Harry Newton's In Search of The Perfect Investment
AM EST, Friday, December 5, 2008: Maybe it's making a bottom. Maybe
it's not. (Most likely, in my opinion, it's not.) But this present stockmarket
is "too hard" to play up or down. Too many strange happenings you
can't predict -- like hedge fund redemptions, government bailouts and end
of day manipulations.
What we know:
70% of GDP is consumer spending. And the consumer is doing awfully. He's losing
his job. His spending is frozen -- except at Wal-Mart. And corporate earnings
morning reported,Payrolls shrank by 533,000 workers in November, the
biggest loss since December 1974, after decreasing a revised 320,000 the prior
month (October). November's job losses exceeded all estimates in a Bloomberg
News survey of 73 economists. The jobless rate rose to 6.7 percent,
the highest level since 1993.
This is not
the Great Depression, when unemployment topped 33%. But it's also not the
roaring 90s or the Housing Boom of earlier this decade.
told CNBC yesterday that things "are in a lot worse shape than six months
ago. Everyone's scared to death." He's CEO of luxury home builder, Toll
Brothers. His stock (TOL) is, remarkably, holding up.
I'm not into
gloom and doom. But the facts are there for all to see. And the implications
for all of us are obvious -- Cash is king. Cash buys you opportunities. In
today's market, things are getting cheap.
A very profitable
New York City tanning salon was put on the market recently for the bargain
price of $1 million. (It really was a bargain.) Several weeks later, it will
now sell for $500,000. Yes, people are still paying to tan themselves -- at
least in Manhattan, where what you look like counts.
local businesses are doing great:
+ Home safes.
Fearing a collapse of the banks, everyone is bringing cash home. Now the fear
is of fire.
stores. Give them your unwanted clothes. You get half of what they sell
them for. Sales are booming. Who can afford to shop at Sachs or Niemanns any
longer. (Actually, that's not fair. My sources -- my wife and her friends
-- tell me these stores have most everything at 50% to 70% off.)
+ The repo
man. He takes your unpaid car or boat. Repo men are highly skilled. He
can load your car and be off in under a minute. He's the only person trading
up to a bigger house today.
+ The debt
settlement business. They negotiate your debts with your creditors, like
the credit card companies. They get a 15% fee up front. For their money, they
arrange escrow accounts and payment schedules. Typically, they cut your credit
card bills by 50%. The credit card companies get screwed.
+ The jewelry
liquidation business. Sell them all the gold and diamonds you're no longer
wearing You won't get much, since gold, silver, platinum are down. But what
you'll get is better than a slap in the belly and better than giving it to
your spoiled niece.
lawyers. The typical scenario. "I married you for your money.
Now you have no money and you're grouchy 'cause you're dumb and you lost it
all. I'm outta here."
"obvious" is obvious. Overstock.com (OSTK) is down from $30 to $9.36
and it's losing money. No one wants things no one else wants.
are doing poorly. It's harder to collect. Bankruptcies are up. Business is
idea for the Detroit bailout. Instead of gifting them $34 billion,
let's buy cars from them. Let's see, for $34 billion, we can buy 1.36 million
cars for an average price of $25,000. Now the White House runs a lottery.
Anyone and everyone can submit their name to a special web site. On January
19, the last day of the Bush White House, they pick 1.36 million names out
of a hat. Bingo, we've accomplished four things:
(or at least 1.36 million people) will remember George Bush as the greatest
2. Detroit gets
to sell 1.36 million cars it couldn't have.
3. No one has
to worry about all the horrid conditions that should be applied on a bailout
handout -- like firing all the present incompetent management, reducing union
benefits to be competitive with foreign auto makers; cutting back redundant
dealerships and reducing the number of brands.
and Senators are not eligible for the lottery. That will be their reward for
screwing up the TARP and sundry other bailout idiocies in recent months --
like gifting money to Goldman Sachs which promptly paid it all out in employee
I haven't bought
a Detroit car since my wonderful 1965 Ford Mustang. But I'd take a free GM
Volt -- Oops. that one won't be ready in my lifetime.
with many screens. Many screens make light
work. I routinely run four screens from my laptop -- the laptop's and three
external screens. This morning I'm running five screens. That's five screens
from one laptop -- my Lenovo ThinkPad X61.
Harry's desk. December 5 showing stockmarket quotes, the Wall Street Journal,
Ourlook, email and Dreamweaver.
I won't keep
it this way. But it demonstrates the wonders of a great new product -- the
The ViBook is half the size of a cigarette pack.
The ViBook is
plugs into a USB port or a USB hub. Every time you plug one in, you power
up another monitor. You can plug in as many as six. I figure four is enough
for now, though I may go to five.
The thing plugs
into your monitor's DVI port or its VGA/RGB port. Choose the DVI port. It's
much clearer. The thing works with Windows and Macs -- but you must have a
Mac with an Intel processor (all the latest ones do).
You can plug
it directly into your monitor and have only a thin cable going to your computer's
USB slot or USB hub. Makes for a really neat installation.
screens is great -- one for Outlook's inbox, one for stock quotes, ones for
the Internet, one for an Excel spreadsheet, one for answering emails and one
for buying goodies at Amazon to reward yourself for being so productive. You
can easily move things from one monitor to another, or spread an Excel spreadsheet
across five monitors and wallow in complete fantasy.
The ViBook will
power up to a 1680 x 1050 pixel screen -- which typically is a 22 inch monitor.
I have one in the middle. My others are 19" inch monitors -- 1280 x 1024
You buy the
thing from the maker Village
Tonic or from Amazon, when it gets them in stock. I love my ViBooks.
They work flawlessly. And I get lots of exercise moving my head around, chasing
best slippers are Cole Haan's Zermatt. I
bought mine from Zappos. I like the ones with shearling inside. I have one
pair in black and one pair in brown. They were on sale for $95 on Zappos yesterday.
But I couldn't find the slipper on their web site this morning. Chase around
Three immigrants to the U. S. were just mastering the language.
One was telling the others about the difficulty they were having in attempting
to start a family. He said, "I think my wife must be impregnable."
The second said," that's not the right word, she is inconceivable".
To which the third replied, "You are both wrong she is inscrutable."
kids will like this.
A down and out musician was playing his harmonica in the middle of a busy
shopping mall. Striding over, a policeman asked, May I please see your
permit? I dont have one, confessed the musician.
case, youll have to accompany me.
exclaimed the musician. What shall we sing?
VALUE INVESTING -- The art of buying low and selling lower.
P/E RATIO --
The percentage of investors wetting their pants as the market keeps crashing.
BROKER -- What
my broker has made me.
POOR -- Your life in a nutshell.
-- Idiot who just downgraded your favorite stock.
-- When your ex-wife and her lawyer split your remaining assets equally between
-- A guy whose phone has been disconnected.
-- The day after you buy stocks.
The movement your money makes as it disappears down the toilet.
INVESTOR -- Last year's brilliant investor who's now locked up in a nuthouse.
PROFIT -- An
archaic word no longer in use.
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
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