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?

Stock market averages continued down for their third week to levels last cleared in January. The S&P average, which peaked 13% above its January 3rd open is now up only 3.8% trimming more than a trillion in market value in May. The Vanguard Total Market is up 2.4% year to date. Yields on the 10-year US Treasury have tumbled from about 4% just two years ago when Greece's debt crisis began to 1.73% today. The 7-10-year Treasury is up 21% (not counting interest) over the same period.

A bumper sticker caught my eye this morning, and quite nearly my front bumper, as the car's driver inserted himself ahead of me. The sticker read "I'm Not Speeding - I'm Qualifying," an obvious reference to NASCAR, which was born in these parts. It occurred to me what a fitting description of market traders at today’s large banks, if not the banks themselves.

Unless you are Lance Armstrong (or my son-in-law), as your bike slows down, balance becomes increasingly challenging. That's the picture of where our economy is now - its slowing and investors wonder whether we can stay up or fall back into recession.

So why is debt such at bad thing? Why all of a sudden is it bringing people and countries to their knees? It's not new, in fact it's been with us as long as money has. Debt can be a really great tool that allows us to buy more of a thing or to buy that thing much sooner than we could with only our cash. And there are some things we might not be able to buy at all without debt, like houses, roads, or college.

We are extremely pleased to announce that Geoff Hall has joined our Beacon team as a wealth advisor. He comes to us from Commonwealth Financial Group. With sixteen years’ experience in the financial services industry as a Certified Financial Planner®  Geoff knew exactly what he was looking for in a Wealth Advisory firm. He talked to a dozen firms in the area; eight of them in depth before telling us emphatically that Beacon met or exceeded all of his client-focused criteria.