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Newton's In Search Of The Perfect Investment. Technology Investor. Previous Columns
8:30 AM Wednesday, February 23, 2005: Remember yesterday? Smith Barney, the stockbroker part of Citigroup, issued an analyst report which actually began, "The equity market looks ready to head back into rally mode, driven by sentiment, semis and still-attractive valuation – thus we are adding beta.

The market read Citigroup's words of wisdom and promptly took its biggest decline since May 19, 2003 (as measured by the Dow's 1.6% drop).

The dollar fell 1.4% -- a gigantic one-day move. The prices of 10- and 30 year Treasurys dropped substantially. And the price of oil closed above $51. It could have been worse.

As I've mentioned before, I have two fears:
1. Equities will decline in 2005.
2. There'll be a spectacular one day-decline that could drop equities as much as 25% -- much more than yesterday's 1.4%.

My advice remains Cash is King. Savings accounts. Muni bond floaters. All look good. They preserve your capital. Little else does at present.

To explain our problem is simple: The U.S. is living way beyond its means. Our government spends far more than it earns. Our country imports far more than it exports. If our government were a company, it would have filed Chapter 11 already and be re-organizing under strict court supervision. Yesterday's sell-off in the dollar was attributed to rumors that South Korea would cut back its purchases of U.S. Treasurys. How important are these purchases? Look at this chart. Think about it. We rely on the goodwill of other countries to support our dollar and our economy. How would you feel as a country, if you saw your major savings declining in value day-by-dreary day? If you were a banker, would you continue to lend America money given its irresponsible spending habits and its unwillingness to do tackle its problems head-on. (What no energy policy, yet?)

Top Five Holders of U.S. Treasurys ($ billions)
Dec. 2004
Dec. 2000
*Includes Bahamas, Bermuda, Cayman Islands, Netherlands Antilles, and Panama
Source: U.S. Treasury Department and the screwed-up Wall Street Journal

The Wall Street Journal Screws Up: I've run magazines for 30-years. And there's one thing I always insisted on -- namely that my reporters check their stories. The largest and wealthiest newspaper in the country is the Wall Street Journal. They have the resources to check. This morning the Journal ran this: "But responding to service issues has required changing the culture of the cable guy. Charlene Keys, head of Time Warner Cable's phone effort in Columbia, S.C., presented copies of "Newton's Telecom Directory" to her senior executives so they could look up such phone-industry terms as "interconnection" and "quality of service."

That's a lovely plug for my book. Except that the real name is Newton's Telecom Dictionary. You'd think the Wall Street Journal would check. All they had to do was put the words "Newton's Telecom Directory" into Google. The first hit says "Newton's Telecom Dictionary."

Of course, all this plays right into the hands of my friends in the red states who say the Eastern publishing empires can't be trusted. Sadly, they have a point.

If only the Journal had bothered to check...

The Best Investment Advice
The wise old Mother Superior from county Tipperary was dying. The nuns gathered around her bed trying to make her comfortable. They gave her some warm milk to drink, but she refused it. Then one nun took the glass back to the kitchen.
Remembering a bottle of Irish whiskey received as a gift the previous Christmas, she opened it and poured a generous amount into the warm milk.
Back at Mother Superior's bed, she held the glass to her lips. Mother drank a little, then a little more. Before they knew it, she drank the whole glass down to the last drop.
"Mother," the nuns asked with earnest, "Please give us some wisdom before you die," Barely audible and with a serene look on her face she said, "Don't sell that cow."

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. That money will help pay Claire's law school tuition. Read more about Google AdSense, click here and here.
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