The Anna Maria Island Sun Newspaper

Vol. 9 No. 16 - January 7, 2009


Shape up in the new year with Body by Jeffery

Anna Maria Island Sun News Story

SUN PHOTO Jeff Levine also teaches classes at the
Anna Maria Island Community Center.

How are you doing with your list of New Year’s resolutions? By now you’re either feeling pretty good about yourself or wishing it was still 2008, but don’t get discouraged. In Jeffrey Levine’s world it’s always Dec. 31 and it’s never too late to start.

Levine started working out at the same gym in Boston as the then Boston Patriots. He learned a lot from the players and their professional training standards, which ultimately led him into a career as a personal trainer starting in 1975. Since relocating his home and business permanently to Anna Maria, he has trained all ages from four years old to 86, and says he can add five to 10 years of life to anyone willing to give it a try.

Levine designs a tailor made curriculum targeting the specific needs of each client. No off the rack or pre-packed programs are used. Although he trains all ages and all individuals at every level of fitness, he specializes in clients over 50 concentrating on balance, flexibility and strength training. He says everyone feels and looks better once they get moving resulting in an abundance of energy and a decrease in joint pain.

Because everyone’s fitness level and schedules are different, Levine can arrange training schedules to accommodate the work schedules’ of professionals or the less demanding days of those retired. Many people are most comfortable training in the comfort and privacy of their homes, while others prefer health clubs, and Levine will personalize a program for either location. He also teaches classes at many of the local heath and private clubs both on and off the Island and at the Anna Maria Island Community Center.

With seasonal residents and visitors starting to come back to Anna Maria, Levine expects to be busy training them while they escape Northern winters. When it’s time for them to return, he sends his clients home with a folder of exercises for them to continue and a whole bunch of encouragement. In fact, one of the things he does best is being a cheerleader for his clients. He never leaves your side during a session and encourages you to work towards the highest level of your ability.

Remember the old saying, If you don’t have your health you don’t have anything.” Levine is committed to helping his clients improve the quality of their lives through a sensible and personalized workout program. Forget the New Year’s resolutions. Start investing in your life now. Call Levine – he’s the man to get you out of the recliner and into your gym shorts.

Body by Jeffrey
Jeffrey Levine
Personal trainer

Anna Maria Island Sun News Story
Here’s to better times in 2009

Investment Corner

As 2008 was dawning, the stock market had begun to struggle and the bursting of the housing bubble was not only evident, but was picking up speed. Few, certainly not me, had any inkling of the magnitude of events which would continue to unfold during the rest of the year.

By the end of 2008, the landscape of the investment and banking industries had changed, possibly forever. Investment banks in existence for decades evaporated in bankruptcy or were merged with stronger rivals after realizing the leverage (borrowed money) they used to buy investments related to the collapsing mortgage market were worthless, at least at the moment. Those that survived have converted to "bank holding company" status to be able to tap Federal Reserve funding if necessary.

Over 100 banks nationwide have failed, or been merged into stronger competitors just prior to failure. The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation was forced to raise the limit on insured deposits from $100,000 to $250,000 to help calm customers of banks who feared an inability to get to their funds. The $100,000 limit had been in place for many years and should have been raised incrementally over the last two decades, so I believe this action was one of the better outcomes of the 2007 – 2008 credit crisis.

The same stock market we were making the case for being undervalued a year ago suddenly was not undervalued when factoring the uncertainty created by the unfolding waves of the economic slowdown created by the deleveraging of corporate and consumer America (and for that matter, the rest of the world as well). The result was the worst stock market decline since at least 1973-74, and by some measures, since the Great Depression of the 1930’s.

A couple months ago I wrote an article which appeared here in The Sun which made the case we were not headed for another Depression. The article highlighted the fundamental differences between that terrible time, the mistakes made, and how the opposite steps were being taken today. The economy will likely struggle for several more months and unemployment will rise further, but I stand by the opinion that we are not facing another Depression.

Some significant positives have been occurring, but little attention paid to them because of the overwhelming negative news we seem to face daily. Oil prices have declined over 70% from the peaks of June of this year. Gasoline is down from over $4 a gallon to around $1.70. For the person driving about 12,000 miles a year in a car getting about 20 miles to the gallon, the savings from this price decline will be about $1,400 per year if prices remain steady. This is the equivalent of a tax cut which is much more significant than the previous stimulus programs which sent a few hundred dollars to each qualifying household.

In my last article a couple weeks ago which reviewed how the average common stock now paid a higher dividend yield than the interest yield available on a ten year U.S. Government bond, I highlighted how the 10 year bond was yielding about 2.7 percent. That yield has recently fallen further, and with conventional mortgages being tied to the yield on the 10 year bond, we will not be surprised to see mortgage rates below 5% in the near future.

Rates of this level have not been seen for almost 50 years and will allow homeowners to refinance their existing mortgages and have more manageable payments. Families currently renting may find it within their means to buy a home with recent price declines and the lower mortgages rates increasing home affordability.

Predicting markets and the economy are difficult enough in calm times, but in somewhat unprecedented times like these it is probably foolish. There have been some signs of stabilization in the credit markets which are ground zero to this entire fiasco. There is little doubt the economy will struggle for a while longer because it is just too large of an entity to turn around on a dime. We hope that investors will continue to plan their investment in an appropriate manner for their personal situation, but not let fear drive their decisions at the end of one of the harshest financial corrections on record. We keep coming back to the teachings of some wise individuals who have navigated tough times before. One of our favorites is from Mr. Warren Buffett who says, "I like to be greedy when others are fearful and fearful when others are greedy". It seems obvious what the predominant sentiment is today.

Let’s hope 2009 is a better year for investors and their families as we start to rebuild the economy, our portfolios, and our faith in the system that has survived and prospered for over 230 years.

Tom Breiter is President of Breiter Capital Management, Inc., an Anna Maria based investment advisor. He can be reached at 778-1900. Some of the investment concepts highlighted in this column may carry the risk of loss of principal, and investors should determine appropriateness for their personal situation before investing.

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