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The investment that just keeps on giving. How to survive (and thrive) in today’s merciless world.

You haven’t heard from me in a week or so, for several reasons:

+ I’ve been searching for a single “perfect” investment. I haven’t found one. I have ideas.

+ I’ve been engrossed with the U.S. Tennis Open. I fantasize I can learn from watching. The Final is on today, Sunday.

+ I’ve been reading about Putin. It’s totally engrossing, and thoroughly depressing. More about that tomorrow.

Today, we have two schools on stock investing:

  1. “We have passed an inflection point, and things will be getting worse from here.” says one eminent observer.
  2. “Everything awful is known — from the Fed to the War, from inflation to skyrocketing energy costs.” The market turns up nine months before the economy improves. It’s now turning up!

My friend hasn’t looked at his ailing stock portfolio in months. He’s put enough cash money aside to pay his bills for the next year.

Me? I gotta look. This makes me sell shares that rise the following day.

Don’t look. It’s cheaper.

I am addicted to instant gratification. That’s why I like tennis. I mightn’t always win. But I can find euphoria in a down-the-line backhand.

I seek euphoria.

You can’t time this. Here’s the S&P500 this year. You shouldn’t be watching.

The trend is down, marred by occasional bear market rallies, like the last several days.

A reasonable approach to investing in this milieu is to look wider.

My friend brought a property cheaply. That’s good about real estate. It’s not a national market where everybody can see the price of IBM stock on their screens, — wherever they are.

In real estate, you may be the only bidder. You may get a steal, or at the very least, a deal.

Soon someone wanted to buy some of the property’s land. They wanted to build at hotel. Then a few years later another hotel.

His original purchase was based on the standard “Let’s fix up the joint. Make it took pretty. Maybe someone will rent some space. Maybe. Maybe.”

Now it’s the property that just keeps on giving.

Good fortune happens when the world changes — as it does all the unpredictable time. Look what happened to Peloton.

If you have electricity to sell, you’re doing splendidly. Wind farms are blowing strongly. (Sorry about that.)

I research. I read. I’m more cautious in my old age.

Before I left Australia, my boss said I’d love the Americans. They were just like me. They substituted enthusiasm for intelligence.

I fell in love with Nvidia. I love its awesome technology. But looked what’s happened to its un-awesome stock. It’s done worse than even Intel!

I’m looking at “deals” ranging from software startups to distress real estate to non-distress real estate, to one and two year treasuries. To even REITs. Or real estate funds.

Publishing has deadlines. Investing my cash doesn’t have deadlines.

For someone like me who thrives on instant euphoria, heady enthusiasm and constant deadlines, this new world is frustrating.

More nonsense about auto-pay

My credit card expired. Sirius XM Radio couldn’t charge my card $21.84 for my monthly subscription.

They bugged me.

I called them. The price dropped to $7.27 a month –a two-thirds reduction for doing nothing.

Except I asked “Do you have anything cheaper?”

Dermatology advice. (I had friends who died of bad skin.)

+ Sunscreen with stuff that has titanium and zinc.

+ Skip hot hot showers.

+ Moisturize. It actually works.

+ See your dermatologist regularly. Every six months.

+ Best advice: Stay completely out of the sun.

Apple’s new products 

Two new watches, a new iPhone 14 Pro and new AirPods Pro.

This is the first time I’m in two minds about buying new, improved Apple stuff.

The upgrade advantages are dubious — unless you have very old Apple stuff.

My best advice: Go into an Apple store and sniff around.

My big concern: It takes hours to move my stuff from my old iPhone to my new iPhone. It’s not the Apple stuff that’s the problem. It’s all the other non-Apple apps. Last time, it took me weeks to move everything over. It was awful. Totally unpleasant.

Nuggets from Sunday’s New York Times (today’s)

+ The Hasidic Jewish community has long operated one of New York’s largest private schools on its own terms, resisting any outside scrutiny of how its students are faring.

But in 2019, the school, the Central United Talmudical Academy, agreed to give state standardized tests in reading and math to more than 1,000 students.

Every one of them failed.

Click here.

+ The many lawyers who have helped the former president avoid removal from office and indictment have drawn legal problems of their own.

A dark joke has begun circulating among lawyers following the many legal travails of former President Donald J. Trump: MAGA actually stands for “making attorneys get attorneys.”

Click here.

+ On the 1985 visit of Prince Charles and Princess Diana to Washington, four years after they married. They brought 7,000 pounds of luggage.

Click here.

+ Censorship Is the Refuge of the Weak

Acts of censorship are often tacit admissions of weakness masquerading as strength. This weakness is on full display with the imposition of so-called educational gag orders, laws which restrict the discussions of race, gender, sexuality and American history in K-12 and higher education. A political project convinced of the superiority of its ideas doesn’t need the power of the state to shield people from competing ideas. Censorship is the desperate rear-guard action of a movement that has already lost the fight for hearts and minds.

This year alone, 137 gag order bills like these have been introduced in 36 state legislatures. That’s a sharp increase from 2021 when 54 bills were introduced in 22 states, according to a report released last month by PEN America, a free speech organization.

Click here.

Mikail S. Gorbachev saw things with new eyes

from an obituary in the New York Times:

A man of openness, vision and great vitality, he looked at the legacy of seven decades of Communist rule and saw official corruption, a labor force lacking motivation and discipline, factories that produced shoddy goods, and a distribution system that guaranteed consumers little but empty shelves — empty of just about everything but vodka.

The Soviet Union had become a major world power weighed down by a weak economy. As East-West détente permitted light into its closed society, the growing class of technological, scientific and cultural elites could no longer fail to measure their country against the West and find it wanting.

The problems were clear; the solutions, less so. Mr. Gorbachev had to feel his way toward his promised restructuring of the Soviet political and economic systems. He was caught between tremendous opposing forces: On one hand, the habits ingrained by 70 years of cradle-to-grave subsistence under Communism; on the other, the imperatives of moving quickly to change the old ways and to demonstrate that whatever dislocation resulted was temporary and worth the effort.

It was a task he was forced to hand over to others when he was removed from office, a consequence of his own ambivalence and a failed coup against him by hard-liners whom he himself had elevated to his inner circle.

Read the entire article here.

Cartoon of the decade

Favorite cartoons

US Tennis Open Final Starts at 4 PM today Sunday

It’s on ESPN. This 19-year old phenom is playing. I wish I had his legs:

I updated my small stock portfolio. It’s in the right hand column on the web site. Click here.

I’ll see you tomorrow. I  promise. — Harry Newton