Harry Newton's In Search of The Perfect Investment
Newton's In Search Of The Perfect Investment. Technology Investor.
8:30 AM EST Monday, February 5, 2007: Stratfor
is the best global intelligence firm. They have just released their 2007
Annual Forecast. It contains political analysis on all corners of the globe
and an overview of the global economy. Here's what they say about the U.S.
economy at the beginning of 2007 is enmeshed in a slowdown. The expansion that
took place over the past four years which averaged an impressive 3.4
percent per quarter is over, and the system needs to take a bit of a
breather. Data supporting this stance include a weak housing market, stubbornly
high inflation, robust energy prices, sagging worker productivity and an inverted
yield curve all classic indicators of economic malaise. This is where
the U.S. economy begins the year.
But slowdown does not equal recession, and both for structural and tactical
reasons we expect the slowdown to be mild and brief. Structurally, the foundations
of the U.S. economy emphasis on technology, a well-developed infrastructure,
a culture of entrepreneurship that rewards risk-taking, an educated workforce,
etc. remain in place. This slowdown is simply a cyclical downturn, not
a symptom of a broader structural deficiency. Furthermore, as the U.S. baby
boomers mature, their retirement savings are making the world awash with capital.
This is keeping interest rates far lower than they would normally
be, and should contribute to that often-sought-after soft landing
for the American economy.
Tactically, in the past month commodities prices whether corn, oil or
copper have plummeted from their historical and near-historical highs.
When these products prices fall, economic activity of all stripes tends
to get a new lease on life. So just as the American economy is taking a breather,
the building blocks of a strong recovery are falling into place. Add in that
the U.S. stock markets have not experienced a serious sell-off and it seems
that investor sentiment has never really soured. All this indicates a mild correction
not a recession.
Barring a severe shock to the international system, the slowdown likely will
evaporate sometime around the beginning of the third quarter, although if past
proves prologue the media will recognize that the U.S. slowdown is real by about
the time it has ended.
cable modem is SLOW. My DSL line is SLOW": There are five things
to know about the speed of your Internet connection.
1. Your provider
bundles your traffic together with all his other customers. This means your
service is faster when others aren't on -- in the middle of the night. It's
faster if your provider has a faster link to the Internet. The Internet is also
a shared medium. Everybody's traffic flows over the same lines. None of this
is controlled, regulated or guaranteed. Carriers are very reluctant to talk
about the actual speed you might get. They prefer to talk about "blazingly
fast" and "50 times faster than dial-up."
2. Your connection
speed will depend, to some extent, on the quality of the wires from your cable
or DSL modem to your provider. Those wires include the ones in your house
and those in the street. You can improve these by replacing them with new cable
that runs directly to your modem. No connections. Straight cable. The stronger
the signal, the better. A signal loses a little strength each time it hits a
splice or a join. You don't want to share your cable modem service with your
geeky neighbor, for example. If you bitch loud enough, your provider will replace
your cable with a new one. If you motivate your installer (money works), he'll
do a better job.
3. Your "speed"
will also depend on the speed of server at the other end. Contact a popular
site or a badly-written site and you could have an excruciatingly painful session.
Funny thing last week: When I complained to Time Warner about the glacial slowness
of my line, they had me test the line with their own web site. As they watched,
my connection dropped four times. They were concerned. They escalated me to
a high techie. He said, "Ooops. Our site is new and not working well. Try
this other one." Sure enough, my results were better. No dropped connections.
from your local cable company tends to be a lot faster than from your local
phone company. Some phone companies are upgrading their local lines to fiber.
They should be faster.
5. Your "speed"
will be faster if you have a faster, cleaner newer computer with more memory.
When you download stuff from the Internet, it comes in a stream of data. To
make it into pretty pictures and handsome text, you need a computer to do the
significant work necessary. Your browser supervises the work, but it can only
work as fast as your computer can. Computers are cheaper these days than your
time. It's better to buy the fastest available with at least 3 gigabytes of
RAM. Do not think that 1 gig will make it any longer. You also need a cleaner
computer. See below.
If you're curious
about your own connection, close all your programs, reboot your computer and
try this simple test: http://www.speakeasy.net/speedtest/
are my results and those of my friend Dan, who's a few miles out of Palm Springs,
California. Note the dramatic differences. Send me your results. I'll chart
them. It should be an interesting study.
speed -- kbps
speed -- kbps
Time Warner cable modem, test 1
Time Warner cable modem, test 2 (three days later)
Taconic Telephone DSL
Time Warner cable modem
clean computer and the cloned hard drive: As
it ages, your computer slows. Stuff gets loaded,
old programs get bloated, spyware affixes and your computer makes
mistakes. Your computer's operating system -- Windows or Mac -- does a valiant
job of coping. But the price is slowness. There is only one solution -- go back
to square one and start again. The easiest way to do this is to clone your computer's
hard drive when it's new and you've just loaded it with all the software you
need. Put the clone in a corner. When you decide it's time to go back to square
one, pop the old drive out into your computer, copy all your working files back
onto it. Bingo, you have a new, faster machine.
There are many ways of cloning your computer's hard drive. I prefer EZ Gig from
Apricorn. You need to call them and check precisely what will work for your
system -- 800-458-5448.
(of sorts) comes to China: For years, foreigners in China have delighted
in the loopy English translations that appear on the nation's signs. But as
the 2008 Summer Olympics loom, Beijing officials have a plan to stop the laughter.
Among my favorites from today's Wall Street Journal:
deep south has its charms: Every country has its "idiots"
-- someone to be the brunt of a bad joke.
The owner of a golf course in Kentucky was confused about paying an invoice,
so he decided to ask his secretary for some mathematical help. He called her
into his office and said, "You graduated from the University of Kentucky
and I need some help. If I were to give you $20,000, minus 14%, how much would
you take off?"
thought a moment, and then replied, "Everything but my earrings."
A group of Alabama friends went deer hunting and paired off in twos for
the day. That night, one of the hunters returned alone, staggering under the
weight of an eight-point buck.
Henry?" the others asked..
" Henry had
a stroke of some kind. He's a couple of miles back up the trail," the successful
Henry laying out there and carried the deer back?" they inquired.
" A tough
call," nodded the hunter. "But I figured no one is going to steal
A senior at Louisiana was overheard saying... "When the end of the
world comes, I hope to be in Louisiana."
When asked why,
he replied he'd rather be in Louisiana because everything happens in Louisiana
20 years later than in the rest of the civilized world.
The young man from Mississippi came running into the store and said to his
buddy, "Bubba, somebody just stole your pickup truck from the parking lot!"
"Did you see who it was?
The young man
answered, "I couldn't tell, but I got the license number."
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 .
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