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9:00 AM EST, Tuesday, July 28, 2009. Stock prices rise 9 months before a recession ends. The huge stock boom since March 9 has run its course. Choose whichever position (or poison?) you feel comfortable with.

But that's what millions of words in financial journals and reports are agitating over.

Personally I prefer to be optimistic and stick with the first position. Prices will rise, albeit perhaps more slowly.

Some nice charts:

The Australian dollar has recovered to 82 cents. That's huge.

This is the Chinese auto maker, which Warren Buffet has a piece of.

My friend is currently in Brazil. He says that place is booming.

Two interesting statistics: Thank you Rick.

+ WORKING FOR YOURSELF - The average net worth of American families headed by a person that is an employee of a firm (i.e., not a business owner) is $352,000. The average net worth of American families headed by a self-employed person is $1.96 million. This data is part of the 2007 Survey of Consumer Finances collected by the Federal Reserve and was released in June 2009 (source: Federal Reserve).

+ WHAT, ME WORRY?! - 45% of retirees aged 55-75 surveyed in April 2009 have either not calculated how long their assets are anticipated to last during their retirement years or they have never given the issue any thought (source: Society of Actuaries).

Two items worth reading:

+ Robert Kuttner argues High Frequency Trading is really front running (which is illegal). He writes, "Very sophisticated financial firms, such as Goldman Sachs, are tipped off by the New York Stock Exchange's own computers to pending buy and sell orders. Armed with ultra sophisticated computer algorithms, the insiders anticipate the direction of the market based on what they learn about supply and demand for a given security. They can make an extra penny here and an extra penny there at the expense of us suckers, adding up to billions." For more, click here.

+ Was the AIG Bailout a Goldman Bailout by Proxy? by Felix Salmon. Click here.

Housing's floor is reached.

Comments on the chart (from someone who understands this stuff):
The white line is existing home inventory (units). Orange line is existing home months of supply (units divided by rate of sales). Yellow is new home inventory. Green is new home months of supply. While overall levels of inventory are still high, sales are happening at an increasing rate. There's little new home inventory left. As sellers of existing homes (85% of the market) come to terms with what prices will clear a market (in my area the bid/asked has shrunk materially), that green line is going to collapse, too. Housing has found a floor.

Bargains on overseas business class travel: Demand has cratered. Airlines have dropped their prices. The traditional bargain has been the two-for-one offered by many airlines and American Express Platinum. In the past you could pay off your Amex Platinum fees from the airline savings. Now no more. Airlines have dropped and are dropped their business class seats. From today's New York Times,

Air Canada has a sale in which a first-class ticket between Los Angeles and Shanghai is available for less than $3,500. A year ago, a traveler could have easily paid over $15,000 on various airlines for that ticket.

Business class from New York to London? For the British Airways swanky Club World cabin, that will be about $2,544 round trip for late summer travel, with an advance purchase. The walk-up fare for Club World on that route used to be about $11,000 and is still about $7,500.

New York to Amsterdam? On the mostly business-class planes operated by OpenSkies, a British Airways subsidiary, the summer fare is about $1,300, round trip.

In the past, my old trick was to simply call the airline and bargain with them. Or use a friendly travel agent to do my bargaining. I bet that trick still works today.

Brilliant (or desperate?) marketing.
Spied on the side of cardboard box containing 12 cans of coke.

What say? "Limited Edition" We really believe this stuff?

May I please kill the fellow who ruined my delicious red plum with this?

Photographed handheld with my Canon G10 on manual focus.

Favorite subway advertisement.
Spied on the 57th and 6th Avenue subway station.

Favorite subway sculpture.
Found at 14th and Sixth Avenue station.

Sculpture by Tom Otterness. For more, click here.

More Woody Allen quotes.
+ If it turns out that there is a God, I don't think he's evil. The worst that you can say about him is that basically he's an underachiever.

+ Eternal nothingness is fine if you happen to be dressed for it.

+ Not only is there no God, but try getting a plumber on weekends.

+ The lion and the calf shall lie down together but the calf won't get much sleep.

+ It's not that I'm afraid to die. I just don't want to be there when it happens.

+ Money is better than poverty, if only for financial reasons.

+ My parents were very old world. They come from Brooklyn, which is the heart of the Old World. Their values in life are God and carpeting.

+ Some guy hit my fender, and I told him 'be fruitful, and multiply.' But not in those words.

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.