Harry Newton's In Search of The Perfect Investment
Technology Investor. Auction Rate Securities. Auction Rate Preferreds.
Auction Rate Preferreds.
9:00 AM EST Wednesday, April 16, 2008:
Nice bounce yesterday. Don't get too excited. Nice for our First Solar (FSLR)
-- up $13.22 (or 4.82%) to $287.32. Silver (SLV) and gold (GLD) are also coming
if youd had $100,000 to spend in 1998? What
would be the best investment for the next 10 years? This chart came from the
April 13 issue of New
York Magazine. The best investment? Keep reading...
you'd bought ....
1998 for ...
would now be worth ...
apartment on the upper east side
prices are for a 700-square-foot postwar at 340 East 93rd Street that sold
in 1998 and again early this year. (Both prices come from the appraisal
firm Miller Samuel.)
and thats if its still a wreck
a supply-and-demand issue, says Warburg Realty broker Chris Halliburton:
People still want houses that they can gut-renovate, and there arent
many shells left.
Co-op in the Le Havre Complex in Whitestone, Queens
Carollo says he just sold one in an all-cash deal. Were just
25 minutes to Manhattan by the 7 train, and we have good schools,
he says. We hold our values.
Shares of Apple Stock
at $30.32 a share
stock has split twice, so youd now have 13,192 shares at (as of last
of theglobe.com Stock
social-networking site briefly hit $97 after its IPO at $4.50, and then,
like so many other dot-coms, flamed out. Oddly, its still traded,
if just barely.
at $309.45 per ounce
at $933.40 per ounce
made next to nothing for a while, but the past year has been very kind to
precious-metals investors. Gold briefly topped $1,000 per ounce in March
and has settled back into the mid-$900s.
(estimated by SwiftAppraisal.com)
nameno numbers, no weird spellingsdraws a premium. Youd
be retired now if you had the right names, says Kelly Conlin, CEO
of NameMedia. Its like owning vacant land. Fund.com just
sold for $9.9 million.
Kelly bags (one for you, the rest for your lucky friends)
at $4,875 apiece
at $4,300 apiece
Kelly bag holds most of its value, but only if its in perfect condition,
says Hermès expert Cameron Silver.
|A BMW 750IL
(with low mileage)
have held more value if youd bought a car that is perpetually coveted,
like a Ferrari, but a yard-high Italian two-seater isnt exactly built
for our potholes.
Model B grand pianos (one for your apartment, the other for the Hamptons
to David Skidmore at Steinway Hall, these instruments hold their value well,
and the prices of new ones continue to climb, keeping the secondhand market
of 1998 Dom Pérignon
at $1,559 a case
at $1,799 a case
|If you cant
keep it all in your apartment, the cellaring charges may eat up most of
your take. Or you can just start drinking it all up. (Prices are from Joy
Land at Sherry-Lehman.)
Untitled (1983) painting
(estimated by Jeffrey Deitch)
Haring estates dealer, calls it a real masterpiece, and
even if you knock a few percentage points off for hype, its about
the most bang you couldve got for your $100,000.
latest useful tips:
Laser printers gunk up your lungs. They
emit fine black particles which you breath and which stay in your lungs, potentially
hurting them and ultimately your ability to breath. Move your laser printer
to another room. If in doubt, switch to ink jet, which doesn't pose the same
pots and antiperspirant deodorants gunk up your body. If your aluminum pots
have pits, chuck them. Don't use antiperspirant deodorants. They leach aluminum
into the body. The aluminum stays there. It's not good for your health. Straight
deodorants don't have aluminum. Check the labels.
open email attachments. Don't visit "iffy" web sites. Viruses
and other "malware" come typically in email attachments. Opening the
attachment, causes the viruses to leap onto your hard disk and wreak havoc.
But visiting "iffy" web sites can also attract bad stuff. There are
oodles of obvious solutions: The best one is to have a "test" PC which
you don't care about and you can easily reformat if it gets infected. Or use
a Mac. Or buy a Watchguard
flash drives are now a huge security threat in corporations. Employees copy
work from their work PC. They take the work home. They bring the flash drive
back the next day and load viruses and malware on their work PC, and often onto
the corporate network. It is possible to turn off employees' access to their
USB slots. Do it. Or switch to Macs. ECost.com
has perfectly fine brand name, cheap laptops -- some as low as $540.
is now cheap. Goretex's patent on waterproof materials has expired. Hence,
every outdoor clothing maker is now selling waterproof garments for one-third
what Goretex garments used to cost. LLBean has TEK2.5. It's good stuff.
Wine is good
for dementia. ScienceDaily (Apr. 13, 2008) There may be stuff in
wine that protects against dementia. This is shown in research from the Sahlgrenska
Academy at University of Gothenburg in Sweden. The findings are based on 1,458
women who were included in the so-called Population Study of Women from 1968.
Thirty-four years after the first study, 162 women had been diagnosed with dementia.
The results show that among those women who reported that they drank wine, a
considerably lower proportion suffered from dementia, whereas this correlation
was not found among those who had reported that they regularly drank beer or
got screwed up yesterday: I've been looking at Lenovo's ultra-light
X61 series. My son took a X61s to business school and loves it. It's been super-reliable.
I'm more interested in the X61, which has one major plus over the X61s: It's
hugely faster; You can get a 2.4 GHz processor in the X61, versus only a 1.2
GHz chip in the X61s. On the other hand, the X61 is slightly heavier -- about
three ounces. In all other respects, they're identical. They both are available
with Windows XP. And they're both incredibly light -- about three pounds. I
believe they're the perfect travel laptop.
you have time, read this. This piece called "Iceland's Deep
Freeze" is written by my favorite financial writer, by James Surowiecki.
It's in the April 21 issue of New
By now, were
all familiar with the major victims of the subprime meltdown: greedy mortgage
brokers, overleveraged hedge funds, feckless banks and brokerages, incautious
homeowners, and so on. But the crisis is also wreaking havoc in places that,
on the surface, might seem to have nothing to do with the price of foreclosed
homes in Miami. Places, that is, like Iceland.
Insofar as Americans
think about Iceland at all, its as a land whose remoteness belies a
vibrant cultural scene featuring hipster titans, like Björk and Sigur
Rós, and exceptional social conditionsits the top-rated
country in the U.N.s most recent human-development index. But in the
financial world Iceland is now a hot topic of discussion for a different reason:
many people suggest that it could become the first national casualty
of the ongoing credit crunch. Until last year, Icelands economic track
record in this decade had been phenomenalits annual growth rate averaged
close to four per cent over the past decade, and its per-capita gross national
income is now higher than that of the U.S. This year, though, the countrys
currency, the króna, has fallen twenty-two per cent against the euro;
the economy has stagnated; and a global rating agency has put the nations
three major banks on a credit watch. Now analysts are wondering whether the
new Nordic Tiger will end up, instead, as the Bear Stearns of the North
So how did Iceland
get in so much trouble? Thats the odd part of the story: it isnt
because its banks gambled on the worthless subprime securities that helped
undo Bear Stearns and so many others. Icelands banks prudently avoided
the subprime market, even as they embarked on a lending boom at home and expanded
abroad. What got Iceland in trouble was something more subtle: its banks got
their money primarily from international investors, making the Icelandic miracle
heavily dependent on foreign capital.
In normal times,
this might not have mattered, given the countrys solid economic fundamentals.
But these arent normal times. The subprime crisis, in which investors
realized that they had greatly underestimated the risks of lending to people
with bad credit, has spawned a wider credit crunch: investors now suspect
disaster behind every door, and even seemingly solid borrowers find credit
much harder to come by. The subprime crisis was an earthquake that caused
a tsunami: the quake has done plenty of damage on its own, but the tsunami
looks set to do even more.
been swamped by that tsunami because it trusted in the availability of global
credit in time for that credit to evaporate. And the fact that Iceland has
been so dependent on foreign investors makes those investors even more skittish
about investing there: in markets, weakness often begets weakness. Further,
the countrys troubles have made it a potential target for speculators
seeking to drive down the value of its currency and perhaps cause a run on
the banks. In 1998, hedge funds purportedly worked together to attack Hong
Kongs currency and its stock market, an attack that was foiled only
when the government bought up a sizable chunk of the stock market. Its
not clear that a similar cabal is gunning for Icelandthe governor of
its central bank insists that one isbut the notion is certainly plausible:
with a population the size of Pittsburgh and a central bank whose total reserves
are less than five billion dollars, the country makes an easy target for hedge
funds flush with cash.
current woes teach a useful lesson about the interconnectedness of global
markets: trouble can come from anywhere. Homeowners default on mortgages in
San Diego, and suddenly people in Reykjavík are paying more for gasoline
and wondering if their bank deposits are safe. That doesnt mean that
Iceland is an innocent victim. The country went overboard with spending and
borrowingbetween 2000 and 2007, domestic credit in the Icelandic banking
system more than quadrupled as a share of G.D.P. And relying on foreign money
to fuel that kind of frenzy is foolish, since it puts you at the mercy of
fickle foreign investors. But Icelanders can be forgiven for wondering if
theyve really been any more reckless than many other countriesmost
obviously the U.S., which relies heavily on foreign capital to fund home buying
and profligate consumption, and whose banking system is rife with reckless
the second lesson of Icelands plight: even in a flat world, there are
different rules for different players. In order to prop up the króna,
and keep foreign capital from fleeing, Icelands central bank has had
to raise interest rates to an astounding fifteen per cent, a move that will
slow the economy to a crawl. By contrast, the dollar, while weak, has evaded
the krónas precipitous fall; the Federal Reserve, far from raising
interest rates, has slashed them; and Congress is borrowing a hundred and
fifty-two billion dollars to hand out tax rebates. Icelands government
has been forced to inflict pain; the U.S. is doing everything possible to
avoid it. If Iceland were to attempt to emulate Americas approach, its
currency would be demolished, and foreign investors would almost certainly
head for the exits. The U.S., by contrast, remains the beneficiary of the
worlds generosityno matter how bad our financial situation looks,
countries like China and Japan keep pouring hundreds of billions of dollars
into U.S. securities. Theyre doing this not out of kindness, of course,
but because the U.S. is a colossal market and they need us to keep buying
stuff. The world cant afford to have the U.S. fail, and so we are able
to get away with behavior that would wreck smaller countries. Great for us,
but when we look at Icelands predicament we should say that there but
for the grace of China go we.
neck swing. Don't
laugh. You're probably related to these people.
ways of looking at things:
+ Two guys were
discussing popular family trends on sex, marriage, and values. Stu said, "I
didn't sleep with my wife before we got married, Did you?"
replied, "I'm not sure, what was her maiden name?"
+ A little boy
went up to his father and asked: "Dad, where did all of my intelligence
replied. "Well son, you must have got it from your Mother, 'cause I still
I have reviewed this case very carefully," the divorce Court Judge said,
"And I've decided to give your wife $775 a week."
very generous, your honor," the husband said. " And every now and
then I'll try to send her a few bucks myself."
This column is about my personal search for the perfect
investment. I don't give investment advice. For that you have to be registered
with regulatory authorities, which I am not. I am a reporter and an investor.
I make my daily column -- Monday through Friday -- freely available for three
reasons: Writing is good for sorting things out in my brain. Second, the column
is research for a book I'm writing called "In Search of the Perfect
Investment." Third, I encourage my readers to send me their ideas,
concerns and experiences. That way we can all learn together. My email address
is . You can't
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