Surest sign of a gold bubble?

Since Bank of America and LaSalle Bank merged a few years ago, there has been a nice corner storefront available for rent in the upscale suburban Chicago city where I live.

Now it seems a new tenant has moved in: the fourth national retail location of
Bullion Express.

I didn't have time to wander in. But it appears to be the sort of place where, after a day of shopping or a long commute home, you can stop in and pick up a few gold bars or South African Krugerrands. You know, just because.

I realize there is a reasonable case to be made for gold right now—a case the markets have certainly been making for years.

That case, briefly: Central banks have been flooding the global economy with money. Inflation is tame right now, but that could change. Gold, with its supposedly timeless value, provides a hedge for nervous investors against rising prices.


None of this is unreasonable. Still, take my non-professional financial advice for the little it’s worth. Doesn’t it seem like we’ve seen this movie before? Remember tech stocks being different in 1999? Or the home price models in 2007 which
a sustained drop in housing prices literally didn't compute.

Think about it: Gold prices have to be high and rising long enough for someone to notice the trend, formulate a business plan, find the appropriate real estate and open multiple storefront locations.

By the time all this can take place, might it be time to start looking for the
next financial opportunity?

A busy year

Mutual fund shareholder reports have long been the cornerstone of my financial copywriting business. They've carried me through several recessions. Even as clients are loathe to spend marketing dollars, fund companies still have to communicate to shareholders, once or twice a year, in good markets and bad.

So shareholder reports have been my bread and butter for a long time. In 2011, I wrote 197 quarterly, semiannual and annual reports. If that seems like a lot…well, it does to me too.

I like writing investment commentaries. It's fun to interview portfolio managers and translate what they say into language regular people can understand. It's important work. If I didn't think so, I wouldn't do it.

Still, shareholder report writing is formulaic, and doesn't demand huge reservoirs of creativity. Which is why I'm glad to have an expanding marketing collateral business. Close to 30% of my practice now emphasizes promotional and sales-oriented copy. Primarily brochures, but plenty of online and other work too. Most of this was helping elite financial advisors around the country market their practice -- a growing subspecialty of mine.

LKC 2011 service mix

The rest of my workload in 2011 included various newsletter projects, some strategy consulting and miscellaneous editing and rewriting.

I'm grateful for my clients and the opportunity to stay busy on a wide variety of projects. Here's hoping for another productive year in 2012.

If you need help with any projects, or want to find out more about my services, please
contact me today.

Editorial geekery

A colleague and I were proofreading this sentence yesterday: "Our team of experts has extensive experience developing the most effective strategies for your business survival." Business ought to be possessive, so, thinking I was following AP style, I added a lone apostrophe at the end of the word and called it a day.

When my colleague read the revision, she said it should be "business's," not "business'." That's definitely true for the Chicago Manual of Style, but I didn't think it was right for AP.

Confident in my case, I looked up the rule. It turns out that she had the more generally defensible point. Still, my edit was right, completely by accident.

Check this out from the AP Style Guide Online:

SINGULAR COMMON NOUNS ENDING IN S: Add 's unless the next word begins with s: the hostess's invitation, the hostess' seat; the witness's answer, the witness' story.

So, because the next word -- strategies -- begins with s, it's correct to go with the apostrophe alone. There's logic to this -- avoiding too many "s"s in a row enhances readability. But, honestly, did you know this?

As an aside, next time you're unhappy at work, remember that it's some person's job to come up with rules like this, all day long.

Light on the blogging

My vision for this blog was to post periodic updates about Lee Kessler Communications, the financial industry and the occasional topic of interest. So far, we have four posts, three of which were related to my time out of the office in early 2010.

I'm not foolish enough to promise to post more often. Part of the reason for the paucity of posts is that there's just so much work to be done. If I'm ever posting 12 times a day, it probably means I have a little too much time on my hands.

So I can't guarantee more content. But what would you say to a renewed effort? I'd like to make stopping here worth your while.

Back in business

After a lovely vacation, I’m back at the office today, feeling refreshed and ready to catch up. My jet-lagged brain is currently about halfway between Hawaii and Chicago, but a little bit of sleep and a lot of caffeine should help correct that soon.

Jan 2012
Mar 2011
Feb 2011
Apr 2010
Mar 2010