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Author: J Randall Gladden

I met Erin Brooks & her family last week.  Erin is a 9-year-old future surfing champion and an amazing young lady.

In last week’s surf competition she came in 3rd.  I was impressed with Erin and her entire family; and the tremendous support system they’ve built. Her father had a great perspective.  While he could have listed the legitimate reasons she was at a disadvantage, he focused on the character that was being developed as part of these trials and errors, these wins and losses.

From the moment you said yes to Jesus, you were meant to be amazing.  Your setbacks are merely preparation along the way.  You can choose to let the setbacks drag you down or choose to look beyond them and see that God’s plan is still at work.

God has big plans for you, but our attitudes will either carry us on to our destiny or cause us to miss it completely. So carry the Brooks family perspective with you, always.

By the way, if you want to cheer Erin on, you can find her on Instagram & Facebook @ErinBrooksSurf.

First off, let me say it… risk, risk, risk.  Ok for the (completely correct) grammar police I know I use the word risk way too much, but how else do you say it?

As many of you know I have been wary over the last few years of international investments.  Taking excessive risk without a clear strategy is the equivalent of gambling.

After the “great recession” hit the world economy, it didn’t make sense to accept that additional risk when America had so much potential.  Now the global economy has continued to recover at varying speeds and many American company’s P/E ratios are a bit pricey.

The American economy seems poised for continued growth, which may cause the dollar to continue to strengthen.  So, for those who are inclined to take more risk…there may be opportunities presenting themselves in the international markets.

Remember, along with your normal investment & economic risks, when you invest internationally you also are accepting additional risks such as political and exchange rate to name just two. One look at what’s happening in Venezuela and the seizure of the GM plant there and you know what I’m saying is more real than one might like to admit.

I am still reluctant to approach emerging markets.  They tend to be tied closely to commodity prices.  The Chinese economy is uncertain and has traditionally been a huge buyer of the commodities.  That isn’t to say you can’t do well, but again you are taking a whole new level of risk when investing internationally.

Mark Twain famously commented that he was more concerned about return of his money than return on it.  If you feel similarly, you might consider staying with America to limit your risk.

1998/99 tech stock values are rising at unbelievable rates even though very few were profitable.  There was even talk of not needing profits any longer.  It was a new world.  Then in 2000 the bubble burst.

Snap, the parent of Snapchat, introduced their public offering today to complete adulation.  In spite of the fact that investors in Snap will have no voting rights.  You heard me right, investors will get no say in the running of the company.  The founders have complete control of the company.

Snap has also never been profitable and the CEO has indicated that he is not sure if they will be.  The public offering has made him a multi billionaire anyway and investors are falling over themselves to own shares.

When company fundamentals start becoming unreasonable and more importantly people accepting it…watch out.

We still are believers in the growth & opportunities the US economy will offer over the next few years, but we recommend being very selective in how you allocate your investments.  Ride the wave, but be wary of dangers below the surface.

Since the beginning of the year, oil has been stuck in a very tight trading range.

Defying everyone’s expectations, OPEC has successfully gotten members to follow through on production cuts. It has put a floor under oil prices, but the ability of American shale producers to boost production quickly has countered to keep a lid on prices.

It has been painful, but American shale producers have found ways to bring down the cost of exploration and are typically profitable even at the current levels and are showing staying power.

Prices are projected all the way through 2021 that are either flat or slightly lower. While I feel for my friends in Alaska, overall this is great for America. Consumers get a break at the pump and factories have an advantage over their competitors overseas.

Subdued energy costs are a huge tool in process of developing the next economic boom.

The IMF, Germany & Greece continue to disagree over the next steps relating to the Greek bailout.

For Memos, Anthony, your churches and our friends in Greece, we encourage our followers to pray for you.

While there have been numerous (and legitimate) concerns on all sides, the bottom line is that the situation is unsustainable.

The middle ground seems to be that as Greece “proves faithful”, then some level of their debt would be forgiven. Unfortunately Germany is strenuously fighting under the belief of fiscal austerity.

You may think you are facing challenges, those under 30 are facing over 50% unemployment.

BUT, in Memos’ church when someone loses a job…the church prays. And they get a better job!

One of the results of the great recession, as it has become known as, is a trend towards a healthier financial state for the American middle class.

At the beginning of the recession it was obvious that American’s were saving more and putting a greater emphasis paying down their debt.

For quite some time we were unsure of whether this was a trend or a temporary emotional reaction. Eight years after the initial meltdown, the evidence continues to indicate a significant cultural shift.

American’s continue to save more, strive to eliminate their debt and are more judicious in their spending.

As a side note, a recent survey found that 25% of families say they are now debt free. That is up from 14% just a few years ago.

To Brexit or not to Brexit, that is the question

Having just returned from the UK, by my informal survey the exit vote has the momentum.

The voices arguing for remain are focusing on potential economic fallout. What they seem to miss is that after the great recession, people don’t feel like the economy is amazing.

More importantly the British public is more concerned with the free movement within the EU. The perception is that this allows immigrants to come in and claim benefits as well as leaving an open door for Islamic terrorists to make their way to England.

An out vote would still require a 2 year negotiation of new terms before Great Britain left.

Until the vote is concluded next week, prepare for potential volatility.

I’m currently in Amsterdam and had dinner with Memos Sakallariou a pastor friend from Athens, Greece. To put our conversation in context, Greece has suffered from a massive economic downturn, refugee influx from Syria and political turmoil.

Currently unemployment for those under 35 is running in excess of 53%. People are struggling to get by. Suicide is rampant.

Memos also shared with me how God is being faithful to HIS people. Their church is working. People have jobs, even the young people. If someone loses a job, they pray and get a better one.

In these kinds of circumstances it is easy to become fearful and depressed. Memos and I made a commitment to each other. Instead of being afraid, “we were going to live until we died!”

God has big plans for his people…only fear can hold us back.

Mr. Gladden firmly believes that Christians can and should create a legacy for their family to carry forward in life, and more importantly impact the world around them.

Randy reminds families, “As His children we need to start realizing that even though we don’t fully know what God’s plans are, we need to set out on the adventure and start living life with expectation.

God wants to provide you w/ purpose and passion and Randy wants to show participants how to use tools and techniques to help cultivate your dreams and desires while building the spiritual and financial legacy He has planned for you.

Wrapping up a whirlwind trip to New Orleans. We have been at a conference searching out and reviewing different strategies and opportunities for Christian’s investments to succeed even in challenging times. We are quite excited about things we have seen.

Along the way we were able to celebrate my birthday and get a new recipe for chargrilled oysters. Next week off to Alaska to encourage some pastors and connect w/ some clients.

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