Comments by Bill Gross and others of late have rocked the status quo and tested commonly held investment tenets. On Tuesday Gross proclaimed in his monthly outlook column that "The cult of equity is dying." "Like a once-bright-green aspen turning to subtle shades of yellow then red in the Colorado fall, investors' impressions of 'stocks for the long run' or any run have mellowed as well." He’s right on the latter observation anyway.

The economy continued to slow in the second quarter, according to the Commerce Department. In fact the so called recovery is now officially the second slowest since WWII. Much of the economic data this week advanced the argument that the economy is slowing. Europe, China, and the developing world are only making matters worse as their economies face varying degrees of challenges.

Earlier this week, Stephen Covey, a hero of mine and a champion of how to live a better life, passed away. Covey was best known for his mega-bestseller The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. His common-sense, yet profound counsel to “Begin with the End in Mind,” to “Be Proactive,” and to “Seek First to Understand, Then to Be Understood” have been fundamental concepts in the shaping of Beacon. We thank him and will miss him greatly.

It was a light week for economic news, but one of the most significant announcements came from the National Federation of Independent Business. It described the latest reading from its small business optimism index as a "significant" decline. Major contributors were poor job creation and consumer confidence, as well as declining capital investment plans and earnings trends. Only 1 in 10 components improved last month, according to Econoday.

The financial services industry defines success quite simply in terms of returns – specifically by how much higher the winner’s returns are relative to all those others out there. With returns as the cornerstone of measuring success, the industry spends millions and millions of dollars bettering its methods of comparing the returns of investment choices, managers, and advisors in hopes that in selecting the best, their clients will be better served.

News this week has been mixed, but there have been some bright spots to celebrate. The beleagured housing industry may finally be turning around. The manufacturing sector had a couple pieces of good news well. If you work in the White House or among the Democratic leadership, yesterday's surprising announcement from the Supreme Court that the President's health care bill had largely escaped overturn was undoubtedly a bright spot.  And today we are greeted with news that Europe's leaders have found a way to avert a Spanish banking collapse.

US equity markets are off their May lows by about 4.5% to 5% depending on the index while economic releases continue to show the economy slowing. These reports and news from Europe and Washington's ambivalence over the approaching fiscal cliff all keep a pretty tight lid on short-term optimism.

Europe is unraveling and signs are mounting that the global recovery is in jeopardy. A Chinese purchasing managers’ index showed manufacturing grew less than estimated last month in that country, the weakest production growth since December. Manufacturing, the stalwart of the US recovery, grew at a slower pace in May in response to weakness in the global economy. A similar gauge of manufacturing in the 17-nation euro zone fell to a three-year low of 45.1 in May. And unemployment in the US unexpectedly increased providing further evidence that the labor-market recovery is stalling.

Ancient Greece is known as the cradle of western civilization. But today, the bough on which it rests threatens baby, cradle and all. How does a country barely 3% of the Euro economy, ($318B compared to $425B for NC) with a population roughly the size of North Carolina's (10 million) threaten an entire global economy?