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Financial fear grips Ranch residents

RANCHO SANTA FE — It was just a short year ago that a firestorm spread fear throughout the Ranch. This year there’s another source of anxiety spreading fear throughout the community — financial woes.
Even though all eyes are on Wall Street these days, the effects of the decisions made there and in Washington, D.C., have been felt with great impact here in the Ranch. Forbes Magazine recently declared the Rancho Santa Fe zip code 92067 to be the ninth most expensive zip code in the U.S. (down from No. 2 in 2005). Yet, according to the magazine, home prices fell by $255,000, a loss that’s bigger than the average home value in America. The Dow Jones experienced highs and lows last week that haven’t been seen by this generation. Not since the Great Depression has the country been this preoccupied with financial concerns.
So how is the Ranch coping?
“People are nervous and there’s a lot of wringing of hands,” Glenn Mazzone, manager of Morgan Stanley in Rancho Santa Fe, said. “But there’s no panic; no one is liquidating (their assets).” According to Mazzone, clients are being very cautious, very selective in their moves. “The people in the Ranch have done their homework and they’re in it for the long run.”
Andrew Barile, an insurance consultant in the Ranch agrees. “It’s a unique group of people,” he said. “They’re highly educated. Successful people don’t get rattled. The greed concept isn’t here. We don’t have that ilk of people.”
Still, there was enough concern about fiscal matters that the Village Church held a town hall meeting Oct. 19 at the Fellowship Hall. More than 50 people attended to hear three experts speak on the subject: “The Economy, Financial Markets and You — Where Do We Go From Here?”
“We’re in the most historic financial time since the Great Depression,” Jeff Nelson, a mortgage banker and director of client services with Behavioural Economics, said to those gathered. “There’s no doubt we’re in a recession and it’s going to be severe.”
“The problem is credit became too easy,” said Neil Hokanson, president of Hokanson Associates, a comprehensive family wealth management firm. “There was a moral failure: bad loans, bad assessments and bad appraisals. But these are things that can be fixed. However, it’s going to be a long road.”
What was the experts’ advice? “Value your job,” Jeff Nelson said. “Improve your skills; set your priorities. There is going to be more unemployment, but do what you can to improve the probability of retaining your job.” Regarding investments, Nelson felt strongly that people should avoid new areas of investment, such as markets they have never been in before. “I also suggest you use advisors with at least 10 years experience. Go with advisors who have been through several of our up and down cycles in the past.”
“Every family should strive to get to break even,” Hokanson said. “Get your cash flow to neutral. Don’t spend more than you’re earning.”
“Who can add an hour to their life by worry?” Dennis Metzler, former attorney and active philanthropist, asked. “No one. So this is a time for prayer, community and a chance to go help others.”
Jeff Nelson spoke with authority when he told the crowd, “Let me assure you, in time everything is going to be fine.”
Ranch residents left the Fellowship Hall saying they felt a little more assured and hoping that Nelson’s words prove to be prophetic.