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Harry Newton's In Search of The Perfect Investment Technology Investor. Harry Newton

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9:00 AM EST, Tuesday, June 16, 2009. A week away and I feel I've returned to a far more complicated world. Yesterday I was worried about serious inflation and I recommended owning hard assets. That means gorgeous land, commodities, miners, etc. A day later, I'm still mulling the specifics.

I used to own a fund called Strategic Commodities Fund. Last year I cashed out, figuring commodities would not do well in a recession. I was right. But I should have jumped back in this year. Look at their results this year:

MTD (May) 3.91%
YTD (To end May, 2009) 14.55%

Who could have predicted a 15% rise in a broad commodities fund in the middle of a recession? Ditto for oil, now over $70 -- doubled in price in 2009. Why? Speculation? Genuine demand? Supply reduction by producers. A little of each, I suspect.

Cash remains king while I mull.

Wall Street is a product machine. This is the essence of understanding Wall Street. It creates products. It sells them to us. If we buy them, it makes an instant fee. If the product loses us money, that's our problem. Wall Street will have moved onto something else. Unlike a normal "manufacturer" nothing from Wall Street carries any sort of warranty. If the wheels fall off, it's your problem.

Once there was a product called auction rate security (ARS). That product was created as an alternative to money market funds -- and marketed as "cash-equivalent." The big difference was that brokers and their firms got paid a fee (also called a commission) if they put their clients into an ARS, but no fee if they put them into a money market fund. But auction rate securities relied on regular auctions for their liquidity. In February of last year, virtually all the auctions failed. And ARS securities became thoroughly illiquid -- which meant an investor couldn't get their money out. Eventually most investors did get their money back -- but only after state regulators heavied the big brokerage firms.

Now Wall Street is trying to replace last year's kaput auction rate securities with a new version. There won't be any auctions. But the borrowers will have seven to 12 months to figure out how to redeem your investment and give you your money back. The Wall Street Journal did a piece on these new securities yesterday and ran this chart. I recommend that you not touch these new securities with a thousand foot pole.

Useful stuff:
+ Before you buy anything, go to eBay and Go several times. Prices change. Most new electronics -- like cameras -- drop in price a about a month after introduction.

+ Every time you buy something these days, you give them your email address. I returned to an avalanche of junk email yesterday, including one from Park 'N Fly extolling their parking virtues. I spent 15 minutes yesterday and unsubscribed myself from about 30 lists.

+ My wife Susan bought herself a BlackBerry Curve. Yesterday we had a disaster. She wasn't receiving all her emails on her BlackBerry, but she was on her laptop. Solution: Turn off the laptop when you want messages on your BlackBerry. Reason: When the laptop grabs a message from the mail server, it erases that message. And the BlackBerry misses it. The BlackBerry doesn't erase the message on the server. The Curve has one big advantage: it has the only ringer on any BlackBerry phone anyone over 40 can hear. Personally I'm eyeing the new Apple iPhone 3G S, available this Friday. The new iPhone blows away any and all BlackBerries -- but you must be comfortable with its "keyboard." It does not have a physical keyboard with real (though tiny) buttons, like all BlackBerries.

Hiking suggestion: From reader Mike Barto:

+ With regard to your hiking recommendations, there’s a $3 must have for any first aid kit. They’re called Moleskins. You can get them at any pharmacy. With hiking, especially downhill on what we call “toe-eaters,” someone in the group will get a blister somewhere on their foot. We always pack dry socks and moleskins. I cut them to just cover the blister and have nice rounded edges using my Swiss army knife scissors (another must have). The smaller they are, they seem to be more comfortable, and rounded corners keep them from peeling up. They are incredibly effective, often rendering a nasty blister unnoticeable throughout the rest of the hike.

Dr. Scholls padded version is available most everywhere and they work great, but I usually look for the old non-padded version to save on bulk in my small first aid kit.

Correction on Yellowstone Club. From a reader:

Actually, you only needed a net worth of $3 million, not billion, to join the Yellowstone Club. I was invited, several times, and we actually considered it, but were able to restrain ourselves. I am surprised you never got an invitation? Of course, I am in Colorado, so maybe it was a geographical thing. We restrained ourselves because of our family's motto: "Live simply."

So, how bad is the economy? It's so bad...

+ CEO's are now playing miniature golf.

+ Even people who have nothing to do with the Obama administration aren't paying their taxes.

+ Parents in Beverly Hills have fired their nannies and learned their children's names.

+ A truckload of Americans got caught sneaking into Mexico .

+ Motel Six won't leave the light on.

+ The most highly-paid job in the U.S. is now jury duty.

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.