Harry Newton's In Search of The Perfect Investment
Newton's In Search Of The Perfect Investment. Technology Investor.
8:30 AM Thursday, February 16, 2006: On
Sunday, New York City had its largest snow storm ever. Three days later I'm
biking to tennis in shorts. Today the sun is shining. It will hit 60. Go figure.
Check. Check. It's my oldest motto. Items:
1. Citigroup "lost" $100,000 of my money. Fortunately, Muriel, my
wonderful assistant, discovered it missing. Citigroup said "Oops,"
mumbling something about a computer glitch.
2. I sold my VistaPrint yesterday. It took Wall Street 1 hour and 20 minutes
to sell a miserable 1,000 shares. And by the time they did, the price had conveniently
fallen another 20 cents. Fortunately, Todd caught it and screamed. But others
who didn't scream lost the 20 cents. In short, if you feel you got a bad execution,
fight it. The NYSE has "specialists." Nasdaq has "market makers."
Both rip off the private investor.
3. Most corporate telephone bills are wrong. There are many reasons. The main
one is that the industry makes up pricing schemes faster than it can program
them into its billing computers.
Real estate booms in some places: From
a long interview yesterday: Phoenix, Tucson and Los Angeles are booming. There's
demand and there's land. San Diego and Las Vegas are dead. There's demand, but
little land. High-end, expensive stuff is dying. But entry level is booming.
The two biggest problems out west in developing land: delays in permitting and
delays in obtaining water rights. Good news: No one sees a big upwards movement
in long-term interest rates. The reason: largely political. The republicans
want to stay in power in Washington.
buy what you can't understand: Wall Street is a product machine.
It creates products so it can earn a commission on selling them. Whether the
products perform any useful function or have any long-term value is not Wall
Street's concern. Today's commision is all that counts. There's a piece in today's
Journal: "Wall Street Is Cleaning Derivatives Mess." Talk about
a mess. Wall Street has created product it can't find or track -- 45,000 "trade
confirmations" at last count. For the mess,
Pay your bills automatically: There
are two ways:
1. Link your accounts to your credit cards.
2. Link your credit cards to your bank account.
This way you physically don't have to write a check each. To start, you have
to get on the phone, talk to a rep, beg a paper form out of them, which they
may deny having and which they may or may not remember to send you.
Some accounts won't take your money automatically. Some accounts insist you
"authorize" your payment each month by email. If you don't, they won't
pay it -- even though you authorized it up front. My American Express insists
on a monthly email authorization. My Visa doesn't see to. One would think all
your vendors would like to be paid automatically and not have to wait for a
check. One would think. The good news is that most of my phone, cable TV, and
credit card bills are now on auto pilot.
hedge funds perform:
Only hedge funds that do OK report their results to the industry's statistician,
Tremont. It's hard to place hedge funds into simple boxes, since by nature hedge
funds can do whatever they feel like. Given all that, here are the latest numbers.
Most hedge funds don't do brilliantly.
A man and his wife are dining at a table in a plush restaurant, and
the husband keeps staring at a drunken lady, swigging her gin as she sits alone
at a nearby table.
The wife asks,
"Do you know her?"
sighs the husband, "She's my ex-wife. She took to drinking right after
we divorced seven years ago, and I hear she hasn't been sober since."
says the wife, "Who would think a person could go on celebrating that long?"
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. Thus I cannot endorse any, though some look mighty 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 Claire's law school tuition.
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