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Editorial Results (free)

1. Return to Value -

Last week, we discussed that the wrestling match between stimulus and global debt deleveraging will continue to create anxiety and volatility for investors. Viewing the world through this prism helps to clarify seemingly baffling market movements.

2. Renewing Our Vows -

Last week, U.S. indices ascended briefly back into record territory on supportive comments from global powerbrokers.

In Europe, Mario Draghi, the head of the European Central Bank, initiated a bold conversation on monetary stimulus measures. Reality has set in across the Eurozone that the euro is too strong and inflation too weak for enduring economic expansion.

3. Now Tack! -

In sailing, when the wind shifts direction, you must move your sails or risk losing the wind. The first indication of a shifting breeze comes from the telltales, strips of lightweight material attached to the sails that foreshadow a change in conditions. Recently, the market telltales have been active.

4. Employers, Workers Navigate Compliance Rules -

As a certified health care reform specialist, Tim Finnell can stand back and from a distance say the Affordable Care Act does not really have a beginning and an end.

“There will never be final rules,” said Finnell, the president and founder of Group Benefits LLC. “Everything’s going to keep changing.”

5. Higher Markets Ahead? -

Fed testimony last week addressed burning economic and policy questions for investors. How did they respond? Fearfully, joyfully and indifferently. Just as they have to nearly every news item so far this year.

6. Looking Backward and Forward -

The Look Back This time last year we predicted that 2013 would revive investor animal spirits. In fact, investors were downright euphoric last year, absolutely gorging themselves on stocks, buying at a record pace.

7. This week in Memphis history: Feb. 28-March 6 -

1974: On the front page of The Daily News, J.C. Penney Co. announced it would lease a new 508,700-square-foot hardware/automotive national distribution center in Southaven’s Freeport Industrial Park at State Line and Rostin roads. The center was being built by Boston-based Cabot, Cabot and Forbes Co. Southaven was still an unincorporated suburb at the time, governed by the DeSoto County government and growing in terms of economic development as growth in Whitehaven began to spill over across the state line. Southaven would be incorporated in 1981.

8. How to Fight the Flat -

Markets have regained their composure after a sharp, but necessary, sell off in early January. Sentiment has now retreated from the euphoric levels reached toward the end of last year, to more neutral levels.

9. Muddling Through the Muddling Through -

Last week’s December jobs number was billed as an economic tiebreaker after a string of mixed data. The release depicted a softening employment environment. The U.S. economy created 113,000 jobs in January against expectations of 185,000. Over the trailing three months, the economy has added an average of about 150,000 new jobs per month versus 200,000 per month reached last summer/fall. With the jobs market downshifting, can the Fed do more?

10. Gambling Industry Fights Self on Internet Gambling -

LAS VEGAS (AP) – Many experts believe online wagering is the future of gambling, but the casino industry is increasingly divided on the issue.

The latest evidence of the split came Monday as the Coalition to Stop Internet Gambling launched the first commercial in a six-figure campaign warning of the dangers of legalized Internet gambling. The coalition is emphasizing the possibility that criminals and terrorists may use online gambling to launder money.

11. Understanding 2014 -

Last week, the government released GDP statistics for the fourth quarter of 2013. Overall, the economy expanded at a 3.2 percent clip (above estimates). For the full year, the economy grew a less impressive 1.9 percent, but momentum was clearly built into the back half of the year. Expectations for 3 percent annual growth in 2014 remain intact.

12. What to Expect When You’re Expecting -

S&P 500 corporate earnings in 2013 likely grew about 6 percent. The S&P 500 price index, however, grew 29.6 percent. The difference between the growth in earnings and the growth in the price index amounts to P/E expansion.

13. It Pays to Look Forward -

The thundering herd that carried the equity markets into the record books in 2013 seemed spooked by the first few trading days of 2014. Should we read into this?

Perhaps, but it more likely indicates portfolio rebalancing rather than a widespread repositioning of wagers. Those rebalancing their portfolios need to sell stocks to provide currency to replenish underperforming asset classes. For those that shifting wagers, what new bets might pay off in 2014?

14. What Does the Fed Say? -

Ben Bernanke announced a tapering of the Federal Reserve’s asset purchase program from $85 billion to $75 billion at his final FOMC meeting last week, and contrary to pundit fears, the Dow Jones Industrial Average threw him a going away celebration by rallying to new highs. What he said:

15. School Board to Weigh Additional School Closings -

Shelby County Schools board members voted Tuesday, Dec. 17, to start the process of considering the closing of four more schools for the 2014-2015 school year, bringing the number of schools that could close to 13.

16. The Economy in 2013: Naughty and Nice -

Thanks to the Federal Reserve’s dedication to increasing your net worth, 2013 will go down as one of the most prosperous years on file. Stock prices have increased more than 20 percent and U.S. home prices have increased nearly 15 percent. These gains hit national headlines, but the gains for back-page asset classes are equally impressive.

17. The Healing Continues -

With another successful earnings season in the books, earnings news will move to the backburner for financial market observers. In the midst of this earnings vacuum, economic news moves to the forefront, as investors try to determine if the strong earnings will be sustainable via a healing economy. Or, if the economic support is beginning to deteriorate, perhaps earnings have peaked.

18. Team Players -

The key players, from Memphis Mayor A C Wharton Jr. to St. Louis Cardinals chairman and CEO Bill DeWitt Jr., grabbed the microphone at an invitation-only rally held on the club level of AutoZone Park and made their best pitches.

19. Keep Your Eye on the Ball -

Markets bounced around a bit last week due to the continued volley between economic/earnings expectations and interest rate expectations. As a market observer, you must fully grasp this dynamic to translate daily volatility.

20. Stocks March Into Higher Realm -

Found: New Highs!

Markets continued their record march this week as a tepid jobs report reinforced expectations for further Fed stimulus. In anticipation of “print it” Janet’s reign, the 10-year Treasury yield has frozen at 2.5 percent. With a valuation of 17x trailing operating earnings, S&P 500 earnings yield nearly 6 percent. Obviously 6 percent is more than 2.5 percent, making stocks more attractive than bonds. To wit, equity mutual funds have added $32 billion in assets since May 31, while bond mutual funds have shed $128 billion. The longer interest rate expectations remain anchored at low levels, the more enticing the gap between the earnings yield for stocks and the interest rate yields for bonds. This explains the continued push into record territory for the stock market. As rate increase fears abate, stocks escalate.

21. Avoid the Blog Bait -

Last week, the keystone cops in Washington signed yet another procrastination resolution to our festering debt and deficit issues. No matter. The market rallied into our fiscal D-Day and right after it to new all-time highs. Why? While the volume of reporting on the debt ceiling has grown substantially, the event itself is old news. Congress has raised the debt ceiling 45 times since the late 1970s. The debt level reached within 2 percent of the ceiling 37 of those times.

22. Buying Yellen -

President Obama recently made it official that Janet Yellen will succeed Ben Bernanke as the head of the Federal Reserve. Janet has spent much of her career as a dedicated and vocal advocate for the unemployed. With participation rates low, and the unemployment rate high, the markets anticipate that Janet will continue, if not augment, Ben Bernanke’s expansionary monetary policies. A renewed enthusiasm for monetary stimulus has had observable market impact.

23. Akbari Takes District 91 Democratic Primary -

As fewer than 2,000 voters participated in the latest of 11 elections in Shelby County in a three-month span, the independent candidate in the Nov. 21 special general election for state House District 91 filed suit against state election officials in U.S. Federal Court for the Middle District of Tennessee.

24. Akbari Wins Democratic State House Primary -

Raumesh Akbari, an attorney making her first bid for elected office, won the Democratic primary State House special election Tuesday, Oct. 8 in a low turnout contest featuring seven contenders and an unofficial voter turnout of 5.4 percent.

25. Voters to Decide Nominee for DeBerry’s Seat -

For the first time in 41 years, Lois DeBerry’s name will not be on a Shelby County ballot for a state House seat.

26. A Dose of Fiscal Truth: Important, Not Urgent -

I recently received an email from a client asking how in the world the U.S. would overcome its bulging debt pile. There are three parts to this answer.

First, the annual deficits we run (tax receipts – spending) tend to correlate more with economic activity than policy. Through August, bolstered by an expanding economy, government revenues have increased 13 percent, contributing to a 35 percent reduction in the deficit. We will likely finish the fiscal year with a deficit of 4.5 percent, still high by historic standards, but much lower than the 10 percent hit during the crisis. Deficit figures are overwhelmingly a function of economic activity.

27. House District 91 Candidates Share Stage -

For the first time in a shortened campaign season, all seven candidates in the Oct. 8 Democratic primary for state House District 91 shared the same stage.

Early voting in the primary continues through Thursday, Oct. 3.

28. Early Voting Expands in District 91 Primary -

Early voting in the Democratic primary special election for State House District 91 expands Friday, Sept. 27, from the Shelby County Election Commission’s Downtown offices, 157 Poplar Ave., to three satellite locations.

29. The Fed Sets Fed Policy -

The Fed has two primary job descriptions. First, keep prices stable. Second, promote an environment of economic growth that provides employment opportunities. Which is more important?

Economic crises at their core typically consist of disruption in financial and currency markets. Once the financial transmission mechanisms fail, hard recessions and unemployment spikes follow. I struggle to identify a crisis scenario where the catalyst was a spike in unemployment that led to a disruption in the financial and currency markets. Therefore, a central bank’s first and highest priority should be maintaining price stability.

30. Time for a Rally Gut Check -

A couple of weeks ago, we discussed the lack of unanimity in the emerging markets sell-off. While the emerging markets index suggested distress within the class, a closer look revealed that only a few countries were truly under fire.

31. Early Voting Opens in State House Primary -

Early voting opens Wednesday, Sept. 18, in the Democratic primary special election for State House District 91.

From Wednesday through Sept. 26, early voting is limited to the Shelby County Election Commission office at 157 Poplar Ave.

32. Combined Net Worth of America's Richest Rises -

NEW YORK (AP) – Life is good for America's super wealthy.

Forbes on Monday released its annual list of the top 400 richest Americans. While most of the top names and rankings didn't change from a year ago, the majority of the elite club's members saw their fortunes grow over the past year, helped by strong stock and real estate markets.

33. The Data Have Spoken -

Each new month delivers a flurry of economic data. The current deluge will weigh heavily on the Federal Reserve’s decision to maintain or reduce quantitative easing. Let’s quickly review the recent releases and handicap the Fed’s taper temptation.

34. A Welcome Divergence -

One of the most dominant themes prior to the financial crisis was the great convergence of global markets. Bond markets seemed to synchronize around a “global” rate regime and stock markets seemed to synchronize around “global” growth rates. What began with the disaggregation of European bond yields has now spread across asset markets as well.

35. Arlington Early Voting is Saturday -

Early voting in Arlington municipal elections is Saturday, Sept. 7, at Arlington United Methodist Church, 6145 Quintard St.

36. 11 File for State House District 91 Special Election -

The race for the state House seat held by the late Lois DeBerry since 1973 includes 10 Democrats, one Libertarian and no Republicans or independents, as of the Thursday, Aug. 29, noon filing deadline for candidates.

37. Political Season Heats Up With District 91 Deadline -

The political tide of late-in-the-year elections begins rolling Thursday, Aug. 29, with the candidate-filing deadline for state House District 91.

The filing deadline is noon Thursday, the day before early voting opens in the regularly scheduled municipal elections in Arlington and Lakeland.

38. Rates Are Rising, Rates Are Rising -

On July 22, 1981, the federal funds rate (the interbank overnight benchmark rate) hit a historic high of 22.36 percent. On Dec. 11, 2011, it bottomed at .04 percent. Between 1981 and today, large company stocks returned nearly 11 percent on an annualized basis. As consensus suggests, falling interest rates undoubtedly make stocks more valuable.

39. Ubiquiti Faces Tech Giants in Internet Push -

Some of the biggest technology companies have begun making moves toward the same goal being pursued by Ubiquiti Networks Inc., the wireless communications company founded by Memphis Grizzlies owner Robert Pera.

40. Baptist Still Growing in DeSoto County -

Twenty-five years ago, Baptist Memorial Health Care Corp. built a 130-bed hospital in DeSoto County, Miss., on the site of a former dairy farm.

41. My Taper Paper -

Last week, we discussed the recent upshift in the global economy. The next major moment for the market will occur on Sept. 18 when 65 percent of economists expect that the Fed will announce a “tapering” of its quantitative easing program. The movement in the 10-year Treasury bond interest rate confirms this expectation as rates have now climbed to 2.84 percent, up from 1.6 percent three months ago.

42. Grizzlies Owner’s Company Riding High -

Memphis Grizzlies owner Robert Pera has enjoyed a run of good news lately surrounding the technology company he founded, Ubiquiti Networks Inc.

43. The New One Thing -

Now that earnings season has essentially ended, the stock market needs a new muse. The next earnings season begins in early October. In between, analysts will tweak models and revise forecasts, but real data releases overpower estimate releases. In mid-September, the Fed will either reduce bond purchases or buy more time. President Obama will choose between the over-politicized Larry Summers, the over-dovish Janet Yellen or the over-qualified Don Kohn to succeed Ben Bernanke as the next Fed head. We will also soon revisit Washington’s favorite debate over the debt ceiling.

44. Buy a Server or Move to the Cloud? -

After a few rough years with the economy, and after squeezing every last drop of functionality out of their existing infrastructure, some companies are faced with the question of replacing that infrastructure with new equipment or moving their information to the cloud.

45. Two Acts Remain in Bernanke’s Screenplay -

After weeks of volatility, driven by complex Fed speculation after a chorus of mixed messages, Chairman Bernanke re-focused marketplace attention on the Fed’s core purpose. As per Congress, The Federal Reserve Act directs: “the Federal Reserve...shall maintain long run growth of the monetary and credit aggregates commensurate with the economy’s long run potential…to promote the goals of maximum employment, stable prices and moderate long-term interest rates.”

46. Real Madrid Tops Forbes' Most Valuable Teams List -

NEW YORK (AP) – Real Madrid tops Forbes' list of 50 most valuable sports teams, with Manchester United and Barcelona holding the next two spots.

Forbes says Real Madrid is worth $3.3 billion. The Spanish power moved up a spot from No. 2 last year.

47. Central Bank Bumper Cars -

Markets last week called Bernanke’s bluff and ended the second quarter on a high note. As we well know, Bernanke spooked markets with a timeline for dousing quantitative easing by mid-year 2014. Bond markets convulsed and the 10-year Treasury yield climbed from 1.61 percent to 2.67 percent. Why would Chairman Bernanke do such a thing?

48. Sears, JC Penney Sever Ties With Paula Deen -

NEW YORK (AP) – The exodus continues.

Sears, J.C. Penney and Walgreen said Friday that they're cutting ties with Paula Deen, adding to the growing list of companies severing their relationship following revelations that the Southern celebrity chef used racial slurs in the past.

49. Target Cuts Ties With Deen; Drugmaker Distances -

NEW YORK (AP) – Paula Deen's multimillion-dollar merchandise and media empire continues to unravel following revelations that she used racial slurs in the past.

50. King Kong Versus Godzilla -

Among attentive investors the recent bout of market volatility has reprised fears of country, currency, economic decline and general market collapse. When global macro-market events occur, large trading positions that have been spooling quickly unspool, leading to jarring movements like those we are witnessing in Japan. These environments become a bit of a predator’s ball, as short-term traders feast on volatility, which only amplifies volatility further.

51. Glacial Job Creation Equals Glacial Stimulus Reduction -

This has been the weakest job recovery on record. The 175,000 new jobs created in May did slightly exceed analyst estimates, but also slightly trailed population growth. The percentage of the U.S. adult population with a job equals 58.6 percent. This number hit 67 percent back in 2000. Adjusting this ratio for the “retirement effect” to only include those aged 25 to 54 increases the rate to 76 percent, but it still hasn’t budged for three years and is 5 percent lower than it was in 2007. This cannot be explained by retirees. Our job creation machine is malfunctioning.

52. ‘Lefty’ Highlights 2013 Golf Tournament Field -

The biggest name at this weekend’s FedEx St. Jude Classic signed autographs as he came off the ninth green at TPC Southwind after his pro-am round and then stopped to chat with reporters.

Phil Mickelson – the man more commonly known as, simply, “Lefty” – was wearing his trademark black cap and shirt, looking tan and fit, and sounding eager for his scheduled 7:27 a.m. starting time Thursday, June 6, on the 10th tee.

53. Safe Can Sometimes Become Risky -

When is safe unsafe? Ever since the Federal Reserve began its zero interest rate policies, investors have searched for higher yielding assets. This makes sense. If you need income to run your household or make your pension distributions, you must locate investments that provide yield. If Treasury bonds will not, what will?

54. More Charges May Come in Case Involving Haslams -

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Sudden guilty pleas by a pair of mid-level executives show the investigation into the truck stop chain controlled by the family of Tennessee's governor and the Cleveland Browns' owner is picking up steam, with prosecutors likely setting their sights on higher-ups at the company, experts say.

55. Reacting To Fed Dread -

In an otherwise exceptionally dull trading week, markets worldwide reacted violently last Wednesday to Ben Bernanke’s mixed congressional testimony and the Fed meeting minutes released later in the day. Why so skittish?

56. How High Can We Go? -

Total stock market returns combine dividends with a change in earnings and a change in multiples. Right now, the dividend yield on the S&P 500 is 2 percent. The earnings estimate for the S&P 500, for year-end 2014 as projected by Standard and Poor’s, approximates $120, as trailing earnings equal $100 per share.

57. Obama Nominates Pritzker, Froman for Economic Jobs -

WASHINGTON (AP) – President Barack Obama on Thursday chose two old friends with corporate executive experience for top posts on his economic team, naming longtime fundraiser Penny Pritzker as Commerce secretary and adviser Michael Froman as U.S. Trade Representative.

58. The No-Growth Rally -

Over 200 S&P 500 companies have now reported earnings. While 70 percent or so have beaten expectations, the blended earnings growth rate has basically flat lined. Using revenues as a purer gauge adds little encouragement. Revenues have also flat lined over the last year. Without an uptick in global economic activity or the ability to pass on price increases to customers, US earnings look winded. How can the rally persist without growth?

59. Forbes Gives High Marks to First Tennessee Unit -

First Tennessee Advisory Services is ranked No. 8 on Forbes magazine’s list of the Top 50 Fastest Growing wealth management firms.

The entity, which is a business line of First Tennessee Bank, offers investment portfolios ranging from ultra-conservative to aggressive.

60. Haslams Try to Halt Fallout From FBI Raid on Pilot -

NASHVILLE (AP) – Tennessee's Haslam family is furiously trying to control the damage following a federal investigation into the family business that could threaten to unravel decades of growing wealth and influence that spans business, sports and politics in the state and beyond.

61. Forbes Gives High Marks to First Tennessee Unit -

First Tennessee Advisory Services is ranked No. 8 on Forbes magazine’s list of the Top 50 Fastest Growing wealth management firms.

The entity, which is a business line of First Tennessee Bank, offers investment portfolios ranging from ultra-conservative to aggressive.

62. Rotten Golden Apples in a Can -

It has been a particularly tough stretch for sage taxicab investors. My recent taxi tips have centered on three clear winners. Gold, Apple and Cash. Let’s evaluate.

Cab Tip #1: Central Bank Money Printing = Gold Prices Rising

63. Events -

National Hispanic Professional Organization-Memphis will meet Thursday, April 11, from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Hilton Memphis, 939 Ridge Lake Blvd. Meri Armour, CEO of Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital, will speak. Cost is free for members and $20 for nonmembers. R.S.V.P. to info@nhpomemphis.us or 466-6476.

64. Events -

The Rotary Club of Memphis East will meet Wednesday, April 10, at noon at The Racquet Club of Memphis, 5111 Sanderlin Ave. First Horizon Corp. president and CEO Bryan Jordan will speak. Cost is $17. R.S.V.P. to Lee Hughes at lmhughes@bellsouth.net.

65. The Cyprus is Falling! -

The Cyprus economy is $23 billion. (The Vermont economy is $26 billion.) Bank loans in Cyprus are eight times the size of GDP, compared with 3.5 times in the Eurozone and 1 times U.S. GDP. With leverage ratio’s that high, a small deterioration in loan performance can render the banking system insolvent.

66. Look at the Facts, Not Rhetoric -

CITE YOUR SOURCE. In human psychology, fear seems more legitimate than hope. Claims of “impending doom,” and “bursting bubbles” elicit fast emotional responses that seem impervious to critique. So many programs, speeches and advertisements prey on this phenomenon today.

67. 3-D Printing Revolution Will Drive Innovation -

Technology like that imagined by Star Trek and the futuristic cartoon The Jetsons is becoming reality with 3-D printing. Also known as additive manufacturing, it creates customized solid three-dimensional objects from digital schematics. It has arrived – and it is disruptive.

68. Urbanization Equals Global Opportunities -

The worldwide adoption of competition and capitalistic principles has unlocked tremendous prosperity growth. At the core of this prosperity movement are the unique advantages created by urbanizing the world’s population. Urban populations are more productive, more innovative and more efficient than their rural peers.

69. Memphis Not Miserable in Eyes of Forbes -

Memphis has landed on a lot of lists over the years, some of them positive, lots of them cringe-inducing for Memphians and many of them based on seemingly arbitrary findings.

Forbes’ Most Miserable Cities list is one that’s particularly drawn the ire of Memphians, including Memphis Mayor A C Wharton Jr. In 2010, when the city was given a prominent spot on the list, Wharton wrote an open letter to Forbes Inc. CEO Steve Forbes in response. “The sun shines here 230 days a year,” he wrote. “Memphis is a city of joy.”

70. Memphis Not Miserable in Eyes of Forbes -

Memphis has landed on a lot of lists over the years, some of them positive, lots of them cringe-inducing for Memphians and many of them based on seemingly arbitrary findings.

Forbes’ Most Miserable Cities list is one that’s particularly drawn the ire of Memphians, including Memphis Mayor A C Wharton Jr. In 2010, when the city was given a prominent spot on the list, Wharton wrote an open letter to Forbes Inc. CEO Steve Forbes in response. “The sun shines here 230 days a year,” he wrote. “Memphis is a city of joy.”

71. Quiet Period Could Lead to Frisky Phase -

Buyer Intent Building By some analysis, the last two weeks have exhibited the lowest stock market volatility since 1986. While sideways markets are boring, they also reduce anxieties. On average, since 1980, the S&P 500 experienced intra-year declines of 15 percent.

72. Strong January Portends Positive Year -

As Goes January … Many market observers state that as goes January, so goes the rest of the year. Mathematically, 1/12th of the year has now passed and the S&P 500 has tacked on 5 percent. Fast-forwarding through the statistical modeling, a strong January predicts a strong annual return precisely because of the positive lead January passes to February. This head start advances the probability of positive returns. Furthermore, a sizable head start increases the odds of success even more. If January is slightly positive, the odds of a positive year are 67 percent. If January is up 5 percent, the odds jump to 79 percent. So a 5 percent positive January has a high probability of correlating with a year of positive equity returns. We cannot rest in that, however, as a 4 percent loss from this point still fulfills the criteria. Better check the vitals.

73. Memphis Investment Firm at Odds With Dell -

Following Memphis-based Southeastern Asset Management’s public opposition to Dell Inc.’s proposed $24.4 billion buyout, the Texas-based tech company is trying to reassure shareholders that the deal will be beneficial.

74. Conference Brings Jobs Creation Into Focus -

Jim Clifton, CEO of the Gallup organization since 1998, believes the stakes are extraordinarily high in the global arms race for jobs.

He made the point in stark terms in a recent interview he gave to Forbes.

75. Downtown Focus -

With its own tax incentives, a narrowly focused group of development boards, a variety of neighborhood demographics and development clusters that run the gamut from commercial to residential, Downtown Memphis is a veritable petri dish of economic development.

76. Lighting the Spark -

Somewhere, there’s an entrepreneur scribbling an idea on little more than the back of a napkin. Someone else has all the pieces of a new company in place, and now they’re ready to dial for dollars. Entrepreneurs are a talented bunch, but that talent doesn’t always include a knack for management or finance – skill sets that plenty of experts in Memphis stand ready to help explain.

77. Let’s Start a Currency War -

Prior to Nixon’s closing of the gold window in 1971, world currencies traded in value relative to the U.S. dollar, which was tethered to gold at $35 an ounce. Following the divorce, currencies began trading relative to the dollar, but the dollar in turn began trading relative to other currencies.

78. Startup Conference Billed as ‘Must Attend’ -

Scott Case, the founding chief technology officer of Priceline.com and Startup America CEO, had some words of praise for Memphis and Tennessee while on a panel at November’s Ernst & Young Strategic Growth Forum in Palm Springs, Calif.

79. Tech Talk -

It is a pleasant lunchtime hour on a recent weekday, and a small gathering of technologists has huddled at Panera Bread in the Laurelwood shopping center for their monthly confab.

They’re participants in a recurring series of “Tech Lunches” spearheaded by Brian Swanson. He’s a software developer and the founder of Purple Ant Software, which focuses on Web and desktop software development.

80. Three Components Will Determine 2013 -

Forecasting 2013 The fiscal cliff episode proved bullish for stocks. Fearful asset owners facing tax code uncertainty pulled outsized income and capital gains into 2012. Sellers quickly became buyers to complete the tax arbitrage. For the week ended Jan. 9, investors poured $18.3 billion into stock mutual funds and ETFs, the largest combined inflow in five years. This capital re-commitment has propelled the S&P 500 3.25 percent higher in 2013. Does this mean that 2013 will continue to see fantastic equity returns? Domestic stock returns are driven by three primary components – earnings, dividends and valuations. Let’s consider each to arrive at our forecast.

81. Cash In on Cashing Out -

While we may not know the details of next year’s tax increases, we do know that taxes will increase. This has created a rush of year-end tax planning to sell assets, issue dividends and claw compensation forward. In fact, hundreds of public companies have announced special dividends to pad investor’s pockets before year-end.

82. Good News -

There’s something newly electric in the air. That’s how the editors of National Geographic Traveler describe Memphis, putting the city in the category of 20 must-see places in 2013.

It’s a description that came at the end of November in the form of something Memphians aren’t altogether used to – the editors of national publications nodding approvingly from afar at a city long relegated to one arbitrary ranking after another.

83. The ‘Fiscal Cliff’ Misdirection -

Please recognize that the “fiscal cliff” debate will not end with current compromise. This debate has just begun so get used to it. Our long-term fiscal situation is toxic and entirely a function of Medicare and Medicaid. Today, Medicare and Medicaid expenditures approximate 5 percent of U.S. GDP. According to the Congressional Budget Office, public health expenditures will rise to over 10 percent of U.S. GDP by 2037.

84. Fiscal Equality vs. Efficiency -

Beneath the “fiscal cliff” debate is a fundamental battle of philosophy. Liberal economics prioritizes equality, while conservative economics prioritizes efficiency. Migration toward either of these polls contains costs and benefits. Below is an excerpt from a tax study of developed nations commissioned by the Paris based OECD:

85. Economic East vs. West -

Yin and Yang Since Election Day, stock indices have fallen sharply, reflecting the Washington non-consensus. As we enter another legislative sausage session, investors can’t help but recall the 20 percent drawdown that marked the last high-stakes negotiation.

86. Desperately Seeking Dividends -

The 10-year Treasury bond, which historically yields 5 percent, yields 1.75 percent today. At these levels, the risk/reward features of low yielding bonds and higher yielding stocks favors stock dividends over bond interest payments. However, with dividend yields in hot pursuit, investors have driven valuations higher for U.S. dividend payers. In fact, high yielding U.S. stocks now carry higher valuations than the market on average, far above their normal 20 percent discount. This is the highest valuation premium they have commanded since the 1950s. This does not foretell an immediate valuation collapse, but it does beg the question, are there better alternatives?

87. The Great Big Empty Bandwagon -

Year-to-date the MSCI World index has climbed 15 percent. The Dow Jones Industrial Average has climbed within 5 percent of its all-time high. The S&P 500 has returned 14.9 percent annualized over the last three years. Corporate earnings have reached a record high. Has any of this inspired investors?

88. Self Reform Can’t Come Soon Enough -

We Have Seen the Face of Reform In 2008, a prolonged lack of credit scrutiny led to a financial crisis. While the clean-up of the financial system continues, the bulk of the rationalization happened very quickly. Massive institutions failed, while remainder institutions began internal austerity programs to reconstruct rotten balance sheets.

89. It’s All Tied Up -

The markets today must reconcile two primary opposing factors. On the one hand, global economic statistics and earnings pre-announcements describe a listless global economy – not recessionary per se – but not healthy enough to really drive revenues and confidence. On the other hand, the globe’s major central banks have all committed to indefinite and unlimited monetary stimulus.

90. Gates, Buffett Again Top Forbes' Billionaires List -

NEW YORK (AP) – Microsoft Corp. co-founder Bill Gates remains the nation's richest man by far, as the tech and philanthropy giant took the top spot on the Forbes 400 list for the 19th year running, with a net worth of $66 billion.

91. Examining Unknowns, Certainties -

US Fed = Yes, ECB = Yes, US Government = Maybe, China = Unknown Last week’s announcement of “unlimited” easing from the U.S. Fed combined with the “unlimited” easing announcement by the European Central Bank extended the global rally in everything but Treasuries.

92. Building Business -

Dr. Leonard Greenhalgh brought a wake-up call with him to Memphis at the end of August, when he came to the city as one of several featured speakers for the Memphis Minority Business Council Continuum’s 2012 Economic Development Forum.

93. Cherry Back to Roots at Dunavant Enterprises -

Russel Cherry, longtime general counsel at Dunavant Enterprises Inc., grew up in a family that raised sporting dogs and had originally planned to be a veterinarian.

94. Senate 2013: Less Visible, More Important -

The 2012 presidential election has two widely contrasting visions, larger than life personalities, and plenty of high praise and low blows. Over the next three months, the contest for the Oval Office will dominate American discourse. However, while the big game for the country may be the presidential race, the big game for the markets will likely be the Senate race.

95. Facts, Feelings Go Hand in Hand -

Investment Lesson: Sentiment Growth just as good as Earnings Growth Two factors move stock prices, earnings and sentiment. Earnings tend to be backward looking while sentiment tends to be forward looking. In market parlance, multiples or valuation ratios (price/earnings, price/book, price/sales) measure sentiment. Stocks prices increase when earnings increase, sentiment increases or both increase.

96. Economic Outcomes Remain Up in Air -

Fedcasting With the markets and the politicians currently co-dependent, vacation for one implies vacation for the other. Trading volumes have collapsed. For those who are manning their trading terminals, daily market activity amounts to position-squaring ahead of September’s central bank policy proclamations.

97. Prospective Grizz Owner, Ubiquiti Look Ahead -

Robert Pera, the California businessman who’s in the process of buying the Memphis Grizzlies, was probably ready to turn the page on a new day and a new week.

98. Still a ‘Tireless Advocate’ for Local Small Businesses -

Lee Still is passionate about the health and success of small business in Memphis.

Still has been involved with the Greater Memphis Chamber’s Small Business Council since its inception in 2007, and his two-year term as its chairman runs through the end of this year.

99. What’s On, What’s Off Economic Table? -

On the Table: Conversational Easing With the data stream lukewarm at the moment, markets needed policy support for handholding. Recent history demonstrates that when market anxieties rise, fiscal and monetary authorities intervene. We have described this as the “Punch/Counterpunch” market.

100. Pinterest Piques Retailer Interest -

Editor’s Note: This is the first in a two-part series. With photo-sharing tool Instagram off the market – selling to Facebook earlier this year for a billion dollars – Pinterest is now the hottest social media startup in Silicon Valley due to its rapid growth as the fastest social media platform ever to gain 10 million unique users. Today, Pinterest boasts 17 million accounts, up from 5,000 in the fall of 2010, making it the third-largest social network after Facebook and Twitter, according to Forbes.