Opportunity in Emerging Markets

I believe that investors would be well served to continue to hold and add to emerging market positions for the long term. The reward may not come overnight, but in my opinion, emerging market equities appear to be undervalued and provide a very attractive risk-return profile for patient investors. This guidance does require a leap of faith and a willingness to be temporarily wrong. After all, economic growth rates in the BRIC (Brazil, Russia, India and China) economies have certainly cooled and the MSCI Emerging Markets Index has continued to under perform the S&P 500 Index so far this year.1

This recent slowdown and underperformance has created an opportunity. Much of the economic slowdown in developing nations has been as a result of policy tightening in an intentional response to inflationary pressures. While rates here at home have remained historically low, many emerging markets were raising rates the last couple years. Now we are starting to see this trend reverse. Since the beginning of this year Brazil, India, and China have cut interest rates. This trend is not just in the BRIC nations. At least 17 other emerging markets have cut rates in 2012, from larger economies like Chile and Indonesia, to smaller economies like Kazakhstan and the Philippines.2

So what could go wrong? It will take time for this policy stimulus to work through these economies. There is always a lag between interest rates cuts and an economic pickup. In the meantime, we also have the risk of an overall global business slowdown, a distinct possibility right now. And of course there is Europe, where continued progress on their debt crisis will need to be made before investors regain an appetite for riskier assets like emerging market stocks. Never a shortage of things to worry about … and I did not even mention our pending elections and the looming “fiscal cliff.”

Despite these concerns there is much to be positive about. Growth in many emerging markets continues to outpace that of the developed world. We are also seeing a significant structural change in emerging market economies. This is especially evident in China. Many emerging markets are increasingly shifting economic growth away from exports to the developed world and into internal demand and trade with other emerging markets. The market volatility we have seen lately, especially in response to the Eurozone crisis, has driven emerging market valuations to well below their historical averages. An attractive opportunity may well be at hand in emerging markets. Forward looking, long term, and most importantly, patient investors have a chance to build exposure to this dynamic asset class while it is on sale… and who doesn’t like a sale?

  1. Cetera Financial Group, Dailey Market Briefing, 9-10-1
  2. Oppenheimer Funds, Capital Markets Quarterly Market Outlook, Q3 2012

 Damien helps individuals invest and manage risk. He is a Certified Financial Planner™ professional and a principal of Walnut Creek Wealth Management. Opinions expressed are not intended as investment advice or to predict future performance. 

 All economic and performance information is historical and not indicative of future results. Additional risks are associated with international investing, such as currency fluctuations, Political and economic stability and differences in accounting standards. Investors cannot invest directly in an index. These are the views of Damien Couture, CFP®. Your comments are welcome. Damien can be reached at 925-280-1800 x101 or Damien@WalnutCreekWealth.com.

Designing for the Little Ones

One of the most exciting parts of having a new baby is decorating his or her room in anticipation for the big homecoming day. Designing children’s rooms has become more than just picking pink or blue paint and calling it a day. This will be a room where your child’s imagination and mind will grow quickly. With the help from a designer, your child’s room will become a place where you both can learn and explore together.

Theme rooms are great and can be started with newborns. Boys can delve into the wonders of the ocean or jungle with the help of murals, stuffed animals, vibrant paints, and fun fabrics. Disney Princesses or a floral garden for girls can include colorful wallpaper, decorative light fixtures, plush fabrics, and rugs.

Life stages progress quickly and an extravagantly themed room can be easily converted into a playtime getaway for growing children by simply changing the paint or wall coverings. Rugs have an added benefit of providing warmth and interest while protecting floors from toys! Bedding will need to be added with the introduction of a new bed and can stay until the child is in their early teens.

A child’s room needs to be able to adapt from a crib to big boy or girl bed with a few easy changes. Window treatments can go from fun and themed to simple and sophisticated by adding panels, without having to change the hardware. A comfortable rocking chair is the most important, aside from the crib. The crib should be both fun and functional; for example, heightened corner posts for a princess or castle themed room, or fish and seaweed painted on the rails for an underwater feel. The changing table will coordinate with the crib and can also serve as a dresser or other storage unit.

Turn Back the Clock to a More Youthful, Fit You

Even in the “olden days” people wanted to stay young. In 1513, legend has it that Ponce de León landed in what is now Florida, searching for the fountain of youth. The Spaniard had no luck finding the restorative waters, but his name is forever associated with the quest for youth and longevity. In modern times we are seemingly all Ponce de Leóns- seekers of youth who spend crazy money on creams and plastic surgery and antioxidant packed beverages. We are looking in the wrong place.

One of the best ways to get a body that can hold out against the nastiest side effects of aging is not found in a jar or on a table. It’s being active and maintaining lean muscle tissue. Koko Smartraining will help you feel like you’ve turned back the clock by building and maintaining the muscle that slows down the effects of time on your body.

You might not want to hear it, but here are some cold, hard facts about your aging body:

If you aren’t doing something about it, your body loses a half a pound of lean muscle tissue every year after the age of 25.  Your body is losing its most critical mass. Rapidly. This is bad. Lean muscle tissue is what keeps your metabolism high, burning lots of calories, keeping your weight under control and giving you strength and energy to go about your life.

The good news is that with strength training, you can turn back the clock. You can gain back what you’ve lost and rev up that sluggish metabolism. You can also build more lean muscle tissue than you’ve lost. A 60 year old man with the same muscle mass as an average 25 year-old, will have the metabolism of an average 25 year old. Isn’t that incredible? Three 30 minute trips on the Koko Smartrainer each week, consistently, is all it takes. All it takes to turn back the clock

Koko FitClub Danville is owned and operated by Val and Mike Rogers, local Danville residents. Koko FitClub is conveniently located in downtown Danville at the Iron Horse Trail Crossing.

I’ll Have What He’s Having: Pho

Allow me a moment to appropriately generalize: As Americans we love Asian Culture foods, and for very good reason. Tradition and trends prove my point. In the late 80’s Chinese restaurants dotted the Tri Valley like Starbucks do today, and in the 2000s Sushi establishments became more common than the cold. What I have found that I feel better after a good Asian meal. You know that “better full” rather than the “red-meat covered in gravy” full.

Lately, a new trend has arisen. Like many other wonderful trends, it came on subtly until our eyes and minds were forced to recognize the fact that there sure were a lot of Pho places opening, and oh yeah, what is Pho?

Simply put, Pho is Vietnamese noodle bowl. A simple concoction of the freshest possible ingredients submerged in a broth that takes forever to make. I say “forever” because these recipes, like so many other traditional recipes, have been handed down from generation to generation. In some cases they have outlasted even family names, surviving as a treasured heirloom.

I have been partaking of this “death-row” meal for the past ten years and am only able to properly write about it after returning from Vietnam earlier last month. My only reference of this holy bowl of goodness came from American soil and not the “real deal.” Sure I had my favorite place to get it (once a week) but until last month I didn’t realize that Pho Saigon is the “real deal”.

They have taken the often street side in Vietnam prepared dish and reproduced it perfectly for all of us to enjoy at tables and booths! The separation in the broth left in the bowl of tiny fatty oil bubbles and the dark cloudy liquid that screams of time, love and flavor properly allow me to now know, this is real. This came from Vietnam.

So here is the presentation: I order a number seven. Number seven is simply rare brisket, tripe, and tendon. Please note that you do not have to go the way of organ meats; it’s just highly recommended. Brisket and beef or chicken is a very valid option for the less than adventurous.

The bowl comes quickly with your cloudy, seasoned, piping-hot broth, filled with rice noodles and your meat selection. The point is that the broth is so hot, it cooks your meat. Brilliant in its simplicity. The coup de grâce is the plate of fresh—very fresh—veggies. Sprouts, cilantro, Thai basil, jalapenos and lime wedges arrive with the bowl for your adding pleasure.

The set-up, to be done in the lengthy five minutes you wait for your food, is your place setting. A shallow cup of Sriracha Hot Sauce and Hoisin Sauce with the consistency of molasses, lie in wait next to your Asian soup spoon and chopsticks to be loaded up per bite.

The magical thing about Pho is that it is the cure to what ails you. Need to scrape the wool off your tongue from a late night previous, or stop a head cold at first symptoms? You need Pho!

I have been to many Pho places since my addiction began, but have yet to find anything as complete and authentic than Pho Saigon. Located in Walnut Creek and Dublin and the recently added Ipho (cute) in Danville, they offer plenty of opportunity to indulge. The key is to not be afraid of new things. They are very customer oriented and ready to teach the novice how to consume this treasure.

There are only a couple of places we go on a regular basis and Pho Saigon on 11560 Newell Ave in Walnut Creek is one one of them.

If you really want what I’m having, you can start with Pho.



Why Do I Have Every Thyroid Symptom if My Lab Tests are Normal?

Thyroid hormone is a major player in our health and in determining how we feel in general. It turns out that not only is it important in our overall function, but according to the American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists (AACE), about 1 in 8 women from 35 to 65 years of age has low thyroid function, as does 1 in 5 over 65. What’s more, this is the tip of the iceberg because about half of the 13 million Americans who have a thyroid disorder don’t know it.

If you have hypothyroidism and are taking a prescription for thyroid hormone, it may not be enough or the right kind of treatment to actually keep your symptoms at bay. Unfortunately, in traditional western medicine there are no treatment options beyond thyroid replacement. If you are still having thyroid symptoms like weight gain, fatigue, insomnia, hair loss, brain fog, and constipation, then your only option is to take additional drugs for each and every symptom.  This could include antidepressants, sleeping pills and stool softeners that don’t add to your well-being, and certainly don’t do anything to improve the function of your thyroid.

Everything in the body affects everything else. In order to properly treat and manage any chronically sick or ill patient you must look at EVERYTHING, all at once. I have low thyroid myself, and know that to effectively manage your ‘thyroid’ condition we have to look at the entire body. We call this a whole-person functional approach. There’s a night and day difference between treating a symptom, or a diagnosis, and treating the PERSON. Treating the person requires understanding the whole body — the brain & nervous system, the immune system, gastrointestinal system, hormones.

Thyroid related illnesses are more often than not diagnosed and treated in a simplistic fashion. For instance, the number one cause of low thyroid function in the United States is “Hashimoto’s Autoimmune Thyroid.” Yet, this is rarely the correct focus by your primary doctor. Hashimoto’s is an autoimmune problem, and it’s not a thyroid specific issue, in that the thyroid is not functioning because it is sick, but the immune system is overactive and attacks the thyroid, slowly destroying it cell by cell over time. No thyroid medication will do anything for this attack. If you address the autoimmune side of things as well as support the thyroid gland you can really feel good again. With autoimmune thyroid we support the immune system and the organs that function with the thyroid. That is why we test extensively to see if, for instance, you have an autoimmune condition (thyroid antibodies) or if your gut function is faulty (Gastrointestinal ecology profile), or if the adrenal glands are producing enough cortisol or DHEA hormone (Adrenal Salivary Index) or if glucose levels are surging (Fasting glucose and Hemoglobin A1c) and if liver function is up to par (liver enzyme blood tests). All of these will significantly affect your thyroid function. Commonly, the nervous system is eventually affected and we’ll do neurological testing and Brain Based Therapy (BBT) to address brain fog, balance disorders or decreased memory.

Rarely is the thyroid gland and thyroid metabolic physiology understood to clinically assess complete thyroid dysfunction. In today’s five-minute-doctor-visit-world, and with the insufficient thyroid panels that have become “standard”, the underlying cause of thyroid dysfunction is ignored or simply dismissed. Since the thyroid gland is connected to so many other systems like gastrointestinal dysfunction, immune function, adrenal hormone metabolism, stomach acid production, brain chemistry changes, and liver detoxification, its dysfunction can contribute to clinical symptoms throughout the body. These must all be addressed to lead to significant lasting improvement.


Dr. Don Davis, D.C., DACNB is a BOARD CERTIFIED CHIROPRACTIC NEUROLOGIST in Walnut Creek.  He has been serving individuals with chronic pain for 30 years. For information about how you can get a free consultation with Dr. Davis, call (925) 279-4324 (HEAL).  Visit us at WalnutCreekHealth.com or WalnutCreekThyroidInstitute.com

Blood Alkalinity Can Change Your Life

Eating and breathing are basic functions. Everyone knows that. As it turns out, the two best ways to control your blood alkalinity, and therefore your health, are proper diet and proper breathing.

The Nobel Prize was awarded to Dr. Otto Warburg in 1931 for discovering that acid blood could be one of the major causes of cancer. He also found that low blood oxygen also caused cancer. Low oxygen and acid blood go hand in hand. Dr. Colon Dong more recently found that other diseases could be related to blood pH and developed a diet that arrested arthritis and went on to control diabetes. Dr. Dong was responsible for arresting more than 10,000 cases of arthritis with diet alone.

A terrific way to maintain proper blood chemistry is through proper breathing. Occasionally obese patients and chronic pain patients will acquire a habit of breathing in their chest. You can even see them raise their shoulders as they inhale. The result of this practice is a decrease in the level of carbon dioxide.

Carbon dioxide is, among other things, responsible for three very important functions.

First, the production of bicarbonates which contribute to the alkalinity of the blood; second, the control of breathing by stimulating the carotid sinuses; and third, the stimulation of the release of oxygen from the hemoglobin which is the major source of oxygen. If you have ever experienced altitude sickness and corrected it by breathing into a bag, you just had a demonstration of increasing the carbon dioxide to stimulate the release of oxygen.

Of course, doctors must appraise patients holistically. When was the last time a professional checked your breathing or your diet? I mean really checked? Just these two factors alone can severely affect your health and address symptoms that are usually covered with prescriptions. A holistic exam will address your blood alkalinity, or pH, and it turns out that there are two major ways of controlling your blood alkalinity, diet and proper breathing.

Recently I wrote a column on the Paleo Diet. Properly done this is the perfect alkaline diet. The Alkaline diet, requires a minimal intake of foods that contain high levels of protein (meat), dairy, grains (gluten) and sugar, plus no processed (read convenience) foods.

If you would like to grow the most magnificent cancer, first get your blood acid up (your jewelry will tell you when your skin turns black under copper or silver). Eat a lot of carbohydrate and sugar (cancer loves sugar as well as the bacteria love it as they use up any oxygen in their area). Remember low oxygen causes cancer.

Now you are ready. All you have to do is smoke, eat fried foods in bad oil or get exposed to radiation (if you are really good at bad eating, the sun is enough). If cancer were caused by the sun alone, we would not be here. It’s diet!

Now, if you would prefer to avoid cancer, here are a few suggestions to include in your meals: vegetables like artichokes, cabbage, carrots, kale, celery, spinach, garlic and onions, plus fruits like avocado, peaches, lemons, grapes, grapefruit, melons, berries and apples. You can also add nuts and seeds; sesame, flax, lentils, almonds, sunflower and pumpkin seeds. Fats and oils like olive oil, flax seed oil, and coconut oil will help improve your blood. Drinks should primarily consist of water, soy milk, almond milk, vegetable juice, grapefruit juice and herbal tea.

You can go on the Internet for more alkaline diet suggestions. By the way, while you are there you will find the typical pill pushers and alkaline water pushers who create alkaline blood while leaving out the nutrition and the anti aging as well as health benefits. Ignore those people. If you already have cancer, hyper oxygenated water and alkaline water could help enhance your chemotherapy. The more advanced clinics are aware of this and do much more.

One of my practices is dedicated to helping patients out of head and neck pain. I have experienced it myself before I changed my habits. I find so much enjoyment giving my patients their life back. When they follow all my instructions the rewards are incredible. In my own case I was a very athletic young man suffering many broken bones with the resulting arthritis. When I corrected my nutrition everything changed. I would never go back. And you can have the same results if you receive holistic care and are disciplined with your diet and pay attention to your breathing.

Robert Brown, DDS has a TMJ and sleep apnea practice in Danville and thoroughly enjoys discussing holistic medicine. You can contact him at 925-837-8048, at info@aodtc.com, or visit his web site at www.aodtc.com.


How Do You Turn Back Time? What You Can Do To Smooth Fine Lines and Wrinkles

How do we stop the aging process? Is it possible? Do creams really help to reduce fine lines? I get asked these questions every day. And the answer is, yes, they really do work. Using a good skin care program and a higher advanced anti-aging cream with antioxidants will make a difference.

We experience sun exposure, wind, cold, air pollution, and more on our face. Our facial skin is exposed to harsh conditions constantly and is very vulnerable to these elements; the skin gets dry, flaky, collagen begins to break down resulting in fine lines, which turn into wrinkles. Harsh drying cleansing products and soaps also help to break down the delicate surface of the skin resulting in pre-mature aging. In order to stop the aging process you need to pay extra attention to the surface of the facial skin by using proper skin care products designed for your skin needs. If your skin is very dry, you may need to use products that are designed for sensitive skin plus a good aggressive exfoliant to shed those dry layers to allow moisturizers to penetrate deeper. An intense hydrator specifically formulated for delicate skin.

You may have normal to dry skin but now fine lines are appearing. I suggest switching and upgrading to a cream that has anti-aging benefits to help reverse the signs of aging and stop the fine lines from forming into deep wrinkles. Today there are only a handful of such treatments. At the core of my research along with scientists, we’ve found there are antioxidants, or, more specifically, topical antioxidant preparations formulated to exact specifications so that they can penetrate deeply into the skin.

When shopping for an anti-aging skin care product or eye cream, make sure that it contains some of the following active antioxidant, anti-aging ingredience: High percentages of Lipoic acid, Co-enzyme, Ester-c, DMAE, or Matrixl and Neuro-Peptides. This scientific based technology will tighten skin, firm the texture of the inner and outer layer, promote rapid cell renewal and reduce fine lines.

At The Rouge we offer the finest scientific skin care technology products on the market by Ongrien. We highly recommend our Regeneration Anti-Aging Cream and our new highly advanced Cellular Repair Anti-Aging Skin Treatment. Proven to help reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles as it firms, lifts and tightens the delicate skin. It also has the safest and highest antioxidant rating.


Making the Grade: Online Academic Resources

You survived the first month of school, the kids are acclimating to their new classrooms and all of your routines are becoming a bit more familiar. Go ahead, pat yourself on the back, you should be proud of everything your family has accomplished. But now there are new issues on the horizon:  projects, tests, reports, difficult homework assignments and all of those questions asked by your children that you don’t know how to answer. There is no doubt evenings become significantly more stressful when this occurs. As a teacher, I know that sometimes you just have to say “I don’t know,” but then what? The next part of the sentence should be, “let’s see how we can figure that out.” I have collected some wonderful online resources that I use for just those situations and hope you will find them equally helpful. Here’s the breakdown:

 Cosmeo – [www.cosmeo.com] This educational website is run by the Discovery Channel. It’s an all-encompassing site for children and depending on what features you use, I’m estimating it’s appropriate for ages eight and up. There are reference materials, homework and test help, thousands of Discovery Channel videos and skill building games. It’s truly an engaging site. What I love: there is a homework help section that can be broken down by grade level, subject and topic—so helpful! Down side: there is a $9.95 monthly fee. However, I would say this tool is worth the price tag.

 Homework Hub– [http://www.scholastic.com/kids/homework/index.htm] Powered by Scholastic, this is a fabulous resource for parents to help their kids navigate the many challenges of education. It provides research and report topics, organizational tips for better studying, test preparation ideas, a writing guide and more (ages ten and up). What I like: The flash card maker is fun and easy to use for math and word practice. Downside: The website has lengthy explanations and suggestions. For younger students certain topics may be used more successfully with parent and child reading it together.

 The Learning Network– [http://learning.blogs.nytimes.com/] New York Times runs this website. It provides excellent content such as: this day in history, reading clubs, vocabulary enrichment, activity sheets, research topics, fun contests and current event articles in language students can understand (ages twelve and up). What I love: The Daily News Quiz keeps students on their toes about current events. Down side: It is a blog so it’s not as versatile and user friendly as a website.

My hope is that these resources will aid your ability to give guidance, help with homework and to answer those burning academic questions from your children that you just don’t know the answer to.

Japanese Maple and Netherland Dwarf Rabbits

Q. I have a three year-old red Japanese Maple that looses it red leaf color. It leafs out with beautiful red leaves but by the end of summer they’re a dull green. What do I need to do to help this tree hold its color?
A. It is quite common for red leaf Japanese Maples to lose their red color by the end of summer. It is due to the day length, the level of stored sugar in the leaves, the sugar depletion rate and temperature. The sugars are produced by photosynthesis during daylight hours, as sunlight is absorbed and then stored in the leaves. The amount of sugar does vary by variety. The maple then uses for normal respiration and metabolic functions the sugars. The depletion rate, also called respiration, is a function the temperature. The red color is the strongest in the spring when the sunlight hours are increasing and the temperatures are still cool. This results in high sugar production and low consumption. The longest day of the year is June 21. As the days get shorter in mid to late summer the production of sugar decreases and with higher temperatures the consumption of sugar increases. This results in a net loss of sugar and as a result the red color fades to green as the sugar is depleted. Some cultivars produce more sugar or consume less and these varieties stay red longer. A tree planted in shade produces less sugar yet consumes the same as one planted in a sunny location; thus the loss of the red color is sooner in the summer. Here in the Bay Area, our summer fog or overcast has the same effect as shade. Generally, the red color of Japanese Maples lasts longer in the northern latitudes than in the southern areas because the hours of daylight are longer during the summer with usually cooler temperatures resulting in more sugars remaining in the leaves later in the year. So the frank answer as to what you can do to help keep the red color longer is nothing, so enjoy it while it last during the spring of the year.

Q. I’m landscaping my backyard but have three Netherland Dwarf Rabbits that live in the yard. They seem to eat everything but I don’t want to cage them up. Do you have any suggestions?
A. Unfortunately, I don’t have any solutions that are practical. Domestic or wild rabbits are a problem much like deer. They eat almost everything as you have found out. Rabbit repellents are available but they are water-soluble and the repeat applications do become tedious during the rainy season. You’ll have to make a choice between the rabbits and the plants. I think the best answer is segregated the rabbits from the rest of the landscape. If you do be sure to bury the containment wall about twelve to eighteen inches below the soil surface as the rabbits will escape by digging under the barrier. The other answer is a containment area that is off the ground. Caging the rabbits may be your best solution you have.

Buzz Bertolero is Executive Vice President of Navlet’s Garden Centers and a California Certified Nursery Professional. His web address is www.dirtgardener.com and you can send questions by email at dirtgarden@aol.com or to 360 Civic Drive Ste. ‘D’, Pleasant Hill, Calif. 94523 and on Facebook at Facebook.com/Buzz-Bertolero.

Everyday Style…Beyond the Fitting Room

“Yummy” is the only word I can think of to describe the colors and trends for Fall 2012. Combining these hues with cozy fabrics like cashmere, tweed and suede results in the makings of great outfits to wear as the temperatures drop and the leaves fall.

The Pantone color system (above) is THE authority on color. Think of it as a translation dictionary of sorts. No matter what anyone calls a color, for example, a brownish yellow could be called mustard or marigold. That same color is what the Pantone color palette calls Honey Gold. Along with French Roast and Tangerine Tango, it’s one of the season’s hottest shades.

When it comes to what to buy for fall, I found a few items that I think are “triple threats.” This means they represent three unique trends, and are, in my opinion, excellent selections for the season. Check them out:

* This black and white tweed dress with a peter pan collar (photo 2) is super trendy for three reasons: (1) it’s black and white, (2) a shift and (3) sports the peter pan collar–a new “accessory” that is either attached to a top/dress or as a necklace.

* A new look for shoes is the “lady-like pump” (photo 3) with the oxford bow’s nod to (1) menswear, (2) the deep red color and (3) the sleek, lady-like design. They work with dresses or patterned slacks, and look great with grey, black and navy. Prada bow suede pumps, $750. Available at Nordstrom.com

* The color pink, in every shade from blush to fuchsia, was a big hit on the Fashion Week runways. This dress is just right for a special event—wedding, gala or a night on the town–because it’s not only one of the (1) hottest shades of the season, but it is (2) all lace, feminine and chic, and has a (3) figure-flattering peplum (photo 4). Cynthia Steffe ‘Camille’ Peplum Lace Sheath, $275. Available at Nordstrom.com

* A structured bag, like the classic Kelly or Birkin, is a time-less accessory. However, what makes this particular handbag (photo 4) so unique is (1) cobalt blue, (2) the hard lines of the bag, and (3) the cross-body styling. IIIBeCa By Joy Gryson ‘Duane’ Crossbody Bag, $158. Available at Nordstrom.com.

If staying “on-trend” is important for you, do your research to determine which trends you like, and shop for pieces that fit that criteria. You’ll look stylish this season, and you may find a new wardrobe staple that you’ll enjoy for years to come.

For style tips and trends, go to Carolyn Rovner’s blog at C2style.com/blog and subscribe by clicking the “subscribe” button on the right side of the page. Or see her page at facebook.com/c2style.