AWM Blog

Removing mark-to-market accounting rules is the exact opposite of what we should do (published in the Santa Barbara News Press in February of 2009)

Mark-to-market accounting is essential to our financial system, and to the health of our economy.  Recently, many have called for relaxing or the complete abandonment of mark-to-market accounting rules.  They feel that the only way to get us out of the financial calamity we find ourselves in today is to remove the requirement that firms place the correct value of assets like mortgage-backed securities held by banks, on their financial…

Limiting Executive Compensation is a Bad Idea (published in the Santa Barbara News Press in February of 2009)

Limiting executive compensation is a bad idea.  This week President Obama announced that a limit of $500,000 will be placed on executive compensation for any company that took government bailout money from the $700 billion TARP fund.  In his speech, Obama stated, “We all need to take responsibility.  And this includes executives at major financial firms who turned to the American people, hat in hand, when they were in trouble,…

An Historic Opportunity (published in the Santa Barbara News Press on February 28, 2009)

I am a student of history, whether it’s the history of the stock market, the economy, the country, the development of civilization, politics, or just about any other subject.  I believe very strongly that by studying history, we can learn to better deal with the present, and the future.  I believe this because history, as with the present and the future, is driven by human behavior, and people don’t change. …

Tis the Season (published in the Santa Barbara News Press in December of 2009)

With all of the financial turmoil we have experienced over the past year or so, many of us find ourselves asking a lot of questions, such as: What should I do about my portfolio? Should I have my will, trust, and other financial documents reviewed by an attorney?  How should I evaluate the performance of my investments over the past year, three years, or five years?  Do I have a…

To convert or not to convert: Special circumstances for taxation of Roth IRAs may make conversion a good idea (for some) (published in the Santa Barbara News Press in December of 2009)

With the recent “Great Recession,” we have seen many individuals losing their jobs in and around Santa Barbara.  Our most recent data from November 2009 shows 19,900 people unemployed in the county, which represents an 8.9 percent unemployment rate.  While we are still doing better than the state of California at 12.3 percent unemployment and the nation at 10 percent, having this large number of people unemployed is certainly placing…

The New Healthcare Bill (HR 3200) Will Raise Taxes on High-income Earners (published in the Santa Barbara News Press in August of 2009)

The new healthcare bill (HR 3200), “America’s Affordable Healthcare Choices Act of 2009,” promises to provide every American with affordable quality healthcare and to control healthcare cost growth.  The Democrats who drafted and support the legislation point to provisions in the bill that would build on what works in today’s health care system and fixes the parts that are broken, protect current coverage–allowing individuals to keep the insurance they have…

Should we worry about a double-dip recession? (Published in the Santa Barbara News Press in August of 2009)

The possibility of a double-dip recession has been raised in the financial press and media lately, but is this a real possibility?  Ironically, the fact that the stock market has rallied from the March lows by more than 50 percent, and that investor sentiment has jumped dramatically, may have actually increased the likelihood of a double-dip recession.  So what is a double-dip recession anyway?  The term “double-dip” refers to the…

Local Santa Barbara charities should plan for tough times to come (Published in the Santa Barbara News Press in April of 2009)

The full impact of the economic recession on our local charities will not be felt until next year.  Although the recession has certainly curtailed charitable giving on the part of individuals, foundations, which typically use a rolling average asset calculation as the basis for determining the amount of money they will give for the calendar year, have yet to incorporate the reduction in their assets caused by the financial market…

Whether we like it or not, we need oil (Published in the Santa Barbara News Press in April of 2009)

While attending last week’s County Board of Supervisors meeting I was reminded of a recent newspaper article I read, with a response to a story about a hunter who had killed a deer.  Outraged, the writer stated that the hunter should have instead gone to the store and bought their meat where it is made.  It seems to me that most people don’t think about all the things we see,…

Correction Coming

It stands to reason that the stock market should experience a significant correction in the short-run.  We have seen multiple new yearly, multi-year, and historic highs for stock prices of late, and the overall level of the Dow (12,000), and the S&P 500 (1,300) are at nose bleed levels. Last year we saw stock prices drive strong gains in the Dow (up 11%), the S&P 500 (up 13%), and the…