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According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the cost of gasoline has increased by 26% in the last year and oil increases show no sign of slowing down. Similarly, the bureau notes that grain and dairy-based products have increased by double digits in the last year. And, we are all aware of the weakening dollar and its effect on the cost of goods coupled with less available credit. Further, as noted on the Bloomberg newswire, Fannie Mae forecasts a drop of 7% to 8% in home prices nationally in 2008. None of this is good news. In short, all our members are feeling the pain of this seemingly perfect storm of economic poor tidings.

So, are we in a bull market or bear market? The question appears moot, even a foregone conclusion. Further, that answer depends upon which expert you talk to. More importantly, however, does it really matter? That answer depends upon whether you or your members are in the right asset allocation. And, what is the right asset allocation? The answer depends. So, what is certain? One thing for certain, in up or down cycles, individualized advice for each of your members needs is king.

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