Technology Investor 

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

Previous Columns
8:30 AM EST Tuesday, July 18, 2006: Trader or investor? "Get your message clear, Harry."

I wish I could. I don't want to be a trader. I want to be an "investor." But markets are volatile, and getting more volatile by the month. 40% to 50% of daily trades on all stock exchanges are now traders at investment banks and traders at hedge funds. And there's talk that 80% of trades are now computer-driven, i.e. a computer now makes the decisions to buy or sell.

In this volatility, I've learned two lessons:
1. I'm not a trader. I don't have the skills nor the time, nor the patience to stare at screens for five hours day.
2. My 15% rule works. Once a stock falls 15%, it is likely to fall more. I can give your a bazillion examples. Selling it does not stop you picking it up later (and cheaper). But selling it when it falls 15% will absolutely save you money. Getting the discipline to sell is the hard part. Which is why traders use computers. Discipline is why I harp on the 15% rule constantly. Being increasingly in cash is soothing. When in doubt, stay out.

Meantime, we have the classic rumor-driven stockmarket. One moment there are rumors about a ceasefire, the market soars. The next there are rumors of endless war, and the market crashes.

My guess is this won't be a short war. Getting rid of Hezbollah and neutralizing all those 15,000 or so rockets is not an easy or a short job.

"Restore your manhood." That's the theme of GM's latest Hummer ads. Seems to be a heavy price to pay for such miserable gas mileage.

George Friedlander, bond guru talks: Bonds are back. My bonds have done far better than my equities recently. For more on where bonds are going, listen in to Smith Barney's Friedlander today at noon, eastern time:

Dial in Number: (888) 756-4102
Passcode: 5405211

If you miss it, the replay number is (888) 203-1112
Replay Passcode 5405211

The Zen of tennis elbow: What did I do last that messed it up? Same logic fixing computers. Answer: Tried to heavily top spin my forehand and backhand -- like the pros do. Solution: stop doing it.

Bingo, the elbow improved. Not fully recovered, but improved. Improved enough to go back to playing two hours a day. God, for a moment, I thought I'd have to spend my life watching the stockmarket gyrate.

Russia authoritarian, but booming: The Economist headlines its special report on Russia, "Richer, bolder — and sliding back." This is the part that most amused me:

Mr. Putin announced in 2004 that regional governors, hitherto elected, were instead to be appointed by him. The sleaze and criminality of many regional politicians made this seem almost sensible — until Mr. Putin's appointments began. Now the arrangement is clear: in return for basic fealty, suitable election results and political calm, appointed governors may do largely as they please.

An extreme version of this contract applies to Chechnya, the most troublesome of all Russia's regions. The Kremlin has fought two bloody wars there, the second of which helped put Mr. Putin in the Kremlin. The place is now run by Ramzan Kadyrov, an erratic 29-year-old rebel turned Chechen prime minister whom Mr. Putin has taken to his heart — and with some success, it can be said.

The news this week of the death of Shamil Basayev, Russia's terrorist-in-chief, will certainly put an extra spring in Mr. Putin's step in St. Petersburg. But even before Mr. Basayev's demise, it was clear that life in Chechnya was improving. Reconstruction money may still be disappearing, but roads and buildings are being repaired. Though they still come under frequent attack, Russian troops no longer fight big battles with separatist guerrillas. Sergei Ivanov, Russia's defense minister, says many of the foreign mercenaries who once stiffened the resistance have decamped to Iraq. In Grozny, the capital, people can again go out at night.

But with Chechnya, too, there are shortcomings to set against the improvements. One is that Chechnya's stability rests on one man, Mr. Kadyrov, and he could be a dubious prop. Mr. Kadyrov has dabbled with Islamism, stands accused of horrific atrocities and is orchestrating his own cult of personality. Some say that skirmishes take place between federal troops and Mr. Kadyrov's, though Mr. Ivanov denies it.

For the full piece, click here. Many of my friends have done the tourist thing recently in St. Petersburg and love it. They advise to give Moscow a miss.

Eyes on the radiant bride:
All eyes were on the radiant bride as her father escorted her down the aisle. They reached the altar and the waiting groom;
the bride kissed her father and placed something in his hand.

The guests in the front pews responded with ripples of laughter.

Even the priest smiled broadly.

As her father gave her away in marriage, the bride gave him back his credit card.

Your last wish
Three friends from the local congregation were asked, "When you're in your casket, and friends and congregation members are mourning over you, what would you like them to say?"

Artie said: "I would like them to say I was a wonderful husband, a fine spiritual leader, and a great family man."

Eugene commented: "I would like them to say I was a wonderful teacher and servant of God who made a huge difference in people's lives."

Al said: "I'd like them to say, "Look, he's moving!"

On his deathbed
John was on his deathbed and gasped pitifully.
"Give me one last request, dear," he said.
"Of course, John," his wife said softly.
"Six months after I die," he said, "I want you to marry Bob."
"But I thought you hated Bob," she said.
With his last breath John said, "I do! I do!"

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.
Go back.