2014 Annual “Forecast”

Greetings!

Welcome to the 2014 Annual “Forecast” edition of Views from the Crows Nest. One of the many challenges with publishing a document that is intended to cover a one year period is that so much can change in a year.

Another challenge is choosing a theme, especially now when my creative faculties are wide open to receiving wisdom from countless sources. It’s not always this easy, so I’m deeply grateful when I am blessed with an almost embarrassing abundance of ideas, opportunities and new connections.

The most obvious challenge, though, is getting the actual forecasts themselves accurate enough to actually be useful and helpful to readers. The reality is that high-quality forecasts and advice are only as useful as they are timely, so forecasts that are too broad can actually be counter-productive.

In last year’s Annual Forecast, I described a personal shift away from day to day market action, choosing instead to take a broader view of markets. This shift was a manifestation of a very conscious personal decision to let go of perfectionism as a means of achieving much more important big-picture goals.

This led to literally life-changing insights in the wake of an early-spring near-death and long-distance health crisis within our diverse blended family. Life has a way of bringing forward new obstacles even as we challenge our fears and self-limiting beliefs.

Even things like my personal pet-peeve of being on schedule have been challenged recently. I publicly stated that this newsletter would be published prior to welcoming 2014, but several unplanned and time-sensitive family priorities arose. Shift happens. While it’s more than a little annoying to be faced with one major challenge after another, each obstacle reveals new learning that far exceeds the challenge.

In the spirit noted immediately above, the events that delayed this publication also provided additional opportunities to shape the clay that has been dropped in my lap over the last few weeks. So from my deep personal frustration of being late, the great gift of heightened clarity has emerged, and the clutter has faded (thanks RW!). Life is wonderful and mysterious when we go with the flow, isn’t it?

So, as we all shift in response to life challenges, it seems utterly obvious that this missive’s theme must be about YOU THE READER who has invested the time to consume the buffet that I now spread before you…after a rambling appetizer, no less!

This edition is about YOU because you are the only one who can ever decide anything for yourself. You are the person who chooses to save or spend, to take a break or work harder, to engage meaningfully with your family or to hide in avoidance behaviours, to integrate the wisdom of others or refuse to change your opinions, to trust or remain in fear.

You are the person who creates exactly what you have and will experience in the past, present and future. If you are reading this, you’ve likely already accepted personal responsibility for your financial independence. Congratulations for getting this far!

You might also be looking for answers to the big investment questions about the future. While I have some very clear ideas on what I believe will happen over the next year in investment markets, that’s NOT where my strengths lie, so that’s not how I will best add value to your life…integration and application of universal wisdom is my core strength – it’s what brings me “flow.”

What matters most in investment management is the real-time decisions made by each person who carries the responsibility of managing money for anyone. So, the questions below are for every reader, whether they manage portfolios for clients or for themselves and their family only.

Buckle up for this exciting journey down the rabbit hole of embracing and leveraging your strengths…and facing, feeling and releasing your greatest fears. I promise that there are abundant rewards at the end of this journey, though the rewards may be different than you anticipate. The less you resist, the easier this will be, and the greater the learning. It has taken me a long time to learn the foregoing.

To ease the pain of self-exploration, I will use questions designed to pierce several layers and rapidly arrive at the problems to be solved. Some questions may not apply to you, but those which elicit the strongest reaction – especially denial of the question’s relevance to you – are likely the arrows that have hit closest to your own greatest fears.

If it hurts, it can and should be healed. I ask only those questions which I can help you answer; to do otherwise would be cruel. I’ve experienced or repeatedly witnessed the themes of every question, so I personally understand the suffering from memory, not theory.

There are no wrong answers, no passing or failing grade, no comparison with classmates, colleagues or family…this is about you, and especially what you do with the wisdom discovered within yourself.

Ready, set, grow!

1)     What are you really great at? Make a list of 3-5 activities that you are exceptionally skilled at.
2)     What do you love most to do? Make a list of 3-5 activities that are so enjoyable they can cause you to lose track of time, and do NOT cause fatigue.
3)     What are the 3-5 activities that help you to build your wealth (in ALL its forms), to reduce your stress, to spark you to evolve personally and to improve your relationships with yourself and others?
4)     What are the common themes among your answers to these first three questions?
5)     What are the biggest frustrations, stresses and practical problems you experience on a recurring basis?
6)     What are the biggest frustrations, stresses and practical problems that you cause for the most important people in your world? Yes, you need to ask them, and then listen without defending yourself, so they know you really want to know. They also need to be given time to think about their answers. Prepare to feel the joyful pain of being vulnerable…vulnerability is the birthplace of creativity, innovation and self-actualization so dive head-long into this darkness!
7)     Are you willing to make some changes in order to focus most of your time and energy on the answers to 4) above?
8)     What are your personal obstacles to making these changes?
9)     How often do you experience frustration by not feeling appreciated for the good things that you do for others?
10)  What is stopping you from stepping forward and allowing others to see you confidently doing what you love, and loving what you do?
11)  When you daydream, do your thoughts wander to what could go wrong, or to what could go well?
12)  Do you dismiss the ideas of others if they contradict your own views or understanding of how things work?
13)  How comfortable are you with uncertainty and mystery?
14)  Are you willing to accept that the probability of reaching your financial (or other) goals is directly related to the depth of your belief in your ability to achieve them?
15)  Are you willing to accept the “radical possibility” that the depth of your belief in your ability to achieve anything is directly related to your core beliefs around your worthiness to achieve your goals?
16)  How open are you to sharing the abundance you have created?
17)  How open are you to learning about new and different ways of sharing your abundance with others?
18)  How open are you to the possibility that being different than the mainstream (disruptor, contrarian, etc) is actually helpful to society at large?
19)  Are you willing to consider the possibility that the popular way of trying to solve a particular problem is not the most effective way of solving the problem…and in fact may help perpetuate the problem itself?
20)  How open are you to allowing trustworthy people to help you solve the problems that are you blocking you from living into your fullest potential?

What you choose to do with these questions and the answers is up to you, just like everything else. Free will is sooooo awesome!

At the beginning of this exciting new year of change, I wish each of you the gifts of vulnerability, self understanding and mostly self acceptance. Happy 2014, everyone!

Patience, Discipline and Love help you manifest wealth, health and happiness, so focus on these.

Cheers,

Andrew H. Ruhland, CFP, CIM
President, Integrated Wealth Management, AND
Enthusiastic Professional Disruptor

Views from the Crows Nest: December 2013 Issue

Welcome to this edition of Views from the Crowsnest. It’s been many months since I sat down to peck out my newsletter. We’ve been busy with important AND time-sensitive matters, as our Client Families always come first. It’s good to be back.

My wife and I love to watch comedy as we relax before bed, and one of my favorite stand-up routines from the Montreal Comedy Festival is a rant from a humorist whose character is a bombastic pub owner from GREAT BRITAIN! In answer to the question about why Brits and Canadians don’t have their own dream, like our neighbours with “The American Dream,” he answers quite poignantly, “It’s because we’re awake.”

The Renaissance Era in western civilization took place following many centuries of tight control of the scientific, creative and philosophical communities by the Catholic Church. The severity of this centralized control was a significant factor in the scope and force of the eventual bursting of the shackles…not unlike compressing a spring that cannot be permanently constrained.
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Views from the Crows Nest: July 2013 Issue

Welcome to the July edition of Views from the Crows Nest.

Calgary summers are short, and so this edition will be, too.

Too much of almost anything is bad for us, including essential elements of a healthy lifestyle. Food, drink, sunshine, and exercise in moderation are excellent, but in excess they can be destructive.

The same holds true of information consumption. In respect of our investment portfolio, the mainstream financial industry would have us believe that more information is always better. The typical hooks that broader media use include: conflict (very polarized market opinions), celebrity (what the richest and famous Wall Street types are saying), fear of missing out on gains (greed), and fear of losing capital (this is the big hot-button).

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Views from the Crows Nest: June 2013 Issue

Welcome to the June edition of Views from the Crows Nest.

There are certain times – like now – when investment markets appear to be in a state of “suspended animation.” And it’s extreme times like these when the disconnection of markets from common sense, logic and rational valuation puts our Patience and Discipline to the test in an almost overwhelming way. Rest assured, a major tipping point is coming soon, perhaps even before the next edition of this newsletter.

Since the equity markets hit their crisis bottom in early March 2009, many investors have been waiting for the second half of the global debt hurricane to hit. This bias, based on then-recent experience, makes it difficult for many to ride an uptrend with patience…after having been burned significantly by market declines that mainstream “experts” said were simply not possible. It’s also incredibly difficult to forget the emotional and financial pain caused by the 2008-9 financial crises.

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Views from the Crows Nest: May 2013 Issue

Welcome to the May 2013 Views from the Crowsnest.

The great gold trader Jessie Livermore is credited with saying “The biggest profits are in your patience.” This wisdom rings true whether you are still invested in US equities which continue to rise seemingly incessantly, or you are waiting to play the downside in equity markets.

And if you’ve already exited most or all of the equity positions in your portfolio, you may find yourself feeling rather impatient while waiting for the current market euphoria to end. Patience, indeed.

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Views from the Crows Nest: April 2013 Issue

The interval since my last Views from the Crows Nest

has been longer than usual. When one is faced with a family member in a health crisis, financial markets don’t graciously pause while we deal with these priorities. Thus we still need to attend to markets with a calm focus, which left no time for writing.

After a surreal and determined rise in the face of ever-growing fundamental risks, broad U.S. equity markets appear to be nearing the end of seasonal strength. Defensive measures will be taken for any current stock-based positions once the markets confirm the upward trend has been broken. In the meantime, there may be some more upside left to capture. Market tension is high but that doesn’t  preclude a continued rise of prices for a week or two. Eventually we’ll get to that tipping point when bad news begins to get priced in again.

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Views from the Crows Nest: February 2013 Issue

“Mass Media Mimics Mass Mania”

Since our January edition of Views from the Crows Nest, equity markets continued their slow grind higher for almost two weeks. In the last two weeks we’ve finally begun to see signs of a short-term market top. One of the most reliable signs of an inflection point was delivered yet again by the mainstream media.

On Saturday February 2nd, uber-accurate gold market timer Mark Leibovit spoke at the World Outlook Financial Conference and remarked about a powerful headline in that day’s business section of the Globe & Mail. In reference to the equity market rally, they declared “The End of Fear.” We know from experience that “The Herd is always wrong at the extremes, but creates the trend in between.”

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Views from the Crows Nest: January 2013 Issue

Welcome to the January 2013 issue of Views from the Crows Nest.

Well, the folks in Washington D.C. certainly did another number on investment markets with a slightly- later-than-eleventh-hour “fiscal cliff fluff deal” that does nothing to address a life-threatening spending addiction by the US federal government. And now we get to listen to endless yammering about raising the debt ceiling.

Over the next six weeks this debate will escalate, with the predictable grandstanding, digging in of heels, standing on principle, then caving in at the last minute to prevent both a shutdown of the US Federal Government and any kind of default on outstanding US debt obligations. It will likely become the primary hot button topic for everyone, cause a significant rise in market anxiety and serve as a wonderful distraction from everything else that is happening. In a democracy, a nation gets the government it deserves.

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Views from the Crows Nest: 2013 Annual Forecast

Welcome to the 2013 Annual Forecast Issue of Views from the Crowsnest. Over the last six weeks we’ve been hunkered down in quiet contemplation of what 2013 may bring. The world continues to edge closer to the second major downturn in what I believe is The Second Great Depression.

Final editing of this edition is happening on December 30th, before the “fiscal cliff” negotiations have been resolved…so we could start 2013 with a bang, though we’re not certain where the gun is pointed! It’s better to be out of the markets and wishing you were in, than to be in and wishing you were out of the markets…so we’ve been rather conservatively positioned for over a week now.

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Views from the Crows Nest: 2012 Annual Forecast

Welcome to the December 2011 edition of Views from the Crows Nest, which doubles as our 2012 Annual Forecast issue. Your author took an unplanned break from publishing for November. The bottom line is that we were so busy with client meetings across western Canada and ongoing market research that there simply wasn’t time available.

Our 2011 Annual Forecast created quite a stir, with many readers remarking that your author’s view of the world seemed unrealistically dark and pessimistic. Unfortunately, the majority of the risks we identified either contributed directly to extreme market volatility, or have at least continued to worsen on the periphery. There are two kinds of people in the world: people with too much class to say “I told you so,” and people like me. That being said, there is negligible pleasure in being correct about negative situations.

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