Archives For Todd Burkhalter


Update – March 5, 2012


The S&P 500 and the Nasdaq have been up for eight of the last nine weeks, though mixed economic data
caused a minor decline on Friday. The S&P gained 0.28% andthe Nasdaq rose 0.44%, but
the Dow lost 0.04% for the week. Stocks have been the strongest positive indicator in a slew of mixed information coming at us during the last few weeks. The five-month stock rally has been built on steadily improving economic news and strong underlying fundamentals, though some strategists are calling for a pullback since indexes are hitting new landmarks and the fourth-quarter reporting period is winding to a close.[i]

Exerting some negative pressure on both stocks and the economy, gas prices continued their
march higher this week, reaching a national average of $3.74, according to AAA.[ii] Gas prices have risen more than 8% this year, influenced by ongoing Middle East tensions and a stronger U.S. economy. However, on a positive note, crude oil prices dropped Friday for the first time in days, on news that the U.S. won’t preemptively attack Iran and disrupt oil supplies. While sustained high gas prices are not something we want to see, economists continue to stress that $4 gas is not enough to derail the economic recovery.[iii]

Interestingly, higher gas prices haven’t dampened American enthusiasm for cars. Automakers reported strong sales for February, especially among smaller cars as buyers try to offset increased fuel expenses. Although all makers have not reported February results, analysts expect strong sales of 1.1 million cars and trucks for the month.[iv]


Federal Reserve Chair Ben Bernanke had both encouragement and words of warning for the Senate Banking Committee this week. While expressing that the recovery is not over and that the Fed expects continued growth of 2.2% to 2.7% this year, he also urged politicians to act on key issues. Bernanke expressed that the expiration of the Bush tax cuts, payroll tax increases, and massive federal budget cuts – all coming atthe same time in January 2013 – is a “fiscal cliff” that could threaten the economic recovery.[v] We agree that these lingering political issues could have significant negative consequences if they are not addressed properly. We sincerely hope that the leaders of this nation will act for the common good, and that they will not allow political bickering to get in the way of our ongoing recovery.




Monday: Factory Orders, ISM Non-Mfg. Index


Wednesday: ADP Employment Report,
Productivity and Costs, EIA Petroleum Status Report


Thursday: Jobless Claims


Friday: Employment Situation, International



Traders pushed up the price of Treasury debt after economic data from Europe
brought back fears of a global economic slowdown. Demand for “safe haven”
investments like Treasury bills often goes up on the back of poor economic

The Institute for Supply Management’s manufacturing index
fell in February
to 52.4 from 54.1, a decline well below expectations. All four of the component
indexes also posted declines; however, ISM’s survey chief believes that the declines are part of a generally positive trend of moderate growth.[vii]

New orders for durable goods declined a surprising 4% in

Orders for long-lasting goods like machinery, airplanes, furniture, and appliances dropped after a special business tax treatment expired. While the news could be a sign of weakening manufacturing activity, the durable goods report is notoriously volatile and it is likely one-time factors had a significant impact.[viii]

The Conference Board Consumer Confidence Index rose in February, a significant improvement over January’s performance, and is now close to February 2011 levels. Consumers are more confident about current economic conditions than they were in January, and despite rising gas prices, they are more optimistic about the economic recovery.[ix]

It’s Your Move

February 22, 2012 — Leave a comment


We all desire to make good decisions, right?


Of course we do.


Is there a decision around the corner that you’re struggling with making? How about a decision you’re simply doing your absolute best to avoid? How do we know what the right move is and when to make it?


Unfortunately, life does not always provide us with a clear financial path to follow. In games like chess or monopoly, the game board dictates our next move. Some experts in these games can actually visualize two or three moves ahead. Wouldn’t it be nice to have a game board for making your personal financial decisions? Just think, this type of game board could, A) provide a way to test or verify all possibilities prior to defining your strategy and making your next move, and then, B) test that strategy prior to seeing it play out in the real world, where as you know, the consequences of our decisions can be enormous. A tool like this can mean the difference between success and failure at a time when, at least in my way of thinking, failure is not an acceptable option.


Imagine what your life would look like without that one poor financial decision. Imagine what your family’s future could hold if we worked together to minimize, or better yet…  eliminate, financial mistakes. Would that mean less stress for you? Could that lead to bigger opportunities for your children? Would you have the freedom to give more?


This kind of tool would be, and is, PRICELESS!


Over the next two posts we will be taking a look at the various aspects and strategies of the financial decision making process. Stick with me and don’t forget, “It’s Your Move”.


It’s Your Move: Part 2

In this series we are  looking at the different ways individuals make their financial decisions. In the last session we asked the question, what would life be like if we could eliminate financial mistakes? What would that mean to you or even someone you love? Could that mean extra trips, a better education, less stress or strain on relationships?
Have you ever torn into a new game or toy without first reading the directions? Most of us have done this only to hear our spouse say, “Honey… have you read the directions?!!”  I think it’s suffice to say that we have all engaged in this seemingly senseless routine. Of course, most of the time this is not a big deal because there are little to no consequences for our mistake. However, let’s not make these same mistakes relative to some of the most important decisions we’ll ever make… those regarding where and how we protect, save and invest our hard earned money.


Often decisions are made based on:


  • Others opinions
  • Limited information
  • Predetermined goals
  • Convenience
  • No model (without proof it will work)


When decisions are made this way it can prove to create an outcome that is both disorganized and limited. We describe this as somewhat of a financial junk drawer. This is really no different than tearing into the game without reading the directions! If you are making decisions with out any verification process, what will you say when your spouse asks the question, “have you read the directions?” What they’re really asking is, “Are you sure we are doing as well as we possibly can? Have we looked at all the options and made sure there isn’t a better alternative?”


The lack of a financial model will lead to errors and mistakes. The financial model that we eluded to in Part 1 is the Protection, Savings and Growth Model. This will serve as the game board or verification tool we desire that can help us with our financial decisions and allow us to have freedom from the worry that can sometimes surround these decisions. It also gives us the ability to say, “YES Honey! I have read the directions!”


In the future we will look at the Macro Economic Financial Model called The Protection, Savings and Growth Model. It’s one of the most powerful tools to use in order to make sound financial decisions.