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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 EST Friday, January 25, 2008: The best news. Long-term mortgages are getting cheaper by the day. The 30-year fixed is around 5.48% That's the lowest since the Spring of 2004. Banks are still lending, but only if you put down a significant deposit and have a real job.

The second best news is that tech stocks are "cheap" -- typically 35% to 40% off their highs in late Fall last year. Many tech stocks have rallied in recent days, suggesting that we may have hit bottom. The rules are: Buy only if you really want to own the stock long-term. Be prepared to get out quickly if the stock goes sour. Don't buy ahead of earnings. Don't bet the bank. Now is for dipping, not immersing. Typical charts:

Asian markets rebounded last night, with gains typically around 5%-7%. There is some hope in Australia that China's internal boom will insulate Australia from America's accelerating downtown. That logic makes EWA a continuing "buy" especially at these low prices:

Storms gather: The recession is on us. The recession may or may not adversely affect the stockmarket from here, though the good news is stocks have already taken a strong haircut. Negative items about the economy:

+ Latest housing figures show sliding prices, higher inventories, reluctant sellers. Not good stuff.

+ Stew Leonard runs the world's greatest (and possibly most famous) grocery store. His metric of the economy:

I look for the mashed-potato effect. If the customers are buying our freshly-prepared mashed potatoes instead of whole potatoes, the the economy is doing well. Lately bulk potato sales have been up, so there's concern about where the economy is going.

+ The new owners just fired 40% of the management of the firm my friend works at. They were probably overstaffed. Still, that's more unemployed.

+ Serious price increases are happening in foodstuffs, like corn. I just read that the beer business has been hit by 500% increases in the price of hops. Barley has doubled.

+ No one on Wall Street seems to have much faith in the administration's understanding of what's actually ailing the economy or the proposed "stimulus" package. A reader sums it all up in this email.:

What scares me is that I do not believe that anybody has any idea of how bad this mess is or how to solve it.

The speed of change: Nickel prices rise. More nickel gets mined. Zinc prices rise. More zinc gets mined. Nickel and zinc are now in surplus, with prices sharply down. Some Australian mining stocks, have plummeted.

New rules: There is no long-term. Take some profit off the table quickly. Haircut your stop loss rule to perhaps 8%, down from our inviolate 15%. Watch for getting back in on a 40% pullback. Place low buy orders. You never know when they'll be filled, as my EWA were this week -- at $23.60.

10 Questions you must ask your doctor: This piece is from my favorite men's magazine, Best Life,

which I recommend you subscribe to.

1. Do I really need this test?
“Doctors often adhere to a better-safe-than-sorry philosophy, ordering tests just to protect themselves in the event of a lawsuit,” says David Sandmire, MD, coauthor of Medical Tests That Can Save Your Life. A full 16 percent of prostate-cancer screenings, for example, are unnecessary, say Harvard researchers. Since 80 percent of PSA results are false positives, thousands of men undergo needless biopsies each year. Another overused procedure: CT scans. The radiation from these tests causes an estimated 5,695 cancer cases a year, say British researchers.

2 Where would you send your wife or children?
Like our tax code and the judicial system, medicine is supposed to treat everyone equally, but it’s clear that some people receive better treatment than others. “General practitioners who work within a particular system routinely refer patients to specialists within that health-care system,” says Kevin Soden, MD, coauthor of Special Treatment: How to Get the Same High-Quality Health Care Your Doctor Gets. “However, oftentimes the best surgeon is in a completely different facility on the other side of town, and you can bet that’s where your doctor would send his family.”

3 How many surgeries do you perform each year?
Nowhere is the saying “practice makes perfect” more applicable than in the operating room. Urologists who perform more than 40 prostatectomies a year, for example, experience 50 percent fewer complications than those who perform fewer than 40. The same goes for hospitals performing more than 200 coronary bypass surgeries a year, according to a report in the journal Circulation. Bottom line: Your health hinges on your surgeon’s experience.

4 Can I schedule my surgery for the morning?
Arrive early and you’ll get the undivided attention of an alert medical staff. A recent study of 90,000 surgeries by researchers at Duke University found that patients who had operations in the morning were four times less likely to have anesthesia complications—nausea, post-op pain, fluctuating blood pressure—than those who had them in the afternoon.

5 If I get sick, will you see me in the hospital?
In the past 10 years, the number of hospitalists—a new breed of physicians who specialize in inpatient care—has grown from a few hundred to nearly 20,000. “So if you require hospitalization, odds are your primary-care physician won’t be at your bedside,” says Evan Scott Levine, MD, author of What Your Doctor Won’t (or Can’t) Tell You. “You’ll be dealing with a new doctor who doesn’t know you or your medical history.” Make sure your GP makes hospital calls.

6 Do you earn bonuses based on performance?
Before you schedule a surgery, check the hospital’s physician reward system. Insurance companies reimburse hospitals based on the type of treatment provided, not the length of your stay. As a result, “Many hospitals pay their physicians bonuses based on how quickly they move patients out the door,” says Dr. Levine. “Quality of care is sacrificed in the interest of increasing patient turnover.”

7 When did you graduate from medical school?
In an analysis of 62 studies, researchers at Harvard Medical School discovered that doctors who have been out of medical school for more than 20 years were up to 48 percent less likely to stay up-to-date on developments in their fields. They are equally likely to be unaware of current treatment guidelines, such as prescribing aspirin to treat angina (chest pain caused by decreased blood flow to the heart). If you don’t want to ask your doctor directly, check out how long it has been since he graduated at

8 What the hell does that say?
No doctor would prescribe Zoloft for high cholesterol, but that’s what you might end up with if your pharmacist can’t read Zocor in your doctor’s chicken scratch. Poor penmanship isn’t just an old stereotype; it’s responsible for up to 61 percent of medication errors and more than 1.5 million patient injuries per year, according to a recent report from the National Academies of Sciences’ Institute of Medicine. “If you can’t read a prescription, chances are your pharmacist can’t either,” says Dr. Soden. “Get your doctor to print out the name of the medication.”

9 Will you remove that wedding ring?
When scientists at Rush University Medical Center, in Chicago, analyzed the hands of 66 nurses, they found that those with wedding rings had 10 times more bacteria than those without. “Bacterial infections are the leading cause of death in American hospitals; about 98,000 people die from them each year,” says Dr. Soden. “That means you can contract a secondary infection at the hospital.”

10 What else can I do to treat my condition?
Recent studies suggest that diet and exercise are essential for treating and preventing everything from heart attacks to prostate cancer, yet only one in six doctors discusses how to use nutrition to prevent disease, according to a study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. Researchers in Colorado, meanwhile, found that only 28 percent of doctors mention exercise to their patients. Many primary-care physicians work with dietitians and trainers who can help treat patients with lifestyle-influenced health problems, such as type 2 diabetes. So even if your doctor doesn’t have answers regarding nutrition and exercise, he likely knows someone who does.

Oh to play with someone else's money.
You heard about the rogue trader who lost France's second-largest bank of €4.9 billion ($8.2 billion). It said the young Paris trader, 31-year-old Jerome Kerviel, who has yet to be charged, used his position, plus a knowledge of the bank's security system, to construct "a scheme of elaborate fictitious transactions" on European equity markets. Apparently he took some bets, lost money, then took more, trying with ever larger bets to make back what he had lost. A rogue trader is one who loses money. Some traders don't lose money. Here's today's news:

Goldman Sachs announces that they have discovered two rogue traders who have by passed their risk management systems and have a secret trading gain of around $18.6 billion. Both of the 26 year old janitors have been given honorary Princeton PhDs in mathematics and have been moved from the furnace room in the basement to corner offices on the trading floor. When interviewed, Jean Paul Arristide, the only janitor identified so far, admitted that his cousin who worked for Societe Generale in Paris, had emailed him from a trading station and as a joke showed him how to enter orders. Mr. Arristide began playing on a trading computer on the graveyard shift during his breaks, taking the opposite positions to his cousin. Mr. Arristide thought he was just playing around and did not realize that the trades were actually being executed. "I was just trying to annoy my cousin by doing the exact a kind of funny joke!" "Then I would email him that he was, how do you say... une tete de pee-pee stupide.. a stupid dick head!" "Je m'appologise..c'est dommage."

A spokesman for Goldman explained that they have yet to identify the second roque trader who is thought to be hiding in the duct work of the HVAC systems in their New York head office.

In a separate news release Goldman indicated that the profits from the unauthorised trading would be added to the bonus pool for 2008. "It is a good start to the year, and we would like to thank Mr. Arristede for his fine janitorial work."

The Australian Tennis Open is on. It's hard to sleep when the main matches come on at 3:00 AM EST. Times are not always accurate. Sometimes they play re-runs during the day. Best to just turn on your TV and scour ESPN and the tennis channel.

EST Time
January 25
1:00 AM
Women's Doubles Final (Repeat)/Semifinals Tennis Channel
January 25
3:30 AM (Live)
Men's Semifinals ESPN2
January 25
6:00 AM
Women's Doubles Final (Repeat)/Semifinals Tennis Channel
January 25
3:00 PM
Men's Semifinals (Repeat) ESPN2
January 25
6:00 PM
Women's Doubles Final (Repeat)/Semifinals Tennis Channel
January 25
9:30 PM (Live)
Women's Final ESPN2
January 25
11:30 PM (Live)
Men's Doubles Final Tennis Channel
January 26
1:00 AM
Men's Doubles Final (Repeat) Tennis Channel
January 26
1:00 PM
Men's Doubles Final (Repeat) Tennis Channel
January 27
12:00 AM (Live)
Mixed Doubles Final Tennis Channel
January 27
1:30 AM
Mixed Doubles Final (Repeat) Tennis Channel
January 27
3:30 AM (Live)
Men's Final ESPN2
January 27
12:00 PM
Men's Final (Repeat) ESPN2
January 27
3:00 PM
Men's/Women's Finals (Repeat) Tennis Channel

Secret ingredients in Viagra. Finally released.
3% Vitamin E
2% Aspirin
2% Ibuprofen
1% Vitamin C
5% Spray Starch
87% Fix-A-Flat

Chinese and Jewish pilots
A plane leaves Los Angeles airport under the control of a Jewish captain. His co-pilot is Chinese. It's the first time they've flown together and an
awkward silence between the two seems to indicate a mutual dislike.

Once they reach cruising altitude, the Jewish captain activates the auto-pilot, leans back in his seat, and mutters, "I don't like Chinese."

'"No rike Chinese?" asks the co-pilot, "why not?"

"You people bombed Pearl Harbor , that's why!"

"No, no," the co-pilot protests, "Chinese not bomb Peahl Hahbah! That Japanese, not Chinese."

"Japanese, Chinese, Vietnamese... doesn't matter, you're all alike.

There's a few minutes of silence. "No rike Jews!" the co-pilot suddenly announces.

"Why not?" asks the captain.

"Jews sink Titanic."

"Jews didn't sink the Titanic!" exclaims the captain, "It was an iceberg!"

"Goldberg, Greenberg, Rosenberg , Iceberg, mattah...alla same."

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.

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