How Long Will Interest Rates Stay Low?

Recent news coverage has implied that the Federal Reserve has made an ironclad commitment to low interest rates through the end of 2014.  As Brian Wesbury explains in this recent commentary, the Fed’s commitment to low rates may not be as firm as you think.  Have you considered (or discussed with your advisor) how rising interest rates might impact your portfolio or your financial plan?

Monday Morning Outlook

Fed Forecasts Depend on Data To view this article, Click Here
Brian S. Wesbury – Chief Economist
Robert Stein, CFA – Senior Economist
Date: 1/30/2012

The Federal Reserve is doing everything in its power to hold down long-term interest rates because it thinks that doing so will help lift economic growth. In addition to quantitative easing I & II, the Fed is buying long-term Treasury bonds and also promising to hold short-term interest rates low for an extended period.

Since long-term interest rates are just a series of short-term yields strung together, promising to hold short-term rates down can influence long-term interest rates. The Fed thinks that this will help lift housing and the economy and push down unemployment.

Last summer, the Fed promised to hold rates down through mid-2013. Headlines from last week suggest that the Fed now thinks 2014. But, how committed is the Fed to this strategy? What will it take to change course? Some analysts argue that this is an ironclad commitment and there will be no course changes.

We believe this is a misreading of the Fed’s intentions. There are 19 potential economic views that are important at the Federal Reserve – 7 are on the Board of Governors and 12 are Presidents of regional banks. Right now, two Governorships are un-filled, which means there are 17 forecasters (12 Regional Bank Presidents and 5 Governors). Of these, six expect a rate hike before the end of 2013. Of the 11 who think rates will end 2013 where they are today, five expect a rate hike before the end of 2014. In other words there is more disagreement at the Fed than meets the eye.

In his press conference after the release of these forecasts, Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke said that if the economic data proves the Fed either too optimistic or too pessimistic, it would most likely change its forecast and alter policy expectations.

In other words, faster growth, lower unemployment, and higher inflation – like we anticipate – would move up the start of rate hikes before late 2014, possibly even before mid-2013.

Within the Fed’s new and more transparent communication of its economic beliefs there are some very important pieces of data. While members forecast their near-term expectations for growth, inflation and interest rates, they also put figures on what they deem to be the long-term, steady-state, equilibrium world.

Every single one of the 17 forecasts put the long-run forecast of an appropriate (equilibrium) federal funds rate at or above 3.75%. This is not a surprise. Fed forecasters judge the equilibrium growth rate for long-run nominal GDP to be 4.3% to 4.6% – about 2% inflation and 2.3% to 2.6% real GDP.

We look at these two long-run forecasts as consistent with our models which use nominal GDP growth as a target rate for the federal funds rate. The only problem is that nominal GDP grew 3.7% in 2011 and 4.2% at an annual rate over the past two years. In other words, the current economy is already very close to the Fed’s long-run forecast. This means that the federal funds rate is currently too low. A zero percent rate with growth already near 4% makes no sense from a monetary policy perspective. The funds rate should be much higher if the goal is keeping inflation stable.

But the Fed is convinced that it can keep rates below its long-run levels without risk of inflation because the economy has unused potential (high unemployment and unused capacity). The Fed thinks the housing market needs zero percent interest rates to heal and to grow again.

We think this is a mistake. For example, a zero percent interest rate may not even be low enough to boost housing, but the same zero percent rate is already too low for manufacturing or farming or commodities.   In the 1970s, when the Fed unwisely attempted to bring unemployment back down to levels it thought were sustainable, the US experienced its worst inflation ever. We side with those members of the Fed who want rates up sooner rather than later. However, the Fed is a democratic organization and right now those hawkish members are outnumbered by the ones who think the economy can be manipulated.

As a result, look for growth and inflation to continue heading higher. This is a short-term positive for stocks and the economy, but it comes with a long-term downside. It’s called inflation.

This information contains forward-looking statements about various economic trends and strategies. You are cautioned that such forward-looking statements are subject to significant business, economic and competitive uncertainties and actual results could be materially different. There are no guarantees associated with any forecast and the opinions stated here are subject to change at any time and are the opinion of the individual strategist. Data comes from the following sources: Census Bureau, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Bureau of Economic Analysis, the Federal Reserve Board, and Haver Analytics. Data is taken from sources generally believed to be reliable but no guarantee is given to its accuracy.

The opinions voiced in this commentary are for general information only, and are not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations.  This material was prepared by Brian Wesbury and Robert Stein of First Trust Advisors, L.P.

The Incredibly Scary Cost of Creeping Bureaucracy and Regulatory Uncertainty

Sounds like the title for a geeky horror movie, doesn’t it?  Unfortunately, this isn’t fiction.

As I write this on the first day of February in 2012, I know what the withholding rate will be on my payroll taxes for about 4 more weeks.  It’s a minor issue for me, since the tax comes out of the employee side of the paycheck anyway.  But I’m certain will be a real pain in the neck for my payroll company.  Hopefully the politicians can reach consensus on a longer term solution before the press turns it into another three ring circus.

According to an article from Forbes (found here, dozens of tax credits along with other tax breaks expired at the stroke of midnight this past New Year’s.  Some experts think Congress will act to reinstate many of these credits, others do not.   When planning for myself and my clients, I know what the current income tax and capital gains rates are, but I have no idea how long they will last.  The same can be said for the estate tax, or what some folks refer to as the “death tax”.  The future of these taxes seems to depend upon upcoming elections.

In a recent casual internet search I discovered that the US Tax Code has become so long and so complex that the “experts” can’t even agree how big it is!  It is said the Federal Tax Code is longer than the Bible, the Koran, and the Torah combined-enough to offend everyone but atheists and the agnostics. (No-I haven’t had a chance to fact-check this. You’re welcome to try.)

That’s just taxes.  As a business owner in my particular industry, I also have to follow regulations, rules, and guidelines put forth by an alphabet soup of agencies including the SEC, DOL (ERISA law), DHS, CFTC, and the Department of the Treasury.  Now, those are just the ones I can remember off the top of my head!

If I ran a business that made physical things, I would also need to keep up with constant updates from the EPA, and comply with safety rules put forth by OSHA.  If I were shipping those goods, I would need to consult with the DOT.  And if I had union employees, I would be reading headlines about the recent case with a major airplane manufacturer, wondering what would happen if I ended up afoul with the NLRB.

It’s enough to make my head hurt….really bad.  This is just the stuff a businessperson faces on the Federal level.  I’ll have to talk about state and municipal regulations in a separate post, once I muster up the time and energy.

When a businessperson is considering a new venture, or even hiring one or a few new employees, there is risk and uncertainty.  The businessperson tries to figure out if that decision will lead to profits in the future.  If you run a small business, like mine, you might consult with your lawyer or your CPA, perhaps put together a spreadsheet or two, and eventually decide whether or not take the leap of faith.  Bigger businesses have more resources to help them make the decision.  But, it all comes down to the same question-“Can I make money on this?”

In my humble opinion and first-hand experience, “rules from the man” have become a significant factor in the cost portion of this profitability calculation over the last decade or so.

“But wait, there’s more!”, in the words of the famous infomercial.  It’s not just the number of rules or the complexity that inhibits economic growth, but also the fact that they are constantly changing.  This creates greater perceived risk.  The greater the uncertainty in future profitability, the greater the potential return a business owner will demand before taking the risk.  Think about it in terms of your own portfolio-if you were considering an investment and you felt that it was somewhat risky, wouldn’t you also expect greater potential profits before taking the leap?    Now, ponder this in light of my comments above about the increasing complexity of rules, and how they seem to be constantly changing.

If you have been unemployed, underemployed, or struggling to grow your business, this huge morass of red tape in Washington, D.C. could be part of the problem.  If you have a chance to talk to your elected representative, you might want to ask them about this.

If you’ve been reading this carefully, you might guess that I’m not a big fan of the current administration, and you could be right.  But this is a problem that is bigger than the current occupant of the White House, and there are plenty of elephants and donkeys who have been acting more like members of the “horse’s behind” party in the last few years.  We need to elect representatives who understand that their actions have profound consequences.

As always, happy to hear your feedback (positive or negative) via email, or on twitter via @jpgriffard.




Joe Griffard, CFP®


The opinions voiced in this material are for general information only and are not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual.

What’s in YOUR closet?

As Yogi Berra once famously said, “You can observe a lot just by watching.”  Last week, I spotted this Tweet from local sports blogger Matt Sebek:

@MattSebek Matt Sebek

MLB authentic PUJOLS jerseys at Sports Authority: $29.47. Marked down from $199.99. —

Pujols Cardinal Jersey Markdown

An 85% drop in value, nearly overnight?  People say that the stock market has been tough sledding in recent years!  I doubt we will see many Pujol’s jerseys at future Cardinal’s games.

I realize that Matt’s “thing” is sports, and his Tweet was a commentary regarding Albert Pujol’s recent departure from the Cardinals, not personal finances.  But his post also got me thinking:  How many “Pujols jerseys” do I have hanging in my “closet”?

Not literally, mind you, but figuratively:  How often have I spent money on things that provided immediate pleasure but little or no future value?  How might my current financial picture be different if only I had redirected a small portion of that cash flow into items that held their value, or even GREW in value, especially when I was younger?

Don’t get me wrong-life is all about balance.  Financial security isn’t much good if you are miserable. Sometimes you need to grab a few friends and go out for a great dinner, or catch a ball game, or play a few holes of golf.  The memories and the relationships are priceless, and laughter is good for the soul!

Still, I can’t help but wonder if -for many of us-the pendulum has swung too far towards “happiness now”.  It’s easy for this to happen, as we are all influenced by the world around us.  As a CFP® professional, I think it is essential that I not only “talk the talk”, but also follow my own advice.   I’m going to make some time this week to scour my personal budget for “Pujols jerseys” that can be eliminated, and put the extra money to better uses.

What’s hiding in your “closet”?  How do you strike a balance between “happiness now”, and financial security?  Share your thoughts with me on Twitter at @jpgriffard, or via email .  I look forward to hearing from you!

Joe Griffard, CFP®

(Acknowledgement to Matt Sebek for inspiring this post, and thanks Matt for letting me use your Tweet.  Matt is a pretty witty fellow;  you can follow him on Twitter at @MattSebek, and you can see more information here:  )

The opinions voiced in this material are for general information only, and are not intended to provide specific recommendations or advice for any individual.  To determine which investment(s) may be appropriate for you, consult your financial advisor prior to investing. 

Matt Sebek has no affiliation with LPL Financial nor does LPL Financial endorse the views/opinions expressed by this invididual.

Wesbury 101: Victories for the Private Sector

Wesbury 101: Victories for the Private Sector.  Click below to watch an informative video from Brian Wesbury at First Trust.

“LPL Financial, First Trust, and J.P. Griffard & Associates, Inc. are not affiliated entities.”

Wordle Your Website for SEO Insights

As I said in my introductory post, it’s my intent to keep most of my blog posts original, and regarding financial planning and the markets.  But I’ve reserved the right to share other things that strike me as just plain interesting.  My web guru made the “wordle” below that displays the most important keywords on my website.  Ken’s description of the “Wordle” is below.  You can see Ken’s “Wordle” and original post here:

Wordle of website

Ever wonder what content really is on your website?  When you create a lot of content, it’s easy to forget what’s on your site, and which words you use.

Here’s a great and fun way to see what words you use on your website.  And a pretty easy way to get a snapshot of your keywords for search engines.

Simply go to Wordle and create a new “Wordle” for your website.  What is a Wordle?  A Wordle is ” tag cloud (word cloud, or weighted list in visual design) is a visual representation for text data, typically used to depict keyword metadata (tags) on websites, or to visualize free form text” (source Wikipedia).

So here’s how you do it:

  1. Go to
  2. Enter the URL of any blog, blog feed, or any other web page that has an Atom or RSS feed.
  3. Edit your Wordle – you can remove words, change fonts, colors and layout.
  4. If you want to save it for the public, then click Save to Public Gallery
  5. To save your as a picture Wordle see below

Wordle create screen

So, did your Wordle show you the words you expected to see?  How do those words line up with your search engine optimization (SEO) strategy? Did the keywords you expected to see show up as prominently as you expected?

Let me know your results by posting your Wordle as a comment!

If your wesbite is missing an RSS feed, then you are missing an opportunity to improve your SEO.  You can still create a Wordle though by pasting words into the Wordle create screen.

Can you use your Wordle? Yep – it’s yours to use.  You can put it on t-shirts, business cards, brochures, book covers that you are writing… Just keep in mind that if you save it to the public gallery you can’t control how it’s used by others.

So how do you save your Wordle as a png or jpeg?  You’ll either have to take a screen snapshot and edit the picture to crop it (Picasa is a great easy choice for cropping), or you can use the Snipping Tool if you use Windows 7.

How are you planning on using your Wordle?


This material was originally created by Ken Tucker of Changescapeweb , and was re-posted with his permission.

Don’t Fret the Foreign Stuff

According to Brian Wesbury-Chief Economist at First Trust Advisors-the economic outlook may not be as gloomy as most people think….

Monday Morning Outlook

Don’t Fret the Foreign Stuff To view this article, Click Here
Brian S. Wesbury – Chief Economist
Robert Stein, CFA – Senior Economist
Date: 11/14/2011

Guess what? Japan’s real GDP grew at a 6% annual rate in the third quarter, a sharp snapback from the downturn following that awful earthquake and tsunami. Much of the rebound was auto-related, as manufacturers overcame problems with electricity and the supply-chain.

While the swings in Japan are more dramatic, US economic data shows the same pattern. Real GDP accelerated in the US to a 2.5% annual growth rate in Q3. If we exclude the large drag from an inventory slowdown, real final sales grew 3.6%.

Like clockwork, however, the conventional wisdom drops the last negative thing that didn’t work out and moves onto the next. Now…it’s European problems (or maybe Chinese) that will take the US economy down.

Look, we aren’t crazy…slower global growth makes things tougher all around. And if a Lehman-style financial panic happens in Europe, the US economy would not be immune. But the US is more than able to withstand a growth slowdown in China and a mild recession in Europe.

Let’s look at trade. The US does lots of trade with China, but imports of goods are roughly four times exports, and exports are just 0.7% of GDP. Exports to the European Union countries are 1.7% of GDP. If both of these collapsed to zero in the next year (an insane assumption), real GDP (which is trending at a 2.5% rate) in the US would still rise by about 0.1%. In other words, the US economy is not threatened in any dramatic way by problems abroad.

In addition, Boeing just received its largest order ever ($18 billion) from Emirates Airline. Problems and uncertainty in Europe will probably help some US companies win orders over European competitors.

Meanwhile, absent a financial panic – which is looking increasingly unlikely – fears about an unusually long or deep recession in Europe are overblown.

What the most fragile economies in Europe need most of all is some “tough economic love” and it looks like they are about to get it. This medicine already seems to have worked in Ireland, where, after tough budget cuts, the economy grew at a 6.5% annual rate in Q2 (the latest data available) even as the Eurozone as a whole grew at a 0.8% rate.

The new governments forming in Greece and Italy know their mission isn’t just getting their countries’ fiscal houses in order. If they fail, there is a risk of these nations slipping into chaos. And the only way to accomplish their goals is to reduce government spending to manageable levels.

When the new governments announce their policy moves, look for fireworks and riots. Also look for some analysts who claim austerity means even more pain. For some in Europe, this is no doubt true.

But, for many others, government austerity will be a reason to fire their creative juices, to work harder, smarter, and better. In the end, more freedom and more responsibility will mean more prosperity.

This information contains forward-looking statements about various economic trends and strategies. You are cautioned that such forward-looking statements are subject to significant business, economic and competitive uncertainties and actual results could be materially different. There are no guarantees associated with any forecast and the opinions stated here are subject to change at any time and are the opinion of the individual strategist. Data comes from the following sources: Census Bureau, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Bureau of Economic Analysis, the Federal Reserve Board, and Haver Analytics. Data is taken from sources generally believed to be reliable but no guarantee is given to its accuracy.

This material was created by First Trust Advisors, L.P., and reflects the current opinion of the authors.  It is based upon sources and data believed to be accurate and reliable.  Opinions and forward looking statements expressed are subject to change without notice.  The information does not constitute a solicitation or an offer to buy or sell any security.

Some things in life are “certain”…

It’s funny how things happen. It‘s been on my mind lately that I need to produce more material for my blog, but whenever I sit down to write I end up being interrupted by more pressing matters. It just seems like something ALWAYS comes up…I have all these great ideas in my head and in my journal, but they never get translated to a fully-formed thought.

Just a few minutes ago, I went downstairs to buy a cup of coffee. As I stood there waiting in line, there was a woman at one of the tables talking to her friend. The look of frustration on her face was…palpable. She looked like she was about to burst into tears. I heard her say to her friend: “After Dad died, I tried to get Mom to go see my lawyer. She kept putting it off, telling me that Dad had just passed and she wasn’t ready to deal with this stuff. I tried to explain to her that she needed to get her will updated, and we should talk to the attorney about things like power of attorney and stuff for medical needs. Now she’s in the hospital and can’t make any decisions, and I can’t do anything either. I have to wait for a doctor to sign some forms, and then I have to go see a judge. It just sucks, and I’m completely stressed out….

As the old saying goes, the only two things in life that are certain are “death” and “taxes”, and these are issues I discuss with clients all the time. People are happy to hear about ways that they might be able to reduce their taxes, but not so eager to talk when I ask about their estate plan.*

Really, I get it. We’re all human, and we don’t like to confront our own mortality, much less plan for it. I can’t eat like I used to any longer, I can’t run as fast, and last year I had to buy my first pair of reading glasses. I wish that I could freeze my “physical self” in my mid-20’s condition but allow my brain to continue to acquire wisdom and experience, but we all know that’s not going to happen.

Some of us are going to live long and happy lives and do all sorts of really cool things. Others are going to die too soon, or get sick and need help. You can count on it. This brief encounter has only renewed my determination to keep asking clients the tough questions, and to get my own affairs in order. You would feel the same if you saw the look on this woman’s face….

Somberly yours,

Joe Griffard, CFP®

*Keep in mind that we don’t give tax advice or write legal documents, but we can work with your tax professional to help reduce the tax impact of your investments and with your attorney to facilitate the creation of an estate plan.

Is the Stock Market Reality?

iStock_000017122997XSmallLast week, my friend Karl (name changed to protect the innocent) dropped by for an impromptu visit. While we see each other nearly every other week in passing, both of us have been pretty busy lately, so it was nice to have a few minutes to catch up one on one.

We ended up talking about the wild fluctuations that have occurred in the stock market lately, and how the market had been especially weak in late summer. Karl remarked that earlier in the year he had a bad feeling about the market, and had moved all of his 401k account balance into money market funds. Considering that the major indexes were a good bit lower, he was feeling pretty good about the decision and I could certainly understand why. I was pretty thankful that I had become defensive in many client accounts too.

I asked Karl when he planned to move out of cash, and he said “Well, I’m not sure. When I look at the news, I don’t see much reason to risk my money in the stock market.” Well, I couldn’t blame him. When I had scanned the newspaper that morning, I read stories about a debt crisis in Europe, a high unemployment rate here in the US, and protests in New York city…just to hit a few highlights. Eek. Hardly news items that inspire one to risk money in stocks, right?

But here’s the “big thought” I shared with Karl, and that you might find useful not only now, but in the future. It’s a simple truism that is often overlooked: Most people assume that the market is a true and accurate measure of current reality. It’s not. It’s more like a mirror held up that reflects back how all of us, large and small investors combined, feel about the future. If people are feeling cheerful about what they read in the paper, see on Facebook, or discuss with their friends over coffee, they are going to be more likely to take risk and put money in stocks. More buyers translates to higher prices, all things being equal. Conversely, when people are feeling blue, they are more likely to hunker down, to vote with their feet and put their money in safer assets. The law of supply and demand is not subject to repeal.

If you feel bad about the economy and world events, you are probably not alone, and that sentiment is quite likely “reflected” in market prices. If you wait until the news looks better, you will probably pay more for a “risk asset”. On the other hand, if the headlines on your favorite website are talking about how AWESOME the market is, or if everyone at the barber shop, beauty parlor, or cocktail party is talking about how a particular stock or market sector is a “can’t miss proposition”, you should think carefully about putting your hard earned dollars at risk. If all the news about a particular stock or market sector is good, what new piece of information would cause it to move even higher?

I’ll never claim to have all of the answers…if I did I wouldn’t work for a living. But, I’ve learned a few things from my years in the trenches. So, as I often say to my good friends, “I’m just sayin….”

I hope this was useful not only to Karl, but others who are also reading. Stay tuned for more posts soon.

Yours Truly,
Joe Griffard, CFP®

The opinions voiced in this material are for general information only and are not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual. To determine which investment(s) may be appropriate for you, consult your financial advisor prior to investing.

Something to be Thankful For


I plan on most of the content for this blog to be original material produced by myself or a few guest bloggers, but sometimes I come across an article that is so well-written I think it should be shared free of my editorial fingerprints.  The Thanksgiving week commentary below from Brian Wesbury, Chief Economist at First Trust Portfolios is one such example.

I’ve followed Brian’s work for a long time and consider him to be one of the brightest minds in the industry.  In this article, he offers his perspective on the amazing events of the last few years, and the reasons for his optimistic outlook regarding our economy, an outlook which I share.

If you have any questions about how current events might affect your portfolio or your financial plan, or if you want a second opinion on a portfolio you hold at another firm, you’re always welcome to contact me via phone or email.  Enjoy the article, and best wishes for a happy and joyous holiday season!

Something to be Thankful For
Brian S. Wesbury – Chief Economist
Robert Stein, CFA – Senior Economist
Date: 11/22/2010

We lost track a long time ago of how many times the Financial Panic of 2008 was called the “worst crisis” of the modern era. Politicians (in a rare moment of true bipartisanship!), pundits, economists, and investors all called it “the worst.” Stocks plummeted and President Bush gave a primetime speech in which he suggested we were on the brink of another Great Depression. Firms with household names collapsed overnight.

Unemployment spiked and GDP dropped faster than at any time in decades. Monetary velocity plummeted and deflation became a very real threat. It was a Panic – like we haven’t seen in more than 100 years.

And in a panic, people are willing to believe almost anything. Forecasters and analysts who had been (wrongly) predicting recession for years all of a sudden became infallible soothsayers. The press hung on their every word and their pronouncements of long-term doom and gloom were considered unarguable.

The “smartest guys in the room” and the enabling press, thought that the US economy would languish for years. The recession, they argued, would last at least through the end of 2009 and perhaps well into 2010. And once the recovery started the best we could anticipate was growth in the 1.5% to 2% range for many years to come.

As it turned out, the recession ended in mid-2009 and the economy has clearly outperformed those dire forecasts. Nominal consumption has already hit an all-time high. Real GDP has expanded for five straight quarters and will rise to a record level in the next few months. Meanwhile, private-sector jobs have grown for ten consecutive months, with a respectable 159,000 gain in October. The American economy has once again surprised the “doubting Thomases” with its resilience.

This is not the first time. The recession after Hurricane Katrina – that was forecast by the same famous soothsayers of 2008 – never materialized. More amazing was the growth after 9/11. The economy was in an official recession on that day, but started its recovery in November.

Certainly things are not perfect. Unemployment is still high and uncertainty is prevalent. And politicians are using economic weakness to argue for what they want. Republicans want tax cuts, while many Democrats (like Paul Krugman and Joseph Stiglitz) want more spending. This has created a “vacuum of political optimism” which is damaging to economic confidence.

Nonetheless, individual Americans and their companies remain resilient and are still moving forward. A certain large online retailer has created an app to scan prices at retail stores and compare to online prices. Brick and mortar retailers may not like this, but transparency and competition always helps consumers.

And as long as this process of invention and entrepreneurship is alive and well, the economy is in good hands. This is what politicians should be focused on – how to strengthen property rights, contracts and the rule of law. Staying out of the way is, and always has been, the fastest and surest way to prosperity. So, when you sit down to eat the bounty of our efforts on Thanksgiving Day, remember the resilience of this amazing country. But more importantly, remember where it comes from.

This information contains forward-looking statements about various economic trends and strategies. You are cautioned that such forward-looking statements are subject to significant business, economic and competitive uncertainties and actual results could be materially different. There are no guarantees associated with any forecast and the opinions stated here are subject to change at any time and are the opinion of the individual strategist. Data comes from the following sources: Census Bureau, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Bureau of Economic Analysis, the Federal Reserve Board, and Haver Analytics. Data is taken from sources generally believed to be reliable but no guarantee is given to its accuracy.

Welcome to the newly redesigned!

This newly revamped website is the result of many hours of brainstorming and collaboration with my new friends Ken Tucker and Anne Petter of Changescape Web.  I can’t thank them enough for their guidance, and I hope you like the results.  According to Ken, my new website looks much more “Web 2.0”.  To my untrained eye, it just looks nicer!  We will be working constantly on making this website more “content rich” so that you can access the information you need, but not overloaded with extra stuff you don’t.  I’m happy to hear your feedback on our work in progress.


In addition to the new look, the other big change to this website is the blog that you’re reading right now.  It took some convincing on Ken’s part to get me to do this, and I was also encouraged by the example of one of my entrepreneurial heros, Ralph “Pfoodman” Pfremmer.  Because I run a properly licensed firm in the financial advice business, I face a few more constraints than the “average Joe” on the interweb.  Unlike some of the dreck you may  find as you randomly surf for information about financial matters, everything I write is reviewed and vetted by my broker/dealer to assure that all statements and assertions are reasonable and appropriate.  This is a standard industry practice we follow for the protection of you, the investor.  Unfortunately, those of you who are experienced in the blogosphere may notice that this also means I can’t give you the ability to comment on my blog.  But, if you are really fired up about something I write, you can always fire off an email.


It wasn’t the administrative issues that were holding me back, though; it was a hint of self-doubt.  I think this gremlin lurks within all of us if we are truly honest with ourselves.  Writing a blog with original content can’t help but mean that the writer of the blog is also going to reveal some aspects of their thinking, their values, and all the other characteristics that make up their “inner self”.  For example, some of you who may not know me(yet) are already drawing conclusions about me merely by observing how I express myself in words.  Ultimately, I was concerned with whether or not I could come up with things to write about that people would actually want to read.  I discussed this concern with a few close friends, and they unanimously informed me that I’m rarely found to be at a loss for words.


Seriously, though, after nearly two decades spent helping people make better decisions about their money, I think I probably have a few interesting thoughts and anecdotes(names withheld to protect the innocent) to share.  I plan on primarily sticking to topics regarding personal financial planning, investing, and the markets in general.  I also have a few guest bloggers waiting in the wings who are experienced on other related matters.  If there is a topic you would like me to address, feel free to let me know!  Finally, since this is MY blog, I’ll also reserve the right to occasionally share something off the reservation that I find to be especially important, interesting, or just darn funny.  Now and then I might even be brave(or crazy) enough to grab the proverbial “third rail” and share my thoughts about some of the silly things coming out of Washington, D.C. these days.


Most of all, it’s my hope that my posts in coming months will help you make some sense of the many cross currents you see in the financial world today, or maybe help you think in a different way about the financial decisions you make.  Thanks for visiting, and check back with us in coming days and weeks for updates.  Feel free to share a link to this blog with your friends if you think they will find it interesting!




Joe Griffard, CFP®


Changescape Web and Ralph Pfremmer are not affiliated with or endorsed by LPL Financial or JP Griffard & Associates.