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Harry Newton's In Search of The Perfect Investment Technology Investor. Auction Rate Securities. Auction Rate Preferreds.

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8.:30 AM EST Tuesday, April 29, 2008: Ed took two years off after the 2000 downturn. It took two years for commercial real prices to fall to where deals became attractive again. He says today the deals he sees are "unrealistic." He continues, "the present assumptions are the way the world was, not the way it is. The syndicators assume everything is fine; They assume cap rates will stay low; They assume rents will not fall, that vacancies won't happen..."

Ed figures it has takes two years for sellers (and buyers) to adjust psychologically to "The New Reality." For a deal to be attractive today, it has to be a "screamer." There aren't any of them, yet.

To my brain, it's not significantly different in the stock market. You still don't see P/Es of great companies in single digits. Prices are still too high. And picking stocks -- against a falling tide -- can be most unrewarding. See below.

Ed is thinking of taking another long vacation. Last time he took philosophy classes, wrote a novel and hung out in a warm clime (Australia) with friends. As Ed says today, "there are many wonderful exciting things going on in the world. It's time to pack up and go do other things." When he returned from his 2000-2002 time off, he said "I missed nothing. But deals had become much more compelling."

Taking time off removes you from the temptation to believe that you can succeed in today's stockmarkets -- where others are failing. Taking time off lets you concentrate on other goals -- losing weight, getting in shape, writing the great American novel, learning new skills, spending time with the kids, seeing the world -- knocking off your Bucket List. (Finishing my book, visiting Bhutan and learning Photoshop are high on mine.)

I don't want to be gruesome -- pessimism is depressing -- but it's bad out there. This may be the first Cockroach Recession ever. As each day passes, more bad stuff emerges, adding to the woes, causing the whole economic thing to spiral faster downwards. Recent headlines:

+ Workers get fewer hours, deepening the downturn. -- The New York Times.

+ Wall Street grain hoarding brings farmers, consumers near ruin. -- Bloomberg.

+ Why This Crisis is Still Far From Finished. -- Mohamed El-Erian, -chief executive and co-chief investment officer of Pimco, in the Financial Times.

+ Across globe, empty bellies bring rising anger. -- The New York Times.

+ One Guy Who Has Seen It All Doesn't Like What He Sees Now -- an interview with Peter Bernstein in the Wall Street Journal (reported on in my column yesterday.

I'm glad I told my readers to get out equities back in November. Cash is King (and still is). When in doubt, stay out. Out is a good place to be at present.

The new reality (also called The New Irony): After I pumped for Monsanto and Syngenta yesterday, both fell. Monsanto (MON) was down 2.8% and Syngenta (SYT) 0.7%. I'm guessing that makes them a better deal today! But they aren't "cheap." SYT has a P/E of 27. MON has a P/E of 41.

For the kids and grandkids: HEMA is a Dutch department store chain. Check out HEMA's product page. You can't order anything and it's in Dutch but watch what happens. Use only Microsoft Internet Explorer.

The next bubble: Priming the markets for tomorrow's big crash: That's the title of the cover story in the February 2008 issue of Harper's Magazine. I've mentioned this totally engrossing piece before. The next bubble is alternative energy. To read this excellent piece, go here to Harper's Magazine.

How to get your busted Apple stuff fixed -- cheap and fast. The site is From my friend Lucky Marr:

I took my iPOD to the Apple store and was amazed that the person minding the store, took my nonfunctioning iPOD, checked it out, told me the problem. Then instead of pressing me to have Apple fix it he referred me to I emailed my problem to them and was guided through the repair process.

I have replaced the battery myself and see no problem replacing the part I need. The "hold" button had become defective and leaves my iPOD permanently on hold. The part I will be replacing is a simple little board that screws in and is connected by a ribbon cable connector.

Success just might spoil I received the little part for my iPod from (2 day shipping ups ground). It took me all of five minutes to replace the part and worked. Saved me somewhere between $35-$225.00 depending on whether it was repaired locally at the MacMedia Store ($65.00), mailed it off to Apple ($135.00) or whether I took it to an Apple Store ($249.00). I am a happy camper. If anyone is interested in ordering parts from them online here is a $5.00 off coupon code ifixufix08. Something to keep in mind, they did not provide the T-6 screw driver which I could have ordered separately, but I had one from my battery replacement project. Instructions, in this case, were not necessary as it was a simple little replacement job.

By the way, to open an iPod a sharp metal knife "carefully" inserted does a better job than those little plastic tools they try to sell you. Don't cut yourself. You also need a T-6 screwdriver. I got my screw driver with the replacement battery I ordered that cost something like $16.95 and was an original Motorola replacement direct from Hong Kong. Apple wants $59.00 plus shipping for their replacement battery.

Pest Control
A woman was having a passionate affair with an inspector from a pest-control company. One afternoon they were carrying on in the bedroom when her husband arrived home unexpectedly.

'Quick,' said the woman to the lover, 'into the closet!' and she pushed him in the closet, stark naked.

The husband, however, became suspicious and after a search of the bedroom discovered the man in the closet.

'Who are you?' he asked him.

'I'm an inspector from Bugs-B-Gone,' said the exterminator.

'What are you doing in there?' the husband asked.

'I'm investigating a complaint about an infestation of moths,' the man replied.

'And where are your clothes?' asked the husband.

The man looked down at himself and said, 'Those pesky little bastards!'

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.

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