Technology Investor 

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

Previous Columns
9:00 AM EST, Tuesday, March 31, 2009. This chart is for Joe Daley. I played Joe tennis yesterday. He argued that if you "buy and hold" stocks for a long time, you'll do fine. Joe, here's what the Dow has done over the last ten years -- lost money.

The stockmarket entices. Like having a casino on our own street. Hard to avoid. The stockmarket fills newspapers when it makes a blip. Yesterday it went down by 250 points because investors didn't like something. Today's it's going up because they like something. The Wall Street Journal will tell us why. Fact is the Journal's reporter has as much idea as I do -- which is zero. Richard Russell of Dow Theory Letters writes in his latest newsletter:

Russell Conclusion -- This is the time to have a totally open mind. We are seeing phenomena in the economy that nobody has ever seen before. The US government has declared all-out war against the prevailing primary bear trend. I'll remind subscribers that "the market can do anything" but man's emotions and market action tend to be pretty much the same over the years.

Personally, I continue to believe in the Dow Theory thesis that the primary trend cannot be manipulated or reversed by any group of men or any government. Once the primary trend of the market is established, it tends to run to conclusion or exhaustion. This is the reason why I believe the well-intentioned activities of the Fed and the Treasury will fail or at best, extend the duration of the bear market.

Nevertheless, I tell myself, "Russell, "no matter what -- you must keep an open mind." We're living in a new globalized world. Two billion people have been added to the world economy. The old guard is weakening -- the international power of the US is ebbing. That alone changes the game.

Increasingly I come back to control. It's very simple: If I have control, I make money. If I don't, I'm gambling.

A real estate friend yesterday asked me if I'd like to invest in a fund that plans to buy distressed houses, fix them up and sell them. I asked him will he invest? He answered:

If I had some money I would. I bought distressed real estate in the early 90's bear market -- eleven $50,000 to $100,000 apartments about to go into foreclosure or otherwise distressed, close to my then home in Miami. I bought in buildings I knew something about. I was personally able to manage/repair/rent/sell them in my spare time, turning them around for about a 300% profit after expenses in about seven years. I computed my IRR at about 20%, which frankly, wasn't that much more than the stock market's (???) but I had tremendous tax advantages.

For me, this investment in the fund would be the same play I made in the early 90's, only I'd be buying lower (via my share of entire bank portfolios at bigger, bulk discounts than I could get one-at-a-time back then. Drawbacks are that I'd be probably selling somewhat lower, since there's no way I could personally add value by managing, improving and selling the properties-- and I have no control over the managers. Which is, of course, the biggest risk.

How would you fix the economy?
The St. Petersburg Times asked readers for ideas. David Otterson of Largo nailed it:

There's about 40 million people over 50 in the work force. Pay them $1 million apiece severance with stipulations. They leave their jobs. Forty million job openings - unemployment fixed. They buy NEW American cars. Forty million cars ordered - auto Industry fixed. They either buy a house or pay off their mortgage - Housing Crisis fixed.

For more ideas, click here.

60 Minutes freaked out on malware. Update 1. It talked about a piece of software called Conficker that wends its way into your computer and is triggered to do mean and horrible things beginning on April 1. The main interviewee was a man from Symantec anti-virus software. Of course, the threat is real. And of course, Symantec has an interest is freaking everyone out. There are now six things you can (and should) do:

1. Keep your Winds and anti-virus software up to date. Run your anti-virus software this morning in scan mode.

2. Don't open email attachments.

3. Don't visit dubious web sites. When in doubt, stay away.

4. Don't freak out. If your PC does get infected, you'll want to replace its hard disk with a clean clone you made and the backups of your daily work. And then reformat the infected drive. (I've talked about cloning and backups before.)

5. Don't leave your computer on and on the Internet. Turn it off when you go sleep or out to dinner.

6. Get a Mac. So far, Macs haven't targeted by the bad guys. This tip contributed by Mac fan, Dan Good.

America's most expensive house is for sale. It's 56,500 square feet on 4.6 acres in the ritzy Holmby Hills part of Los Angeles. Some of the ceilings are 30 feet high. There's a bowling alley, wine cellar, wine tasting room, gift-wrapping room, a humidity-controlled silver storage room, China room, library, gym, a barber shop, beauty salon, seven bedrooms, five fireplaces, four wet bars, media room, tennis court, fountains, waterfall, pool, spa, reflection pool and a pool house with kitchen, 16 car ports, rooftop rose garden and a citrus orchard.

Front or back view.

Back or front view. The place makes you wonder what God could do, it only He had the money.

This little spider will keep you (or your children) amused for hours. Click here.

Two Gay Guys are walking through a zoo...
They come across the gorilla and notice that the male gorilla has a massive erection. The gay men are fascinated by this. One of the men just can't bear it any longer, and he reaches into the cage to touch it.

The gorilla grabs him, drags him into the cage and mates with him for six hours, non-stop, while the zoo attendants stand by helplessly.

When he's done, the gorilla throws the man out of the cage. An ambulance is called and the man is taken away to the hospital.

A few days later, his friend visits him in the hospital and asks, "Are you hurt?"

"AM I HURT?" he shouts, "Wouldn't you be? He hasn't called............he hasn't written.

New rules on income taxes.
Income taxes are normally due on April 15th, unless that date falls on a Saturday or Sunday, in which case they are due on Monday the 16th or 17th.

However, I have been told that rule has recently been changed for this and for the next 4 years, tax payments will not be due until you are nominated to a cabinet position.

Please check with your tax adviser to confirm.

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.