to rehash the details of this fiasco here. Rather, I think the details of the bank's demise are far-less important than the lessons to be learned by you, the individual investor.
What are those lessons? Well, I'm glad that you asked.
The commodity boom certainly is enticing aggressive investors. In last week's ETF Talk, we discussed commodity exchange-traded funds (ETFs) that tracked an individual commodity, such as gold, silver or oil. These ETFs in recent months have outperformed the market to generate positive returns.
I know this won't come as much of a surprise to some readers, but the media has once again missed the boat.
This past Sunday, the Los Angeles Times ran a cover story in the business section about buying a used car. What?
Nowhere in the entire business section was there any article on the troubles in the financial markets. What a waste of newsprint! No wonder newspaper circulation is down.
Right now, we are suffering through one of the biggest economic storms we've had in decades, and all the Times can do is give you tips on how to kick the tires on that used coupe.
There is no denying that stocks are back on the move, and during the past several days the equity markets have rallied in the face of some really bad news.
What kind of bad news? Well, the latest Producer Price Index number was up 1% in January. This is the highest monthly rise in the index in 26 years. Then, we got a report that housing prices nationwide fell nearly 9% in the fourth quarter of 2007.
As if those setbacks weren't enough bad news, we witnessed a slide on Tuesday (2/26/08) in the consumer confidence numbers, which fell to their lowest levels since February 2003.