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Harry Newton's In Search of The Perfect Investment Technology Investor. Auction Rate Securities. Auction Rate Preferreds.

For today's column on Auction Rate Preferreds, Click here.
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8:30 AM EST Friday, March 28, 2008: A hedge fund I'm close to is about to report a 7% loss for March -- which is horrendous and indicative of just how hard it is to make money in this miserable stockmarket -- for even someone as smart as this hedge fund manager. As I read more on the auction rate mess (click here for today's column) I get increasingly depressed.

The credit markets remain locked; Wall Street (and elsewhere) is firing mega-people; businesses are closing (I have personal examples); the housing market is worsening. And in an amazing development, I read in today's Wall Street Journal that erstwhile homeowners are being paid thousands of dollars to leave without trashing their foreclosed homes. Which means thousands are are. Trashing has becom endemic.

Two million homeowners could be foreclosed on this year. That's a lot of misery. It's also a lot of families who will need rentals, somewhere to live. And the good news is that foreclosed houses are dropping in price -- selling now for a lot less than was owed on the house. One friend is pouncing selectively -- very selectively -- on these houses, buying "bargains," then renting them. To do that well, you need an organization -- to clean, maintain, advertise, collect the rents. In short manage the business. It's not a one-man show.

Which brings me to Friday's "perfect" investment. It's you. What can you do better? To enhance your job? To go back to school? To improve your business? I was going to write a diatribe about what a dreadful company Palm is. The company has $75 million of failed ARPs. I figured, like a good reporter, I'd call the CFO and ask what they're doing, and offer help. 15 failed phone calls later and several failed emails later, I actually wrote the guy a paper letter, put 41 cents on it and mailed it. Palm is impenetrable. No wonder they're losing gobs of money. Imagine if I had wanted to buy something from them!

I'm constantly amazed at how difficult it is to get through to most companies. Most don't have email addresses or direct phone numbers on their web site. Most "executives" don't pick up their phones. And most of their "admins" are taking the day off. Voice mail is a bottomless pit.

In short, fix your own business first. Cut your expenses. When you buy things, bargain extra hard. Everyone will bargain with you -- many without asking. (Item: When I baulked at the cost of a cordless phone battery at Radio Shack last night, the clerk offered to cut the price by 15%.) Be extra nice to your customers. Stay in cash. Cash is King. Stay away from the stockmarket. This year is going to be simply awful.

Make your Bucket List. I love the movie.

Now I'm obsessed with making my own Bucket List. So far, it's small. But not my partner Gerry's. Ever since we sold the business in 1997, he's been obsessed with having fun, which usually means traveling to "exotic" places. I asked him for his Bucket Lists:

Favorite places he's visited:
1. Papua New Guinea
2. Botswana on safari
3. Off the beaten path, anywhere in India
4. Oman
5. Patagonia

Places he wants to visit:
1. Mongolia, just to see it
2. Stittwee Burma (Myanmar) who knows why... just because it's very weird.
3. Vladivostok to Moscow on a motorcycle ( at least 2 months, with a chase vehicle and extra bikes)
4. Madagascar bird photo opportunity.
5. Lakshadweep Islands just to do it.

Lakshadeep Islands is a group of 36 islands, located in the Arabian Sea, off the coast of South India.

I'd like to visit Bhutan, northern India and return to Safari in Africa. Botswana is the best. But after these, I'm scratching.

Eliot Spitzer -- 1
As you may have heard the Bush Administration said each and every one of us would now get a nice rebate.

If we spend that money at Wal-Mart, all the money will go to China.

If we spend it on gasoline it will all go to the Arabs.

If we spend it on fruit and vegetables, it will all go to Mexico, Honduras, and Guatamala.

If we buy a good car, it will all go to Japan.

If we buy useless crap it will all go to Taiwan and none of it will help the American economy.

We need to keep that money here in America , so the only way to keep that money here at home is to buy prostitutes and beer, since those are the only businesses still made in the US.

My name is Elliot Spitzer and I approved this ad.

Eliot Spitzer -- 2
It was announced today that Eliot Spitzer's membership in his synagogue has been revoked by his Rabbi.

The Rabbi explained that, while he was able to overlook Spitzer's personal indiscretions and his betrayal of the public trust, it was impossible to forgive Spitzer for paying retail.

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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