Technology Investor 

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 Wednesday, January 9, 2008: Ouch! It broke through. (See yesterday's column for more on reading this chart.)

Weakest parts of the market are financials and technology. I'm guessing you can still coin shekels by shorting the usual suspects -- from Citibank to Bank of America, from Google to Research in Motion, and Garmin, which Deutsche Bank this morning downgraded. The economy is slowing, you could get creative and check out companies which sell capital goods whose purchases are likely to be delayed or canceled. Wall Street analysts will shortly bombard us with downgrades in these areas. Deutsche Bank this morning downgraded U.K. banks with these words, "We expect significant pressure on retail and corporate banking profits driven by margins (narrower liability spreads offsetting better credit spreads), slower volumes, wage inflation and higher impairments." (I love the word "impairments." In real English, the word is screwup.)

Be wary. The market is "oversold," which means it could whip around and crush your shorts, short-term. In short, keep your shorts short and small. Once you have made some shekels, cover most of your position.

By now most of us should be stopped out of most of our holdings -- stopped out by our inviolate 15% rule. The big "safe haven" is gold which yesterday rose $17.90 to $879.90 an ounce. Platinum is also up at a new record. Copper, nickel and corn are also up. My commodities fund is up 2% in the first week of 2008.

On that note, reader Jase Auby, who thought the bond insurers were more intelligent than they turned out to be, emailed me yesterday:

Well, I was stopped out of my MBIA and my ABK positions today. Clearly, this was one of the worst ideas I've had. Clearly I was blinded by my "expertise". I apologize to you and your readers.

Perhaps my throwing in the towel is a buy signal? :)

Anyway, I'm out.

What to do with your cash. Rules:

1. Don't leave it in your broker's money market fund. His rates suck. (That's a technical term.)

2. Don't give it to your bank on a short-term CD -- their rates are low; the CD is not insured (except to $200,000 if the spouse tags along) and the interest they pay is taxable as ordinary income.

3. Get a broker to find you short-term, triple tax-free muni bond floaters. They come in two variations -- variable rate and auction rate. If you broker doesn't know what I'm talking about, send me an email and I'll get you someone who does. The key is to buy floaters covered by a pool of bonds -- not one floater backed by one muni agency. I don't believe that the world is coming to an end. I don't believe we are likely to see municipal agencies defaulting. But it has happened. Think Orange County.

A happy story: Once upon a time, New York City insisted on big klunky "comfortable" cabs, like this Ford Crown Victoria, which is among the most common taxi in our city.

Then one day New York woke up and went "green." Now the fastest-growing cab is the Ford hybrid Escape. No one wants to drive the Crown Victoria.

Several taxidrivers have confirmed these stats: On a standard 12-hour shift tootling around New York City, the Crown Victoria will eat $46 to $48 in gas. The Ford hybrid Escape will eat only $24 to $25 in gas. Passengers tell the drivers they prefer the Escape for two reasons: First, when it's stopped it's quiet, in fact noiseless. Second, it emits far less pollution. Passengers like breathing cleaner air. One driver told me he puts the $20 a day saving into a special bank account. "That's $120 a week," he told me happily, "I'm putting it away for my children's college."

The joys of retirement.
Rhoda and Irwin, a retired couple living in Boca Raton, are getting ready to go out to dinner. Rhoda says, "Irwin, darling, do you want me to wear this Chanel suit or the Gucci?"

Irwin says, 'Do I care?'

A few minutes later Rhoda says, "Irwin, should I wear my Cartier watch or my Rolex?"

Irwin says, "Who cares?"

A few more minutes pass and Rhoda says, "Irwin, love, shall I wear my five-carat pear diamond ring or my six-carat round diamond ring with the baguettes?"

Irwin says, "Rhoda, I really don't care what you wear, but if you don't move your ass, we're going to miss the 4:30 PM Early Bird Dinner Special."

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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