Harry Newton's In Search of The Perfect Investment
8:00 AM EST, Monday, September 29, 2008: Friends
run businesses. They have money in banks. They use that money to make payroll
and pay bills. This weekend many of them worried about "their bank."
The FDIC insures only $100,000. The bailout bill does not increase that, though
it clearly should. My business friends are worried. Clearly they can't make
payroll and pay bills using 25 banks. The logistics would be a nightmare. Their
accounting department would quit en masse.
What should my
business friends do? First, they should check their bank's financials. Look
at the bank's latest quarterlies. Second, they could go to BankRate.com,
which rates banks according to this system:
One of my banks,
Sovereign of Pa, got a and
a 2, which means it's "sound," but not superior. Another one of my
banks, Savoy Bank, got a NR, which means (presumably) it's too new to get rated.
I sent the president an email this morning asking for information.
Since things are
changing so fast, I now believe you should only have more than a $100,000 in
a bank with no less than a five star rating.
bailout was brilliantly sold. Just like the
Iraq War. If you weren't in favor of it, you were anti-American. This newspaper
headline was typical: "The US stock market could suffer a devastating
crash with shares losing a third of their value this week if Hank Paulsons
financial bailout plan fails, US Treasury officials have warned." In
the end, the bailout became 99% political, 1% financial.
know money can buy happiness. Sadly, it can't buy confidence. In the last couple
of months, the Feds have actually injected around $500 billion into our economy.
(You can add up the numbers.) It has not affected our biggest problem -- the
credit crunch, also called Loan Lockdown, also called Crisis of Confidence.
The banks aren't lending to you and me, nor to themselves.
Paulson throwing around $700 billion to whomever he
feels like in coming months won't return confidence. If anything, the focus
will shift from running a bank (dealing with you and me businessperson) to lining
up outside Treasury for Paulson money.
strategy for you and me remains:
No more than $95,000 in each bank, if you can.
2. If more, check ratings.
3. Don't go near the stockmarket. It's a disaster.
Cash is king.
Open a $10 account with Goldman Sachs and get yourself the free toaster:
better strategy. Go to
Oktoberfest and get plastered:
The beer consumed
would float several large cruise ships. Beer prices (about $12 a glass) would
put you in cardiac arrest.
Bavaria is booming.
But not everything is in order. Bavarias proud heritage is under threat
from cheap imported Lederhosen and Dirndl dresses made in China, India and Eastern
dates back to the wedding in October 1810 of Bavarian Crown Prince Ludwig with
Princess Therese of Saxony-Hildburghausen. The public festivities went on for
five days and proved so popular they were repeated each year since except in
wartime and during two cholera epidemics.
The list of lost
items collected is a good indication of how intense the partying can get --
last year it included four sets of false teeth, 1,600 pieces of clothing, 600
identity cards and credit cards, and one complete Dirndl dress.
not buy from eCost.com. It sends out oodles
offer excellent prices. But they refuse to accept returns. If it doesn't work,
you ship it back to your maker. If you don't like it, tough. You're stuck with
it. No refunds. No exchanges. Strange way to do business.
An Italian walked into a bank in New York City and asked for the
Loan officer. He told the loan officer that he was going to Italy on Business
for two weeks and needed to borrow $5,000 and that he was not a depositor of
The bank officer
told him that the bank would need some form of security for the loan, so the
Italian handed over the keys to a new Ferrari. The car was parked on the street
in front of the bank. The Italian produced the title and everything checked
out. The loan officer agreed to hold the car as collateral for the loan and
apologized for having to charge 12% interest.
Later, the bank's
president and its officers all enjoyed a good laugh At the Italian for using
a $250,000 Ferrari as collateral for a $5,000 loan.
An employee of
the bank then drove the Ferrari into the bank's Underground garage and parked
Two weeks later,
the Italian returned, repaid the $5,000 and the Interest of $23.07. The loan
officer said, 'Sir, we are very happy to have had your business, and this transaction
has worked out very nicely, but we are a little puzzled. While you were away,
we checked you out and found that you are a multimillionaire. What puzzles us
is, why would you bother to borrow $5,000?'
The Italian replied:
'Minga, where else in New York City can I park my car for two weeks for only
$23.07 and expect it to be there when I return?'
An elderly Italian man lay dying in his bed. While suffering the agonies of
impending death, he suddenly smelled the aroma of his favorite ravioli wafting
up the stairs.
He gathered his
remaining strength, and lifted himself from the bed.
Gripping the railing
with both hands, he crawled downstairs.
When he reached
the bottom of the stairs, he leaned against the door frame, gazing into the
kitchen, where if not for death's agony, he would have thought himself already
in heaven, for there, spread out upon waxed paper on the kitchen table were
hundreds of his favorite ravioli.
Was it heaven?
Or was it one final act of love from his wife of sixty years, seeing to it that
he left this world a happy man?
He threw himself
towards the table, landing on his knees in a crumpled posture.
His parched lips
parted, the wondrous taste of the ravioli was already in his mouth.
With a trembling
hand he reached up to the edge of the table, when suddenly he was smacked with
a wooden spoon by his wife.
she screamed, "Those are for the funeral.
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
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