Harry Newton's In Search of The Perfect Investment
8:00 AM EST, Thursday, September 25, 2008: Chalk
me up as simple-minded. But I don't feel the world will collapse if we don't
give Hank Paulson a blank check for $700 billion this week, or God Forbid, spend
a few moments thinking about alternate solutions and nasty unintended consequences,
or putting some lipstick and makeup on this pig.
remember only too vividly how this same president used the same urgency/disaster
scenario to sell us on invading Iraq. Remember he told us that the Iraqis had
nukes and chemicals. And they didn't.
Now he's telling
us our entire economy is in danger. It's not. We've already "saved'
Fannie, Freddie and AIG -- without the need for a blank check.
The devil is in
the details. So where's the details? Limits on executive pay? Taxpayers' stake
in firms saved? How to value assets bought? Which assets to buy? Which to let
die (e.g. all Goldman Sachs main competitors)? Why $700 billion? Why not $150
billion? Whatever happened to budgeting and Excel budgets? I can think of a
zillion minor "details" in the deadline of writing this blog. And
I'm no expert.
Oh yes, where
are we going to get $700 billion from? Run the printing presses? That's not
exactly painless. Think of Germany in the twenties. Hungary just after World
War II. Zimbabwe today? Hello!
1923 Weiimar Republic. The picture shows a German woman feeding a stove with
Papiermarks, which burned longer than the amount of firewood people could buy
with them. Source: Wikipedia.
wrong with it? Hank Paulson may be a genius. But do I need to finance his saving
his mates -- many of whom were among the largest contributors to our president's
campaign. A little thinking is not bad. Where's the huge urgency? The restaurants
were all full last night. My dentists got $13,200 off me for three implants.
The two of them are not hurting. I want us to think this through for a bit longer.
Call your congressman person, Say, "Whoa."
comment from the creator of Prairie Home Companion and Lake Wobegon:
John McCain decries greed on Wall Street and suggests a commission be
formed to look into the problem. This is like Casanova coming out for chastity.
Sep. 24, 2008 | It's just human nature that some calamities register in the
brain and others don't. The train engineer texting at the throttle ("HOW
R U? C U L8R") and missing the red light and 25 people die in the crash
-- oh God, that is way too real. Everyone has had a moment of supreme stupidity
that came close to killing somebody. Even atheists say a little prayer now
and then: Dear God, I am an idiot, thank you for protecting my children.
On the other hand, the federal bailout of the financial market (YAWN) is a
calamity that people accept as if it were just one more hurricane. An air
of crisis, the secretary of the Treasury striding down a hall at the Capitol
with minions in his wake, solemn-faced congressmen at the microphones. Something
must be done, harrumph harrumph. The Current Occupant pops out of the cuckoo
clock and reads a few lines off a piece of paper, pronouncing all the words
correctly. And the newscaster looks into the camera and says, "Etaoin
shrdlu qwertyuiop." Where is the outrage?
Poor Larry Craig got a truckload of moral condemnation for tapping his wingtips
in the men's john, but his party proposes to spend 5 percent of the GDP to
buy up bad loans made by men who walk away with their fortunes intact while
retirees see their 401K go pffffffff like a defunct air mattress, and it's
business as usual. Mr. McCain is a lifelong deregulator and believer in letting
brokers and bankers do as they please -- remember Lincoln Savings and Loan
and his intervention with federal regulators on behalf of his friend Charles
Keating, who then went to prison?
Remember Neil Bush, the brother of the C.O., who, as a director of Silverado
S&L, bestowed enormous loans on his friends without telling fellow directors
that the friends were friends and who, when the loans failed, paid a small
fine and went skipping off to other things? Mr. McCain now decries greed on
Wall Street and suggests a commission be formed to look into the problem.
This is like Casanova coming out for chastity.
Confident men took leave of common sense and bet on the idea of perpetual
profit in the real estate market and crashed. But it wasn't their money. It
was your money they were messing with. And that's why you need government
regulators. Gimlet-eyed men with steel-rim glasses and crepe-soled shoes who
check the numbers and have the power to say, "This is a scam and a hustle
and either you cease and desist or you spend a few years in a minimum-security
federal facility playing backgammon."
The Republican Party used to specialize in gimlet-eyed, steel-rim, crepe-soled
common sense and then it was taken over by crooked preachers who demand we
trust them because they're packing a Bible and God sent them on a mission
to enact lower taxes, less government. Except when things crash, and then
government has to pick up the pieces.
Some say the tab might come to a trillion dollars. Nobody knows. And Mr. McCain
has not one moment of doubt or regret. He switches from First Deregulation
Church to Our Lady of Strict Vigilance like you might go from decaf to latte.
Where is the straight talk? Does the man have no conscience?
It wasn't their money they were playing with. It was yours. Where were the
What we are seeing is the stuff of a novel, the public corruption of an American
war hero. It is painful. First, there was his exploitation of a symbolic woman,
an eager zealot who is so far out of her depth that it isn't funny anymore.
Anyone with a heart has to hurt for how Mr. McCain has made a fool of her.
Never mind the persistent cheesiness of his attack ads. And now this chasm
of debt and loss and the gentleman pretends to be shocked. He was there. He
turned out the lights. He sent the regulators home.
Mr. McCain seems willing to say anything, do anything, to get to the White
House so he can go to war with Iran. If he needs to recline naked in Macy's
window, he would do that, or eat live chickens, or claim to be a reformer.
Obviously you can fool a lot of people for awhile and maybe he can stretch
it out until mid-November. But the truth is marching on. A few true conservatives
are leading a charge against the bailout. Good for them. But how about admitting
that their cowboy economic philosophy was at fault here?
(Keillor is the author of a new Lake Wobegon novel, "Liberty," published
tennis partner's portfolio is down 28%. His income is down 45%. He
needs the money to live on. Now he's seriously
hurting. He should never have been in equities. He should have been in bonds.
But he never checked. Next time he'll check. Maybe the financial education the
American public is now receiving will be worth their losses? Cheaper than a
few years at a good business school.
no closure. I run around all day trying to fix things." That's
my friend speaking. He's trying to save his business of risky mortgage loans.
He's got stress up the ying yang. I counsel him: Exercise strenously each day.
Nap a little. Buy yourself an iPod and listen to music and podcasts. All this
will eventually pass. My four favorite podcasts are all free:
+ NPR wait, wait
dont tell me
+ NPR Planet Money
+ NPR Technology
+ Real Time with
iTunes automatically sends me a new podcast every time one comes out. I repeat
-- all free. Everything iPod is cheap, compared to the pleasure you get from
it. Here are your choices:
without the phone and the expense of monthly data and phone service, but
with WiFi, email, web browsing, music, movies, TV shows, videos, audiobooks,
podcasts, photo slideshows, games and neat applications like weather and
two have music, movies, TV shows, videos, audiobooks, podcasts, photo slideshows,
games. But no email, no weather, no applications and no "keyboard."
|The old iPod
nano, available still on eBay. Uses only flash memory. 8 gig max.
||A big 120
gig hard drive.
Check them out
at your local Apple store. My only advice: Get one with the largest memory.
A few movies, some songs and your family photos will eat up memory like there's
Don't expect total
logic in all this. Apple's is a quirky little world, with strange irritations.
You can put a CD of songs onto your iPod. But you can't put on your favorite
DVD -- at least without a lot of geeky, boring hacking. You can't import an
audiobook. You have to import it as a CD of "songs." Then play it
in order, if you remember to turn off "Shuffle."
Windows error message
do I think old people jokes are increasingly funny?
elderly couple is attending a church service.
through, she leans over and says to her husband,
'I just let out
a silent fart. What do you think I should do?'
He replies, 'Put
a new battery in your hearing aid.'
Cash is king. Tennis is sanity. The family is wonderful. I see some
of them this weekend.
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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