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Harry Newton's In Search of The Perfect Investment Technology Investor. Harry Newton

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9:00 AM EST, Wednesday, April 22, 2009. Two great days for day traders and lousy for "investors" -- if such an animal exists any longer.

My real estate syndications -- commercial and retail -- sink under the weight of falling rents, more vacancies, and looming mortgage repayments. So much for that brilliant "diversification." Everything is correlated in today's mess.

I remember when the estimates of bank losses were $350 billion. Courtesy RGE Monitor:

April 21: IMF-- Toxic debts racked up by banks and insurers around the world could spiral to $4.1 trillion by the end of 2010, up from its $2.2 trillion January estimate. The IMF has raised losses on U.S. originated assets to $2.7 trillion. In addition, it boosted its total by $900 billion for toxic assets originated in Europe and Asia. Banks and insurers have so far owned up to $1.29 trillion in writedowns (about $800bn in U.S., $400bn in Europe, remainder in Asia). RGE calculates that U.S. banks/brokers will take a $1.8T writedown, EU banks $1.4-1.8T, and the remainder in Asia.

Real estate sucks, maybe yes, maybe no. Now is the time to buy Florida real estate. There are two reasons: It's cheap. They don't have any income tax (so long as you stay there 6 months and one day). Items:

+ A gorgeous condo is reduced from $700,000 to $160,000.

+ A 3500 square foot house with boat slip on the water is reduced from .$1.8 million to $500,000.

+ A four-bedroom house listed for $379,000, now foreclosed is selling for $64,400.

And elsewhere in Greenwich, Connecticut, the Wall Street Journal reports that the manor house of the late Leonia Hemsley, has been reduced by $50 million to a mere $75 million.

Called Dunnellen Hall, the 20,000-square-foot Jacobean-style brick mansion is set on a park-like property in the Greenwich back country with views of the Long Island Sound. Brochure photos show a large marble reflecting pool and fountain in front and a back terrace leading to a rock- and plant-lined koi pond, flower beds, a large rectangular pool, many trees and a vast green lawn. The home has more than seven main bedrooms plus a staff wing with six bedrooms. The home's baronial features include ornate lamp posts along the driveway, travertine marble floors, 15th-century fireplaces, extensive wood paneling, patterned plaster ceilings, two dining rooms, a wine cellar and a 52-by-26-foot indoor pool,

Remember the building at 15 Central Park West that raised its prices 19 times during construction in the mid-2000s?

Well a friend bought a 5.000 square foot apartment for $30 million, was promptly offered $48 million, rejected the offer, put it up for sale at $90 million, got offered $72 million, which he rejected. He is now stuck with it. He's renting it at $75,000 a month, which doesn't cover the mortgage, let alone the maintenance. How much is the mortgage? I don't know. But let's say he borrowed 75% of the purchase price. That would be $22,500,000. Let's say he's paying 5.5% over 30 years. That means his monthly payment would be $130,591 -- or about 74% above his rental.

Time to look at your 401(k). "There clearly has been a raid on 401(k) plans by Wall Street." Fees can eat up half the income of a 30-year plan. Fees include:

+ Legal fees

+ Trustee fees

+ Transactional fees

+ Stewardship fees

+ Bookkeeping fees

+ Finders' fees

You need to check your plan for fees and, if necessary, switch managers. For more, watch last Sunday's 60 Minutes.

Fastest-growing industries in New York City, according to the April 27, New York magazine:

Growth- Q1-09 v's Q1-08
Private colleges and universities
Home health-care services
Security guard and protective services
Mental health and substance abuse facilities

Shame on you - again. You still haven't watched the Margaritaville episode of South Park. Drop everything and laugh (or cry) yourself silly. If you're having trouble watching it, turn off your browser's blocking of popups. Try this YouTube link. It's better than the one I gave you yesterday.

Become an instant trillionaire.
This is the front and back of a recent official $100 trillion dollar note issued by Zimbabwe. You can buy this note for $14.99 US currency at

Frame this bill. It will remind you what happens when a government prints, prints and prints money. On April 12, Zimbabwe’s new coalition government withdrew the country’s basically worthless currency from circulation for at least a year and will rely exclusively on other hard currencies. Economic Planning Minister Elton Mangoma said “We resolved there will be no immediate plans to introduce the money because there is nothing to support its value,” he said.

Recently, it took 20 trillion Zimbabwe dollars to equal one U.S. dollar. Inflation was at that time running into percentage points with 15 zeroes (like trillions).

Time for jokes about economists. Economics is called the dismal science because it is the only "science" in which it is impossible to conduct a controlled experiment. You can't cut taxes for half the population and see if they really spend more, for example, The standing joke is that an economist is someone who didn't have the personality to become an accountant.

There is also a theory that God invented economists to make weather forecasters and astrologers look good. People claim "If you laid every economist end to end, it would not be a bad thing." Another variation, "If all the economists in the world were laid end to end, they still wouldn't reach a conclusion.

And the final one is the good news that economists were able to predict 12 out of the last 5 recessions.

Thanks to all the readers who chimed in yesterday to my prayer that maybe, just maybe, I was finally learning something. They said they were. And please keep writing. I will, I promise. I wish I had more answers. Frankly, I feel strange. Each day brings me more stories of friends in serious economic hardship -- of job losses, of housing losses, of vacations cancelled. I see empty and closing retail stores in Manhattan. Yet the stockmarket has been on some sort of strange tear since mid-March, up another 127 points yesterday. It feels eerie and out of whack.

This column is about my personal search for the perfect investment. I don't give investment advice. For that you have to be registered with regulatory authorities, which I am not. I am a reporter and an investor. I make my daily column -- Monday through Friday -- freely available for three reasons: Writing is good for sorting things out in my brain. Second, the column is research for a book I'm writing called "In Search of the Perfect Investment." Third, I encourage my readers to send me their ideas, concerns and experiences. That way we can all learn together. My email address is . You can't click on my email address. You have to re-type it . This protects me from software scanning the Internet for email addresses to spam. I have no role in choosing the Google ads on this site. Thus I cannot endorse, though some look interesting. If you click on a link, Google may send me money. Please note I'm not suggesting you do. That money, if there is any, may help pay Michael's business school tuition. Read more about Google AdSense, click here and here.