Greg Skidmore

How a Greenwich CT firm became 100% Mac.

How Steve Job changed a Greenwich CT firm.When Belpointe Asset Management launched I went out and bought 6 PCs. I'd always used Macs but unfortunately in 2007 the financial world was 100% PC.

At the time my staff had only used PCs and so I assumed the need to support them on PCs would be minimal. Boy was I wrong.

Normal usage resulted in six months of fighting corrupted files, viruses, unreliable network connections and the worst computing environment imaginable. Having come from Macs and never experiencing this before I was slowly going insane.

Keeping six PCs up and running on Windows XP was a full time job. I did not have this time. There was no way I could manage money and raise assets if I had to act as a full time CTO.

It was 2 am and I was surrounded by four down PCs when I snapped. Within fifteen minutes I spent just over $6,000 ordering a bunch of Macs. The next morning I got reamed by my business partner, but it was worth it.

The arrival of the Macs immediately saved me twenty hours a week in IT support. The Macs just worked and this meant I could get back to growing my company.

Thanks Steve. - Greg

This is the nature of stock investing.

Days like yesterday happen for a reason, however equity investors must be ready to accept short-term uncertainty in order to capture long-term performance. Like all investors I hate watching my assets decline, but I have learned to accept it is a part of the process.The fundamental reason why investors receive a return when investing is that they take on risk. There are many ways to reduce risk, but this also reduces returns. This is the nature of investing. For example fixed income assets offer a lower expected return than equity assets (stocks) over the long-term. However, this lower return comes with lower risk, which is manifested on days like today. (High grade bonds went up today.)Investors who flee the stock market for the safety of cash, after a day like today, may experience temporary relief from market volatility. But after leaving stocks, their anxiety may shift to concern over missing a stock market rebound while sitting in cash.An investor's job is not to predict bull and bear markets, but to be positioned to capture positive performance when it occurs. This is best achieved by holding a broadly diversified portfolio that reflects one's risk tolerance and investment time horizon.-Gregory Skidmore is the President and Chief Investment Officer of Belpointe Asset Management. Belpointe Asset Management is a wealth management firm located on 125 Greenwich Ave, Greenwich, CT 06830.

Eight Centuries of Government Defaults

Wealth Management | Greenwich, CT

Gregory Skidmore

Greenwich, CT is one of the most well known centers of financial entrepreneurship and therefore closely tied to the global economy. Thankfully, the next phase of the recovery poses less risk to our town than the original crisis.The financial crisis originated in the private sector and directly impact those who manage capital. However, the next phase is likely to place greater strains on governments. The massive shift of private debt to public debt has placed significant economic and fiscal pressures on governments around the world. This will no doubt result in defaults/restructuring of sovereign debt (like Greece) for many countries. However, the defaulting/restructuring of government debt is normal and part of the recovery process. You should take the time to understand and not fear government defaults. In fact it is surprising how well the global capital markets have performed during period of high sovereign defaults and restructurings.

I would like to pass on a research paper that addresses eight centuries of financial crises: Click to download the research paper.

This paper, by two professors (one from Harvard the other from University of Maryland), takes a look at the history of financial crises dating from England's fourteenth-century default to the current United States sub-prime financial crisis. It spans all regions of the world and incorporates lessor known credit episodes, including the defaults and restructurings in India and China.

Here are 10 facts found by their research:

  1. Serial default is a nearly universal phenomenon as countries struggle to transform themselves from emerging markets to advanced economies.
  2. Major default episodes are typically spaced some years (or decades) apart, creating an illusion that "this time is different."
  3. Crises frequently emanate from the financial centers with transmission through interest rate shocks and commodity price collapses.
  4. US sub-prime financial crisis is not unique.
  5. Other crises that often accompany default: inflation, exchange rate crashes, banking crises, and currency debasements.
  6. Periods of high international capital mobility have repeatedly produced international banking crises.
  7. Crisis-prone countries, particularly serial defaulters, tend to over-borrow in good times, leaving them vulnerable during the inevitable downturns.
  8. Domestic debt buildups often happen in the aftermath of external default, precisely because countries have difficulty borrowing abroad
  9. Spikes in commodity prices are almost invariably followed by waves of new sovereign defaults.
  10. The notion that today's emerging markets are breaking new ground in their extensive reliance on domestic debt markets, is hardly new.

2010 Asset Class Recap

Greenwich, CT wealth management firm Belray Asset Management has released their 2010 Asset Class Recap:

Global Public Equity (Stocks)

As they have historically done after previous recessions, small caps led other domestic equities for most of the year. The Russell 2000 almost doubled the gains of the S&P ; the Russell's eye-popping 16% in the last quarter alone almost equaled the entire 2010 gain for the tech-heavy Nasdaq. However, all four U.S. equity indices looked robust compared to the Global Dow. Though a fall rally rescued the global index from the negative returns that dogged it for much of the year, its 2010 gain was still less than half that of the Dow Industrials. Large US stocks have largely been ignored by investors and this appears to be one area of opportunity.The stock market rally doesn't mean individual investors got completely comfortable with risk, as they poured money into bond mutual funds for much of the year. Along with the Federal Reserve's determination to keep interest rates low, that helped send bond prices soaring despite massive new issuance by corporations, local governments, and the U.S. Treasury.

Debt (Bonds/Fixed Income)

However, anxiety about U.S. debt levels and the potential for future inflation paled beside European debt concerns, which nearly paralyzed global markets briefly during the second quarter. Investors worried that bailouts, which helped stave off defaults on Greek and Irish sovereign debt, might not be available in the future if larger economies such as Spain needed help. Treasuries benefitted during the summer from those concerns, but by the end of the year, bond yields were beginning to rise once again despite-or perhaps because of-the Fed's new round of quantitative easing. In November, money began to flow out of bond funds, especially from muni funds. The sharp decline in bond prices in this period gave us our first warning. Going forward this asset class is unlikely to produce the same returns that investors grew accustomed to over the past 30 years.

Real Assets (Commodities/TIPS/Real Estate)

Gold rose in tandem with anxiety about debt and currency stability. The spot price hit a new record high above $1,400 an ounce. Other commodities also did well; silver nearly doubled, and despite a dip during the summer, oil prices by the end of the year had reached $90 a barrel, a level last seen in the fall of 2008. Fears of inflation and the proliferation of ETFs have made these asset classes popular. Investors would be well served to carefully study their ability to hedge inflation risk before diving into them.

Absolute Return (Hedge Funds/Hedged Mutual Funds)

This assets class report late and will be addressed in a future email.Some content is contributed by Forefield Inc.

via: Belray Asset Management

Interview with ZdM Design Studio of Greenwich CT

ZdM Design Studio of Greenwich, CT

Z and Monica

Greg Skidmore and Pedro Ramirez of Belray Asset Management interviewed Z Davis Partner of ZdM Design StudioZdM Design Studio is a Architecture and Interior Design firm. By applying an investigative architectural process to each project they seek to build unique and specific relationship with their clients. The firm's professional experience encompasses a wide range of design and production of residential, retail, hospitality, civic and corporate projects throughout the United States and abroad. Z Davis and Monica Valente became partners after a long friendship and genuine respect for each other's work.---Listen to Greenwich EntrepreneursRight Click to Download (mac: ctrl + click)Download Greenwich Entrepreneurs

Backcountry Bridge Unveiled

Joan Caldwell is enthusiastic about the newly widened Sherwood Avenue bridge near her Riversville Road home."It's a beautiful bridge, and it's nice looking," she said. "I think it certainly adds to the character of the neighborhood."The new bridge was officially unveiled Tuesday morning in a brief ceremony.Caldwell, who also is the chairman of District 10/Northwest in the Representative Town Meeting, noted that the old bridge was narrow, which sometimes made traveling over it a tricky experience when meeting a large vehicle traveling the other way.Construction began on the bridge April 19, and Sherwood Avenue was closed to traffic on May 1. The roadway was reopened Oct. 4.via Backcountry bridge officially unveiled - GreenwichTime.

THING 37 - Buy a Butterball

It's that time of the year.  Thanksgiving has to be one of my favorite holidays.  You get to eat all you want and "relax" with your family.   Since we are only two days away I would highly recommend going out to buy your turkey now (if you haven't done so already).  As you will learn over the next year, I'm not the biggest fan of the Grocery-Store-Not-To-Be-Named ("GSNTBN") due to its ridiculous pricing and even more ridiculous parking lot.  I personally shop at the Stop and Shop off the post road, west of the Greenwich Library.  I believe they have great prices and a good level of variety.  I'm sure I'll get into my grocery store opinions later, but for today let's talk turkey!Butterball has my vote. They received it during the 3rd season of West Wing when I realized (along with President Bartlet) that they have a hotline (1-800-BUTTERBALL) to help people with the cooking of their Thanksgiving turkeys.  I'm a sucker for marketing and incredible TV shows, so that's all it took to get my vote.  Fortunately I will not be cooking the turkey this year, but if I was I would buy a Butterball and call for help.via 365 Things to do in Greenwich, CT - Greenwich Real Estate, Greenwich Homes, Houses and Properties.

Greenwich braces for wild night

It's not exactly Mardi Gras, but downtown bars are anticipating one of the livelier nights of the year Wednesday as throngs of newly returned-home college students and nine-to-fivers take to Greenwich Avenue to kick off the holiday season."It is one of the busiest bar nights of the year," said Ryan Hoster, a shift manager at Sundown Saloon. "There are a lot of college kids all home back together for the first time and it tends to be a fun night."But with the influx of patrons, bar managers are expecting to ramp up security to ensure the exuberant celebrations don't get out of hand.At the Sundown Saloon, 403 Greenwich Ave., Hoster said there will be extra wait staff, bartenders and security guards who will wait by the doors to manage the crowds.At MacDuff's Public House, 99 Railroad Ave., owner Scott Sievwright said they will also have one of their managers at the door in addition to extra staff.via Party time: Greenwich bartenders, bouncers, police brace for wild night - GreenwichTime.

Feds Raid Greenwich Hedge Fund

A spokesman for Level Global acknowledged the raid took place Monday."We can confirm that agents from the Federal Bureau of Investigation visited our offices this morning as part of what we believe to be a broader investigation," the spokesman said in a statement. "We are cooperating fully with the authorities and, at the same time, we are fully operational and continue to work diligently for the benefit of our investors."A gaggle of financial reporters, some from as far away as Norway, staked out the Greenwich offices of Level Global at 537 Steamboat Road before Monday's closing bell.What they found were empty parking spaces, locked doors and not a single trader or company executive."I haven't seen or talked to anybody, FBI or otherwise," said John Margenot, whose family owns the building and is the nephew of the former first selectman by the same name.Located across the street from the yacht-lined Delamar Greenwich Harbor hotel and next door to several unoccupied townhouses fetching $8 million, the four-story brick building is home to several investment firms.via Feds raid 3 hedge funds linked to trading probe - GreenwichTime.

Feds Raid Greenwich Hedge Fund

A spokesman for Level Global acknowledged the raid took place Monday."We can confirm that agents from the Federal Bureau of Investigation visited our offices this morning as part of what we believe to be a broader investigation," the spokesman said in a statement. "We are cooperating fully with the authorities and, at the same time, we are fully operational and continue to work diligently for the benefit of our investors."A gaggle of financial reporters, some from as far away as Norway, staked out the Greenwich offices of Level Global at 537 Steamboat Road before Monday's closing bell.What they found were empty parking spaces, locked doors and not a single trader or company executive."I haven't seen or talked to anybody, FBI or otherwise," said John Margenot, whose family owns the building and is the nephew of the former first selectman by the same name.Located across the street from the yacht-lined Delamar Greenwich Harbor hotel and next door to several unoccupied townhouses fetching $8 million, the four-story brick building is home to several investment firms.via Feds raid 3 hedge funds linked to trading probe - GreenwichTime.