Tuesday, March 24, 2009

We've Entered a New Era - Congress Has Become an Angry Mob With No Rule of Law!!

Yes, congress has taken on the personality of an angry mob who is out to hang any one they don't like, agree with, or who happens to make big bonuses. In congress' latest action, they recently passed a bill to tax certain individuals’ bonuses from AIG at a 90% rate.

Sure AIG should have never paid those bonuses, no doubt! We all can certainly agree with that. But there are two bigger stories the press isn’t focusing.

The first story is the mod mentality of our elected officials. The headlines should be saying “Congress Hang AIG Executives.” We should be concerned when congress gets angry and then tries to pass laws slapping this certain class of people with penalties that would clearly violate our constitution. Yet, the press glazes over this act and fails to point out how this kind of congressional leadership is akin to an angry dictator slapping any one they want with extra taxes who disagrees with them or their philosophy.

It even concerns me more that the public is so blinded by this congressional action that they are not raising up and questioning their congress person. When our congress takes actions because it feels good, and that action is clearly unconstitutional, we’re all in trouble. They have sent a message that the rule of law means nothing to them and that they are above the rule of law. This AIG special tax is an example of an angry mob ignoring the rule of law in two areas.

The first area is the obvious constitutional issue of passing laws aimed at specific class of individuals. Congress can not select classes of people and pass laws to control those people. We are a nation of equal rights and equal laws. In other words, in the AIG case, they have decided to issue a special tax for those people. The tax has nothing to do with income levels. It solely had to do with working at AIG. So if Congress decides they don’t like the money the executive make at Apple, they could pass the same laws. Absolutely absurd!

The second law broken was making a law retroactive or back dating after the event occurred. Congress can not retroactively tax individuals. Can you imagine one day waking up to discover on your pay check they have taken your whole pay check because congress decides to increase the tax rate dating back to 2007 and make it retroactive? How scary is that!!!

And finally, congress has thrown out contract law and ignored the fact contracts must be upheld otherwise they become worthless. Our entire economy is based on contract laws and when our elected officials can merely ignore those laws any time they get angry, then what makes us any different than a third world dictatorship?

What is concerning to me is our president says he would have signed the bill! My lord what have we done!

Second, AIG has received $170 billion to bail them out. So the obvious question is where’s the $169,836,000,000? Now doesn’t seem more important to focus on the big picture here…like who cares about $164 million when there is another $169.8 billion going somewhere else! Sure I don’t want those slime buckets at AIG getting it, but we have a much bigger issue and why aren’t our congress people making an issue out of that?

Let me help you understand where the $169.8 billion has gone to…big picture…60% to foreign entities and countries and 40% to U.S. companies like Merrill Lynch, Goldman sack (Paulson’s old company), Bank of America, etc. Now where is the congressional outrage here! If there was ever a place where congress could impose their Nazi mob mentality it is here! Cancel those foreign contracts! Our tax dollars are going to support those foreign companies. Am I missing something here! And they are worried about $164 million!!!!

And finally, the story not even being mentioned let alone told, is the Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac stories. The purpose of these two entities was to create liquidity in the residential real estate markets. They would buy mortgages from banks and accumulate these mortgages. Where do they get the money to buy those mortgages? Simple, from investors looking for a safe home – or at least they thought it was a safe home – and most of those investors are foreign countries looking for a safe place to park, say a few billion here and a few billion there. Now who has that kind of money? Yes, you guessed it the Chinese just to name a major investor.

Over the years Freddie and Fannie accumulated $2+ trillion in mortgages. All of us know what’s happened to real estate in the past two years. Common sense tells us the value of that $2+ trillion has taken a dive. But since these two entities are government owned now, we can’t get information about what’s going on with their books and how much have they borrowed from the tax payers to pay those debts to countries like China? I can assure you it is a whole lot more than $170 billion paid to AIG.

If our congress wants to save the tax payers $164 million from bonuses paid to AIG, that’s fine. But we deserve a congress who oversees the whole forest and not the blade of grass on the forest floor. There are hundreds of billions of our tax payer dollars going to foreign companies and governments. These companies made investment decisions and accepted the risk, albeit no one knew how risky it truly was, and they should suffer the consequences of their risk taking. I don’t see any one bailing out my 401K!

Check us out at www.sellingrestaurants.com

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Have You Missed the Bottom?

The headlines that seem to be dominating stockmarket reporting these days is whether the stock market hit bottom a couple weeks ago when the Dow Jones hit 6,500.

Well, I not so bold as to guess whether it did or didn't. But on a national and global level the stock market tends to be a leading indicator of where the economy is headed. I hardly call a couple good week on the market a tend, but at least it's not falling off a cliff like it has been over the past 18 months.

When I was studying finance, there was a rule of thumb stating that the stock market leads an economic recovery or recession by 18 months. In other words, when the stock market picks-up steam and is consistant for a few months period of time, it tends to indicate the economy will get stronger. I use to believe this indicator and it use to hold up. But boy did the stock market miss it on this recession. I think that's why we saw these huge declines because every one was caught off guard with the size of the financial/housing crisis.

So all buyers of assets are sitting waiting for signs of the turn-a-round before they jump into buy. These buyers include not only stock market buyers, but home buyers, business buyers, commercial real estate buyers, bond buyers, venture capital, etc.

I've read that there is $11 trillion dollars in cash sitting and waiting for the opportunity to buy something. When these folks do decide to start buying, will it be a steady and calm buying process or a bit of a frenzy?

Just like the ups and downs of the stock market, I believe human behavior is one that panics and when folks decide to jump in, it will be a bit of a frenzy. So when folks decide to start buying businesses, we can expect a sudden jumping in of buyers.

Monday, March 16, 2009

What I've learned during recessions

During my adult life I've lived through 5 recessions, each with a new foot print as to the cause of the economy going south. In 1973, it was OPEC jacking up the price of oil, causing long lines at gas stations and driving up the cost of everything. I remember the meat section of the grocery stores being empty. I recall pushing my car in gas lines that would take 2 hours of waiting to get only 5 gallons of gas.

In 1979, the Carter administration allowed the Iranian government to be taken over by a radical Muslim group, followed by the hostage situation and then by Iran's inconsistent oil production causing shortages and higher oil prices. To combat the inflationary effect, interest rates were jacked-up to levels never since in that century nor ever seen since that time. This caused what was coined as stag-flation, and we're still feeling the affects of Iran Carter's decision today.

Late 80’s and early 90’s, the housing market combined with savings and loan debacle and the Bush I tax increases led to the weakening of the economy which caused a trickle down into many other industries.

In 2000, the bursting of the dot-com bubble combined with Enron and the accounting practices caused the economy to sputter. For me this was the first time I started to see the corproate corruption in sizes no one could imagine.

Now in 2008, we're faced with a recession of greed. Greed not only at the corporate level, but greed at the individual level. This greed has led to liquidity issues and bank failures and bank bail-outs along with rediculous governmentspending program that will kill the economy more. Many want to blame the housing market collapse, but it is much deeper than that. Greed combined with a society that has no sense of responsibility and a sense of entitlement is the underlining cause. When people can walk away with no obligation, it is easy to take risks. when the government will bail you out when billions are lost, yet when billions are being made the employees are raping the company for their bad decision nonetheless!

in any case, each recession had a different causes; but nevertheless the results were devastating to so many people yet from the flames of each recession arose some great companies.

In the late 70’s Apple Computer and Microsoft were born creating a new world of business and entertainment. In the late 80’s AOL, Amgen, and Cisco and many others started gaining stardom and size creating new industries and employing millions.

In the late 90’s and early 2000’s the internet behemoths of Google, Yahoo!, Amazon, and E-Bay were hatched into, creating a new industry that we’re just beginning to completely understand and use.

And here we are today, in the mists of another recession and when many are wondering who will survive, I’m wondering who will be born to create a new and exciting new industry? Who will create millions of new jobs in our new world?

Recessions force people to do things they’ve always wanted to do but they were too comfortable in the their high paying corporate jobs to take risk. Now that they are out of work and looking for income, they start to think, create and build. How exciting is that!

This isn't something you'll read in the press!

Friday, March 13, 2009

This Was a Great Week!

To the folks getting this via e-mail notice, the whole point is for you to comment back and just talk in general about what's going on in your area of business.

I would hesitate to compare our business trend to that of Wall Street, but this week was a sure reflection of it. Just as Wall Street had a good week, so did we. We closed 3 deals and put 5 into contract; and this after the longest dry period I've seen in my 5 years in this business.

This is in contrast to the previous 6 weeks where we only saw one deal close and one deal put into contract. It's nice to be able to see positive things happening. Stuart Schlosser closed his first deal! Steve McFarland his second! Joe Ranalla's on a string with three closed in the past 6 weeks putting him in second place in the company with John Powers at the top. Good work folks!

In addition to the three folks we hired in the past month, we brought on another new person in Seattle, Michael Carney who is an experienced broker. That makes 5 agents in Seattle where we're expecting great things to happen.

Our buyer registration remains strong. Let hope that the SBA does get some of that so-called stimulus dollars - suppose to be $3 billion - and we start seeing lending starting again so the big commission deals start to roll-in. Those deals have been dead over the past 18 months.

Many of you may not know, but we've formed an alliance with www.wesellrestaurants.com in Georgia and Florida. We have a lot in common with them and I'm learning new things all the time, as they are as well.

Next week I expect things to continue to move at a faster pace. Sacramento area is still weak, but there are signs of it picking up. San Diego has been quiet lately. Orange County as well. Rodger and Steve are making things happen in the Inland Empire while Stuart is busy as a bee in Los Angeles. Larry Braden and his team are gaining momentum every week. I expect to see great things from those guys this year...John, you better pick-up the pace if you're going to sell 35 restaurants this year you are 6 behind!

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

We're Finally Hearing rumors of Economic Turn Around

Is has been said the darkest moment is just before the sunrises. Today there was a lot of positve news flowing out to the market. First, Citi Bank CEO said they made a profit for the first two months of this year. Of course, one needs to understand what exactly profit means in order to understand whether he is being truthful.

And with all the CEO's lying through their teeth lately, I have some doubt. Call it being gun shy, but i have a few bullet holes in me as a result of trusting these bankers. Nevertheless the market took it in stride and shot up today.

Then the fed chairman comes out and says he believe the recession will end by the end of the year. I've actually heard him say this several times over the past month, but he was also saying last year that it wouldn't be as bad as it is today. Hummm...does he truely know what's going on out here?

And here we are in California with 10+ pus unemployment and going up and their going to raise taxes? I finally understand...we're going to tax our selve to property! Wow what a brilliant idea. The last guy to try that was Jimmy Carter, and now Barack Obama.

All that being said, the stock markets performance was impressive today. The stock market is a leading indicator of what's to come. I believe if we see a stabalization of the stock market over the next few months, then perhaps the Fed Chairman is correct that the recession will end by the end of the year.

If this is true, then the time to buy assets is now before the demand for them turns-up and prices go up as well. Restaurants is one of those assets that will experience appreciation after getting beat-down to rediculous prices.

If you want to comment please add your comments to this blog.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Buyers and Activity - Becafeful of Sellers Who Don't Want an Escrow

We've had some exciting buyer registering activity happening lately with record number of buyers registering on our website in the past month and continuing on into March. We've been averaging 200 new buyer a week since early February, which right at our highs for this time of year. So there is great buyer activity going on.

On another note, I'm hearing more and more that buyers are getting into deals with sellers without doing an escrow. That dangerous especially in these times where sellers find themselves in debt to government agencies, vendors and the landlord. Remember, a buyer assumes those liabilities unless they go through a proper escrow.

I once had a client call me who thought they were getting a great deal on a restaurant they just purchased until he discovered after he bought it the the seller owed the state $50,000 in back taxes. He had to pay it!

So beware of seller who don't want to do an escrow!

Friday, March 6, 2009

The Bottom of the Market is in All of Us!

All we hear about these days is where is the bottom? Where is the bottom of the housing market? Where is the bottom of the Stock Market? Where is the bottom of the bond market? and more to my business, where is the bottom of the restaurant value market? Assets around the world have collapsed in the past 6 months with practically every asset being devalued by 40-60% from their pike prices.

Every one is asking these questions and the answer is with all of us. As long as we continue to panic as a population, the bottom could be a lot lower than what it is today for all these assets.

I'm no economist, although I have 4 years of economics education in college, but when people sell an asset they are converting the asset into cash. And there is a whole lot of cash out there right now waiting to find a home. I heard a figure the other day os 14 trillion dollars of cash! Where could this cash find a home be is the million dollar question? Or better yet, when will the cash move to a home? And it will eventually find a home.

When the cash decides to move into a home (assets) the value of those assets will increase by definition. Simple economics of supply and demand.

What is amusing is the bottom of the market is in all of us. And what I mean is we need to stop the panic and be rational. As Warren Buffet says, when people are greedy, it's time to sell and when people panic it is time to buy unless of course you think this is the end of the world or of the U.S. as we've known it for 200+ years. And perhaps it is. But I'm certainly not convinced it is.

Think about the value of assets today. Housing is quickly approaching 1999 price levels. Stocks are at 1995 price levels. And commercial property is beginning to crash as well and should be at 2000 prices by the end of the year.

At some point all that cash will flow back into the markets and prices will be right back where we were a year ago. Will it take a couple/few years to get there? Certainly. But the point is if you're trying to time the bottom you'll likely get burned and left behind.

So lets all stop the panic and start grabbing some of these bargain price deals out there. If you've ever wanted to start a small business, the price to start hasn't been this low in more than a decade.

Let all get this economy restarted by investing in the American dream of owning your own business!

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Restaurant Brokering is Going to Pickup!

We live in a world that is transaction based. If the transactions dwindle to practically nothing, the economy suffers. For example, when a new home is sold it creates hundreds of financial transactions. The builder gets his money and then builds another home and employs more people. The real estate agent makes a commission and spends it on dinners, vacations, and general bills. And escrow company makes money and employees dozens of people who also go to restaurants, vacations, and Fry's electronics to buy the latest toy.

In the past two months, the number of business opportunity transaction in California has dropped by more than half compared to just December. That's 10's of millions of dollars of lost transactional income. Imagine the affect on the economy; on every small and large business.

An economy is driven by transactions and if the consumer confidence is low, than the number of transaction will be low and the trickle effect starts to roll down through the economy.

We as a nation need to open out pockets and have the confidence that we'll be able to pull through these tough time. We've done it every time. So let's get positive and let's invest in creating a healthy economic environment by go out to dinner and lunch; by going to the mall; by going to Fry's to buy your favorite toy; by going to the car dealer and buy a new car; by taking your vacations in the U.S.; by investing in the stock market.

By God, we'll get through this mess, but we all need to chip in and do our part and not get caught in the mantra of the season..."it's going to get worse before it gets better..."

And go buy a restaurant or retail business at sellingrestaurants or sellingstores

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Getting Positive!

President Obama's campaign slogan of "Change" has taken on new meaning in the past 40 days. There certainly has been a change in the air, but the change hasn't been well received by the average citizen nor Wall Street. Obama started his presidency with either personal ambition or pure stupidity. He has personally caused the economy to sink further than it already was sinking.

A president is there to encourage people, to be the light in a dark era, to be positive despite the doom and gloom on the street. A president needs rally the people around a common purpose other than if we tax the rich, all will be well.

Bill Clinton had it right this week when he said Obama was talking down the economy. My business felt a direct hit by Obama's mouth and his lack of CEO experience. For his own personal greed and pride all he wanted to do was pass the so called stimulus bill at all costs causing Obama to go on the road and preached the "it's going to get worse before it gets better."

From August to January SellingRestaurants and SellingStores were selling 8-12 businesses a month. Then our great president Obama started his "It's going to get worse" campaign and in February we sold one business. On a statewide basis, February business sales were down 60% over the previous month.

All buyers we speak to are holding off buying be "they think it is going to get worse." So Obama's self fulfilling prophesy is coming true. By his own words, it is going to get worse, not because it would have gotten worse had is kept his mouth shut, rather because he "CHANGED" people attitudes about the economy for the worse. He's got people scared to death so they stopped buying. My clients tell me that February was one of the worse months in their history.

So President Obama, you have got to talk-up the economy. You've got to be the one not blaming the rich for the woes of this country or the greed of only Wall Street when the greed of the poor sap who thought he was buying a gold mine is responsible as well and transferring wealth from the rich to the poor has become your mantra; rather you have to be positive President Obama, positive that we Americans can band together and get through these tough times without the government spending trillions of dollars on wealth transfer programs. You need to give people like me a reason to stay in this country so I can employ folks without feeling like I'm working only to support your social programs. It won't happen Mr. President. Equity flows to the path of least resistance and mine and millions of other will flow somewhere else if the current trend continues.