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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 Wednesday, June 7, 2006: Another bad day yesterday. From today's USA Today:

Fed, Bernanke take blistering flak

Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke is finding out the hard way that openness is not the same thing as clarity.

Bernanke took office in February promising to make central bank policy more transparent. Four months later, a number of economists and traders say the Fed chairman and other central bank officials have stumbled by making too many contradictory statements, muddying the outlook and spooking markets.

The complaints got louder Monday after Bernanke told a banking group inflation was at an "unwelcome" level, raising the specter of further Fed interest rate increases. That appeared counter to April congressional testimony in which Bernanke suggested the central bank could pause from its two-year campaign of interest rate increases, even if inflation was a risk.

The Dow Jones industrial average fell nearly 200 points Monday and another 47 points Tuesday.

"Give us a break, please. Can we have just one week, or at least one day, without some Fed official obsessing publicly about containing inflation?" says Ed Yardeni, chief investment strategist at Oak Associates. "They are giving us more information than we need."

I predict that Bernanke is bright enough to learn to keep his mouth shut and his words modulated. Markets will settle down shortly.

The Big Bet:
George Soros got rich by taking a big bet when he felt super-good. I felt super good about Qwest. But I only bought 15,000 shares. So I'm only up $8,300. But I should have bought 150,000 and been up $83,000. I figure it will be bought around $9.

I find a "sure thing" about once every three months. (InSite Vision was the previous one.) That's the problem with writing a daily column or a daily TV show (think Cramer). You don't have a great idea every day -- no matter how hard you try.

And some days it's more fun to watch tennis. Nadal is playing this moment.

Bernanke's early legacy. Or first accomplishment? Raise interest rates. Kill home building's profitability. Will the home builders fall further? Or are they now so low they're worth buying? Take a punt. Personally, I think they'll fall further. But I'm not taking "The Big Bet." There are people out there who believe these things will bounce and are buying.

The first five months have not been easy:

Harry's Managers Returns
Year to Date to end May, 2006
MDT Advisers, money manager
Private Capital, money manager
Snow Capital, money manager
Lateef, money manager
Newgate, money manager
Modern Capital, hedge fund
Anonymous hedge fund*
Mallette Capital Biotech
Commodities fund
S&P 500
*He wants to stay anonymous. He doesn't want to be overwhelmed with job applications.

Comments on the above charts:
1. Returns are all over the place. That's part of the price (and the joy) of having a diversified portfolio.
2. Managers with more money did poorer than those with less money. Private Capital has $15 billion. Modern has $31 million.
3. Managers that grew too fast (like Mallette) did worse than those who grew more slowly.
4. Younger managers did better than older ones.
5. Long-only managers did worse than those who are long/short.

So what should Harry do now and why? To me, the question is: "I went into each for a reason. Has anything changed that I don't like?" And the answer: Private Capital got obsessed with media stocks. That was not bright. I'm easing out them. Mallette took a couple of dumb big gambles. But I'm convinced he's now on track. I like the idea of a manager who's been burned. They mature quickly. Some managers are too in line with the S&P 500. If I want that I should maybe buy an S&P index fund? Except I'd lose a little. Managing managers is as hard as running your own portfolio. Dah!

Firewire is much faster. If you get a computer peripheral -- an external disk -- it will run perceptibly faster with a firewire interface than a USB interface.

Ken Fisher is shameless: This is his latest piece of dog-do-do promotion. I found it on, who should have had more self-restraint and said NO to Mr. Fisher's advertising monies. For God's sakes, do NOT respond to Ken Fisher. You do not want to be hounded by his well-motivated slick salespeople. You do not want to give your money to Ken Fisher. End of story.

There's always a solution: From my friend Eugene Towba, who has this totally tasteless solution to the illegal immigration problem::

Dig a moat the length of the Mexican border, take the dirt and raise the levees in New Orleans. Then put the Florida alligators into the border moat! Use illegal Mexicans to do the work.

The French Open Tennis is continuing. Set your TiVo or PVR.
French Open Tennis
Time (EST)
Wednesday, June 7
1:30 AM to 3:00 AM
8:00 AM to 3:00 PM
Thursday, June 8
1:30 AM to 3:00 AM
8:00 AM to 3:00 PM
Friday, June 9
1:00 AM to 4:30 AM
6:00 PM to 8:00 PM
Saturday, June 10
1:00 AM to 4:30 AM
For more, click here or here.

My friend's answering machine:

"I am not available right now, but thank you for caring enough to call. I am making some changes in my life. Please leave a message after the beep. If I do not return your call, you are one of the changes."

The insult exchange:
From George Bernard Shaw to Winston Churchill: "I am enclosing two tickets to the first night of my new play, bring a friend... if you have one."

Winston Churchill, in reply: "Cannot possibly attend first night, will attend second... if there is one."

And the world's best insults (try them on your friends)
"He has all the virtues I dislike and none of the vices I admire." - Winston Churchill

"A modest little person, with much to be modest about." - Winston Churchill

"I have never killed a man, but I have read many obituaries with great pleasure." - Clarence Darrow

"Thank you for sending me a copy of your book; I'll waste no time reading it." - Moses Hadas

"I've had a perfectly wonderful evening. But this wasn't it." - Groucho Marx

"I didn't attend the funeral, but I sent a nice letter saying I approved of it." - Mark Twain

Harry Newton

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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