Harry Newton's In Search of The Perfect Investment
Newton's In Search Of The Perfect Investment. Technology Investor.
8:30 AM EST Friday, May 19, 2006: Inflation.
The fear is that the Fed will clobber it, and the economy with hugely
high interest rates and ultra-tight money. The stockmarket dislikes the fear
of what might happen more than what's actually happening. The
media is playing to the fears, perhaps exacerbating the fall. Today's Wall
Street Journal writes:
But the lesson
of the past 30 years is that the economic pain is far more severe the longer
the Fed stays too accommodative and lets pricing pressures build. The consumer
price index reading that triggered Wednesday's selloff is a lagging indicator,
after all, the kind that tells you inflation is here only after it has already
arrived. As Paul Volcker -- the man who finally broke the 1970s inflation
-- once noted, the actual inflation data comes in months later but spot commodity
prices are a real-time signal. Investors have finally begun to doubt the Fed's
happy talk about a "pause" in raising interest rates or that inflationary
pressures are "contained."
All of which
suggests that Mr. Greenspan's successor as Fed Chairman, Ben Bernanke, is
facing a rough passage. He's arrived at a Fed that has clearly made a mistake
in letting inflation expectations build and has been very slow to admit it.
The only questions now are the magnitude of that mistake and of the resulting
friends don't think we've hit the bottom of this stockmarket draft.
But few have a real clue. There is heavy short-selling among some hedge funds.
They are picking their targets on three criteria:
1. The stock is "way overvalued." That means it's risen too fast in
2. The stock has broken through its 50-day moving average.
3. Even better, the stock has broken through both its 50 and 200-day
moving average. The logic is that many investors who own these stocks automatically
sell the stock when it breaks these moving averages. This worsens the decline,
and hence makes more money for the short sellers. Here are some examples. The
blue line is the 50-day moving average. The red line is the 200-day moving average.
Look at IBM, my first example. When you bust through both, you take a bit hit.
I bet it will be gruesome when the Bank of America falls below its two moving
Cisco has passed through its 50-day moving average. Another point and a half
and it will break through its 200-day moving average.
Many people are shorting the QQQQs. And you can see why:
My traders remain
negative. They say there's been no "capitulation" -- bulls throwing
in the towel; bulls saying "I've had enough. Sell. Sell. Sell."
is getting bad press over its "service." Skype and every
phone company is targeting it. The fear is that if Vonage does a successful
IPO, millions of other VoIP companies will emerge to offer serious competition
to the existing telephone companies -- landline, wireless and cable TV providers.
Personally, I use VoIP to make most of my long distance and international
calls. But not all. The service is simply not that reliable. Quality suffers
based on everything from the weather to traffic on the Internet. With VoIP your
phone lines share the Internet. With normal dial-up landlines, you get
a dedicated path from one end to the other of your conversation. Thus better
more reliable service. Best idea: Keep a landline and a VoIP line. Use which
works best at the time.
like promotion.. But this...?
King Tut before he turned over in his tomb.
"Tutankhamun and the Golden Age of the Pharaohs" is opening
next week at Chicago's Field Museum. Two hotels are have King Tut Packages --
room, breakfast and two exhibit ticket. Rates start at $555 a night.
Now, for the best part, the Spa at Four Seasons is offering an Egyptian Golden
Body Wrap. ."This luxurious treatment stimulates circulation, hydrates
the skin and leaves a golden shimmer. It includes a gentle exfoliation consisting
of Dead Sea salts infused with chamomile, an invigorating Vichy shower, a Golden
Body Wrap, Dead Sea mud spread along the spine to purify and detoxify the body,
stimulating massage techniques, and a golden powder to illuminate the complexion.
It concludes with a refreshing glass of hibiscus tea. A 50-minute treatment
is $145 and an 80-minute treatment is $195.
month's greatest racket: Time Warner Cable
regularly turns off my Scientific Atlanta cable box to "upgrade" its
software. Often, it doesn't turn it back on. This means that my TiVo misses
out on days of recording the programs I want. Manhattan Cable's response to
my complaint? "Dump your TiVo. Rent a digital video recorder (TiVo look-alike)
from us. We never turn this box off."
summer may be bad for the stockmarket, but....
Da Vinci Code movie opens today: No movie in recent times has been
more hyped. Someone called A. O. Scott wrote a review of the movie in yesterday's
New York Times. You will enjoy reading this. The headline on the review
is:A 'Da Vinci Code' That Takes Longer to Watch Than Read.
KSWith spring in full swing and millions of potential organ donors entering
the peak season for boating, hiking, and drowning accidents, the nation's
transplanters are predicting a bumper crop in the upcoming harvest, which
is welcome news to ailing patients in dire need of organs across America's
liver-, lung-, and heartlands.
Transplanters harvest a big organ from 1997's record crop.
from the United Organ Farmers Of America project a 12,000-ton yield from Ohio
alone, the nation's Pancreas State, which leads the rest of the country in
production of the digestive organ. Likewise, after a prolonged and crippling
drought, the area of the nation's midsection nicknamed "America's
Spleenbasket" appears poised to have a record season of alcohol-related
seem to indicate this will be a truly bountiful year for hearts and small
intestines," said third-generation heart surgeon Dr. Thomas Menard, who
presides over a five-acre hospital outside Lawrence, KS. "If these intermittent
rain showers are sustained through the high-school prom and graduation months,
we're likely to see a windfall of perennial car crashes."
got a large number of vegetables in the intensive-care unit that could be
ready for harvesting in as little as two weeks," Menard added. "It's
a really good yield this year."
heat wave here in Texas will really boost our already bursting reservoir,"
said Amarillo resident Edward Carey, a hepatitis C sufferer awaiting a new
liver. "Usually we don't get too many livers in these parts, but with
the high-school football preseason starting up, the number of vibrant young
athletes dying of sunstroke should really turn our luck around."
A groundskeeper who fell under his riding mower provides one of the season's
earliest sets of lungs.
Americans, like David Braschi, a Los Angeles resident who suffers from urethral
stricture disease, have been hoping for an abundant organ harvest for months.
"It's been a long time since I've had a good bladder," Braschi said.
"But if what I hear about seasonal spikes in gang violence is true, I
should be able to get one I'm happy with by July."
May 17 It seems you can't open a movie these days without provoking
some kind of culture war skirmish, at least in the conflict-hungry media.
Recent history "The Passion of the Christ," "The Chronicles
of Narnia" suggests that such controversy, especially if religion
is involved, can be very good business. "The Da Vinci Code," Ron
Howard's adaptation of Dan Brown's best-selling primer on how not to write
an English sentence, arrives trailing more than its share of theological and
The arguments about the movie and the book that inspired it have not been
going on for millennia it only feels that way but part of Columbia
Pictures' ingenious marketing strategy has been to encourage months of debate
and speculation while not allowing anyone to see the picture until the very
last minute. Thus we have had a flood of think pieces on everything from Jesus
and Mary Magdalene's prenuptial agreement to the secret recipes of Opus Dei,
and vexed, urgent questions have been raised: Is Christianity a conspiracy?
Is "The Da Vinci Code" a dangerous, anti-Christian hoax? What's
up with Tom Hanks's hair?
Luckily I lack
the learning to address the first two questions. As for the third, well, it's
long, and so is the movie. "The Da Vinci Code," which opened the
Cannes Film Festival on Wednesday, is one of the few screen versions of a
book that may take longer to watch than to read. (Curiously enough Mr. Howard
accomplished a similar feat with "How the Grinch Stole Christmas"
a few years back.)
To their credit
the director and his screenwriter, Akiva Goldsman (who collaborated with Mr.
Howard on "Cinderella Man" and "A Beautiful Mind"), have
streamlined Mr. Brown's story and refrained from trying to capture his, um,
prose style. "Almost inconceivably, the gun into which she was now staring
was clutched in the pale hand of an enormous albino with long white hair."
Such language note the exquisite "almost" and the fastidious
tucking of the "which" after the preposition can live only
on the page.
Audrey Tautou and Tom Hanks run through the Louvre (and toward a body)
in "The Da Vinci Code," directed by Ron Howard and based on Dan
Brown's best-selling novel.
To be fair,
though, Mr. Goldsman conjures up some pretty ripe dialogue all on his own.
"Your God does not forgive murderers," Audrey Tautou hisses to Paul
Bettany (who play a less than enormous, short-haired albino). "He burns
this remark can serve as a reminder that "The Da Vinci Code" is
above all a murder mystery. And as such, once it gets going, Mr. Howard's
movie has its pleasures. He and Mr. Goldsman have deftly rearranged some elements
of the plot (I'm going to be careful here not to spoil anything), unkinking
a few over-elaborate twists and introducing others that keep the action moving
appropriately overwrought score, pop-romantic with some liturgical decoration,
glides us through scenes that might otherwise be talky and inert. The movie
does, however, take a while to accelerate, popping the clutch and leaving
rubber on the road as it tries to establish who is who, what they're doing
An old man (Jean-Pierre Marielle) is killed after hours in the Louvre, shot
in the stomach, almost inconceivably, by a hooded assailant. Meanwhile Robert
Langdon (Mr. Hanks), a professor of religious symbology at Harvard, is delivering
a lecture and signing books for fans. He is summoned to the crime scene by
Bezu Fache (Jean Reno), a French policemen who seems very grouchy, perhaps
because his department has cut back on its shaving cream budget.
is joined by Sophie Neveu, a police cryptographer and also Bezu Fache!
the murder victim's granddaughter. Grandpa, it seems, knew some very
important secrets, which if they were ever revealed might shake the foundations
of Western Christianity, in particular the Roman Catholic Church, one of whose
bishops, the portly Aringarosa (Alfred Molina) is at this very moment flying
on an airplane. Meanwhile the albino monk, whose name is Silas and who may
be the first character in the history of motion pictures to speak Latin into
a cellphone, flagellates himself, smashes the floor of a church and kills
A chase, as
Bezu's American colleagues might put it, ensues. It skids through the nighttime
streets of Paris and eventually to London the next morning, with side trips
to a Roman castle and a chateau in the French countryside. Along the way the
film pauses to admire various knickknacks and art works, and to flash back,
in desaturated color, to traumatic events in the childhoods of various characters
(Langdon falls down a well; Sophie's parents are killed in a car accident;
Silas stabs his abusive father).
There are also
glances further back into history, to Constantine's conversion, to the suppression
of the Knights Templar and to that time in London when people walked around
wearing powdered wigs.
Through it all
Mr. Hanks and Ms. Tautou stand around looking puzzled, leaving their reservoirs
of charm scrupulously untapped. Mr. Hanks twists his mouth in what appears
to be an expression of professorial skepticism and otherwise coasts on his
easy, subdued geniality. Ms. Tautou, determined to ensure that her name will
never again come up in an Internet search for the word "gamine,"
affects a look of worried fatigue.
In spite of
some talk (a good deal less than in the book) about the divine feminine, chalices
and blades, and the spiritual power of sexual connection, not even a glimmer
of eroticism flickers between the two stars. Perhaps it's just as well. When
a cryptographer and a symbologist get together, it usually ends in tears.
But thank the
deity of your choice for Ian McKellen, who shows up just in time to give "The
Da Vinci Code" a jolt of mischievous life. He plays a wealthy and eccentric
British scholar named Leigh Teabing. (I will give Mr. Brown this much: he's
good at names. If I ever have twins or French poodles, I'm calling them Bezu
and Teabing for sure.)
on two canes, growling at his manservant, Remy (Jean-Yves Berteloot), Teabing
is twinkly and avuncular one moment, barking mad the next. Sir Ian, rattling
on about Italian paintings and medieval statues, seems to be having the time
of his life, and his high spirits serve as something of a rebuke to the filmmakers,
who should be having and providing a lot more fun.
strolls out of English detective fiction by way of a Tintin comic, is a marvelously
absurd creature, and Sir Ian, in the best tradition of British actors slumming
and hamming through American movies, gives a performance in which high conviction
is indistinguishable from high camp. A little more of this a more acute
sense of its own ridiculousness would have given "The Da Vinci
Code" some of the lightness of an old-fashioned, jet-setting Euro-thriller.
But of course
movies of that ilk rarely deal with issues like the divinity of Jesus or the
search for the Holy Grail. In the cinema such matters are best left to Monty
Python. In any case Mr. Howard and Mr. Goldsman handle the supposedly provocative
material in Mr. Brown's book with kid gloves, settling on an utterly safe
set of conclusions about faith and its history, presented with the usual dull
So I certainly
can't support any calls for boycotting or protesting this busy, trivial, inoffensive
film. Which is not to say I'm recommending you go see it.
above semi-nonsense comes from The Onion, which bills itself as "America's
finest news service." Click
Bird flu hits Florida trailer park. Wreaks havoc..
Somebody really bored with too much time on their hands set this photo up.
Will Ferrell (as Bush) on Global Warming:
You'll love this short video by comedian Will Ferrell.
who are hard to find
Boudreaux and Thibodeaux are out fishing and sipping beer while discussing
football and NASCAR.
All of a sudden
Thibodeaux turns to Boudreaux and says, "I think I'm gonna divorce my wife...
she hasn't spoken to me in over six months."
his beer and replies, "You better think it over... women like that are
hard to find."
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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