I want to wish my readers a very Merry Christmas and all the best for 2012. Christmas is a great time of year and I hope all are surrounded by loved ones this holiday season. It’s also a time to reflect back on 2011 as I am sure some readers would rather forget not getting out of the market in May before the bear returned to the market.
But it was more than a bear market. It truly was the year of Europe and Congressional failures. Europe showed once again that they are unable or unwilling to put the bigger picture of the collective good of all Europe’s citizens ahead of their petty little kingdoms. Europe has a long history of not working together. This year has shown that this European trait is alive and well. Petty differences remain entrenched in European politics and daily life and it is a shame as the continent of Europe could become a true powerhouse of economic strength. Such economic strength would increase living standards for all Europeans, not just a select handful.
In the United States again petty differences has made it impossible for Congress to act particularly at a time when every American needs their governments at all levels to set aside party politics and work to solve the immense issues that are facing the nation. The issues facing America today are deep and troubling. These are problems that have grown annually for more than a decade during which overall the government seems unable to grasp the issues and put forth solid bi-partisan solutions that benefit all Americans not just the top 10%.
Everyday I get emails from readers telling me that they are scared that America will collapse. Others worry that we could see civil unrest, looting and a decline in the fabric of our society. Others worry that if economic times do not improve we could see wars develop. Many write to me worried about the US entering a war with Iran. Many readers write daily about their fear the markets will collapse below what we saw in March 2009 and not recover.
I am not an economist or financial planner. I am just an ordinary citizen who for decades has put aside annual vacations, new cars, new homes, cottages, boats and expensive gadgets of all kinds and instead focused on saving and planning for what is important to me, my children and their future.
All I can say is that yes, the economic times are troubling. The mess in Europe and the enormous US budget deficits are frightful. But age also gives one perspective. I have seen many years when equities were labelled as dead. I have witnessed everything from the oil embargo of the 1970’s to cold war, wild inflation, to terrorism, and bubbles in everything from tech stocks to gold in the 1980’s, and now housing.
I prefer to take a more positive approach and realize that by keeping 30% of my portfolio in cash to take advantage of stock declines and opportunities I can aid my overall portfolio. I keep 30% in bonds to allow for a fixed income balancing act to help in heavy declines. The remaining 40% is for equities which I strongly believe should be handled with option strategies such as put selling and covered calls to allow flexibility and protection.
Looking out to 2012 I am positive no one knows what will happen. That is why I believe having a plan is essential to successful investing. My very best wishes for a joyous Christmas Season and once you survive the holiday shopping frenzy may you take time to truly enjoy all those things that matter most to you. For me these are my children, my family and friends. My very best wishes for a successful 2012.