Harry Newton's In Search of The Perfect Investment
Technology Investor. Auction Rate Securities. Auction Rate Preferreds.
9:00 AM EST Thursday, July 17, 2008: A
glimmer of hope? Or a beartrap rally? Yesterday the Dow rose 2.5%; Nasdaq rose
3.1% and the S&P 500 rose 2.5%. Personally I think the one-day rally means
beans (i.e. zip) -- though apparently we're getting another one today.
Nobody knew what caused yesterdays' bounce, nor does anyone care. But everyone
felt good, except for a few short sellers. I watched Lehman shoot up, panicked
and closed my short just before the end of the day. I can't imagine some schmuck
offering $25 a share to buy Lehman or someone actually buying the stock. But
stranger things have happened. As a wise person once said, nobody ever went
broke taking a handsome profit -- which I did yesterday on my Lehman shorts.
Big Search is finding a safe place for $95,000. Yesterday's search yielded
the Park Avenue Bank, a
tiny bank with no exposure to subprime. They're paying a whopping 4.75%
on a 90-day CD. They were pushing this only for $100,000 and up, but -- this
will blow you away -- they agreed to pay the 4.75% on $95,000. What a wonderful
feeling. To be able to talk to the head of retail banking -- Matt Morris --
on his cell phone and get him to agree instantly to the $95,000. Imagine getting
that decision out of a Chase or a Citibank. No wonder that all Matt's friends
in hedge funds, who had previously derided him for joining a tiny bank, are
now flocking to him in admiration of his superior intelligence. You don't need
Matt to get the deal. Go to 350 Park Avenue before six today (or anytime before
the end of the month) and ask for Mercedes or Anthony. Morris told me his bank
didn't need the monies flooding in. He did the 4.75% promotion because he wanted
to "improve his bank's branding."
your money is a lot better than giving the Feds your monies. Their miserable
30 day 1.38%;
60 day 1.40%; 90 day 1.41% and one year 2.10%. With the Feds you don't pay state
and city tax, but you do pay federal tax. At the end of the year, you end up
with less than the markets rose yesterday!
I suspect that
the greatest entrepreneurial opportunity today is to open up a nice new bank
(get your friends together) and advertise "We're safe; We're friendly;
We're reachable; We listen and We can make decisions." Sounds like
Park Avenue Bank.
If Park Avenue
Bank didn't exist, I think we might be back to
Thanks to Montreal
reader Roland Leger for the Photoshop work which improved my previous logo:
economy is awful. NO. Getting fired is a plus.
It forces you to open the business you always wanted, but had delayed because
it was "risky." Items:
Working for yourself is far less risky than working for solid companies, like
Bear Stearns, or UBS. A friend retired two years ago, with oodles of UBS options
-- now all under water. He kicks himself for not shorting UBS, and hence protecting
Everyone is sick of dealing with large, horrible, bureaucratic companies, who
hate their customers. Don't believe me? Check how few web sites have management's
email addresses, or God forbid, their phone numbers.
It's much easier to get to customers these days. You can put up a handsome web
site in less than a day and for less than $20 a month. Google ads will find
you customers -- much cheaper and faster than advertising in your local newspaper
or yellow pages.
friend gave his mother a web site for her birthday recently. It will promote
her landscaping business. Where easier to show all her accomplishments than
a portfolio of handsome garden photos on a web site?
web site that captures email addresses will build you a free prospect/customer
list. Emailing deals and offers is cheap and easy. I'm not the only person in
the world who likes junk email and actually buys stuff from it. Yesterday I
bought a $260 Samsung 22" monitor from eCost.com
because they emailed me. I checked their site today. They now have them for
ordered to anger counseling
CANBERRA (Reuters) - An Australian politician who told a pregnant rival that
her baby could be born a demon was ordered to seek anger counseling recently
after a string of allegations about her caustic behavior.
I don't make this
new yacht, I wish. From today's New York Times:
Boaters in the
Baltic Sea this past spring spotted a strange ship slicing through the waters
off Kiel, Germany.
vessel, sheathed in white, had a knifelike hull and a three-story, bulbous
watchtower. Some guessed it was a radar-deflecting warship, given its smooth
lines and wraparound tinted windows. Others speculated that it was submersible.
The boat's only
identifying marker was a single letter emblazoned on the stern: "A."
Motor Yacht A, its official name, is actually a private yacht built for Andrey
Melnichenko, the 36-year-old Russian billionaire industrialist. While Mr.
Melnichenko has done his best to keep the boat a secret, A is already making
waves in the yachting world and becoming a public symbol of Russian wealth
than a football field, A barely ranks among the 10 largest private yachts
in the world, trailing just behind Octopus, the 416-footer owned by Microsoft
co-founder Paul Allen. The cost -- at least $300 million -- is also not a
record. Eclipse, the unfinished yacht of fellow Russian Roman Abramovich,
is more than 500 feet long and cost at least $100 million more. Mr. Melnichenko's
boat, at cruising speed, burns about 691 gallons of diesel fuel per hour.
(At $5.50 a gallon, that's $3,800 an hour. -- HN)
The reason A
is stirring up the boat world is its radical design. Created by Philippe Starck,
the superstar French designer of lemon squeezers and luxury hotels, A is a
deliberate slap in the face to an industry known for its classic conformity.
Instead of a
fat hull, supporting many levels of open-air dining areas, wet bars and sun
decks, A is streamlined and largely enclosed -- more like a space helmet than
a floating palace. The bow slopes like a monster pontoon away from the boat
instead of toward it. While common for warships of the early 20th century
-- and allowing A to create little or no splash at 24 knots -- the design
is unusual in modern megayachts.
"A is aggressive,
like a giant finger pointing at you," says Donald Starkey, a leading
British yacht designer. "It seems to have nothing to do with the whole
idea of yachting, which is about cruising around at a leisurely pace, and
enjoying your friends and the sea."
Beckett, CEO of the yacht-brokerage firm Burgess: "A boat like this has
never been done before, and it will probably never be done again."
A's interior breaks even more rules. According to people who worked on the
boat, A's rooms are outfitted with cream-colored leather walls and stainless-steel
fixtures -- a departure from mahogany, gold and bronze. Its six guest suites
can be transformed by movable walls to create four larger suites. Stainless-steel
whirlpool baths are showcased at the center of several of the rooms.
oversized bed, perched at the top of the tower, rotates on a giant turntable
(with built-in entertainment systems) to give him better views out of the
panoramic windows. Along with its two swimming pools -- one in the front and
one in back -- A sports a helipad, a hovercraft and a garage for the owner's
car. The ship, which has a crew of 35, has more than 100 audio speakers, and
more than a dozen plasma TV screens, many of which are disguised as mirrors.
Guests in any of the rooms can watch DVDs from a centralized library of more
than 2,000 titles.
tight. Doors are unlocked by electronic finger pads and guests can't gain
access to the owner's suite or control rooms. The hull is outfitted with spotlights
and motion sensors....
Sister Mary Ann, who worked for a home health agency, was out making her rounds
visiting homebound patients when she ran out of gas. As luck would have it,
an Exxon Gasoline station was just a block away.
She walked to
the station to borrow a gas can and buy some gas. The attendant told her that
the only gas can he owned had been loaned out, but she could wait until it was
returned. Since Sister Mary Ann was on the way to see a patient, she decided
not to wait and walked back to her car.
She looked for
something in her car that she could fill with gas and spotted the bedpan she
was taking to the patient. Always resourceful, Sister Mary Ann carried the bedpan
to the station, filled it with gasoline, and carried the full bedpan back to
As she was pouring
the gas into her tank, two Baptists watched from across the street. One of them
turned to the other and said, 'If it starts, I'm turning Catholic.'
have no idea why I think this is funny
A man boarded a plane with six kids.
After they got
settled in their seats a woman sitting across the aisle from him leaned over
to him and asked, "Are all those kids yours?"
He replied, "No.
I work for a condom company. They are customer complaints."
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
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