Archives For Todd Burkhalter

How Far We’ve Come

October 16, 2012 — Leave a comment

Weekly Update – October 15, 2012

Markets declined last week, retreating after initial third quarter earnings reports showed weakness and the World Bank cut its growth estimates in Asia. While the major indexes rallied a bit on Thursday and Friday, overall, investors decided that they didn’t have much to get excited about. For the week, the S&P declined 2.21%, the Dow lost 2.07%, and the Nasdaq lost 2.94%.[i]


While it can be hard to see the big picture when markets slide, it’s important to keep short-term pull-backs in perspective. To help us do this, we can reflect on how far we’ve come since Tuesday’s five year anniversary of the October 9, 2007 peak. In the last five years, markets have overcome a great deal: a catastrophic mortgage meltdown, a plunge that erased 50% of the market’s value, and significant global uncertainty.[ii] Since the darkest days of the “great recession” we’ve made enormous strides towards recovery, and currently, the S&P is within a few percentage points of its 2007 peak. Furthermore, we have reasons to be optimistic about the future. While we could hope for more robust growth, economic indicators are showing that the economy is gradually recovering. Unemployment is decreasing, manufacturing is increasing, and consumers are feeling more confident.[iii]


We definitely have a long way to go before we can state with certainty that the global economy has recovered. And, as many analysts have stated, the next few months could be turbulent for equity markets. Factors such as the ongoing crisis in Europe, weak fundamentals in Asia, poor corporate earnings reports, the presidential election, and the fiscal cliff may create challenges that test your discipline to stay the course.[iv]

On the bright side though, the S&P 500 has gained 11.8% since June 1, indicating that investors are ready to respond to positive news and that there may still be some upside potential this year.[v] In September, the U.S. economy gained 114,000 jobs, driving the unemployment rate down to 7.8%.[vi] The housing market is active, indicating that at least that corner of our economy is doing well.[vii] Although we cannot predict the future, these factors are very encouraging. We’ve certainly come a long way.



Monday: Retail Sales, Empire State Mfg. Survey, Business Inventories

Tuesday: Consumer Price Index, Treasury International Capital, Industrial Production, Housing Market Index

Wednesday: Housing Starts, EIA Petroleum Status Report

Thursday: Jobless Claims, Philadelphia Fed Survey

Friday: Existing Home Sales

Have you ever wondered if you are eligible to receive any Financial Aid for your college bound child? There is quite a bit of mystery surrounding the entire college financial aid application process. This mysterious, even convoluted, process has created a great deal of confusion and misunderstanding about who is eligible for receiving financial aid for college. Below are 6 fictional thoughts and 6 facts regarding financial aid eligibility.



The Fiction


1. My Income is too High.

2. My Child Did Not Win a National Merit Scholarship

3. If My Child Does not Qualify for a Needs Based Aid, There is No Hope

4. I Own a Nice Home.

5. The School’s People Can Help

6. It’s a Simple, Easy and Fair Process


The Facts


1. Middle & Upper Middle Income Class Kids Can Qualify.

2. Need Based Aid Based on Income, Assets, Number of Kids, Etc.

3. There are Millions of Dollars of Aid for Kids with Academic, Artistic & Athletic Talent.

4. FAFSA Form Doesn’t Ask for Home Equity, but the Profile Form Does.

5. Colleges are Businesses & are Concerned about Their Own Enrollment & Finances

6. Many Believe it’s Not Simple, Easy or Fair.




Have you ever had any of the thoughts listed above? I would encourage you to consider getting to the truth about YOUR personal situation. College costs differ from person to person. Let me know if you wish to learn more about lowering the cost of college for your family!


The information provided above is provided through a partnership with 123College. 123College is a source for College Financial Planning, Education and Training.  Since 1994, 123College has developed Financial Aid Analysis Software to ensure accuracy and full compliance with the U.S. Dept. of Education’s complicated financial aid formulas.

A Few Bright Spots

October 8, 2012 — Leave a comment

Weekly Update October 8, 2012




Markets started the week off slowly, but quickly picked up steam after several upbeat economic reports were released. Despite the headwinds blowing across global economies, a handful of important domestic indicators showed that the economy improved in September. All three major indices responded well to this news, posting their first positive week in three weeks, and the Dow finished at its highest level since December 2007.[i]




The biggest news last week was that Friday’s jobs report showed that the unemployment rate slid to 7.8% – dropping to a near four-year low – and the economy gained 114,000 new jobs in September. While these numbers beat economists’ expectations, the not-so-great news is that many of the jobs added were only part time. While it’s too early to see the full effect of the Fed’s QE3 program, the monthly jobs report is one of the best indicators of the economy’s current state of health. Since the whole point of QE3 is to create more jobs and soothe jittery markets, economists and analysts will likely key in on this report to gauge the effectiveness of the Fed’s plan.[ii]




In the FOMC (Federal Open Market Committee) meeting minutes released last week, we were able to gain some insight into the Fed’s decision to use mortgage bonds (instead of the usual Treasury securities) to bolster the economy. According to the official release, Fed officials determined that boosting the housing market was a good way to lift the broader economy.[iii] According to remarks by Chicago Fed President, the Fed will continue its QE3 actions until unemployment falls below seven percent.[iv]




Moving ahead, we should not be surprised to see some market volatility as earnings season heats up. Of the 103 S&P 500 companies that have provided earnings guidance, 78% of them (80) have issued a third-quarter forecast that falls below the Wall Street consensus estimate. But that doesn’t mean you should buy into the doom and gloom forecasts you may be hearing. While past performance is no guarantee of future results, even during the peak of the 2007-2008 financial crisis, more than half of S&P 500 companies topped Wall Street estimates in the third and fourth quarters of 2008.[v] As always, we’ll be keeping an eye on things; and we’ll be keeping you informed. We hope you have a great week!






Monday: U.S. bond markets closed for Columbus Day Holiday


Wednesday: Beige Book, Treasury Budget


Thursday: International Trade, Jobless Claims, EIA Petroleum Status Report


Friday: Producer Price Index, Consumer Sentiment