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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 Monday, January 29, 2007: There are as many bulls as bears on the economy. There is sufficient evidence for a downturn in the economy in 2007. There is equally sufficient evidence for an upturn.

Housing leads to the downturn. Stable oil prices, rising corporate profits and high corporate liquidity point to that upturn. To repeat my old theme: there's little percentage in gambling or, worse, agonizing. Stay optimistic and prepared. Hence, a great argument for cash and index funds.

Stable oil prices: The Saudis have recently suggested they are committed to doing what they can to keep oil prices at about $50 a barrel, according to the New York Times The Saudis seem to have rediscovered how much high oil prices can hurt the global economy and (worse) stimulate the search for practical alternative energy sources. Without government subsidies or intervention, there really aren't any, yet.

This week the Fed holds its first 2007 FOMC meeting to decide on interest rates. Today's Wall Street Journal writes,

There isn't much that moves the market like a shift in interest rates by Federal Reserve policy makers. This year, it is beginning to look like the Fed won't move much.

As central-bank rate setters prepare for their first meeting of the year this week, investors increasingly are resigned to a longer pause in rate moves than previously expected.

Yet it might be that it is the pause that refreshes. In recent years, the stock market usually has performed well when the Fed declines to move up or down, as it has since last summer...

The main reason for bulls' overall optimism is that, as fourth-quarter reports roll in, corporate profits seem to be doing just fine even without Fed action. Wall Street expects profits at companies in the Standard & Poor's 500-stock index to rise by more than 10% for the quarter -- a slower pace than in the previous few years' boom but still solid growth by historical standards.

"There's a growing sense among investors that if the economy is OK, then profits will be OK, so I don't really need the Fed to step in and help me" with lower rates to spur economic growth, says strategist Jack Caffrey of J.P. Morgan Private Bank.

Falling through the cracks at the IRS: To repeat the boring story, these wonderful people insist they don't have my wife's 2004 tax return. Since we file jointly and they have mine, they have hers. We have sent xeroxes of the 2004 return at least three times. But they keep losing it. I asked my readers for help. I got some great advice. The best advice:

1. Give them what ever they want quickly. This keeps your papers on top of the pile on the IRS agent's desk. Keep in mind you are nothing but a wad of paper to them. The worst thing that can happen is the agent moves your papers to the "get to it later pile".

2. Don't bother getting everything perfect. All they want is to fulfill their required task of moving your paperwork off their desk.

3. Don't fight or be clever with them. That makes their job more interesting. You want them to think you are boring, giving them incentive to get you out of their life. The only fun they have is when people start to argue and take them on. Never give them that.

3 1/2- Use handwritten notes- don't type and print things. It makes you look like a business with money. Don't worry about spelling or crossing things out. They don't like that and will get rid of you.

4. Keep giving them what they want until they are tired of dealing with a dull taxpayer, they have all they need to move the papers on, and you refuse to fight them.

5. Do whatever you need to do to get them out of your life.

6. Remember that the paper on their desk that generated their interest in you will never go away. You MUST get that paper off their desk.

Other readers' advice included:

+ Take two copies of the filings they want to your local IRS office. Hand them both copies. They will accept one copy and stamp the other as a copy of what they just received. That way you have proof.

+ Request a transcript of 2004 to verify that the IRS has a JOINT return on file.........

+ Call the tax payer advocate or problem resolution office at the IRS.

+ Form 911 may get you help from the "kinder, gentler IRS." This form is not too well publicized but from stories I have seen, it apparently works. Click here.

+ Call your local congressperson.

Daughter came to visit this weekend: The goal was wedding dress shopping. But the accomplishment was parent education. She turned us onto Movies on Demand via Time Warner Cable. First time for the old fogeys. Easier (and cheaper) than going to the movies. We watched "Prairie Home Companion." It was totally wonderful. An all-star cast, with Meryl Streep as the standout. Others include Lily Tomlin, Kevin Kline, Tommy Lee Jones, Sadly, it was Robert Altman's last movie.

Bose earbuds are great:
Claire brought down her Bose In-Ear Headphones.

I tested them against all the in-ear headphones I have -- including cheap ones from Apple and expensive ones from Etymotic Research. The Bose are light years ahead. Bose has a different sound. All the others were tinny and lacked bass. The Bose are $99.95. Worth every penny. Click here.

Wire, not wireless, your home: If you want a decent network in your home, install Cat 5 Ethernet cables and proper Ethernet hubs, such as those by Netgear, D-Link and Linksys. Wireless and powerline networking don't really cut it. They lose far too much speed. That's been my conclusion for eons. BusinessWeek came to the same conclusion this weekend. Click here.

Things you didn't know about the Mid-East:: From a new book, "Power, Faith and Fantasy -- America in the Middle East":

+ The Statue of Liberty was initially conceived by her French sculptor as an Egyptian peasant girl, intended to adorn the entrance to the Suez Canal.

+ The first Zionists to settle in Palestine were in fact American Protestants, who planted successive, ill-fated colonies aimed at “restoring” the Holy Land to Jews, so that their subsequent conversion to Christianity would speed the Second Coming.

+ American Civil War veterans officered Egyptian campaigns in Sudan and Abyssinia.

+ Before landing in North Africa during World War II, the United States Army dropped leaflets advertising the arrival of “Holy Warriors ... to fight the great jihad of freedom.”

Got to love Tennessee.
This is unfair to that great state. But they're funny.

+ A guy from Tennessee passed away and left his entire estate to his beloved widow, but she can't touch it 'til she's 14.

+ How do ya know when you're stayin' in a Tennessee hotel? When ya call the front desk and say, "I gotta leak in my sink,"
and the clerk replies, "Go ahead."

+ Did'ja hear they've raised the minimum drinkin' age in Tennessee to 32?

Seems they wanna keep alcohol outta high schools.

+ Where was the toothbrush invented?


If it'd been invented anywhere else, it would'a been called a teeth brush.

+ A Tennessee State trooper pulls over a pickup on I-64 and says to the driver, "Got any I.D.?" and the driver replies "Bout wut?"

+ Did ya hear about the $3 million Tennessee State Lottery?

The winner gets $3 a year for a million years.

+ A new law was recently passed in Tennessee. When a couple gets divorced, they're STILL cousins.

For us old marrieds:
A man and a woman, who have never met before, but are both married to other people, found themselves assigned to the same sleeping room on a transcontinental train. Though initially embarrassed and uneasy over sharing a room, they were both very tired and fell asleep quickly...he in the upper bunk and she in the lower.

At 1:00 AM, the man leaned over and gently woke the woman saying, "Ma'am, I'm sorry to bother you, but would you be willing to reach into the closet to get me a second blanket? I'm awfully cold."

"I have a better idea," she replied. "Just for tonight, let's pretend that we're married."

"Wow! That's a great idea!" he exclaimed.

"Good," she replied. "Get your own damn blanket!"

After a moment of silence, he farted.

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. Please note I'm not suggesting you do. That money, if there is any, may help pay Claire's law school tuition. Read more about Google AdSense, click here and here.
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