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marcfrey150A few month back I wrote that we need BIG thinking and bold decision-making in order to strengthen our community and our brand.

T his month I want to call attention to three events that serve as prime examples of this kind of thinking, the kind that can propel a community such as ours from an ordinary seaside resort to a world-class community.

The three events are the Public Outdoor Art Exhibition at Honey Horn Plantation, Imagination 2013 at the same venue and the Concours d’Elegance, which this year is around the clubhouse at Port Royal Golf Club.

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moneyreportA Biotech stocks have been on a tear in 2013. Initial public offerings or IPOs, totaled $1.7 billion in the first half of the year, greater than in 2011 and 2012 combined. The Nasdaq Biotech Index, a measure of industry performance, is up over 42% year to date. According to Deutsche Bank, consensus for annual earnings growth in the biotech industry over the next 3 years is estimated at 21 percent, compared with 9 percent for the S&P 500. In 2012, the FDA approved 39 drug therapies, more than in any year since 1996.

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moneyreportA few weeks ago Berkshire Hathaway Inc. (BRKB) announced a second-quarter profit increase of 46 percent, reflecting improvement in their core businesses of auto insurance, energy and railroads, as well as gains from investments and derivatives. We shouldn’t be surprised. Investors have long marveled at the success of Berkshire Hathaway in building value for its shareholders; their business portfolio includes General Re, Berkshire Reinsurance, Geico, Burlington Northern Santa Fe, Mid-America Energy, Union Tank Car, Clayton Homes (the country’s leading builder and financer of manufactured homes), CORT Furniture, and a slew of common stock investments in publicaly traded companies. Berkshire owns 13.7 percent of American Express, 8.9 percent of Coca Cola, 8.7 percent of Wells Fargo and 6 percent of IBM, to list just a few. They have also acquired 28 daily newspapers across the United States, pursuing Buffett’s strategy of investing in these businesses for their ability to deliver local news not obtainable elsewhere.

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marc freyThree things: The envisioned outcome, a plan and the xwillingness to execute it over a long period of time.

Three years ago such a general road map was delivered to the town council and the public titled the “Mayor’s Vision Task Force Vision 2025.” A progress report contributed by Lisa Allen can be read on page 76 of this issue. If you are interested in reading the original document, go to www.hiltonheadmonthly.com/taskforce.

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moneyreportIn 1919 Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr., the noted Supreme Court Justice, wrote in a seminal case regarding the freedom of expression under the Constitution, “The most stringent protection of free speech would not protect a man falsely shouting fire in a theater and causing a panic.”

While Holmes reconsidered his opinion in later years, with these words he articulated a canon of public morals; that there is nothing protected and no inherent right to speak falsely or maliciously, causing a public panic or disarray.

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joya1It would be easy to allow oneself to become depressed, realizing that there are so many things that could use fixing in this world, complain about injustice or one’s own misfortune. Instead I remember a proverb one of my mentors taught me growing up. “It is better to light a fire than complain about the darkness”.

Focusing on the negative is not going to make anything better, but in order to find the daily strength to look at the bright side of life and do our part to turn things positive, we need a source of inner power and positive energy.

 

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marc freyImagine standing on a plantation full of oak and pine trees, dotted with swamps, about 60 years ago — when our island was served by a drawbridge and a two-way road connector to Interstate 95 — and having the guts to imagine a planned community complete with roadways, bike paths, golf courses, tennis centers, marinas, playgrounds, shopping areas and a multitude of villas and homes.

It took BIG thinking to accomplish what we take for granted today.

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moneyreportThe big cruise lines have seen some rough water in recent months.

Despite an admirable safety record, and extremely high ratings by consumers in terms of vacation value for dollar spent, the well documented troubles on the Carnival Triumph this year, and more recently, a fire on Royal Caribbean Grandeur of the Seas, have brought about unwelcome and negative media focus. The images we saw of passengers sleeping on bare mattresses, in hot muddy ship corridors, without bathrooms or food, easily the vacation nightmare of a lifetime, will take a while to fade away, and have kept many potential guests and investors on shore. In addition, a weak European economy has cut into sales, in a market that represents over 21% of cruise destinations. However, over the long- term neither investors nor passengers may be put off.

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moneyreportDespite the current uncertainty about the future of Social Security, it remains, along with pensions and investments, an essential component of retirement income for men and women, married, single or divorced. Understanding Social Security rules, in order to work through complex choices about how and when to take benefits, can seem daunting. Many of these decisions have a lifetime impact, and cannot be undone. These can be even more critical given the financial uncertainty resulting from divorce.

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marc-blogFor once I resort to numbers instead of words to tell a story. Each of these numbers stands symbolically for something much larger and hopefully gets you to think about what it means or could mean. Send me your favorite number   by e-mailing me and I will make sure it gets posted.  

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moneyreportQE, or quantitative easing, is the controversial monetary policy that some have credited for helping us survive the economic meltdown. Others, however, blame QE for running up our debt to unsustainable levels and making damaging inflation a near certainty. It has been stopped and restarted a number of times, has been subjected to much debate within both the Fed and in Congress, and is now in its third (some say fourth) iteration. Here is a brief primer on this much debated strategy.

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192I vividly remember a time when you needed a specialized little laptop computer, that could only display five text lines at one time and needed to be hooked up to a physical telephone, to transfer a text message via the Internet to another registered user. All domain names and e-mail addresses could have been published into one very, very small phone book. This was 30 years ago, when Internet users were considered an insider society, one built on an unwritten ethic: Trust.

Thirty years later the Internet has permeated all facets of our lives. The Internet is literally everywhere we go, on the phone, at work, at home, in the car. Billions of people transfer trillions of packets of data on a daily basis to the point that a new addiction has been created: The addiction to constant connection to everything, at all times, at all costs.

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Financially illiterate? It sounds grim. For a generation without the safety net of corporate pensions, and tasked with making critical investment decisions for themselves and their families, insufficient financial education can lead to poor financial and investment choices. These bad choices have implications that last a lifetime. The national scope of this problem led the U.S. Senate to recognize the importance of financial literacy for all Americans and pass Resolution 316, officially designating this month as National Financial Literacy Month.

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