Harry Newton's In Search of The Perfect Investment
Newton's In Search Of The Perfect Investment. Technology Investor.
8:30 AM Monday, January 9, 2006: Readers
on neat international funds:
(emerging markets) and FDIVX (large cap international). Both have done
rather well. Obviously FEMKX is riskier. -- Roger Crosslands
-- Dodge &
Cox International Fund (DODFX), Oppenheimer's Emerging Markets Fund (ODMAX)
and US Global Eastern European Fund (EUROX). -- Rodney Madden
cash-back credit cards work: My miserable experiences are the exception.
Cash-back cards do work, say many readers. You have to give the cards
time and manage them. One reader actually got a cash rebate of $650 one
year. Reading the fine print is key: Dick Hudgens reports: "A while back
I had emailed you about my CitiCard that has a 5% cash rebate for gasoline,
groceries, and drugs. It does have the rebate but there is a catch. During the
calendar year when you reach a total of $300 in rebates, the rebate shuts off
and you are not paid a rebate for anything over the $300."
Screwy bank interest: My bank pays 3.3%
interest a year on its checking accounts, 1.9% on its savings
accounts and 4.0% on its 30-day CDs. Go figure. Check. Check.
of cheap places to buy on the Internet: Don't buy the cheapest --
without checking the vendor. Several readers report problems with low-cost camera
stores, especially some in Brooklyn, New York. Matti Jaffi, writes, "Before
the holiday I went online to buy a Canon A610 digital camera. When I looked
into the pricing, I discovered 3 low-cost vendors that also had a very good
score. Knowing that their margins are fairly slim, I decided to do a BBB search
on these low-cost vendors and to my amazement found that they are the same company
but with a different AKA. The report that I read on them was not very good and
a further Google search indicated that they are bunch of... The scoring that
was outlined on the price comparison site was, most likely, generated by the
vendors themselves. So, one has to be careful with some of the Web ratings,
take them with a grain of salt and broaden the investigation beyond that kind
New keyboard for my laptop: The
two best enhancements for your old aging laptop are:
+ More memory.
+ A new keyboard. Good place to buy: SpareParts
Warehouse. If you have a laptop with a pointing stick and your cursor
is wandering, you need a new keyboard.
independence: Brazil will become energy independent
this year -- largely by developing a cost-effective alternative to gasoline,
in Brazil's case ethanol from sugar cane. The story is in today's Wall Street
here. I've always felt the US ought to have an energy independence policy.
Thomas Friedman echoed my thoughts with a column last week:
... The biggest
threat to America and its values today is not communism, authoritarianism
or Islamism. It's petrolism. Petrolism is my term for the corrupting,
antidemocratic governing practices -- in oil states from Russia to Nigeria
and Iran - that result from a long run of $60-a-barrel oil. Petrolism is the
politics of using oil income to buy off one's citizens with subsidies and
government jobs, using oil and gas exports to intimidate or buy off one's
enemies, and using oil profits to build up one's internal security forces
and army to keep oneself ensconced in power, without any transparency or checks
When a nation's
leaders can practice petrolism, they never have to tap their people's energy
and creativity; they simply have to tap an oil well. And therefore politics
in a petrolist state is not about building a society or an educational system
that maximizes its people's ability to innovate, export and compete. It is
simply about who controls the oil tap.
states like Russia, Iran, Venezuela and Sudan, people get rich by being in
government and sucking the treasury dry -- so they never want to cede power.
In non-petrolist states, like Taiwan, Singapore and Korea, people get rich
by staying outside government and building real businesses.
Our energy gluttony
fosters and strengthens various kinds of petrolist regimes. It emboldens authoritarian
petrolism in Russia, Venezuela, Nigeria, Sudan and Central Asia. It empowers
Islamist petrolism in Sudan, Iran and Saudi Arabia. It even helps sustain
communism in Castro's Cuba, which survives today in part thanks to cheap oil
from Venezuela. Most of these petrolist regimes would have collapsed long
ago, having proved utterly incapable of delivering a modern future for their
people, but they have been saved by our energy excesses.
No matter what
happens in Iraq, we cannot dry up the swamps of authoritarianism and violent
Islamism in the Middle East without also drying up our consumption of oil
-- thereby bringing down the price of crude. A democratization policy in the
Middle East without a different energy policy at home is a waste of time,
money and, most important, the lives of our young people.
there is a huge difference in what these bad regimes can do with $20-a-barrel
oil compared with the current $60-a-barrel oil. It is no accident that
the reform era in Russia under Boris Yeltsin, and in Iran under Mohammad Khatami,
coincided with low oil prices. When prices soared again, petrolist authoritarians
in both societies reasserted themselves.
We need a president
and a Congress with the guts not just to invade Iraq, but to also impose a
gasoline tax and inspire conservation at home. That takes a real energy policy
with long-term incentives for renewable energy -- wind, solar, biofuels -
rather than the welfare-for-oil-companies-and-special-interests that masqueraded
last year as an energy bill...
eat so much and exercise. In 2003, diabetes vaulted past stroke and
AIDS from the sixth-leading cause of death in New York to the fourth. Diabetes
in New York is in epidemic mode. All bodies break down digested food into a
sugar called glucose, their main source of fuel. In a healthy person, the hormone
insulin helps glucose enter the cells. But in a diabetic, With diabetes, the
body has trouble turning food into energy and the pancreas fails to produce
enough insulin, or the body does not properly use it. Cells starve while glucose
builds up in the blood. And the body progressively falls apart. The New York
Times has a huge piece on the ills of diabetes today. Click
here. Dr. Frieden, New York's health commissioner, says meaningful prevention
cannot be achieved at the city level. "I can urge people until I'm blue
in the face to walk and take the stairs and eat less, and it won't make much
difference," he said.
DHC controller is neat: As you drive in, hit the button. Your house
lights go on. Neat safety gadget. Click
How dumb can you get? The management of
the New York Times get stupider by the minute. From NewsMax.com:
How to know if you have avian flu.
The CDC has released a list of symptoms of Bird Flu. If you experience any of
the following, please seek medical treatment immediately.
staffers at the New York Times are none too happy about the company's decision
to cancel a 15 percent discount for employees on stock purchases - while top
executives are pocketing fat bonus packages.
chief executive Janet Robinson received 74,000 shares of New York Times stock
-- worth nearly $2 million -- as of early January. She also received 149,000
stock options worth about $4 million, according to a Securities Exchange Commission
Sulzberger Jr. received 30,000 shares of stock -- worth almost $800,000 --
plus stock options worth more than $4 million.
of executive stock gifts rankled some Times newsroom staffers, who are still
smarting from the paper's layoffs, hiring freeze, reduced expense policy and
- most galling - the cancellation in December of the Times' 15 percent discount
for employees on stock purchases," reports the New York Observer.
The Times announced
the layoffs of 690 positions last year as the company's stock plummeted from
more than $47 a share in January 2005 to a low of $26.16 early this year.
In a recent
cost-cutting move, the Times even closed its nurse's office, where employees
could get pain relievers or have their blood pressure taken.
But the Times
still saw fit to award chief financial officer Leonard Forman, president Scott
Heekin Canedy and vice chairman Michael Golden each with 12,000 shares of
stock, worth more than $300,000.
1. High Fever
5. Aching in the joints
6. An irresistible urge to crap on someone's windshield.
The Lone Ranger and Tonto went camping in the desert.
After they got their tent all set up, both men fell sound asleep. Some hours later,
Tonto wakes the Lone Ranger and says, "Kemo Sabe, look towards sky, what you see?"
The Lone Ranger replies, "I see millions of stars."
"What that tell you?" asked Tonto.
The Lone Ranger ponders for a minute then says, "Astronomically speaking, it tells
me there are millions of galaxies and potentially billions of planets. Astrologically,
it tells me that Saturn is in Leo. Time wise, it appears to be approximately a
quarter past three in the morning. Theologically, the Lord is all-powerful and
we are small and insignificant. Meteorologically, it seems we will have a beautiful
day tomorrow. What's it tell you, Tonto?"
Replies Tonto, not overly impressed, "You dumber than buffalo dung. Someone stole
+ Munich, the movie. A must-see. Click
+ Identity Theft precautions. Click
+ Dumb reasons we hold losing stocks. Click
+ How my private equity fund is doing. Click
+ Blackstone private equity funds. Click
+ Manhattan Pharmaceuticals: Click
+ NovaDel Biosciences appeals. Click
+ Hana Biosciences appeals. Click
+ All turned on by biotech. Click
+ Steve Jobs Commencement Address. The text is available:
Click here. The full audio is available. Click
+ The March of the Penguins, an exquisite movie. Click
+ When to sell stocks. Click
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
click on my email address. You have to re-type it . This protects me from software
scanning the Internet for email addresses to spam. I have no role in choosing
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