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

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9:00 AM EST, Wednesday, March 18, 2009. "The bottom has been reached," many intone. They refer to both the stockmarket and in real estate markets. In the stockmarket, they like the recent bounce:

In real estate, they like the fact that the yield on income-earning properties is touching 10% -- assuming no borrowings (i.e. an all cash deal).

I'm not sure. Every hungry broker -- whether real estate, stock or bond -- is always looking for a reason to sell me or you something. I understand the urge. And my trip out west has turned my "we're falling off a cliff" New York attitude and has made me feel more positive.

I'm convinced we will come through this without "systemic collapse." But I continue to worry that the long-term momentum simply isn't there at present. I don't see buyers flocking back in, given the continuing spate of bad economic news and the continuing job firings.

I am more optimistic. But I remain skeptical. My philosophy remains, "When in doubt, stay out" and "Cash is King."

The more things change, the more they stay the same. A group of bright brokers from Santa Rosa, California (calling themselves The Vick/Cho Group) wrote in their latest weekly market commentary:

Well the Trillion Dollar question is: "has the bottom been put in the market, and this is the start of a new bull market, or is it just a bull rally in a bear market and after a time it will go back down?" That's how it works. We can draw lines on charts and we can overlay past markets and we can parse the words of economists, market gurus, strategists, etc. But human behavior works around these three basic emotions: Fear, Hope, and Greed. Well, I'm sure and you know there are a few more and even some that are on a higher plane, however, as it relates to money and investing these three dominate.

Right now we have Fear moving toward Hope. Greed is a long long way away. Hope is fragile after the fear we have experienced since August of 2007 when the first salvo of the "Subprime" contagion was beginning to be felt by our major financial institutions. The key to moving solidly out of Fear and solidly into Hope is the end of bad news in the economy (read jobs and housing, stability in the financial system, and earnings in corporate stocks). We will have firmly moved into Hope on our way toward Greed when smaller and smaller amounts of "bad" news are ignored. Right now any significant bad news on jobs, housing, financials, or earnings may cause investors to hit the sell buttons. We will keep you posted.

Lastly, from a report from Sharman Mossavar-Rahmani, Chief Investment Officer, Goldman Sachs titled, "Uncertain But Not Unprecedented". Sharman said the following: "It's hard to accept that the current financial crisis and its economic repercussions are unprecedented when so many credible - and not so credible - researchers, journalists, and television commentators now characterize most any development as unprecedented. Last month (Dec 2008) alone, we counted about 4000 reports or articles describing some economic news as "unprecedented". She goes on in several pages to point out that what we are experiencing is not unprecedented and shows multiple times in history when events mirrored today. The article ends with this telling quote from the Economist, "From one point of view, credit may be defined as the power to attract gold; but public credit really depends on public confidence, just as private credit depends on private confidence. The financial crisis in America is really a moral crisis, caused by the series of proofs which the American public has received that the leading financiers who control banks, trust companies and industrial corporations are often imprudent, and not seldom dishonest. They have mismanaged trust funds and used them freely for speculative purposes. Hence the alarm of depositors, and a general collapse of credit." What is interesting about the quote is that it was written in 1908. Nearly 100 years later, in the December 16, 2008 issue of the New York Times, Thomas Friedman wrote: "we don't just need a financial bailout; we need an ethical bailout." So to quote Jean-Baptist Alophonse Karr, " plus ca change, plus c'est la meme chose - the more things change, the more they stay the same.

Why people own gold: Richard Russell writes the respected Dow Theory Letters. His Monday newsletter explained "the real meaning of gold."

The world is now in a serious global recession. "Paper wealth" from the US to Japan to China is now crumbling. Any company can go broke, and any stock can decline to zero. A company can go broke by possessing debt that it can't finance. A company can go broke if it has overhead that it can't carry (the reason for all the firing). A company can go broke if it's sales collapse. A company can go belly up if its products are uncompetitive.

One major reason why people own gold is that gold can't go broke. Gold can't go broke because it has no counter-parties or liabilities against it. Gold can't go broke because gold is pure wealth. Sure gold can do down in price in terms of a currency, but gold CAN NOT GO BROKE. This is the crucial fact hat the "dollar-bugs" fail to comprehend. This is the reason why sophisticated wealthy people own large quantities of gold. Gold represents eternal unquestioned wealth. Wealthy people do NOT hold gold for appreciation. They don't care about the price of gold today or tomorrow. That is not why they hold gold.

Then why own gold? Example, an investor who owns ten million dollars in stocks and bonds, knows that this is "paper wealth." It can be here today and gone tomorrow. The same investor owns five thousand ounces of gold, worth almost five million today in terms of Federal Reserve Notes. This investor knows he will be "rich" no matter what. His five thousand ounces of gold means that no matter what, he will always be wealthy. This is the ultimate secret of gold. It's the secret that the "dollar-bugs," will never understand. The wealthy don't worry about the price of gold as denominated in paper currency. Their only worry is whether they own enough gold to make them eternally rich.

What happens to gold in the face of a world collapse, when the price of everything -- houses, commodities, stocks -- heads down. Let's say that the world and its assets are heading towards zero. That's when owning gold is most important. Gold is the only asset that can't and won't join the crashing asset parade. Thus, owning gold is the ultimate insurance against utter disaster.

Jon Stewart rips into CNBC's Jim Cramer. -- Part 2. Jon Stewart hosts The Daily Show on Comedy Central. He shredded Jim Cramer of CNBC's Mad Money into little pieces. If you haven't watched the shredding, please do. It's fun watching Cramer cringe. Click here. Repercussions from the shredding pour in, as every reporter weighs in with his thoughts on what the financial press's responsibility is (and isn't) and whether Cramer should still have a job.

Let's get it straight; A financial reporter's job is twofold: 1. To provide fodder for the ad salesmen to sell ads and 2. To to fill space (or time) between the ads. Gloom and doom stories don't sell anything -- readers nor advertisers. Further, financial reporters are no smarter than you and me. And worse, even if they did feel prescient, it's a matter of timing, which is hard to predict. There's usually a disconnect between the economy and the stockmarket. They usually move in opposite directions. Before I called a "top" in November 2007, I was bullish. I was right telling everyone to get out of the market then. But respected newsletter writers like Fred Hickey have been bearish all along. And their opinions are dismissed -- though ultimately Hickey was right.

Suffice, I'm not prepared to call a turn now. But I'm also not prepared to call for Cramer's head. The guy is a great entertainer and an erstwhile great hedge fund manager, who couldn't make money today the way he made it 20 years ago. The Wall Street Journal took up the Cramer Cudgel:

Financial Journalists Fail Upward, by Thomas Frank.
"Listen, you knew what the banks were doing and yet were touting it for months and months," said "Daily Show" host Jon Stewart to CNBC superstar Jim Cramer in their much-discussed confrontation last week. "The entire network was, and so now to pretend that this was some sort of crazy, once-in-a-lifetime tsunami that nobody could have seen coming is disingenuous at best and criminal at worst."

The applause Mr. Stewart has received for his j'accuse is the sound of the old order cracking. We have turned on the financial CEOs, inducting them one by one into the Predator Hall of Fame. We have gone deaf to the seductive rhythms of the culture wars. We have tossed out the politicians whose antigovernment rhetoric seemed invincible for so long.

And now comes the turn of the bubble-blowers of pop culture, the army of fake populists who have prospered for years by depicting the stock market as an expression of the general will, as the trustworthy friend of the little guy buffeted by a globalizing economy.

We know -- or we think we know -- about the roles played by other culprits in the debacle. The government regulators, for example: How could they have ignored the coming disaster? Well, they were incapacitated by decades of deregulation. What about the market's own watchdogs? Well, from appraisers to ratings agencies the whole tough-minded system was apparently undermined by conflicts of interest.

But what about the syndicated columnists and the beloved stock pickers and the authors of personal finance bestsellers, the industry for which CNBC is the perfect symbol? How did they manage to miss the volcano under their feet?

Mr. Cramer, for his part, had the forthrightness to confess his errors and admit his limitations. "I'm not Eric Sevareid. I'm not Edward R. Murrow," he pleaded. "I'm a guy trying to do an entertainment show about business for people to watch."

But the larger problem won't go away. And it's not just a matter of people missing the biggest economic story of the last 20 years. It's a matter of those who minimized it and those who blew it off because it didn't fit their worldview continuing in their plum positions of authority. Mr. Stewart wasn't rude enough to ask it, but over all his inquiries there hung the obvious question: Why do you still have a job, Mr. Cramer?

If the world of financial infotainment can itself be described as a "market," it is a market where accountability does not seem to exist, where the heaviest of incentives seems to carry no weight, and where consumers, to judge by what they get, seem constantly to choose the lousy over the good. The old order discredits itself, but the old order persists nevertheless.

This needs to be repeated every time someone pleads, "Who could have known?" Plenty of people did see the disaster coming. Most of them were marginalized, however, laboring at out-of-the-way econ departments, blogs and B-list think tanks. They were excluded and even ridiculed because their larger understanding of the economy was not one that fit well with the sort of Wall Street worship preached by the likes of CNBC.

Nor is this a particularly liberal line of inquiry, despite Jon Stewart's well-known fondness for tormenting Republicans. It was a question that interested Milton Friedman, among others, who could be seen musing on the subject in a 1994 TV interview that C-Span chose to rebroadcast on Sunday.

The occasion was the 50th anniversary of the publication of Friedrich Hayek's "The Road to Serfdom." As he looked around him, Friedman marveled at the world's perverse refusal to learn certain lessons, even when history itself drove them home. Everyone had by then learned that government was too large, he said, but countries kept on growing government anyway.

Friedman may have misread the direction in which the world was moving in 1994, but the question he raised is still a good one. Bad ideas and clueless pundits often do get on top, and they stay there -- sometimes hailing incentives and accountability, even -- despite all manner of rebukes handed down by history itself.

The reasons the financial-entertainment biz failed us are many and complex, but they ultimately come down to this: In the marketplace to describe the marketplace itself, there is precious little competition. There is a single, standard product that comes in packaging that is alternately sultry, energetic or fun -- bitter, brainy or Cramer "crazy" -- but which rarely strays beyond certain ideological boundaries. Adversarial voices are few. Criticism is sacrificed for access. Advice sometimes shades over into simple propaganda. Even the worst prognosticators sometimes go on to jobs with presidential campaigns or prominent think tanks.

And the small investors whom the personal-financial industry claims so much to adore remain bystanders in a drama they neither understand nor control.

Indian Wells tennis continues. Susan and I went to see all the action live yesterday. I'd tell you more. But their public relations department is so unfriendly to bloggers (like me) who want to give them free ink that I'm not going to waste my breath on them. Watch it on TV.

Indian Wells Tennis TV Schedule -- EST times
Wednesday, March 18
4 PM - 7 PM
10:30 PM - 2:30 AM
FSN (Fox Sports Network)
Thursday, March 19
4 PM - 7 PM
10:30 PM -12:30 AM
Friday, March 20
4 PM - 7 PM
10:30 PM - 12:30 AM
Saturday, March 21
4 PM - 8 PM
Sunday, March 22
1 PM -5 PM

Yesterday was St Patrick's Day. You gotta love the Irish:

+ Paddy was driving down the street in a sweat because he had an important meeting and couldn't find a parking place. Looking up to heaven he said, 'Lord take pity on me. If you find me a parking place I will go to Mass every Sunday for the rest of me life and give up me Irish Whiskey!'

Miraculously, a parking place appeared.

Paddy looked up again and said, 'Never mind, I found one.'

+ Gallagher opened the morning newspaper and was dumbfounded to read in the obituary column that he had died. He quickly phoned his best friend, Finney..

'Did you see the paper?' asked Gallagher. 'They say I died!!'

'Yes, I saw it!' replied Finney. 'Where are ye callin' from?'

+ An Irish priest is driving down to New York and gets stopped for speeding in Connecticut. The state trooper smells alcohol on the priest's breath and then sees an empty wine bottle on the floor of the car.

He says, 'Sir, have you been drinking?'

'Just water,' says the priest.

The trooper says, 'Then why do I smell wine?'

The priest looks at the bottle and says, 'Good Lord! He's done it again!'

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.