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When in doubt, stay out. Especially of Russian stocks.

Saying NO is more important than saying YES.

NO brings you peace. You sleep well. You still have your cash in your bank or your favorite mattress.

The easiest places to say NO to are messed up overseas countries — like most of them.

When I was in Russia last year, I asked people how easy was it to start a new business. They told me about permissions and bribery and the difficulty of opening bank accounts … My eyes glazed over. I began to understand why I’d never bought anything Russian. Why Russia never started  anything of merit, like Waze. But Israel had, probably with Russian engineers who moved there.

I’m trolling the Internet and find this piece:

I like the word “confidence.” Invest with confidence. Makes you feel good.

The article recommends:

Some popular Russian funds and ADRs easily available in the U.S.:

Voya Russia Fund (Mutual Fund: LETRX)
Market Vector Russia ETF Trust (NYSE: RSX)
Gazprom OAO (ADR) (Pink Sheets: OGZPY)

I have a mean streak. I plot their performance against the S&P 500 for the past ten years. With two of them you actually lost money over the past ten years. With one — LETRX — you made a pittance.

For the article on investing in Russia, click here.

Russia and much of the world are awash in leaders becoming dictators and lining their pockets. Putin is alleged to be the richest guy in the world with way over $200 billion of net worth — more than Bill Gates and Jeff Bezos combined. I wonder which offshore mattress he puts it all in?

Then there’s Turkey, Saudi Arabia…

I like this map. It’s the Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI),  an index published each year by Transparency International which ranks countries “by their perceived levels of public sector corruption.” The CPI generally defines corruption as “the misuse of public power for private benefit”. The blue ones are the best to invest in. Note: there aren’t many blue ones.

Turkey has blocked Wikipedia

Follow my logic:

Trump likes palling around with autocrats and dictators.

I understand why.

They all have gigantic egos. They all believe they know what’s best for their country and themselves. They all are stable geniuses. Like Trump.

They all find it irksome to have to listen to people who don’t agree with them.

Turkey is doing what, I suspect, Trump would like to do here — close down the non-fawning press and lock up all his opponents.

Turkey’s Recep Tayyip Erdoğan is the nuttiest of them all.

The story from the weekend is Finding Truth Online Is Hard Enough. It begins:

On Saturday, April 29, 2017, Turkey banned Wikipedia. This came as a shock, even in a country with a history of banning everything from novels (Albert Camus’s “The Plague,” from public schools in 1987) to films (“Nymphomaniac,” in 2014) to entire genres of music (arabesk, from state channels in the ’70s and ’80s).

Previously, Turkey’s checks on the Turkish-language version of Wikipedia were limited to blocking only specific entries – like “vagina,” “human penis” and “2015 Turkey general election polls.” Someone in Turkey who followed a link to such a page would simply find it didn’t work. But why did the whole thing have to go?

Syria, it turned out, was the proximate inspiration. Wikipedia pages with headers like “State-sponsored terrorism” and “Foreign involvement in the Syrian Civil War” seemed to accuse the Turkish government of supporting ISIS – “a smear campaign,” according to officials. Some months later, after the full block went into effect, the Israeli newspaper Haaretz identified other entries that the government considered offensive: One was about 57,000 emails tied to President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s son-in-law Berat Albayrak, which implicated him in having had indirect business relationships with ISIS; another entry, about “Benevolent Dictators,” like Napoleon and Fidel Castro, included Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, Turkey’s founding father. The government said it was banning Wikipedia, according to the law that allowed it to do so, for the protection of public order or national security.

For the full fascinating story, click here.

Erdogan has built himself a palace 30 times the size of the White House. It has 1,100 rooms. Don’t even ask what it cost. Or what the cost of keeping the lights on is.

The big overhang on the world’s economies

The Times ran a piece: “Trump’s Theatrics Keep China on Edge, Deal at Bay.” The article included these three paragraphs:

Even Mr. Trump’s supporters have trouble at times disguising their frustration with his focus on showmanship over substance and a nagging feeling that the president doesn’t want the show to end.

In a letter to the president in May, Zippy Duvall, the president of the American Farm Bureau, said farmers faced “near-unprecedented economic uncertainty and hardship” stemming from the escalation of tariffs in China and other key markets. He urged Mr. Trump to make a deal as soon as possible, saying “time is running out for many in agriculture.”

But Mr. Trump’s approach has complicated his ability to get a final deal, including securing the big farm commitments that he showcased last month. American negotiators are now left with the difficult task of translating the massive purchases Mr. Trump requested – larger purchases “than any time in our history, by far” – into the actual text of a trade agreement.

While China needs and wants to buy agricultural goods like soybeans and pork, it has balked on terms that would leave it exposed to accusations that it favors American products over other countries’, as well as agreements that could result in more American tariffs if its purchases do not come through.

Read the full piece here.

I found Lloyd Blankfein’s brilliant interview on CNBC yesterday

To watch the interview, click here.

Here’s a story on the interview. Click here.

The miraculous iPhone 11 Pro Max

It is a significantly better phone. It’s faster. Its cameras are better. Its battery lasts much longer. And I believe its screen is less prone to scratching and breaking.

So, dah? Well, I bought an Mophie battery case. I haven’t used it because my new iPhone 11 Pro Max seems to run forever. I’ve also bought three fancy, pricey tempered glass screen protectors, which everyone and their uncle is telling me aren’t needed.

The Mophie is mucho heavy, which makes my friends recoil in horror. But I like it. It doesn’t slide out of my pocket. I know it’s there.

Scuttlebutt is the new iPhone 11 phones are selling surprisingly well. That should boost Apple’s stock even higher.

The Three Day Rule

When a stock reports bad news stuff — like Home Depot did — you need to wait three days before the stock settles before buying.

Personally, I believe Mr. Market has overreacted and HD is now a bargain. But, for now, it’s still falling:

So, we wait another day.

I’m attracted to PGNY. More and more couples can’t have babies. Progyny helps them. PGNY is a recent IPO. Successful no less. One of few.

Brilliant marketing

A true find

The best croissants in New York City are at Pret A Manger.

A true miracle

They finally fell asleep on the way home. Zoe, left. Sophie, right.

I had fun writing today’s blog. I hope had fun reading it. Make sure you watch the Blankfein interview. It’s good, but long.

See you tomorrow. Harry Newton






  • Mike Nash

    Harry, the memorial for Toby Bugfoot in Central Park last night was beautiful. We honored the legacy of a man who packed a lot of living into his 49 years. Your name did come up and a family member mentioned how much Toby enjoyed reading your blog. Toby was cremated and his ashes are to be scattered near where the trade towers stood in Manhattan. As you know Toby’s twin brother was an employee of Cantor Fitzgerald and died on Sept. 11, 2001.

  • Omer Acikel

    Harry, I watched the interview with Mr. Blankfein. The interview got heated when he was asked if CEOs are paid too much. It never fails, despite interviewer’s repeated assertions on the growing gap in income inequality between CEO vs. “rank and file” left unanswered clearly: to add to injury he tried to divert the heat on the interviewer by saying “I think a reporter makes too much money”. Even more sad part is to claim he came from humble beginnings.

  • Glenn

    Harry, you and your friend should donate the money you made on Boeing stock. Bad juju behind that short. I debated shorting Boeing a few weeks ago as well but then figured I’m basically making money related to those tragic airlines crashes. So true about Rick Warren book that all 34 million are Trump supporters. Amazing the ideological differences between democrats and republicans that book represents.