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8:30 AM EST Friday, November 17, 2006: Interest rates are inching up, making cash more profitable. My triple tax-free, one-week New York muni bond floaters are now paying 3.61% and my one-week CDs from Sovereign Bank are paying 5.20%. That's nice interest rates. They're not likely to go higher any time soon.

Consumer prices fell over all for the second straight month in October, the government reported yesterday. That means that the Federal Reserve is likely to keep benchmark short-term interest rate unchanged at 5.25 percent for several more months.

Wall Street likes low inflation. Stocks are rising, for now. The Standard and Poor’s 500 stock index is now at a new high.

Falling energy prices have been a major factor for the last two months, Cheaper cars, computers, clothing and airline fares push the core rate down in October. However, rents and medical costs are rising. Rents go up when houses start to get too expensive to own.

Low inflation often means a slow economy. The Economist has a piece on Europe. Excerpts (emphasis added):

Weaker growth for the euro area

OH, THE fickleness of figures. Until a few days ago, most economists who watch the euro area thought that its GDP had grown by perhaps 0.7% in the third quarter of the year. By the zone’s modest standards, that would be spectacular stuff, though not as stunning as the previous quarter’s 0.9%. Alas, the first official estimate, published on Tuesday November 14, was a mere 0.5%.

This is scarcely disastrous: it is probably in line with the euro area’s long-run potential; it is just ahead of America’s performance (0.4%, or 1.6% at an annualised rate) for the second quarter running; and growth in 2006 is still set to be the highest for six years. Still, the figure was disappointing. And it raises two familiar, closely connected questions. First, is the euro zone running out of steam already? Second, can the zone (and the rest of the world) keep going as the American economy slows? The best answers are still probably not and probably. Nevertheless, prospects for the coming months have become even less certain.

The zone slowed mainly because its two biggest economies did. Germany, which managed 1.1% in the second quarter, recorded 0.6% this time. French GDP, having surged by 1.2% in the spring, did not grow at all. (Growth in the third-largest economy, Italy, was also sluggish; Spain, ranked fourth, had yet another strong quarter.) ...

... it is too soon to be gloomy. The French figures may reflect changes in inventories and a statistical wrinkle in the treatment of holidays, which boosted the second quarter relative to the third. In Germany, say official statisticians, growth in the third quarter was based on both domestic and foreign demand — a welcome sign, because until recently German growth had relied perhaps too heavily on the latter, and consumers have kept their wallets closed. Furthermore, David Mackie, of JPMorgan, notes that over the past year German growth numbers have been revised upwards by an average of 0.3 percentage points per quarter. In other countries too, second-quarter numbers have been raised by a notch. And surveys and other indicators suggest that in the fourth quarter the euro zone is holding up well.

In the next few months the euro area will face two important tests. One is a tightening of fiscal policy, especially in Germany, where the upper rate of value-added tax is due to rise from 16% to 19% on January 1 (2007). Given the reluctance of Germans, worried about their jobs, wages and pensions, to spend in recent years, this will probably knock demand in the first quarter of 2007. It may, however, help demand at the end of this year as German shoppers try to beat the taxman.

Second is America’s slowdown, which some economists expect to drag Europe back; others think that the old continent is stronger than in the past. It does seem that domestic demand (including intra-zone trade), rather than net trade, is now pulling the euro area along. And the zone’s ties with Asia have strengthened in the past few years. Those who think that the world economy can still grow healthily even as America slows will also take heart from Japan, where GDP looked unexpectedly strong in the third quarter.

Among euro-optimists, the European Central Bank is most prominent. Almost a year ago it started raising interest rates even though many critics said the euro area’s economy was still too tender. All year the euro zone has confounded the doubters; and five quarter-point increases later, the central bank looks certain to lift rates again next month. Even after this week’s disappointing GDP number, it may well feel obliged to carry on in 2007. But a foggy few months lie ahead.

Yet another Trading Exchange to Debut. (I've been writing about them all week.) From Dow Jones MarketWatch today:

NEW YORK (MarketWatch) -- Nymex Holdings Inc.'s initial public offering priced above the planned range late Thursday, suggesting strong demand for shares of the oil and metals exchange.

The IPO of 6.5 million shares priced at $59 each, raising more than $380 million. The pricing came in above the expected range of $54 to $57 a share. The stock is schedule to begin trading on Friday (i.e. today)

Nymex (NMX) , the corporate name for the New York Mercantile Exchange, had already boosted its IPO price range from $48 to $52 a share earlier this week and increased the size of the offering from 6 million shares.

Going public after more than 130 years as seat holder-owned entity, the Nymex has drawn fans as the latest financial marketplace to tap into greater profit margins from electronic trading. Its added appeal comes from roles in hot energy and metals businesses and its status as a possible takeover candidate.

If Nymex performs like other exchange IPOs, it'll add on about $20 after the open. Six new issues in the exchange business have risen an average of 35% in their first day of trades:

* The Chicago Mercantile Exchange (CME) rose 23% above its $35 offering price on Dec. 5, 2002. The stock trades at $541 now.

* The IntercontinentalExchange (ICE) rose 51% over its $26 price in its Nov. 16, 2005 IPO. The stock now trades at about $97 a share.

* The NYSE Group (NYX) -- going public by margining with Archipelago -- rose 25% to $80 a share from its previous day close of $64.25 when it began trading on March 8. The stock now trades at about $95 a share.

* The Nasdaq (NDAQ) rose 18% over its $9 price when it moved to the Nasdaq exchange from the bulletin board on Feb. 9, 2005. It now trades at $37 a share.

* The International Securities Exchange (ISE) rallied 69% over its $18 price in its IPO on March 8, 2005. The stock is now at $51 a share.

* The Chicago Board of Trade (BOT) rose 49% over its IPO price of $54 a share on Oct. 18. 2005. It's now at about $160 a share.

Charting a rise in its trading fortunes, Nymex Holdings Inc. on Nov. 7 reported third-quarter net earnings of $40.7 million, up 82% from $22.4 million in the same period last year. The results included one-time, pre-tax charges of $6 million resulting from the closure of Nymex's London facilities and from job cuts. The owner of the New York Mercantile Exchange said revenue in three months ended Sept. 30 rose 46% to $142.4 million from $97.9 million. Daily average contracts traded rose to 1.32 million, up 42% from last year.

Jackie Mason doesn't want Spanish

There may be those among you who support including Spanish in our national language. I for one am 110% against this! We must preserve the exclusivity and, above all, the purity of the English language.

To all the schlemiels, schlimazels, nebbishes, nudniks, klutzes, putzes, shlubs, shmoes, shmucks, nogoodniks, and momzers that are out there pushing Spanish, I just want to say that I, for one, believe that English and only English deserves linguistic prominence in our American culture.

To tell the truth, it makes me so farklempt, I'm fit to plotz. This whole Spanish schmeer gets me broyges, especially when I hear these erstwhile mavens and luftmenschen kvetching about needing to learn Spanish.

What chutzpah! These shmegeges can tout their schlock about the cultural and linguistic diversity of our country, but I, for one, am not buying their shtick. It's all so much dreck, as far as I'm concerned. I exhort you all to be menshen about this and stand up to their fardrayte arguments and meshugganah, farshtunkene assertions. It wouldn't be kosher to do anything else. Remember, when all is said and done, we have English and they've got bubkes!

The whole myseh is a pain in my tuchas!

Priceless Will Rogers. Will Rogers was our greatest political sage. His sayings included.

+ Never slap a man who's chewing tobacco.

+ Never kick a cow chip on a hot day.

+ There are two theories to arguing with a woman...neither works.

+ Never miss a good chance to shut up.

+ Always drink upstream from the herd.

+ If you find yourself in a hole, stop digging.

+. There are three kinds of men: The ones who learn by reading. The few who learn by observation. The rest of them have to pee on the electric fence and find out for themselves.

+ After eating an entire bull, a mountain lion felt so good he started roaring. He kept it up until a hunter came along and shot him. The moral:
When you're full of bull, keep your mouth shut.

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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