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Harry Newton's In Search of The Perfect Investment Technology Investor. Harry Newton Previous Columns
9:00 AM EST, Tuesday, August 4 2009. I sound like a cracked record: Stay away from strange products Wall Street invents. Wall Street"s business is making up products and selling them to you for the fees it makes on the sale. Wall Street is not interested in whether the product is actually going to make you money in the long-run or the short-run, or any run. They're interested only for fees. Have I made myself sufficiently clear?

The latest disaster are all those inverse and leveraged ETFs. Remember all those double and triple leveraged up and down ETFs? I've written about how totally awful they are. The index they're covering goes down and they go up. Or vice versa. They work for a day or two, but after that they totally screw up and lose you money -- though you were right. There's a reason for this. Apparently the issuers recalibrate them (or something) every day. See below for more.

STEC is down today, but that's because it announced a secondary. I have no doubts it will climb back again in coming weeks.

Gong along for the ride:
No one knows how long this ebullient market will last. Most people I know are going along for the ride, ready to pull the trigger should signs of weakness appear.

Short-term money. This truly sucks. Money market funds -- those your broker (live or online) dump your spare cash into -- are paying less than one quarter of one per cent a year. That's miserable. The most you can get from a FDIC-insured bank CD is 2% for 12 months. That's miserable also but better than a slap in the belly with a cold fish.

This is from Investment News:

Galvin demands answers from firms selling inverse and leveraged ETFs
Massachusetts regulator subpoenaed Edward D. Jones, Ameriprise, LPL and UBS Financial

Massachusetts regulators sent subpoenas to four brokerages on Friday asking about their sales practices relating to inverse and leveraged exchange traded funds weeks after Edward D. Jones, Ameriprise, LPL and UBS restricting the sale of the products or stopped selling them altogether.

The four firms are Edward D. Jones & Co. LP of St. Louis, Ameriprise Financial Inc. of Minneapolis, LPL Investment Holdings Inc. of Boston and UBS Financial Services Inc. of New York.

“The concern is that [inverse and leveraged ETFs] are, or can be, very volatile funds, very risky, and that they are being offered to investors who aren’t sophisticated and may not be aware of the risks they are getting into,” said Brian McNiff, a spokesman for Secretary of the Commonwealth William F. Galvin.

Direxion Funds of Newton, Mass., ProFund Advisors LLC of Bethesda, Md., and Rydex SGI of Rockville, Md. — the primary providers of inverse and inverse ETFs — also received letters from Mr. Galvin asking for similar information, Mr. McNiff said.

The Massachusetts investigation comes after the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority Inc. of New York and Washington warned brokers last month that inverse and leveraged ETFs “typically are unsuitable for retail investors” who hold them longer than a day.

Finra clarified its position on such ETFs in a podcast on July 13 in which it said member firms could recommend that a retail investor hold such ETFs for longer than one day, provided a suitability assessment is conducted with respect to such an investor and the ETF.

But that didn’t stop Edward D. Jones, Ameriprise, LPL and UBS from restricting the sale of leveraged and inverse ETFs, or stopping their sale all together.

Other brokerages such as Morgan Stanley Smith Barney of New York are contemplating restrictions, and last week Charles Schwab & Co. Inc. of San Francisco issued a warning to clients who buy them.

Windows 7 moves closer to reality: I haven't tried Windows 7. I won't until Microsoft releases its first bug fix. Here's ComputerWorld's recommendation:

The Bottom line
Even after extensive testing of the various pre-release versions of Windows 7, I still don't know whether its virtues outweigh its pain points overall. For Vista users, upgrading to Windows 7 is a no-brainer; the new OS handily fixes the worst of Vista's mistakes. My advice to them: upgrade early and often.

For XP users, however, it's not so clear. You'll be getting some nifty and useful new features, but you'll also be giving up the way you've been used to working for the past several years.

Windows 7 may be a far, far better upgrade than Vista ever was before, but in the end, you have to answer this honestly: Is this the best of times or the worst of times to take on an unfamiliar interface? Only you can answer that question.

I don't use Vista. I never have and I never will. I use XP which is reliable and painless. For ComputerWorld's piece, which is headed Windows 7: Four reasons to upgrade, four reasons to stay away, click here..

For your next vacation: Rent this place:

Built from a salvaged 727.

The master bedroom.

the view from the balcony.

The place is in Costa Rica. It costs $400 or $500 a night, depending on the time of year. Take her here and propose. For more, click here.

Stay buckled please.
The emergency landing in Miami of a Houston-bound flight a few days ago due to turbulence that put four passengers in serious condition highlights a hidden threat of flying -- namely clear air turbulence. Stay buckled. That seat belt could save your life -- even without a crash. Read more.

Divorce, It Seems, Can Make You Ill. This is from today's New York Times. It's fascinating stuff. Now you know what ails all your friends.

Married people tend to be healthier than single people. But what happens when a marriage ends?

New research shows that when married people become single again, whether by divorce or a spouse’s death, they experience much more than an emotional loss. Often they suffer a decline in physical health from which they never fully recover, even if they remarry.

And in terms of health, it’s not better to have married and lost than never to have married at all. Middle-age people who never married have fewer chronic health problems than those who were divorced or widowed.

The findings, from a national study of 8,652 men and women in their 50s and early 60s, suggest that the physical stress of marital loss continues long after the emotional wounds have healed. While this does not mean that people should stay married at all costs, it does show that marital history is an important indicator of health, and that the newly single need to be especially vigilant about stress management and exercise, even if they remarry.

“When your spouse is getting sick and about to die or your marriage is getting bad and about to die, your stress levels go up,” said Linda Waite, a sociology professor at the University of Chicago and an author of the study, which appears in the September issue of The Journal of Health and Social Behavior. “You’re not sleeping well, your diet gets worse, you can’t exercise, you can’t see your friends. It’s a whole package of awful events.”

The health benefits of marriage, documented by a wealth of research, appear to stem from several factors. Married people tend to be better off financially and can share in a spouse’s employer health benefits. And wives, in particular, act as gatekeepers for a husband’s health, scheduling appointments and noticing changes that may signal a health problem. Spouses can offer logistical support, like taking care of children while a partner exercises or shuttling a partner to and from the doctor’s office.

But in the latest study, researchers sought to gauge the health effects of divorce, widowhood and remarriage in a large cohort of people over time.

Among the 8,652 people studied, more than half were still married to their first spouse. About 40 percent had been divorced or widowed; about half of that group were remarried by the time of the study. About 4 percent had never married.

Over all, men and women who had experienced divorce or the death of a spouse reported about 20 percent more chronic health problems like heart disease, diabetes and cancer, compared with those who had been continuously married. Previously married people were also more likely to have mobility problems, like difficulty climbing stairs or walking a meaningful distance.

While remarrying led to some improvement in health, the study showed that most married people who became single never fully recovered from the physical declines associated with marital loss. Compared with those who had been continuously married, people in second marriages had 12 percent more chronic health problems and 19 percent more mobility problems. A second marriage did appear to heal emotional wounds: remarried people had only slightly more depressive symptoms than those continuously married.

The study does not prove that the loss of a marriage causes health problems, only that the two are associated. It may be that people who don’t exercise, eat poorly and can’t manage stress are also more likely to divorce. Still, researchers note that because the effect is seen in both divorced and widowed people, the data strongly suggest a causal relationship.

One reason may be changes at the cellular level during times of high stress. In an Ohio State University study, scientists analyzed blood samples of people undergoing the stress of caring for a loved one with Alzheimer’s disease. The research focused on telomeres, which insulate and protect the ends of chromosomes; with aging, telomeres shorten and the activity of a related enzyme also declines.

Compared with a control group, the Alzheimer’s caregivers showed telomere patterns associated with a four- to eight-year shortening of life span. Dr. Waite said the stress of divorce or widowhood might take a similar toll, leading to chronic health and mobility problems.

None of this suggests that spouses should stay in a bad marriage for the sake of health. Marital troubles can lead to physical ones, too.

In a series of experiments, scientists at Ohio State studied the relationship between marital strife and immune response, as measured by the time it takes for a wound to heal. The researchers recruited married couples who submitted to a small suction device that left eight tiny blisters on the arm. The couples then engaged in different types of discussions — sometimes positive and supportive, at other times focused on a topic of conflict.

After a marital conflict, the wounds took a full day longer to heal. Among couples who exhibited high levels of hostility, the wound healing took two days longer than with those who showed less animosity.

“I would argue that if you can’t fix a marriage you’re better off out of it,” said Janice Kiecolt-Glaser, an Ohio State scientist who is an author of much of the research. “With a divorce you’re disrupting your life, but a long-term acrimonious marriage also is very bad.”

The new bailout
A boy and his date were parked on a back road some distance from town, doing what boys and girls do on back roads some distance from town.

Things were getting hot and heavy, when the girl stopped the boy.

"I really should have mentioned this earlier, but I'm actually a hooker and I charge $20 for sex," she said.

The boy just looked at her for a couple of seconds, but then reluctantly paid her, and they did their thing.

After the cigarette, the boy just sat in the driver's seat looking out the window.

"Why aren't we going anywhere?" asked the girl.

"Well, I should have mentioned this before, but I'm actually a taxi driver, and the fare back to town is $25."

The Gates incident
+ "I don't think he's a racist. I don't. I think he's a cop. Seriously. But there was one little awkward moment when he arrived at the White House and got out of the car and he threw Obama the keys." -- Bill Maher

+ "President Obama, Professor Gates, and Officer Crowley had their beer summit. And the big surprise was they were joined by Vice President Biden. That was the surprise, yeah. The highlight of the evening was when Officer Crowley told Biden, 'You have the right to remain silent.'" --Conan O'Brien

+ "They had the big beer summit earlier tonight at the White House. President Obama had a beer with Harvard Professor Henry Louis Gates and the policeman who arrested him. The meeting got off to a rough start when a neighbor called the police to say Gates was breaking into the White House." --Conan O'Brien

Cash for clunkers
"Some people have misunderstood this concept of trading old for new. For example, today, South Carolina Governor Sanford tried to drop off his wife" --Bill Maher

+ "Yesterday, Nancy Pelosi accused insurance companies of deliberately trying to kill the health care bill. Pelosi was so angry that she started arranging her face into a scowl." --Jimmy Fallon

Who moved my cheese?
"It's been reported that Larry King has opened a Twitter account. Yep. So far his tweets have been, 'My name's Larry,' 'I like pie' and 'Who moved the toilet?'" --Conan O'Brien

The final word on Sarah
"No longer governor of Alaska, so whenever she waves at Russia, nobody waves back." --David Letterman

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 the Google ads on this site. Thus I cannot endorse, though some look interesting. If you click on a link, Google may send me money. Please note I'm not suggesting you do. That money, if there is any, may help pay Michael's business school tuition. Read more about Google AdSense, click here and here.