Friday, June 18, 2010

Two New Faces

We recently welcomed two new members to our Pathways team; Jeff Karst and Sarah Hinson. Both are Fresno State alumni. Jeff is currently in Pathways "boot-camp," learning as much as possible each day to ultimately become a paraplanner for us. It's not too scary for him. He did spend six years in the Navy. Sarah Hinson, ironically, will help fill the void left by Sarah Schneider. Her name was not a factor in the hiring process.

There is more to come about Jeff and Sarah in the June newsletter. In the meantime, we wanted to introduce two new faces should you stop by the office. We are excited to have them join our group!

Monday, June 7, 2010

"Flash Crash"

Pathways Advisory Group, Inc.
Dustin Smith, CFP®

You’re at the mall and suddenly a few hundred people are running from something…. Do you join them? Or do you first ask questions? I think I would ask questions later... At the very least, a little exercise won’t hurt. Would you sell a stock just because a few thousand others did? That would be the instinctive reaction. They must know something…

After about 14 months of a climbing market, fear came rushing back on May 6th. The May 6th “Flash Crash” still lacks definitive explanation. Although no-one seems to know exactly what happened during a wild 20 minutes or so, the main source was news about economic troubles in Greece.

Fears about Greece were enhanced by a nationwide strike and live video feeds (during trading) of riots in Athens. Concerns arose about a potential contagion effect on the rest of the European Union. US markets were down about 3% before dropping to nearly 9%... in 20 minutes. However, markets recovered to end trading back near the 3% (S&P 500) loss. Yep, only 3%. That sure wasn’t the headline, was it?

Within a few days, markets recovered most of their losses. Nevertheless, what a strange day May 6th was. Stories of a “fat-fingered” trade appear to be rumors. Nobody seems to know exactly what happened. After markets closed, about 450 NASDAQ and NYSE Arca (an electronic exchange owned by NYSE) trades were cancelled. The SEC announced an investigation shortly thereafter.

There has since been some discussion of additional “circuit breakers” (a halt to trading for a period of time after a quick drop) but for the most part the market sorted it out. Again, what a strange day May 6th was. It all started because of an economic mess in Greece. (Let’s throw a little Greece on the fire!) Although the Greek issues have justifiably led to concerns about other European nations and the “Euro”, it’s pretty amazing that a country with a Gross Domestic Product (GDP) comparable to the state of Georgia (the 10th or 11th largest State GDP in the United States) can cause such a ripple.

For long-term investors, it was just noise. Same old, same old. For day traders, it was a nightmare. For market procedures, it was a test. Hopefully most of you heard about it days or weeks later. I am just thankful I wasn’t on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange in the middle of the thundering herd…

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Conversations - A Grandson's Perspective

Pathways Advisory Group, Inc.
Dustin Smith, CFP®

He is gone. What will I miss? I am going to miss our conversations.

I will miss the wisdom hidden within the occasional inappropriateness. Whining was always met with “the world’s smallest violin for the world’s saddest tune” as he played a make-believe violin with his thumb and forefinger. Or… “You know, excuses are like.....”

I will miss the laughter. “With 5 to 1 odds, even I am a hot commodity at the widow and widowers club”...

I will miss the quiet examples, from the man who never met a stranger and never missed an opportunity to lift someone else.

He smiled when it wasn’t required.

He was helpful when it wasn’t expected.

He was kind when there was nothing to gain.

I suspect it made a difference... to someone at the bank, the supermarket, the casino or the senior center in Crescent City, where he made his home for the last 30 years.

I will miss our conversations. But I did not miss much, from the conversations we did have. As David stated in a recent Newsletter article, true “Wealth” and “Richness” has to do with people. Relationships make our lives rich. One of the people that enriched my life was Ashby Smith, my grandpa. Born August 1st, 1926. Passed away May 28th, 2010.

I will stop now; this has gone on far too long for his liking… I travel to Crescent City this week. I return to the office next week. Grandpa once told me that the key to life, is without a doubt, a sense of humor… so I am trying not to lose mine as we say goodbye to him this week.