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The wages, fears and consequences of uncertainty. Six Sound Lessons for Our New World.

There are six lessons:

  1. Cash. Having two years of it in a bank account is good.
  2. Diversification. Real estate. Stocks. Different types of them. They each blow up a different times.
  3. Whatever the pundits (in newspapers, on blogs) predict is wrong. They have no idea. I have no idea.
  4. Pounce when assets become historically cheap, e.g. airlines, cruise lines. I did.
  5. Don’t panic or despair.  Your tenants may not pay you rents today. But they will tomorrow. Lawyers are actually useful.
  6. Accommodate to Our New World. Put thermometers in your lobby. Issue masks, etc. Your tenants will be back. Working at home is way over-rated.

Above all, don’t get involved in things you can’t do anything about.

Don’t talk about things you can’t do anything about.

Things that are bleeding obvious to my tiny brain are completely opposite to someone else’s brain.

I have to stretch back to 1968-69 and the Vietnam War to find people who disagreed with me so strongly.

Today, it’s worse. The threats I receive over the little politics that have crept into this blog are palpable. Some days I fear for me.

Were I not aware that America has been through tougher times and come out ahead, I would be seriously worried.

But I’m not. My family is healthy (if bored).

I understand the dangers out there.

Tomorrow is my 78th birthday. I’m in the perfect demographics to be felled by the virus. I’m taking my cautions.

Cabin fever is driving us all.

Phone calls, Zoom calls, FaceTime. Yuch.

None of them match the thrill of real people, even for an avowed misanthrope like me..

Cabin fever makes everyone short-term. Hence we make bad short-term decisions like selling good stocks because they dropped a little. And we make bad long-term decisions, based on fantasy predictions. It’s amazing how wrong we can be.

Warren Buffett sells his airline stocks, loses billions. And they do this — they bounce back.

My favorite is Boeing. Every bone in my body said to short it. And I did. But I was wrong.

Fortunately I covered my short early. I made a few bucks. I sort of understand its recent big bounce. Sort of. Airlines are buying planes where they zillions parked in airports all over the country. Google parked airplanes. You;ll find a million images like this:

My Lesson 7 should be “Go With The Flow.” When I saw the airline and cruise stocks taking off, I said “I’ll join this bandwagon” and I bought some. I’m not rolling in found money, but it’s better than a slap in the belly with a cold fish. (Have I used that Australian expression before?).

Of course, had you gone to sleep around January 1 and woke up today, you’d find your stock portfolio would be up. Not much. But OK. A sound case for inaction.

There’s a case for only eyeing your portfolio’s losses and dumping stock which have dropped say 15%. Selectively maybe. Get rid of bad stocks. But, heck, you shouldn’t be owning bad stocks.

Look what happens when the world changes 

These guys make RVs. They can’t keep up with demand. The CEO effused on Cramer last night, “You have your own bathroom, own kitchen, own bedroom… and over there is an office.”

 

Whoever heard of an RV with an office! I thought it was for retired people. Oh…maybe retired people with a stock portfolio.

Backups and fixing

+ Your laptop will lock, not take a charge. Reboot  it. That didn’t work. Now, re-set it. There’s a tiny button on the flip side. Push it for ten seconds and pray. Do it again.

+ Keep multiple backups of all your working files. Especially those on your cell phone. Use the cloud. Use flash drives. Use anything and everything.

My daughter, Claire, thinks her Daddy is a genius because I told her where to find the re-set button was on her fancy Lenovo X1 Carbon laptop.

Today

My 87th tennis game this quarantine.

The exercise is great. My legs hurt. Good hurt. But the birds are even better. They’re everywhere. Robins. Blackbirds. Doves. Cardinals. Geese, Finches, Bluejays. I have an app called iBird PRO. I can identify the birds. I can recognize their sounds. iBird PRO is the greatest app ever. Sadly, the app doesn’t stop the birds showing their love for our tennis by showering us with regular presents from the sky. Tip: Keep your mouth shut when serving, especially when Canadian Geese are around.

See you soon — Harry Newton

 

 

  • Hello, Harry! Marlene and I had today as your birthday. I thought I’d check in and see how you’re doing. Happy almost birthday. Today’s column was quite nice. Well done.
    I take it from your comments that, despite your wisdom, intelligence, and athletic prowess you are still on the side of the liberal crazies? Even as they destroy your city?
    I am sorry if that stance brings you grief. The “Journalists” (ha!) who engage in creative writing (fantasy fiction) frustrate many Americans. The crap is so thick.
    We are doing great here in S. FL. Happy and healthy with (drum roll) a new Great grand child. Scary stuff.
    We have two grandkids just graduated from universities who are staying with us until grad school starts. One thing you would find interesting is the great lack of shared cultural references. Not only do they not know StarTrek jokes and references (“He’s dead, Jim”) they don’t even know Harry Potter references!
    They are putting up with a lot of “Cultural References 101” lectures from me. I am also giving them a practical course called, “All Business is About Finance”. If you don’t have the financials you only have wishes.
    Sincere best wishes. Happy birthday. I’ll check back with you after Tues Nov 3.

  • Mike Nash

    You’re only 78? I’d have guessed older. Well, I give you credit. Getting outside and playing a sport you obviously love is a good thing. It’s good for the body, good for the mind. God bless you. I wish you many more years of health and happiness.

  • Dman

    Harry…..are deBlasio and Cuomo scaring you out of NYC?

    The Great Awakening
    Trust The Plan
    Dark To Light
    WWG1WGA
    Q…….Harry THAT should scare the HELL out of you. Bye-bye to the evil satanic dem party.

    • Well said, Sir. Well said!

    • Mike Nash

      I believe that God sent President Trump to heal the United States of America. This is an awful nation and Trump has done his best to fix it and bring us all together. But the divisive liberal media won’t allow him to do that.

  • pop

    happy (early) birthday harry. love the column and wishing you many more!

  • Dirk Nordling

    I’m sorry to hear about the threats. People who do that are not right and if they are not jailed, they should perhaps be put in a mental hospital. There is no excuse for it.

  • Tom

    I wish you’d go back to the premise of your “Technology Investor” magazine. Which is to examine the commercial technology pyramid for investment possibilities. I recall you wrote that you’d disassemble all the new devices to see who makes the underlying parts, and the software. Then research the companies. With the advent of social media, smart handheld devices, the cloud and cyber security, this seems to be a rich field. I’d do it myself when I retire soon if I knew how.

    • harrynewton

      You’re 100% right. I shall try more of that. It’s not that easy these days, since many tech companies now have many products and sell into many diverse markets.But I’ll try.

  • bruuno

    Yes, Harry America has an overabundance of yahoos. Not by coincidence.. the yahoo sector has been cultivated for decades. Why? Follow the money.