11 July 2009

Your Investments Require Your Wisdom

This week's Economist notes the size of Merrill Lynch (ML) as the leader in Global Assets. In addition, a two-page ad touting this status is also part of the first section of the magazine. Aside from verifying why reading from the front to the back yields shorter reading duration, I realized that ML is attempting to re-emerge and redefine the brand. Over three years ago, and just shy of three years before ML would 'crash', my husband I were successful in purchasing our first home but not without nearly losing it. We researched and requested a 30 year, fixed interest loan and at least 3 times ML tried to talk us into a 10 year interest only loan. On the last day the purchase agreement was in effect, ML called to say there were no comparables in our area, but if we agreed to a 10 year interest only loan, we would be accepted immediately. With the help of a different, and actually reputable banker, we were able to extend the purchase agreement with the sellers, and buy our home, in one of the most steady growth areas of the past 5 years, within 2 weeks at the price and with the loan we had requested. We live in a humble home that's nearly 15 years old allows us to make minor improvements whilst also enjoying some of the finer things in life. We are thankful that we are not in a home we can't afford but that we do have a home that has maintained its value. My hope as this new B of A backed giant regains its place in the world is that they finally have leadership that leads with integrity. As with every round, we'll continue to trust karma.

09 July 2009

Simplicity in a World of Complexity

In Plitvice Lakes National Park, Croatia, are multitudes of reminders of the power of nature. Travertine dams, 16 natural turquoise-colored lakes, hundreds of plants with flowers, various animals and birds, dozens of waterfalls and yet humans have inhabited this area for thousands of years. The most notable in recent history being Marshal Tito, former Yugoslavia communist ruler whose home remains in the midst of the fauna. Even prior to becoming a national park in 1949, it appears that this area has been one of preservation. Even today, it's access is a narrow split log walkway without rails bordering various lakes, waterfalls and forest. It was clear such a park could likely not exist with this access in the U.S. due to proven risk associated with lawsuits due to idiotic tourists or accidents as part of choices to go into such areas and 'experience' and appreciate the specialness. So one might surmise that in the U.S. the areas that intrigue us most also become the areas that we punish. Thank you to Eastern Europe, specifically Croatia, for trusting and for allowing us to encounter the Earth according to it's rules, instead of ours.