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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 26, 2009. The best news is the doomsday scenario -- runaway inflation as a result of runaway money printing -- hasn't happened, at least yet. We still have deflation. Today's financial new is ultra-depressing -- lead by GM's huge $9.6 billion loss, depressing earnings and more joblessness. I'm hopeful that execs are loading all their bad news into the December '08 quarter. So it will look better going foward.

One of the reasons to be depressed about direct government aid to corporations is that it produces the behavior you'd expect -- more pleading for more money -- viz., AIG, GM, Citigroup, etc. etc.

The lady is Dambisa Moyo.

Her new book is "Dead Aid." It attacks Western aid to Africa. In Sunday's New York Times interview:

Q: What do you think has held back Africans?

A: I believe it’s largely aid. You get the corruption — historically, leaders have stolen the money without penalty — and you get the dependency, which kills entrepreneurship. You also disenfranchise African citizens, because the government is beholden to foreign donors and not accountable to its people.

The last safe bet: Treasurys are still the world's go-to investment. Last week's surprisingly successful Treasury auctions attracted plenty of buyers, including foreigners. Luo Ping, director general at the China Banking Regulatory Commission, told a conference last week, "Except for U.S. Treasurys, what else can you hold?" China, the No. 1 foreign investor in Treasurys, the next day clarified that of course it had plenty else to buy, but it is clearly in no hurry to do so. -- Wall Street Journal, February 17. (I'm catching up on reading.)

How goes real estate in New York's erstwhile hot Hamptons? From my man on the ground, who once was a developer out there. "Houses that use to fetch $7 million two years ago, are being listed now for $4 million, but are only attracting bids of $2 million at present."

How to save on your real estate taxes. Some towns offer 65 year-old pluses a discount on their local taxes. A friend recently saved nearly $3,000 simply by asking.

Buy and hold? No. Investors who bought at market crests in 1929 and 1965 had to wait 19 years each time just to break even. -- Jeremy Grantham.

Growth in energy businesses and new career opportunities:
+ $20 billion in the stimulus bill in target at improving the efficiency of government buildings and the homes of poor people. For more, today's New York Times.

+ Installing solar panels.

Leave home without it. American Express is offering a $300 gift card to certain account holders if they agree to pay off their balances and close their accounts. Now there's a real reason to open an Amex account.

I dislike Forbes magazine. From the January 12 issue:

+ "The new year should find the U.S. firmly pulling out of the recession by spring and Washington finally putting an end to the credit crisis." -- Steve Forbes, editor-in-chief.

+ "Bailout bonds. You're sending your tax money to them, so not get a little back? Bill Gross (of Pimco fame) says the yields on these bailout issuers are safe and too high to resist." -- American General Finance, AIG, Bank of America, Citigroup, Fannie Mae, International Lease Finance and Wachovia.

Don't lend your friends money. I have twice. Result: pain and more pain. One loan is still outstanding, despite promises of a November repayment. My money went to pay off his son's margin call.

Which one is it?
Cashier for a Boston supermarket express checkout line to a young customer with too many items: "Are you from MIT and can't read or from Harvard and can't count?"

Favorite New Yorker cartoons:

The logic of government contracting.
Three contractors are bidding to fix a broken fence. One is from New York, another is from Tennessee and the third is from Florida. All three examine the fence.

The Florida contractor takes out a tape measure and does some measuring, then works some figures with a pencil. 'Well,' he says, 'I figure the job will run about $900: $400 for materials, $400 for my crew and $100 profit for me.'

The Tennessee contractor also does some measuring and figuring, then says, 'I can do this job for $700: $300 for materials, $300 for my crew, and $100 profit for me.'

The New York contractor doesn't measure or figure, but leans over to the government official and whispers, '$2,700.'

The official, incredulous, says, 'You didn't even measure like the other guys! How did you come up with such a high figure?'

The New York contractor whispers back, '$1,000 for me, $1,000 for you, and we hire the guy from Tennessee to fix the fence.'

'Done!' replies the government official.

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.