Technology Investor 

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

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8:30 AM Monday, January 24, 2005:
The next few years will be the perfect time to sell all or part of your present business. The next few years will not be the perfect time to invest in a private equity fund. The reason? The explosion in money being raised by private equity funds. There are so many funds and so few good buys for them. As a result, they will bid up juicy acquisitions (your company) and their returns will suffer because they will pay too much.

A new report from Private Equity Intelligence says private equity managers worldwide will try to introduce more than 800 funds this year to raise a total of $250 billion. Last year, managers actually succeeded at raising $136 billion for 284 funds. That's a huge increase in monies, sadly unmatched by juicy, cheap companies to buy.

Housing's Pillars Hold Firm. According to Business Week (and I agree with them) mortgage rates are likely to stay low despite tighter money policy. Business Week writes, "Throughout 2004, most economists and Wall Street seers expected mortgage rates to rise above the 5% range, to 6%-plus or even breach the 7% level, saying they were unsustainably low and helping to contribute to a housing bubble. This was a concern because higher interest rates -- and consequently, higher mortgage rates -- would drag down the housing market, the best performing sector of the economy in recent years. Even more worrisome, economic research reports were full of woeful warnings over how the rate rises would push many overstretched homeowners into deep financial trouble.

As the Federal Reserve Board steadily hiked its benchmark interest rate from 1% to 2.5%, the rate on adjustable-rate mortgages correspondingly rose. But the long end of the market didn't behave as widely anticipated. Instead of rising -- the typical reaction whenever the Fed initiates a tighter money policy -- the yield on the traditional 30-year fixed-rate mortgage fell last year. In the new year, Wall Street commentary is once again singing the same tune: Long-term interest rates are heading higher. Yet the decline in fixed-rate mortgages has continued in 2005, with the rate currently hovering around 5.25%. The odds are that mortgage rates will stay where they are or even trend irregularly lower this year. And this continued low level suggests the housing market's coming slowdown will be modest rather than cataclysmic in 2005."

Housing stocks are probably still a good buy.

One reason housing stays hot on both coasts: Immigration. Example: Six in 10 babies born in New York since 2000 have at least one foreign-born parent. The foreign-born groups growing fastest through immigration, including Mexicans, Guyanese and Bangladeshis, also have among the highest birthrates. The City counted 2.9 million immigrant residents in 2000 and estimates the current number is at least 3.2 million, a record high. Biggest immigrant categories: Dominicans, Chinese, Jamaicans, Guyanese, Mexicans and Bangladeshis, who are the city's fastest-growing group.

How the Nigerian scam works: Everyone has received an email like this:

****CBN HOU8E****
TEL: 234-1-776-3772, 234-803-379-9238 FAX: 234-1-759-4959

Attn: Beneficiary Contractor

My name is Engr. Ben Giwa. I have recently resumed in the Remittance Dept of Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN as officer in charge in the computer room.
During a close study of information in the Central Hard Disk, I discovered a floating amount of fund, which represents your contract payment without anybody opting to recieve it or asking about it with keen interest.
I also check from the records of outstanding contractors due for payment with the federal government of Nigeria and i discovered that you are suppose to recieve your funds since.
However, the current favourable political/economic climate in the country since the handed over from military to democratically elected government led by President Olusegun Obasanjo has presented a great opportunity for your funds to be transferred and the senate chairman on foreign debt have also made a tremendous effort for all foreign contractors to be paid without any stress.
I here take this opportunity to ask why you have abandoned this payment and to know if you would need my assistance in any way to receive your funds.
Your payment must have passed through all normal processes of contract payment through the remittance department. Meaning that there is no major reason for delay in remitting your funds. Hence I know that you may be faced with the probl em of "whom do you know"?
May i know whom you are presently dealing with and what is the cause of delay? I can help you through gradual remittance process, using the proxy disc.
Let hear from you.
Please reply only through email for confidentiality or call on my phone 234-803-379-9238."

So, I called Engineer Ben Giwa. He asked me how much was I expecting? I answered $25,000 -- a figure I made up. He said that was fine. The money would arrive tomorrow. But, first I had to "normalize" my bank account by sending him $500 via Western Union. I never asked what "normalize" meant. It didn't seem relevant. I've heard that thousands of people have fallen for this scam and actually sent Engineer Ben Giwa the money...

Radio Shack's Multipurpose Laser Level: In the old days when we were poor, I was allowed to hang photos on the wall. Then we moved into our fancy, schmantzy new apartment. And the only people qualified to do hanging, according to my wife, cost $60 an hour. No more I just bought this fancy, schmantzy $9.95 tool at Radio. It's really good.

• Helps you hang pictures, build shelves, put up curtains and more
• Adjust the laser lens to project a dot or line—provides versatility for a variety of jobs
• Traditional horizontal and vertical bubble levels are also included
• The ruler markings show both inches and centimeters for easy measuring
• Built-in threaded tripod mount so you can use a tripod to hold the level in place while you work

Why Zarqawi doesn't like democracy: He says it supplants "the rule of God with the rule of man and the majority" and says it is "based on un-Islamic beliefs and behaviors such as freedom of religion, freedom of expression, separation of religion and state and forming political parties." Translation: Abu Musab al-Zarqawi -- the leader of Iraq's al Qaeda affiliate - and a a Sunni, is afraid of the Shiites winning control of Iraq which they have a shot of -- since they're 40%-50% of Iraq's population. Saddam Hussein relied on the Sunnis for control. Hussein discriminated against the Shiites. Iran is predominantly Shiite, also called Shia. If you really want to read about the Sunni/Shia split in Islam, click here. I find this stuff fascinating. I personally believe Iraq should be broken up into three counties -- one for the Kurds, one for the Sunnis and one for the Shiites. What do I know?

The Australian Tennis Open is on ESPN2: Coming up: Agassi versus Federer.

Remembering Johnny Carson: The segment in which Ed Ames threw a tomahawk at an outline of a human target, the hatchet stuck handle up in the crotch and Johnny ad-libbed, "I didn't even know you were Jewish." The scared marmoset that crawled onto Johnny's head and peed on him. The near-masochistic recycling of ukulele oddball Tiny Tim, staging his on-air wedding for 50 million viewers. The actor Jimmy Stewart tearing up while reading a poem about his dog. A man who rendered the national anthem by making flatulent noises with his hands. A loaded Dean Martin secretly tipping cigarette ashes into the cocktail of an oblivious George Gobel. An eccentric old lady who presented her beloved collection of potato chips shaped like faces of celebrities -- when Carson munched blithely on a chip, the woman nearly had a coronary, until he revealed a separate bag behind the desk.

Two Dwarfs
Two dwarfs go into a bar, where they pick up two prostitutes and take them to their separate hotel rooms.
The first dwarf, however, is unable to get an erection. His depression is made worse by the fact that, from the next room, he hears his little friend shouting out cries of, "Here I come again. ONE, TWO, THREE...UUH!" All night long.
In the morning, the second dwarf asks the first, "How did it go?"
The first mutters, "It was so embarrassing. I simply couldn't get an erection."
The second dwarf shook his head. "You think that's embarrassing? I couldn't even get on the bed."

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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