Interview: Dr. Michael Cox, Chief Economist of the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas


Not long ago, I was asked to speak at a conference in Denver. Sharing the stage with me was Dr. Michael Cox, perhaps one of the most intriguing individuals I’ve ever had the pleasure of talking with. W. Michael Cox, Ph.D., is director of SMU’s O’Neil Center for Global Markets and Freedom, which studies the impact of competitive market forces on freedom and prosperity in the global economy.
Cox is former chief economist and senior vice-president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas, where he served for 25 years advising the President on monetary and other economic policies. He is the author of numerous op-ed articles for The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, USA Today, Financial Times, and Investor’s Business Daily, and his work has appeared in virtually every major newspaper and magazine worldwide. He is the author of Myths of Rich and Poor: Why We’re Better Off Than We Think.

Dr. Cox spoke at length about the ramifications of the weak recovery and what it might portend for the future for investors, retirees, and those approaching retirement. One of his primary concerns is exemplified by the labor participation rate. “Obamacare is reducing participation in the labor market because it has dramatically raised costs for employers.” Cox is certainly not a fan of Obamacare, and feels that is has been a “significant job-killer, which is creating a drag on Gross Domestic Product (GDP).” According to Cox this is creating a drag on growth across the board.

Unfortunately, I met with Dr. Cox before the recent admission by MIT economist Jonathan Gruber. The guy who has been dubbed the “Obamacare architect”, and who stated that it was “the stupidity of the American voter” which made it important for him, and Democrats, to hide Obamacare’s true costs from the public. “That was really, really critical for the thing to pass,” Gruber said. It would have been interesting to have heard Dr. Cox’s take on that particular revelation.

Dr. Cox also said he is keeping a weather eye on interest rates. “Rising rates have historically impacted both the stock and bond markets deleteriously”. He
said further, that “following a 1% rise in rates you have historically seen a collective -10.5% drop in stock prices. It also has a negative impact on bonds for obvious reasons”. However, he feels that the FED should be raising rates to induce the banks to lend again. “Right now banks are sitting on huge amounts of excess reserves. They are getting paid to hold onto these funds, as opposed to being paid to lend the funds in essence. The FED is keeping the rates artificially low. This is pure Keynesian monetary policy and it’s never worked anywhere in the world. Japan tried this, and it’s debt to GDP is 228%, and the USA is right behind”

Final Edit: Dr. Michael Cox

Dr. Cox feels that “Nothing about our current economic policy is about incentives. We have the highest corporate tax rates in the world, and we’ve never had a higher percentage of takers vs. givers in American history.”

I asked Dr. Cox about what actions he thought people could take to benefit from this environment. He listed several strategies including:

Understand the potential for lower returns in fixed income securites. Know that there is potential to build your assets in any market environment or economy.
Reduce taxes (which he feels are sure to rise) by pursuing tax-deferred and other tax advantaged vehicles.

If investing in real estate consider looking at states that are growing like Texas, North Carolina, Georgia, Florida, Arizona, South Carolina and Tennessee. Please consult with a real estate professional for advice.

Securities offered through LPL Financial Member FINRA/SIPC. Investment advice offered through Oak Point Financial Group, a registered investment advisor. Oak Point Financial group and My Retirement Mentor are separate entities from LPL Financial.

The economic forecasts set forth may not develop as predicted and there can be no guarantee that strategies promoted will be successful.

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. All performance referenced in historical and is no guarantee of future results.

Bonds are subject to market and interest rate risks if sold prior in maturity. Bond values will decline as interest rates rise and bonds are subject to availability and change in price.

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Book Review: While America Aged

Ralph Nader coined the phrase ‘unsafe at any speed’ in his scathing indictment of the Corvair. If he had written a book about the General Motors business model of the time, he might have called it ‘Unsustainable at Any Speed’. The Ron Lowenstein’s book “While America Aged’, in my view, is one of those rare gems that not only explains a controversial subject in a terrific storytelling format, and in my opinion, it also happens to hWHile America Aged Imageave the weight of being prescient and accurate.

I first read this book back in 2008, and it made an incredible impact on my thinking in how I viewed the trajectory of our nation at the time. In conjunction with other personal research, I made significant changes in my client’s portfolios, and my own personal financial life, that turned out to be extremely valuable.

Growing up in the birthplace of General Motors, and living nestled between the automotive enclaves of Flint and Detroit as I do now, the fate of the auto industry has always been a top-of- mind issue for me, as it impacts my life daily. In fact, 100 years of my family story has involved General Motors. Dating back to my Great-Grandfather John Pyne, who worked at the original Buick Motor Division and GM plant, under founder Billy Durant, and Buick leader ,Walter Chrysler, through my grandfathers, grandmothers, dad, and even my mom, who worked for a firm whose #1 client was GM.

Lowenstein’s book isn’t all, or even mostly about the auto industry. Rather, it is broken into three parts, exploring the impact of legacy costs on the public and
private sectors. It’s a chilling tale of greed, selfishness, and outright stupidity that has, and will likely continue to impact all Americans for generations to come. It’s a book that predicts, in 2007, events that were to happen all to soon in 2009, and prognosticating the realities of over-promising and under-delivering on pension and health care legacies. These are issues that are now becoming frequent headlines as it becomes clear that the foolish and short-sighted decisions of the past predicted to likely undermine the innocent recipients of that legacy in the future.

There really isn’t one villain in this story, and even fewer heroes. Rather, as Lee Iacocca said in a Chrysler boardroom during the 80’s Chrysler bailout, blame lays on “the three of us”, meaning corporations, unions, and government. In my opinion, the book very clearly explains this in an extraordinarily balanced and fair manner. It essentially confirms my own beliefs as to how we got into this mess, and it goes a long way to explaining what it will likely take to extract ourselves going forward.

Lowenstein reinforces the reality that when it comes to retirement in the 21st century, there is simply no substitute for self-sufficiency, holistic retirement income, and financial planning. Hoping for bailouts, government intervention, and paternalistic unions and corporations to come to the rescue just might be a bigger fantasy story than the latest Star Wars installment. One sure take-away from “While America Aged” is that taking control of your own financial future has never been smarter, more urgent, or more crucial in pursuit of a sustainable and prosperous retirement.

While America Aged Book Review

Written by Gary L. Fisher

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

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The Wisdom of the Late Randy Pausch: His Key Points to Achieving Your Childhood Dreams

randy-pausch-last-lectureWhat does it really take to make you’re your dreams reality? What would it take to make the next year your best year? For Professor Randy Pausch, a 47-year-old computer science professor at Carnegie Mellon, this became more than just a philosophical question. He was given three to six months to live by his doctors, and prior to his death from pancreatic cancer in 2008, he delivered a seminal keynote speech. He called his lecture “Really Achieving Your Childhood Dreams.” In it he recalled his childhood aspirations and how he achieved them. It’s incredibly riveting to see Pausch reflect on life—and face death—with no regrets.

In the talk, he makes the case that his mentality might not only help lead you to success, but actually might help you achieve peace as well. Like Lou Gehrig’s famous ‘Luckiest Man Alive’ farewell speech—to which Pausch’s speech has been compared—Pausch’s lecture offers crucial wisdom that the rest of us ought to consider when creating our own plan for our businesses, careers, and our retirement and financial plans.

Here are some of Pausch’s key points:

Set concrete goals. The key to living your dreams, Pausch says, is to actively zero in on very specific goals. The ‘why’ of a goal is often the piece that gets you moving when you truly identify it. The critical first step is to write the ‘whys’ down and incorporate them as the foundation of your planning.

Dream Big. The dreams we have as kids never really go away, Pausch contended, “they just get buried under all of the adult stuff.” Think back to when you were younger. What gave you joy? Did you stop doing it? Why? Are there things you would do if you could? Why aren’t you doing them? What are you waiting for? The time will never be ‘right’. All we have is right now and in the end that’s all we really need. What would you do if you could?

Take care of yourself. Realized goals are the golden eggs, but you are the golden goose! It’s not enough to look like a success; you need to feel like one too. And to feel like one, you need to take care of yourself, both physically and financially. During his presentation Pausch demonstrated one-handed push-ups, proving how a lifelong fitness regimen had kept him strong despite relentless cancer treatments, and a dire diagnosis.

Equally important is your financial health. What are you doing to fine tune your body and mind? What are you doing to prepare for retirement? Don’t wait for a negative event to kick-

start a healthier lifestyle, or a proactive financial approach to your money. In my experience, few things will ever give you the level of peace of mind that you will feel once you know you are taking care of your health and your wealth. And you can take that to the bank (and the gym too)!

Build some fun into your plan. After his terminal diagnosis, Pausch went with his son to swim with dolphins, trick-or-treated with his family while dressed as Mr. Incredible, and otherwise packed all the quality time in that he could. He even found the time to update his web page with his adventures. “I’m dying and I’m having fun and I’m going to keep having fun every day I have left because there’s no other way to play it,” Pausch said. It’s important to put fun into your plan. You can’t put off being happy. So try to combine business with as much pleasure as you can.

Enable others to dream. You owe it to yourself to realize your dreams, said Pausch, but “it’s even more fun” to help others achieve theirs—whether those others are your clients, your friends, your colleagues, or your own kids.

Obstacles are utilitarian. As difficult as challenges are when they happen, hitting roadblocks is a universal experience. “The brick walls are there for a reason, not to keep us out but to give us a chance to show how bad we want something,” Pausch said. “They are there to stop people who don’t want it badly enough.” In preparing your personal and financial game plan, you need to decide what you want, and more critically, how bad you want it. What are you willing to give up to get what you want? Will you persist even if support is minimal? Pausch makes the point that “experience is what you get when you don’t get what you want.” As for me personally, I’ve learned more about my self by failing than I ever did by winning. I’ll bet the same is true for you, too. Few things are more valuable or rare than real, genuine experience.

It is the beginning of a new year, a prime opportunity to achieve some of the goals you may want to reach, and you have a simple method!: Play it S.M.A.R.T.!

Written by:

Gary L. Fisher, MSA, LUTCF, CLTC, CFE

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

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Interview: Art Laffer, President Reagan’s Chief Economic Advisor

I had the opportunity to spend some time in Las Vegas with one of the giants of the economics field, Dr. Art Laffer. Initially I expected to maybe ask Dr. Laffer a few quick questions but after learning that I was a University of Michigan graduLaffer_Arthurate he took the opportunity to razz me about Ohio State’s recent dominance of my alma mater’s football team (Laffer is an Ohio native). This led to a much longer conversation, and during it we talked about President Obama’s agenda, the similarities between Laffer’s hometown of Youngstown, Ohio and mine of Flint, Michigan.

Laffer feels strongly that the nation’s tax policy is both part of the problem and fixing it could be a significant step towards a real recovery. Dr. Laffer said “The principle of levying the lowest possible tax rate on the broadest possible tax base is the way to improve the incentives to work, save and produce—which are necessary to reinvigorate the American economy and cope with the nation’s fiscal problems.” When I asked him how we could take concrete steps to repair the national economy he said “We know how to fix it, by the way, a low rate flat tax, spending restraint, sound money, free trade.”
“Have you ever heard of a poor man spending himself into prosperity? It`s just dumb on the outset. Government spending, as [economist] Milton Friedman always said, is taxation,” he continued. “Government doesn`t create resources, it redistributes resources. And this government spending stuff is why we had the great recession.”


Art Laffer with President Reagan.

Laffer declined to lay all the blame on President Barack Obama, noting that former President George W. Bush started the spending binge, which he said led to the so-called “great recession” beginning in 2008. (President George W. Bush) did just as bad a job as did Obama [President Barack Obama], but Obama has continued that bad job for four straight years. And this is the result,” he added.

Laffer stressed the importance of a low tax policy, one less onerous, in helping to stimulate the econo- my while increasing government revenues at the same time.

Recalling his years as one of President Reagan’s top economic advisers, Laffer said Reagan actually cut the highest tax rates. He said “we made a mistake” by phasing in the cuts, which he said caused the 1981-82 recession. But he said the economy took off in 1983 when the cuts went into full effect.

“This place just went like a rocket ship,” he said. “I think we had 7.5 percent growth in 1983 and 5.5 growth in 1984, just this boom that lasted for years and years.”

“We have the highest corporate tax rates in the world and one of the lowest corporate tax revenues as a share of GDP in the world. Go figure. It’s just you`re taxing them out of business.”

Laffer said the economy last year grew by about 2.1 percent, a poor performance that he described as “the worst single recovery in the history of the U.S.”

When I asked Dr. Laffer about the pros- pects for turning around rust belt cities like Flint, Detroit, and his own hometown of Youngstown he said , “It’s amazing, isn`t it? We spent $5.8 trillion in the last couple of years, and this is what we get for it? It’s tragic.”

Arthur B. Laffer’s economic acumen and influence in triggering a world-wide tax-cutting movement in the 1980s have earned him the distinction in many publications as “The Father of Supply-Side Economics.” The Laffer Curve is one of the main theoretical constructs of supply-side economics, illustrating the tradeoff between tax rates and actual tax revenues.

Dr. Laffer was a member of President Reagan’s Economic Policy Advisory Board for both of his two terms (1981-1989). He was a member of the Executive Committee of the Reagan/ Bush Finance Committee in 1984 and was a founding member of the Reagan Executive Advisory Committee for the presidential race of 1980. He also advised Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher on fiscal policy in the U.K. during the 1980s.

A 1999 Time Magazine cover sto- ry “The Century’s Greatest Minds” deemed the Laffer Curve one of “a few advances that powered this extraordinary century.”

–Gary L. Fisher, MSA, LUTCF, CLTC, CFEd

The opinions voiced in this material are for gen- eral info only and are not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual.

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Book Review: The New Geography of Jobs

New Geography

I found this book by accident…doing some kind of a Google search it popped up somehow. I was immediately sucked in because the book uses my hometown of Flint, Michigan as a foil for places like Seattle, Silicon Valley, and Austin, Texas. As you can probably guess Flint doesn’t come out well.

As the nation struggles mightily with unemployment and jobs creation, few are talking about the real causes of this upheaval. The books author Enrico Moretti is one of the few who, I think, has actually diagnosed the problem correctly. He says, “It wasn’t supposed to be this way. As the global economy shifted from manufacturing to innovation, geography was supposed to matter less. But the pundits were wrong. A new map is being drawn – the inevitable result of deep-seated but rarely discussed economic forces.”

The book explores why places like San Jose, Austin, and Seattle have continued to add jobs and employers, while plac- es like Flint, Detroit, and Seattle have largely gone to seed. He examines why a city 45 minutes from Flint-Ann Arbor- has had success in attracting employers, where Flint has not. However, this is not a book about Flint…or Michigan…or politics. Rather it’s an exploration of the root causes of what makes a city, state, or re- gion economically viable, and ultimately financially successful.

Morettti is an economist, researcher, and Professor of Economics at the University of California at Berkley. He provides a fact-based answer to the question of why certain cities attract top employers, pay top wages, and continue to innovate and create new jobs and opportunities. The book does an excellent job in providing the answers to those, and other important questions.

The reality is that there are opportunities in small pockets all over the country, but primarily in areas Moretti calls ‘Innovation Hubs’. These areas are where excellent jobs and pay are at for almost everybody, from scientists, engineers, programmers and researchers, to doctors, mechanics, carpenters, plumbers, attorneys, and yes, even for Financial Advisors!

The innovation hub is driven by a phenomenon Moretti calls the multiplier effect. He estimates that for every innovation job that is added, another five jobs are added in the local service economy. He notes also, that innovation jobs have double the multiplier effect that manufacturing jobs do. What’s more, because innovation jobs are typically much higher paying, the service jobs pay more, too.

For denizens of Michgan we shouldn’t be too shocked at this revelation because it used to be us. A quick look at a Polk Directory from the early 20th century finds men like General Motors founder Billy Durant, General Motors Chairman and philanthropist extraordinaire Charles Stewart Mott, Albert Champion (A.C. Sparkplugs), David Buick, Louis Chvrolet, and Walter Chrysler all living within walk- ing distance of one another. This proximity drove innovation in ways that rewrote the economic face of America. The same thing happened more than half a century later in a place that came to be known as Silicon Valley, and again in Seattle when Bill Gates and Paul Allen moved their fledgling company called Microsoft, from New Mexico to their hometown. Steven Jobs and Steve Wozniak benefitted just as mightily from this multiplier effect, as did Starbucks founder, Howard Schultz, and Durant (and Henry Ford in Detroit) before them.

Moretti points out the startling fact that Flint has not increased it’s percentage of college graduates one single percentage point since 1980, and commensurately a college graduate in Genesee County can expect to earn less than a high school graduate in Austin, Texas or Silicone Valley!

Moretti puts it into perspective: “Compare Boston..with Flint…both have a proud industrial past, but their econo- mies are now at the opposite ends of the spectrum. Boston, with four times the number of college graduates is heavily dependent on innovation and finance. Flint with one of the smallest concentrations of human capital is still focused on manufacturing, primarily cars. A college graduate in Boston makes on average $75,173, or 75% more than the salary of a similar worker in Flint.

Moretti stresses the economic disparity: “Possibly the most remarkable fact is that high school graduates (of the top cities) often make more than the college graduates of the bottom cities. The average worker with a high school education living in Boston makes $62, 423, or 44% more than a college graduate in Flint. A high school graduate in San Jose earns an average of $68,009. This underscores the fact that wage disparities in the United States have as much to do with geography as they do social class.”

His book is in many ways a blue print to revitalizing the Rust Belt, and creating opportunity where things are stifled. I think his work is critical from a financial planning perspective, as well. When it comes to planning your career, helping your kids or grandkids plan theirs, or re-engineering your career knowing where to build your business and career can matter as much as what you do.

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Ol’ Black Betty

Old Black Betty

One of the biggest mistakes people make with their money is getting on the “new car” treadmill. Buying and leasing not withstanding, it can be a real budget buster. However, there is a limit to frugality. At some point the old car just outlives it’s usefulness..doesn’t it? Well, I for one, have been informed by my better half, Tracy, that maybe time isn’t as urgent as it seems. In fact, my buddy Jim has taken this frugality to an extreme with over 400,000 miles on his Chevy truck! This makes the nearly 200,000 we have on our own ‘Black Betty’, my wife’s ’98 Chevy Tahoe, make her seem like a mere teenager. But it wasn’t really the 400k that made me realize we needed to keep Betty in action, and it wasn’t even the obvious financial benefit. No, it was this little love letter to keeping old things in action, and the value of an old friend that really put me over the top.

Me n’ Old Black Betty been together nigh on 14 years. Starting to show her age a little, with rust on the back end, cold air blowing instead of hot, torn up seats. A lot of her parts have been replaced. 173,000+ miles on the old girl. My old Tahoe. Today I had to get up early for a meeting in downtown Flint. Got a few inches of snow last night, and the wind was still whipping. Not much plowed, and what was had already started covering again. As I was getting ready to leave, Gary said, “Are you sure you should go out in the truck?” I looked at him with a steely eye, “Are you kidding? This is what Black Betty exists for.” Then, I requested he put together a mixed CD of ‘70’s-ish music, good guitar riffs, heavy base, thick drums. I walked out into a gust which hit so hard it unwrapped the scarf from my neck and I barely caught it by the fringe before it sailed away. Betty had been warming up, snow piled up high around her. Nestling my hot coffee in the holder, I slipped the CD into the slot, kicked her into four wheel, and backed down the driveway. Lido Shuffle popped on. Not bad, Gary. I plowed through the snow-covered street, heading toward the expressway. As I turned onto the ramp, that first riff of Steve Miller’s Jet Airliner started and I cranked up the speakers. You know what I’m sayin’. I pulled past one of them lil’ ol’ KIA’s, making sure she got a good look at my faded bumper sticker from 9/11 that only says one word, now: “American”. Ain’t that right. Black Betty got a little excited, decided she wanted to fly in the left lane. The lane that still had that thick, layer of messy gray snow. Boston’s Peace of Mind. I seriously cranked the stereo. Evened up next to another heavy bottomed Tahoe. We fist pumped. Yes, we did. Panels of snow were flying off the roofs of other cars, smashing Betty’s front end. Cars in the ditch. Betty hit 65 mph. Not even a flinch.

When I returned home, Betty and me, we did a few 360’s in the cul-de-sac to “Rock and Roll”. Led Zeplin, you know. Betty was practically bouncing on her big fat tires, she was in such a good mood.

First thing I said to Gary when I walked in was, “Betty kicked some ass. She’s not goin’ anywhere.”

“That’s what I thought you’d say,” he answered. You see, Gary’s been itchin’ for a new car. Not my favorite of his ideas.

Nope. I’m keepin’ my gas-guzzling, American-assembled, Big Fat Girl with her loud stereo, nicks, and dings. And her Giant. Powerful. Engine. Booyah.

written by Tracy L. Fisher, Marketing Associate

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The Man Who Invented the Future

durantWhen I was a freshman in college, I was given the assignment to write about the most famous person from my hometown. I etched out a profile of a man, who, ultimately, really didn’t fit the bill.  In fact, he wasn’t famous—at least not any longer—and certainly not in 1983, when I was writing my essay.  In truth he hadn’t been famous for a very long time.  Indeed, he has been largely forgotten, even in his own hometown of Flint, Michigan.

However, to me he was famous. Or, at least he should have been famous, by all normal laws of fame and glory. This particular individual had had a massive impact on my life, and on the lives of millions of people around the world.  Yet, few knew his name.  He was a super salesman—maybe the best that ever lived.  He was a marketer extraordinaire, perhaps the most prolific in industrial history.  He was a genius with organizational development, a master talent scout, and most of all, he was a brilliant alchemist, turning wood and steel into dollars and cents, and neighborhoods, and roads, and largely creating the 21st century in a myriad of ways.

He was responsible in full, or in part, for inventing, developing, or creating from whole cloth: Buick, Chevrolet, Frigidaire, GMAC, GMC , Pontiac, Cadillac , DELCO, AC Spark Plug, and other companies too numerous to name. He mentored Charles Stewart Mott, Walter Chrysler, Charles Nash, Charles Kettering, Albert Champion, David Buick, Louis Chevrolet, among many others.
This man, known in fact as “THE MAN” in his day, envisioned a world that was largely science fiction back then.  Iconic industrialist J.P. Morgan called him an ‘unstable visionary’, others called him ‘crazy’, but all who knew him well, eventually called him a genius.

“The Man” was William C. “Billy” Durant. The most famous man no one has ever heard of.  In fairness, many more today have heard of him than in 1983.  My Freshman Comp teacher responded to my essay with a ‘Billy Who?’ notation, when I told him of my planned work.

How he wound up so anonymous is an enduring mystery, as his achievements are prolific.  Durant was the first to use vertical integration in manufacturing, invented North America’s first franchise dealer network for automobile sales, and built the world’s largest sales team in recorded history.  Moreover, (and contrary to popular belief), he was the first to use the assembly line for mass production in his carriage business (Henry Ford’s hired consultants put the assembly line into motion first in Ford plants).

According to the legendary management guru, Peter Drucker, the company Billy Durant crafted out of thin air, General Motors, imposed a productivity might that was the primary reason that the allies were able to crush both Hitler, and Hirohito.  The union movement, white collar management, automobile sales, and the plethora of automobile-related engineering and design careers—their histories and growth are linked to his entrepreneurial machine (Durant referred to GM always as ‘his baby’).  General Motors was created with a deft blend of labor, management, bureaucracy and entrepreneurialism,  and in many ways, helped to sculpt the vaunted American middle class.

His creations fueled the American Century, transforming our lives in ways we scarcely appreciate today.  He was strong enough to stare down J.P. Morgan (the actual man, not just the company), and Henry Ford, provide guidance to Pierre DuPont, counsel President Hoover about how to avoid a Great Depression (Hoover didn’t listen), rub shoulders with kings and queens, princes and presidents, while still being humble enough to play checkers with elevator operators.

He saw things that didn’t exist and brought them into reality.  He once told an interviewer during a time when horses and buggies were still being used:

“Most of us will live to see this whole country covered with a network of motor highways built from point to point as the bird flies, the hills cut down, the dales bridged over, the obstacles removed. Highway intersections will be built over or under the through lanes and the present dangers of motor travel, one after another will be eliminated. “

He was loved by his workers (labor strife was rare in his plants), his colleagues, and his friends (thousands of which he made wealthy beyond their wildest dreams). Despite his mercurial and sometimes self –focused behavior, no one doubted that he ultimately had their best interests at heart in the end. And so he did, having been ousted not once, but twice, from the helm at GM by a cabal of bankers and backstabbers.  He went bankrupt  during the Great Depression trying to guarantee investments made in his companies, and while legions of his friends were rich,  he died broke.

In the end, despite his massive economic set backs, he had new goals and new dreams, and in his 80’s was planning a chain of bowling alleys, thinking that families would flock to them (he was right), and years before Ray Kroc got the smart idea to team with a couple of brothers named McDonald, Billy envisioned a chain of fast food restaurants with ‘good food served fast through a window” to accommodate the legions of automobile shoppers he had helped to create. When asked by his wife Catherine why he couldn’t ‘just rest’, he replied “We are not given enough time, Mama.”

His spirit can be embodied in his own words, words of advice given to others in the face of difficult circumstances. It’s sage counsel for anyone chasing a dream, building a business, or trying to save a city.

“My advice to you and all others is to keep working…Forget mistakes. Forget failures. Forget everything except what you’re trying to do now-and do it. “ 

** Gary is a volunteer tour guide at Billy’s original offices. Give us a call if you’d like to arrange a tour for yourself or a group.

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Finding Your Beach: The Journey Starts with That Important First Step


‘Find Your Beach’ is a metaphor that I use liberally to define both the journey and the destination to what we call ‘retirement’. It’s not about stopping your life and remaining in stasis. Rather, it’s about transitioning your life from one state of mind and being, to another. It’s about new beginnings, not endings. It’s about new challenges, not the ending of all challenges. It’s about conquering new goals, exploring new frontiers, and seeking adventure and fulfillment.

The destination can be an actual beach, or whatever you picture yourself doing in retirement, whether it’s spending all of your time with your grandchildren, fishing off a dock in Northern Michigan, or seeing the world. So the first step is setting a goal: getting clear about what you want to achieve. Most important of all is knowing about why you want it. Then you need a path that is designed to lead you there.

Think about it: No ship sets sail without a plotted course, no jet takes off without filing a flight plan, no football team takes the field without a game plan, and no family or business should contemplate a successful journey without some sort of focused, holistic, and comprehensive strategy. My role is to help people create such a plan and then help guide them through the realization of that plan, year after year, until you find YOUR beach. I approach all of my client relationships with the idea that we are in it together…and we’re in it for the long haul.

People can be confused, intimidated, or even annoyed by trying to figure out just what exactly it means to work with a Financial Advisor and address such a broad topic as ‘your financial life’. After all…it sounds like a big job…and it is, but that shouldn’t scare you. In fact, I hope it inspires you! Conceptually, it’s pretty easy to visualize, and in the end, the results can be orders of magnitude more valuable than the effort and energy that went in to it’s creation.

Creating a road map for your financial game plan can be one of the most exciting, and empowering things you’ll ever do. Some of our clients say it provides them with a sense of accomplishment second to none. It’s no wonder…how would you feel if you no longer were alone in planning for your retirement, long term care, or managing your investments on a day-to-day basis?

The process starts with a simple and complimentary consultation where we determine if

you need help, if we should work together, and if so, at which level of service. Then, we start plotting your course. At subsequent meetings, we formally implement your plan, and thereafter, we meet to review and make course corrections as needed.

It’s simple, and it’s easy to get started. Ancient wisdom says that ‘the journey of a thousand miles starts with but a single step’. When you, or someone you care about are ready to take that first step I’ll be ready to lend a hand.

If you are ready to take that important first step, please give me a call! 810.603.9100

Written by:
Gary L. Fisher, MSA, LUTCF, CLTC, CFE

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

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