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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, Thursday, February 12, 2009. Wall Street worships growth. The higher your growth, the higher your stock price. Analysts used to look at corporate growth -- say 30% a year and conclude P/E should be 30. If the P/E was lower than the growth rate, buy the stock. Growth of 50% meant a 50 P/E ratio. And so on.

The fastest way to grow is to do it on someone else's money. The more you borrowed, the faster your grew, the more profitable you were.

For every dollar of capital, Lehman Brothers borrowed 35 times. With a leverage of 35 times, if your investments rise by only 1%, you've made 35% on your money. Two percent and you're up to 70%. The numbers are compelling.

Wall Street encouraged growth. It corralled money from investors (individuals and institutions) and gave the money to every company that would take it. "Take our money. Buy your biggest competitor. Expand overseas. Grow faster. Your shares and options will skyrocket." Management found the logic compelling. Few said "No."

Hence, today, 2009, we have too many Starbucks. We have too many semiconductor factories. We have too many shopping centers. We have too many houses. We have too many shops selling the same thing. We have too many the same things.

There aren't enough people and they don't have enough money to buy everything. Wall Street's longtime model is broken.

We will eventually find new uses for some the useless buildings and factories. The rest we'll bulldoze many, turning them into dog parks, or whatever the Stimulus Program will finance.

We're moving back to simpler, smaller, more personal times. More of us will be standing behind counters helping our customers with personalized service. We're all desperate for personalized services.

Yesterday I walked the neighborhood looking for bank CDs. TD Bank was offering 2.25% on a 6 month CD. Right across the road, WaMu was offering much less. Why? Would they bargain? Did they care? No. WaMu is owned by Chase. There was a Chase branch 50 feet away. Does a bank really need two branches within 50 feet?

Do we really need a Starbucks on every corner? Do we really need all that food?

Photo shows woman eaten by a leopard.

Do we really need to compare ourselves to people who have more money? Is that what happiness is really about?

A deliciously simple bailout plan. From my friend and reader, Dana Barfield, who writes a blog called RetirementWhys:

Bailout Plan That Will Work.
If Obama really wants to do a stimulus package that will work, simply return all taxes paid by taxpayers in 2008. It will cost about the same amount as his proposed “stimulus” and it puts funds back in the hands of productive people with no overhead, startup or administrative costs.

The affect of doing this would be immediate as people would reduce debt (pay back banks), save/invest (open investment and credit markets) and spend (create demand for products and therefore jobs) – all things presently lacking in and needed by the economy. Further, individuals and corporations who paid taxes in 2008 were obviously profitable and productive – these folks can clearly make better decisions about using funds that the government can.

And this can be done quicker.

Another one to swing? Ruth Madoff, the wife of Bernard Madoff, withdrew $15.5 million from a Madoff-related brokerage firm in the weeks before Mr. Madoff's arrest, according to the Massachusetts Secretary of State.

Ruth Madoff, pretty lady.

A complaint filed Wednesday by Secretary William Galvin's office said Ruth Madoff withdrew $5.5 million on Nov. 25 and $10 million on Dec. 10, according to documents from Cohmad Securities, which was co-owned by Mr. Madoff and which the Massachusetts office is investigating. Mr. Madoff was arrested Dec. 11 on allegations of perpetrating a massive Ponzi scheme.

Bill Galvin is especially diligent chasing naughty people and institutions. He did a great job with Auction Rate Preferreds.

It's not because I schlump. Or because my posture is all screwed up. (It is.) My friend Matt Snyder is the best tennis player I've ever played.

"So, it's your posture," he said last night, "that's what your physio told you. I bet she needs lots of visits to fix your miserable schlump?"

I nodded sheepishly.

"I bet you're using Luxilon strings? I bet you're stringing them tightly."

Yes, at 72 lbs.

"Luxilon is stiff. That stiffness is causing the problems in your arm. Re-string with a softer string at a lower tension. Try 68 lbs. Your problems will disappear."

How do you I know, I asked.

"Because it happened to me and many other pros on the circuit."

Meantime, my posture has improved. Susan has stopped nagging me to "stand straight." My tennis stringer is about to get lots of business. And I've resisted the obvious "I should not get strung out over this."

Wonderful words from Lincoln and Darwin: Today, Feb. 12 is the birthday of Charles Darwin and Abraham Lincoln. Both loved English and used it with great ability. Do yourself a favor and read Happy Lincoln/Darwin Day.

"Show your friends how filthy rich You are. Isn't it time you got yourself a beautiful (fake) designer watch?"

That was my favorite junk email this morning.

How Barclays Bank might handle today's tough times. From England:

Even English royalty has fallen on hard times. Was she a Madoff investor?

Words of wisdom.
I hate housework! You make the beds, you do the dishes - and six months later you have to start all over again. -Joan Rivers

I repeat jokes.
Yes, I repeat jokes. My criterion is simple. Do I still get a chuckle? If yes, I figure you will too.

The best comedians always repeated their best stuff, "Take my wife ... please."

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.