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Towards a philosophy of personal investing. Why Bernie Sanders disgusts me.

My new friend calls them precious metals. Gold, silver, platinum. He owns oodles of their miners.

I always thought the word “precious” was marketing hype.

Heck you drag the stuff out of the ground. Dragging out of the ground turned me off them.

When demand (and price) goes up, you search harder, open more mines and dig more oil wells. When price falls, you ease back. All this limits the money your shareholders can ever make. It’s why I don’t have shares in precious metals, or diamond mines or oil wells.

Remember when we had “peak oil?” They just drilled and found more. “black gold.” (More marketing hype.) Over the weekend, Iran announced it had found oil to almost double it in-the-ground reserves! One discovery.

I want to own companies that don’t make the same as the next guy.

I like companies with a “brand” they invest in and keep on investing in — like Coca Cola, or Starbucks. And they become sort of “monopolies.” Sadly, long-term they suffer competition from Pepsi and tea.

The companies I hanker for have three traits:

+ Their own (and hopefully) customer-appealing and improving proprietary technology.

+ Scaleability. They can grow fast, without pricey investments in new factories.

+ Great management. You can pick them by watching them on BubbleVision — the financial TV channels, like CNBC and Bloomberg.

These three traits draw me to technology, which can grow fast without having to build pricey factories. The enablers are the Internet and the cloud.

Hence my biggest investments are Apple, Amazon and Microsoft.

But I also have successful tech investments in Adobe, Nvidia, DocuSign, Skyworks Solutions and Salesforce (CRM). They’re all listed on my web site. Click here.

If you don’t like picking individual tech stocks, a good bet is the tech EFT called VGT. Here’s it compared with the S&P500  over the past ten years. Big difference.

Useful

+ It’s always the cable. It’s the handset cord on your phone or the cord that charges your iPhone.

+ Don’t carry a debit card with you. If stolen, it’s easy to hack. It gives a thief direct access to your bank account. Transactions can’t be reversed and you can’t appeal them — as you can with a credit card. Click here.

+ The biggest bargain in overseas travel is twofers in business class. You can negotiate them with your airline. Some credit cards have them also. More on which ones tomorrow.

+ If you’re in business or first class, you can get easily get away carrying on a 25″ roll-on bag — which holds much more than the 22″ “legal” carry-on bag.

+ YouTubeTV at $50 a month is not cheap. But it has a huge array of live and recorded shows, and movies. You can watch CNBC shows any time. They’re recorded. I can’t describe YouTube TV adequately. Best to play with it and see if it suits you. I like watching stuff — like live tennis — on a laptop in bed. YouTube TV is focused more on TV, while Netflix is more home-grown series and movies.

Really frightening reading from the weekend

How Scientists Got Climate Change So Wrong
Few thought it would arrive so quickly. Now we’re facing consequences once viewed as fringe scenarios. (Like many of our cities under water.)

Click here.

Alcohol breath tests, a linchpin of the criminal justice system, are often unreliable, a New York Times investigation found.

Click here.

The Truth About Income Inequality
The census fails to account for taxes and most welfare payments, painting a distorted picture.

… Unfortunately, official measures of income inequality, the numbers being debated, are profoundly distorted by what the Census Bureau chooses to count as household income.

Once you factor in taxes and Federal social welfare programs, you get a very different view of the gruesomeness of income equality. It’s not as skewed as much as you think. From the Wall Street Journal,  Written by Phil Gramm and John F. Early. Click here.

A tiny pharmacy is identifying big problems with common drugs, including Zantac

NEW HAVEN, Conn. — The escalating global recall of Zantac, the heartburn pill that once ranked as the world’s best-selling drug, has its roots not in government oversight or a high-profile lawsuit, but in a tiny online pharmacy here whose founders feared that U.S. drugs might not be as safe as people think.

For the Washington Post article, click here.

Bernie’s Fear

From The Week:

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) directly challenged the billionaire Michael Bloomberg during a Democratic campaign speech Saturday in Iowa. “Our campaign is going to end the grotesque level of income and wealth inequality which exists in America today,”

Sanders said. “So tonight we say to Michael Bloomberg and other billionaires: Sorry, you ain’t going to buy this election.”

Harry’s comment: Bernie Sanders has never started a business or employed anyone. Apart from some very odd jobs early in life — like being a carpenter —  he has worked for various governments his entire life — most recently in Congress for the Federal Government. You and I paid his salary and his expenses.

In contrast, Michael Bloomberg started Bloomberg L.P. , a media empire, which today employs around 20,000 people.

Sanders’ comments above thoroughly disgust me.

For The Week’s article, click here.

The new green way

Someone pressured New York City car parks to accept bicycles. So they passed a law.

Bicycles are a royal pain for car parks. They fall over and the scratch cars. They get stolen. The car park has to build special spaces for bikes..

So the car parks solved the problem. Guess how? this is my garage. The early bird special is for cars.

My garage told me on Friday no one had ever parked a bicycle with them or even inquired. No one. Guess why?

Soon? Rental control for bicycle parking.

Portion control is an imperative

All of us eat too much. We eat everything on our plate. Some deep psychology fear about starving is at work here.

But restaurants — especially those in Florida and other states in the south — have been cranking up portions as a competitive measure.

Good idea: Split your plate and take half home — for tomorrow.

Tobacco is so much fun.

Reader Clay Henley sent me this wonderful advertisement.

Clay, who’s the same age as me (77) emailed me:

I smoked from age 15 to 49, three packs a day – quitting was probably the hardest thing I ever did. I tried everything – drugs, hypnosis, pills, staples in my ears – At one point I vowed to not smoke for a weekend and every time I craved a cigarette, I would hop into the shower (they were hard to keep lit when wet. Finally made it and never looked back over those 28 years, 3 months, 6 days 12 hours 13 minutes and 4 seconds.

Clay, congratulations on making it.

Amazingly, people are still buying the things. Look what they cost in my local pharmacy:

What would we do without newspapers?


I’ll be back tomorrow. God willing. — Harry Newton

 

  • TomFromVa

    Best wishes to Mr Bugfoot.

    I define poverty as the inability to get the basic necessities of life: food, shelter, and clothing. So with all the Government programs available, not to mention church and community ones, I would like to know whether (and why) there is any actual poverty in America. Of course there are those who choose not to use these programs – not my problem – and some who are incompetent, but for the most part they get discovered at some point and are at least offered assistance. If you want to see poverty, go to Africa or the Caribbean and hunt around beyond the tourist areas.

    So I would like someone to tell me who it is in America that cannot get food, shelter, clothing, and basic medical attention. And I also do not see why anyone should care how big Bill Gates’ yacht is – if you have what you need, why is it any of your business?

    If anyone answers, please provide actual, specific answers, not Progressive Propaganda about how hard-hearted I am and how unfair the system is. Facts, not sound bites.

  • Bob Crites

    Harry: Since none of the scary predictions Al Gore told us years ago came true, why do you want to believe the new crop? Truth is there has been no climate change outside of what normal change is. — Bob Crites

  • Mike Nash

    Harry, I’d like to appeal to your readers to send prayers, good vibes and positive thoughts to Toby Bugfoot, a longtime reader of your column and occasional commenter. He suffered a massive stroke on Friday and is in ICU at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York. Wendi is at his bedside as are their children Claude, Kiki and Pepper. It’s a terrible tragedy as Toby is only 49. He’s presently in a medically induced coma but we’re all hoping for the best.