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All this will pass — tariffs, sanctions, export restrictions, uncertainty, the economic slowdown…

All this administration-inflicted misery will pass — but not for months. I’m optimistic long-term.

But short-term, I accept the uncertainties — and choose to ignore most of them.

Stocks. Up one day. Down the next. A good summer to take off. Read some good books. Pray sanity will appear again around Fall.

I like this Charlie Munger quote.

Following Charlie’s advice, here are areas I wouldn’t touch today:

+ Retail. Business Insider writes today: “More than 7,100 stores are closing in 2019 as the retail apocalypse drags on.” Walk around Manhattan. Yesterday I saw closed, empty shops on Fifth Avenue.

+ Chinese stocks. Unless you snag BABA at $140.

Oil. There’s too much of it and too little demand.

Banking. Someone will be the winner here. But it won’t be my banks — JPMorgan or Citigroup. I still like PayPal and Square.

+ Self-driving cars. That includes Tesla. More on driverless cars tomorrow.

+ Chip makers. The Administration is stopping many chip makers from selling to Chinese technology companies — and not just Huawei. I don’t understand the reasons for the new restrictions.

Transport companies. Like FedEx and UPS. There’s a trade slowdown. End of the transport story.

Cannabis/marijuana. There’s a huge oversupply of the weed. There are companies making “The picks and shovels” of the business. They’re going to do well. I assume. I’m not smoking or eating the stuff. I prefer to follow the Peter Lynch theory of buying what you eat (consume). It’s too late for me. Maybe you’re younger? I’m seeing the gruesome long-term effects of drugs in some of my older friends.

For now, I stick with what I have. And I relish my occasional dividends — especially those from my syndicated commercial and residential real estate — which are doing well. Everyone should have some of this as sound diversification.

For now, it’s OK to stay on the sidelines — with SPAXX and UTIXX.

“I need a hearing aid”

A reader said he needed a hearing aid. Here’s what I’d do:

First, borrow your kids’  Apple AirPods and try them as a hearing aid. They’re remarkably good.

Here they are in their cute carrying case.

AirPods cost only $159 and may be the hearing aid bargain of all time. Easy instructions on how to use them as hearing aids are here.AirPods also sound better with music, podcasts and phone calls. Most hearing aids will let you listen to phone calls. To talk, you have to talk into your iPhone. A pain.

If you want hearing aids that don’t look geeky, take yourself to Costco. Try some on. Then walk around the store. Allegedly they’ve improved hearing aids since I bought mine at Costco. Mine cost $2800. Much too expensive for their miserable quality.

If I were to buy a pair of hearing aids today, I’d insist on:

+ Bluetooth capable, so they sync with my iPhone and let me hear podcasts and music from my iPhone, as well as answer the phone and speak on the iPhone. If possible, they should have a microphone — similar to the Apple AirPods.

+ Rechargeable. You don’t want to have to keep replacing batteries. Batteries are far too unreliable and don’t last long. Nothing worse than trying to change batteries in a dark theater. The apps don’t warn you when the batteries are about to expire.

+ Should have noise cancelling — like Boise.

+ An app on your phone for volume control, and noise reduction.

+ Small carrying case. The case they gave me is far too large, too heavy and too cumbersome.

+ A reasonable price — under $1,000 for two.

I don’t know if all this is possible.

The biggest lesson: Steer clear of hearing “consultants,” who peddle hearing aids with the highest commissions and will set you back thousands of dollars and don’t sound one-tenth as good as Apple’s Airpods or Boise headphones.

The second biggest lesson: Nothing is universal. To this day: I use Sennheiser headphones for TV, AirPods for speaking on my iPhone, Boise noise-cancelling ear buds for airplanes, loaners in the theater, and my Resound/Costco hearing aids for lectures, meetings and restaurants.

Useful PC and Mac tips

+ Virtually all viruses and malware that infect your laptop come from email attachments. Please don’t open attachments to emails — even if they come from a friend. Reply to your friend and ask if his attachment is kosher? It’s often not.

+ Never pay ransomware. They don’t have your password. They can’t get into your bank account and they can’t steal your money. The only thing they’re good at is writing creative ransom notes. Your best investment is twice daily backups of all your working files. Even better is a full, identical laptop ready to go — if your main laptop is infected with something.

Health tips

+ Never eat a main course at a restaurant. Main courses are far too big. Moreover the appetizers taste better.

+ Do not accept your doctor’s pills — before you check them out. The side affects of some of the newer pills are simply horrendous. Watch the warnings on TV. You’ll see what I mean.

What brought MH370 down?

MH370 was the Malaysia Airlines that took off in 2014 from Kuala Lumpur and disappeared. Never to be found.

The Atlantic magazine has a huge fascinating piece on it. Click here.

What I learned from the article for my plane travels:

+ Avoid airlines from third world countries. Like the plague.

+ You’re always at risk with suicidal pilots. They’ve been a remarkable number in recent years of pilots deliberately crashing their plane.

+ Planes are hugely safe these days. But you can disable the safety systems with devastating consequences.

When does life begin?

A priest, a minister and a rabbi are discussing when life begins.

The priests says, “It begins at conception”.

The minister says, “Life begins at 24 weeks gestation”.

The rabbi says, “You are both wrong, Life begins when the kids move out of the house.”

More bad puns

+ I asked my date to meet me at the gym, but she never showed up.

I guess the two of us aren’t going to work out.

+ Scientist breaks wind in a sound chamber.

He never heard the end of it.

Wonderful video

This one is called Alexa in your car.

Your worst nightmare

+ Eminem terrified as his daughter begins dating a man raised on his music.

Harry and granddaughter Sophie admiring the tie she made for me for my birthday. Neat!

  • Robert

    Harry with all due respect you’re off base on retail. You’re not segmenting the sector and are therefore throwing the baby out with the bathwater. High street retail in NYC, yes, rents are too high and it’s sucking wind. Malls, yes, sucking wind. LBOs present another risk. But if you look at the discounters and off-price formats – a lot of those guys (e.g. Ross, TJX, Ulta) are doing great, expanding, etc. If you had put money in stocks like Burlington five years ago you’d be pretty happy. The point is that people are still shopping, Amazon is still a small percentage of total retail sales, and there are areas of retail that are thriving.

    Just want to make you that you’re not just blindly regurgitating what you read. No question there are risks in the retail sector but it’s nowhere near as bad as you make it out to be across the board.

    • harrynewton

      Trust me. I don’t blindly regurgitate anything. With my list of “no go theres” I miss many great opportunities. But I find I can’t be an expert on everything. I find that I need to be able to focus on industries I understand. Picking winners in contracting industries is very difficult.

      • Robert Fowler

        I get it, but when you’re making a broad sector call (don’t be stupid and touch retail) on something that isn’t in your wheelhouse I think that’s, well … I wouldn’t do that. Retail isn’t a contracting industry (until we hit a recession, that is). Retail sales have consistently been rising. E-commerce sales are about 50% Amazon and 50% traditional bricks-and-mortar retailers. Most of retail sales still occur in-store. The areas of retail where you see real issues are a) LBOs, b) malls, c) to some extent, big box, and d) high street in certain markets, such as NYC. That’s not everyone. No question there are broad risks in the space but it’s not doom and gloom like the picture you painted.