Technology Investor 

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

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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. 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.

Don't 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, Click here.

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.

How 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.

How Hedge Funds Have Performed
Data as of January 31, 2006
 Index / Sub Strategies    YTD       1 Year     Avg Annl* 
 Credit Suisse/Tremont Hedge Fund Index 3.23%  11.45%  
      HEDG Convertible Arbitrage 2.75%  0.94%  
      HEDG Dedicated Short Bias -2.98%  6.13%  
      HEDG Emerging Markets 5.76%  22.77%  
      HEDG Equity Market Neutral 1.40%  7.24%  
      HEDG Event Driven 2.92%  11.91%  
           HEDG Distressed 2.52%  13.93%  
           HEDG E.D. Multi-Strategy 3.32%  10.85%  
           HEDG Risk Arbitrage 1.63%  4.85%  
      HEDG Fixed Income Arbitrage 1.42%  1.97%  
      HEDG Global Macro 3.37%  12.15%  
      HEDG Long/Short Equity 4.18%  15.23%  
      HEDG Managed Futures 2.71%  8.44%  
      HEDG Multi-Strategy 2.76%  10.50%  
* Index data begins January 1994
Source: Credit-Suisse/Tremont. For more,

Drinking to excess
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?"

"Yes," 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."

"My God!" says the wife, "Who would think a person could go on celebrating that long?"

Harry Newton

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. Read more about Google AdSense, click here and here.
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