Mar 25 2009

Did We Go Too Far?

“Since Thomas Rowe Price, Jr., founded our company in 1937 – in the heart of the Great Depression – the firm has witnessed many market downturns, including the long slow 1973-74 bear market…the bursting of the technology bubble in the early 2000s and subsequent broad market decline.  Although the magnitude and duration of the declines have varied, one thing has held true.  The markets have always come back.” – Edward C. Bernard, Chairman, T. Rowe Price


It has been a rough ride now for a long time – so much and for so long that I am reluctant to make any suggestions or even mild predictions on when we will begin to see anything significantly positive.  I don’t know about you, but it is impossible for me to grasp the enormity of the trillions of dollars of “toxic” debt that we are only beginning to understand.  The financial casualties and corresponding numbers are so far-reaching and incomprehensible that it makes my head spin.  I think it is safe to say that every individual and institution on this planet has been affected by now.


Of course this major economic mess has become the ultimate political debate in the U.S.  Finger-pointing and highly charged theatrical accusations prevent constructive consensus.  If there is a proper path for steering the world out of this mess – we can’t even come close to agreeing on what it is.  I tend to believe this is a classic example of a situation where “there are no answers – only choices.”  Being more of a Keynesian economist than anything else, I do believe that it is in the best interest of everyone for the government to step in and take action – to ensure liquidity, minimize systemic failures, and support the creation of jobs.  The real question for me is – how far should the government go?  Just maybe the burden being created is too great.  Maybe this is deficit spending beyond what we can ever hope to recover from – I just don’t know! 


In the early 1930s, President Roosevelt was criticized for not preventing more bank and business failures – which prolonged the Great Depression.  Some (Democrats) are convinced that Roosevelt acted brilliantly, while others (Republicans) blame him for everything bad that has happened over the past sixty years.  One thing that most seem to agree on is that it took World War II to bring prosperity back – at least in the U.S.  Well…I for one would rather not experience a world war – so let’s hope and pray we have taken the proper course of action.  Please feel free to post your good news!

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Feb 28 2009

The Wizard Speaketh

“The stupefying losses in mortgage-related securities came in large part because of flawed, history-based models used by salesmen, rating agencies and investors.  These parties looked at loss experience over periods when home prices rose only moderately and speculation in houses was negligible.  They then made this experience a yardstick for evaluating future losses.  They blissfully ignored the fact that house prices had recently skyrocketed, loan practices had deteriorated and many buyers had opted for houses they couldn’t afford…Investors should be skeptical of history-based models.  Constructed by a nerdy-sounding priesthood using esoteric terms such as beta, gamma, sigma and the like, these models tend to look impressive.  Too often, though, investors forget to examine the assumptions behind the symbols.  Our advice: beware of geeks bearing formulas.” – Warren Buffett, February 2009


I for one have the utmost respect and admiration for Mr. Buffett and although even “The Wizard of Omaha” isn’t always right, he certainly hits the nail on the head more often than not.  So while I have about given up on offering insight at the moment (at least until we hit bottom), I won’t hesitate to direct you to the annual Berkshire Hathaway shareholders letter that just hit the web.  I strongly suggest you read Mr. Buffett’s commentary and carefully consider what he has to say.  You never know, your future prosperity might just depend upon it.  To the Shareholders of Berkshire Hathaway, Inc.:

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Feb 22 2009

Stanford on the Rocks

“As a company founded in the midst of the Great Depression – an environment of despair and negativity – we have a long-proven understanding of how even the most severe down cycles can bring opportunities that yield significant benefits in the long run.  This well-grounded approach when making investment decisions and giving investment advice will benefit our clients in these tumultuous times as never before.” – R. Allen Stanford, 2008


Long before the Madoff scandal could fade into history (and we still haven’t a clue how he pulled it all off for so long), it would appear there is yet another “brilliant” financier that lived like a king by scamming others.  Fortunately I didn’t give my money to either of these jokers – at least that I know about, but I probably could have been sucked in like so many others given the right set of circumstances.  I feel as though my posts of late read like a bad Hollywood movie blog but they capture real life events and hopefully they will help us all be better investors with a nose for a scam.


For those of you that don’t know anything about R. Allen Stanford, I suggest you take a look by following the link.  He is truly an interesting cat.  My first exposure to Mr. Stanford was back in 2004.  My wife and I found ourselves on the lovely Caribbean island of Antigua for vacation.  While walking around St. Johns, the largest town/city, I quickly noticed that Stanford Financial and the Bank of Antigua seemed to be quite prominent.  Just by happenstance, I picked up the local paper and there was an article that mentioned Mr. Stanford.  I recall it suggested that he had been accused of questionable practices involving investment and improper influence of local politicians.  I was rather intrigued and so when I returned to the States, I researched Mr. Stanford a bit and it became apparent that he was quite the player indeed.  In addition to his investment firm and the banks he operated, I was somewhat interested with his plans for development in the Caribbean so when we were planning a trip to Antigua again in 2006 I attempted to set up a meeting with Mr. Stanford.  At one point I thought I would get the chance to meet with him, but he ultimately blew me off and now I am quite confident this was actually a very good thing.


Upon our return to Antigua, it was quite obvious that Mr. Stanford had continued to expand his presence on the island.  He had built a new cricket field next to the airport and it seemed that Stanford was displayed everywhere.  It all seemed just a bit overdone – but very few would have known what was actually going on.  I thought at the time that possibly he was involved in some money laundering for wealthy South Americans – but on the surface he seemed to be doing some good things for Antigua so I forgot about it all once the vacation was over.


Fast forward to February 2009 and out of the blue it is reported on the news that R. Allen Stanford and two of his top executives are being sought in connection with some kind of Ponzi scheme involving high-yield CDs and the Bank of Antigua.  While I was floored at first, it didn’t take long for me to decide that I really wasn’t all that surprised.  As we all realize sooner or later, making money takes a lot of effort and Mr. Stanford made it look far too easy.  One of the best articles that gives more detail on the whole ordeal is Allen Stanford: The Antigua Triangle published February 22 in Times Online.


So it would appear that once again, some smuck and his possibly not-so-clueless employees have duped thousands of people out of huge sums of money.  Many thought they were protecting themselves from the tumultuous equity markets only to apparently lose everything so that Mr. Stanford could live the high life jetting around the globe, sponsoring cricket tournaments and yacht races, not to mention building opulent palaces and office buildings.  I just heard that of the roughly $8 billion that was supposedly deposited in his banks, the authorities are now only able to account for $250 million.  All I can say is that while it is doubtful I will ever experience the grand lifestyle that Mr. Stanford has enjoyed for so long – I wouldn’t trade places with him for all the money that evaporated in the banks of Antigua…

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Jan 31 2009

Banker Assigns Responsibility for Meltdown

“I sincerely believe that banking establishments are more dangerous than standing armies, and that the principles of spending money to be paid by posterity, under the name of funding, is but swindling futurity on a large scale.” – Thomas Jefferson


A friend of mine, who happens to run a local BB&T bank, sent me an interview of the recently retired Chairman of BB&T Corp, John A. Allison that was in American Banker – The Financial Services Daily.  I have read that Mr. Allison is a somewhat highly regarded bank executive and this might be debatable, but one thing is for sure – he is confident that he knows what caused the financial mess we are now living through.  I didn’t find this article online when I searched, so I thought readers would find some of what he said quite interesting.


Mr. Allison’s views on the root causes of the mess we’re now in:

“There are certainly individual financial institutions that have made some pretty serious errors.  But the root causes, however, are government policy, and I think there are four primary culprits in this regard: 1.  The Federal Reserve, which has, in my opinion, mismanaged the interest rates and monetary policy by driving rates down too low and raising them too high and that has distorted economic calculation.  2.  The existence of FDIC insurance, which has allowed people to raise money they couldn’t have in a true free market.  3. Housing in a broad context where the government tried to encourage above-market rate of homeownership under the theory that homeownership is always good.  Homeownership in general is good, but giving someone a home is not necessarily good, and particularly if they’re not able to pay for it…Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are the No. 1 villians because of their magnitude…They were the ones who created the subprime crisis.  4.  Finally, the Securities and Exchange Commission is largely to blame.  Fair-value accounting has certainly accelerated the problems.  If we had had it in the early 1990’s, we would have had an economic collapse.  It is a very poor accounting concept.  Personally, I would just get rid of it tomorrow.”


Mr. Allison’s comments on which banks will survive:

“Through a very non-market-driven process, you have potentially created an oligopoly in the banking business, with four to nine institutions depending on how you look at it…Look at Citigroup.  It failed twice last year and even more times during my career.  That’s not good, and it creates a challenge.  While there are some economies of scale, you can say it’s not obvious that having more than a trillion dollars in assets is a good thing.  BB&T can compete very effectively against these big banks, but they have a…fundamental, long-term, potential competitive funding advantage if they are basically perceived as being subsidized or protected by the government.  It’s artificial, and you can argue that it is adverse selection.  Citibank shouldn’t be here…”


Mr. Allison’s thoughts on redeeming qualities to the Tarp:

“Only in one context.  Tarp wasn’t necessary except that the government created a panic and they probably had to do something about it.  But they didn’t need to create the panic to begin with.”


Mr. Allison’s views on when we will know we have hit bottom and how much longer until things get better:

“I think the biggest indicator will be the stabilization of real estate prices.  It is amazing to me how little focus has been put on fixing these real estate markets.  Until you bottom real estate, you’re not going to fix the economy.  I think the market will bottom in less than 18 months, but it will take at least 18 months before we see a meaningful recovery.  I think BB&T will be very advantaged on the other side.  We have an operating model and a culture that can compete more effectively over the long term.”


DBP Disclaimer: Although I generally agree with Mr. Allison’s comments, I am not suggesting they are correct, nor do I have any reason to believe that his timetable for recovery is valid in specific terms.

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Jan 18 2009

The Curious Case of Bernard Madoff

Published by under Investing

“In any country where talent and virtue produce no advancement, money will be the national god.  Its inhabitants will either have to possess money or make others believe that they do.  Wealth will be the highest value, poverty the greatest vice.  Those who have money will display it in every imaginable way.  If their ostentation does not exceed their fortune, all will be well.  But if their ostentation does exceed their fortune they will ruin themselves.  In such a country, the greatest fortunes will vanish in the twinkling of an eye.” – Denis Diderot, 1774


I realize the whole Madoff scandal is old news by now, but even considering the startling stream of financial news of disappearing investment banks, gargantuan bailouts and record layoffs, I can’t quite get past what Madoff did and how he was able to get away with it for so long.


For me, the more I learn about Madoff’s reported tactics, the more terrified I am.  Not because I could lose money directly, but because someone who was respected and trusted by some of the most prominent people and organizations in the world would could pull off such a shocking crime.  He duped them all and now they must pick up the pieces.  So how many other Madoffs are out there taking advantage of people and institutions right now?  Hopefully not many more but I wouldn’t bet on it.


There are at least five questions I hope to learn the answers to as I continue to follow the unfolding story.  First, why would such an accomplished and respected man engage in such despicable tactics to begin with?  At least on the surface it would appear that Madoff started out on the right track.  He formed his own trading firm in 1960 and after struggling to compete with the big NYSE firms, he helped develop an electronic system to disseminate quotes and set his firm apart from competitors.  Eventually the technology he helped develop led to the formation of the NASDAQ electronic stock exchange.  Madoff went on to serve as the NASDAQ chairman of the board of directors.  Impressive if you ask me.


Second, did he really believe he would get away with it all when he started?  If he did, he clearly wasn’t terribly bright after all or he was delusional.  Third, how many other people were knowingly involved in this mass deception?  There is no way anyone can convince me that one man fooled and deceived hundreds and maybe thousands of people out of billions of dollars for over twenty years without help from others.  I expect quite a list of accomplices by the time this goes to trial.  Fourth, how in the world did the SEC fail to recognize what was actually going on?  It is common knowledge that outside analysts have been throwing flags for years – and yet nothing was uncovered (apparently).  And finally, was bribery and/or coercion involved in keeping the deception under wraps so the scheme could continue much longer than it would have otherwise?  It is certainly possible and maybe even likely considering what we now know.


If you can shed some light on this bizarre mystery then I certainly look forward to your comments and one more thing…think twice or maybe ten times before you invest your money anywhere these days.

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Dec 31 2008

2008 – The Economic/Financial Year in Review

“And ye, who have been met with Adversity’s blast, And been bow’d to the Earth by its fury; To Whom the twelve months, that have recently pass’d Were as harsh as a prejudiced jury – Still, fill to the Future! and join in our chime, The regrets of rememberence to cozen, And having obtained a New Trial of Time, Shout in hopes of a kindlier dozen.” – Thomas Hood


For me personally, and I suspect for countless others as well, 2008 was a year that will be hard to forget.  As with any period of time, there were good things that happened, but the widespread economic distress, a number of devastating world events and a particularly nasty U.S. presidential election leaves me grateful that 2008 is behind us.  I haven’t a clue what is just around the corner, but for the moment let’s all be hopeful that 2009 will be a better year.


Before we completely move on – I thought it would be fun to list a few events from each month…lest we forget completely.  So hold onto your seat!


January 2008 – 1.  Crude oil prices surge past $100/barrel on New York Mercantile Exchange; 2.  Gold reaches new record of $865.35/ounce; 3.  Dow Jones Industrial Average fluctuates around 12,000 with several significant drops upon news of probable recession.

 February 2008 – 1.  President Bush announces Federal Budget of $3.1 trillion and near-record deficit of $410 billion; 2.  U.S. Congress approves $168 billion Economic Stimulus Package; 3.  The Northern Rock Bank is formally nationalized by the British Government.

 March 2008 – 1.  A U.S. Dept. of Labor report shows that the U.S. economy lost 63,000 jobs in February; 2.  The price of Gold reaches $1,000/ounce for first time ever; 3.  U.S. investment bank Bear Stearns gets emergency funding from J.P. Morgan Chase with Federal Reserve Bank of New York backing.  Bear Stearns is ultimately purchased by J.P. Morgan Chase for $10/share.

April 2008 – 1.  EU announces investigation into bailout of Northern Rock Bank in United Kingdom; 2.  The World Bank announces a package of emergency measures to tackle the dramatic rise in basic food prices which has led to civil unrest in much of the developing world; 3.  The S&P/Case-Shiller Index of U.S. real estate pricing shows decline of 12.7% from February 2007 to February 2008 with 12 of 17 regions showing declines.

 May 2008 – 1.  U.S. Federal Reserve System auctions off over $24 billion in treasury securities to help relieve the subprime mortgage crisis; 2.  Crude oil futures contracts reach $120/barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange for the first time; 3.  The U.S. Fed reports that the industrial output of factories, mines and utilities fell by 0.7% in April in a broad-based decline led by motor vehicles.

 June 2008 – 1.  Bank of England says that new mortgage approvals in the U.K. in April were at record lows; 2.  Ireland’s ESRI says the country is in grip of a recession for the first time in 25 years; 3.  General Motors announces it will close pickup truck and SUV plants in Canada, U.S. and Mexico eliminating over 10,000 jobs.

 July 2008 – 1.  Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke assures U.S. House of Representatives Financial Services Committee that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are in “no danger of failing”; 2.  Zimbabwe introduces new 100-billion-dollar bank note as annual inflation rate hits 2.2 million %; 3.  Governor of California Arnold Schwartzenegger acts to end budget crisis by firing 22,000 state workers and cutting the pay of 200,000 more.

 August 2008 – 1.  United Kingdom home repossessions rise by 48%; 2.  Unemployment in U.S. rises to 5.7% which is highest rate in 4 years; 3.  New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo reaches a $7 billion settlement with Citigroup to buy back auction rate securities from about 40,000 clients.

 September 2008 – 1.  Despite growing unemployment and economic woes, Boeing machinists strike against Boeing over outsourcing, job security, pay and benefits; 2.  AIG seeks emergency $40 billion loan from the U.S. Federal Reserve; 3.  Bank of America negotiates to buy Merrill Lynch for $38.25 billion in stock; 4.  Lehman Brothers files for Chapter 11 bankruptcy after British Bank Barclays and Bank of America pull out of emergency buyout talks; 5.  Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley, the last two independent investment banks on Wall Street, become bank holding companies as a result of the subprime crisis.

 October 2008 – 1.  President Bush signs $700 billion bailout bill after it passes the House of Representatives; 2.  German Chancellor Angela Merkel announces that Germany will explicitly guarantee the deposits in banks held by its citizens; 3.  Dow Jones Industrial Average drops 800.06 points, its biggest intraday drop ever; 4.  Dow Jones Industrial Average falls to 8,579.19 points; 5.  Global markets fall steeply on fears of a major global recession; 6.  G7 finance ministers announce a plan to combat financial crisis by using “all available tools” to support key institutions and prevent their failure.

 November 2008 – 1.  Barack Obama is elected President of the United States of America and promises to do everything possible to stabilize the economy and bring greater prosperity to all Americans; 2.  U.S. Government announces second bailout of AIG Group for roughly $150 billion which is the single largest bailout of a private company in U.S. history; 3.  Crude oil futures close at $54.95/barrel; 4.  Citigroup announces it will cut 75,000 jobs by early 2009; 5.  IMF approves $2.1 billion rescue package for Iceland following its complete financial wipeout.

 December 2008 – 1.  U.S. Dept. of Labor reports non-farm payrolls contracted by 533,000 in November, worse since 1974; 2.  President Bush announces $17.4 emergency bailout of General Motors and Chrysler to protect each from bankruptcy; 3.  On the final day of the year, the Dow Jones Industrial average ends up 108 at 8,776.39.


Let us ring in the New Year with optimism and never in our lifetimes forget what created the Great Financial Tsunami of 2008.

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Dec 25 2008

‘Tis the Season

“What is Christmas?  It is tenderness for the past, courage for the present, hope for the future.  It is a fervent wish that every cup may overflow with blessings rich and eternal, and that every path may lead to peace.”  – Agnes M. Pharo


Probably like you I am feeling slightly more subdued this Christmas.  This is not to suggest that I am not hopeful or that I don’t have much to be grateful for.  I realize that I am far better off than much of humanity and I feel blessed to have a great family, my health, a home, a job, etc.  At the same time this has been a sobering year for most Americans – present company certainly included.  All I have to do is check the value of my stock portfolio and suddenly a wave of queasiness washes over me.  The financial tsunami that has reached nearly every corner of the world by now started here in the good ole U.S. of A.  Our collective greed and short-sighted foolishness has at least temporarily knocked us way below the lofty position we enjoyed for so long.  As a student of history I know we can come out of this in a better place and I firmly believe we will.  For now we must deal with our mess by remaining optimistic, working hard to truly add value in whatever we do for a living, and helping as many others as we possibly can.


What is my point in saying all this?  Well I just want to spread the news that we are all on this ride together – now probably more than ever in the history of mankind.  So on this one day in the year of our Lord 2008, I suggest you push all this mess aside and find a reason to think about the meaning of Christmas.  A baby was born in a manger over 2,000 years ago and he grew into a man that would change the world forever.  He wanted us to care for one another and be willing to forgive.  He also made it quite clear that it is far more important to give than to receive.


Merry Christmas.  Peace on Earth and good will to all men.  May this day be the beginning of a brighter future for us all.

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Nov 29 2008

All’s Well That Ends Well

“There is no royal road to anything.  One thing at a time, all things in succession.  That which grows fast withers as rapidly; that which grows slowly endures.”  – J.G. Holland


A friend and fellow CeFiMS alum recently made me aware of a Viewpoint published on BBC News by Sir Evelyn de Rothchild.  The perspective of Sir Evelyn is one that has formed from living an amazing life in a world that only the most accomplished and privileged ever experience first hand.  He has also been in the game long enough to qualify his observations and recommendations at this critical juncture.  I strongly suggest you read his Calls for Action and make special note of what he says about oversight, modern executives and the reality of our predicament.


It’s amazing to consider that thanks to the Internet we have easy and rapid access to information on just about everything – but so much of it is exaggerated or filtered rubbish.   In fact, it is nearly impossible to know what to believe much of the time.  I suspect that beginning with the earliest European corporations of the 17th Century, exagerations and inaccuracies have been used to raise capital and keep investors in the dark.  There have been countless laws enacted over the decades in every country to thwart the unscrupulous.  Recently, after the MCI-WorldCom and Enron scandals, the U.S. enacted the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002 to address accounting accuracy and transparency among other things.  Unfortunately it apparently didn’t adequately address valuations, leverage, credit derivatives, and age-old greed at any cost.  So needless to say, we still have a great deal of work to do.  If you are not a Wall Street insider and would like a flavor of what was actually going on before the crash, read The Autumn of the I-Banker from New York Magazine.  You will be shocked and stupefied!


Finally, I received a letter from Charles Widger, Chairman & CEO of Brinker Capital.  I don’t know if Mr. Widger knows what he is talking about (I hope he does because his firm has some of my hard-earned money), but he believes now is a good time to consider your options.  According to Mr. Widger, “Historically, the stock market bottoms about one year into a recession caused by financial panics and well ahead of economic recovery.  Assuming recessionary slow growth began in the fourth quarter of 2007, the U.S. stock market should begin recovering in the first half of 2009.”  Let us all hope and pray that past observations are relevant in this case.  Happy Thanksgiving!    

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Nov 24 2008

Never too late to make it right

“In their heyday, fund managers would go to ideas dinners at the best restaurants in New York and London and persuade one another to make the same investments.  Those excluded from the dinners would peer at the SEC filings of the smarter among them and copy their trades, eliminating the advantages the more intelligent investors had in the first place.” – Jesse Eisinger


Halleluiah!!!  The U.S. presidential election is over and whether or not you like the outcome at least maybe now we can get on with other pressing matters.  Let us hope and pray that our new president will be up to the task because there isn’t much that doesn’t need to be repaired!  When I first decided to start my own blog, my intention was to focus on financial and economic information that readers committed to prudent personal finance would find useful.  Unfortunately, recent developments have forced me to recognize that much of what we were taught or innately believed about the global financial markets and the economy in general was incomplete – at best.  In fact, even Alan Greenspan acknowledged under questioning that he was mistaken in believing that banks, operating in their own self-interest, would do what was necessary to protect their shareholders and institutions (see Greenspan Denies Blame for US Crisis, Admits Flaw).  So for the time being I will mostly limit my recommendations on how to invest.  It is certainly a good time to spend less than you bring in and build a significant cash position.  There are most definitely great investment opportunities out there, but it is still a better idea to have an adequate cushion and then to pay down any debt before you invest in such an unstable and uncertain environment.


Now for my soapbox.  We have all been a little too enamored with the financal wizards that make shiploads of money without producing anything of tangible value for many decades now.  I suppose this is largely because we believed the system was working for the most part and we were benefitting from it as our investments increased in value.  Now it is apparent that many of these same wizards actually contributed to the current crisis and now suddenly we don’t like them so much.


If we look at this situation from a sanguine perspective it could just be the the wake-up call we all needed.  Too many people around the globe have been caught up in taking whatever they could get regardless of the financial smoke and mirrors involved in getting it.  If you want to gamble, go to Las Vegas, but for those of us that wish to earn a decent living by providing a valuable product or service and then invest in other companies or enterprises that do the same in order to profit long term from the value being generated, we should be able to do this too.


I will gladly invest my money in worthwhile investments but the people I deal with and all that touch my hard-earned money for that matter need to understand the the meaning of fiduciary relationship.  They simply need to pick up a copy of Black’s Law Dictionary which defines a fiduciary relationship as, “one founded on trust or confidence reposed by one person in the integrity and fidelity of another.”  A fiduciary should feel the ultimate sense of responsibility for a client’s money – well above his or her own personal gain.  One final thought: W. Edwards Deming said, “Profit in business comes from repeat customers, customers that boast about your project or service, and that bring friends with them.”  We all need to consider this very carefully!

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Oct 30 2008

Get Back on the Horse!

Published by under Global Economy

“The kind of commitment I find among the best performers across virtually every field is a single-minded passion for what they do, an unwavering desire for excellence in the way they think and the way they work.  Genuine confidence is what launches you out of bed in the morning, and through your day with a spring in your step.” – Jim Collins


By this time next week, barring another election disaster like what we experienced in 2000, we will know who the next president of the U.S. will be.  Considering the constant flow of negative economic news over the last several months, I for one am optimistic that November 5 will mark the beginning of a new more positive tone.  I am not suggesting that suddenly everything will be wonderful again, only that possibly we will be allowed to begin our journey back to a more stable economic environment without being constantly reminded how bleak everything is.


I am convinced the best course for those of us not responsible for publishing the news is to buckle down and focus on what it is that we do for a living.  Admit it, most of us spend too much of our time fretting over things outside our sphere of influence.  Companies are struggling just to survive and our jobs are truly on the line – these are facts.  So consider it, accept it and then stick it on a shelf and get back to work on what it is you actually do to contribute to the bottom line.  It will get better – believe it!

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