Third Quarter Recovery

As we had expected, the third quarter of 2010 showed significant continued volatility in investment markets but as we had hoped and believed likely, produced net positive results for all asset classes.

Source: Zephyr StyleAdvisor; Bloomberg

Overall, the quarter produced substantial gains in equity classes (the All Country World Index was up 14.46%) and the closing month of September was the strongest in many decades. As a result, performance for most client portfolios has recovered from negative at mid-year to very respectable positive numbers, year-to-date, as we move into the final quarter of 2010.

Source: Zephyr StyleAdvisor; Bloomberg

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The Great Uncertainty

It is no wonder that symptoms of confidence in the US – from consumer sentiment to the flavor of political discourse – remain depressed despite the strong stock market performance this past quarter, especially in September: the U.S. economy is in unfamiliar territory. The “Great Recession” has been the most shallow recovery in employment on record, measured in terms of absolute numbers of jobs. Hiring was weaker in the aftermath of the relatively mild downturns of 1990-91 and 2001, when the unemployment rate topped out at 7.8% and 6.3% respectively, but fewer jobs were lost. The Great Recession was much more severe, with a peak unemployment rate of 10.1% and more than eight million jobs lost. Slightly more Americans were working when the recession ended in the middle of 2009 than are working now, over a year later. read more

From the CEO

This quarter was exceptionally good for our clients’ portfolios, with September enjoying some of the best monthly performance in US markets in many decades. We are ever grateful for the privilege our clients give us to assist them in strategizing and implementing their investment portfolios. This is a crucial part of our work in comprehensive planning for optimizing their overall financial circumstances. We are, of course, especially pleased when intelligent planning, wise perseverance, and careful implementation and management help to produce excellent investment results for them. read more

Continued Tax Uncertainty, Too

Ordinarily, at this time of the year, we take this opportunity to alert clients to a variety of year-end planning considerations and offer general recommendations for opportunities we believe are compelling. Earlier this year, we were reasonably confident that, whether one would like the specifics or not, we would have clarity about income tax and estate and gift taxes going into 2011 and beyond. read more

Transitioning from One House to the Next in the Post Financial Crisis World

Over the course of the last year we’ve assisted many clients as they move from one dream house to the next. In many cases, the transition hasn’t been as smooth and easy as it was before 2008 when obtaining a mortgage was like buying a shirt, and it only took a month or two to sell a home in many real estate markets across the country. For those readers who are contemplating buying and/or selling personal residences in the near future, here are some themes we’ve recently addressed that may be helpful. Of course, your Aspiriant client service team stands ready to help you work through the details, and develop a strategy that is customized to your personal situation. read more