Harry Newton's In Search of The Perfect Investment
Newton's In Search Of The Perfect Investment. Technology Investor.
8:30 AM EST, Tuesday, October 30, 2007:
I hate daylight saving time. Here's why yesterday's
column was late.
Forever and ever daylight saving time ended on the last Sunday in October. On
August 8, 2005 President Bush signed something called The Energy Policy Act
of 2005, which said that daylight saving time will end in 2007 on the first
Sunday in November. There was some theory that this would save America zillions
of barrels of oil. (Yeah, and pigs will fly. Maybe this was to be part of his
legacy?) However, somebody forgot to tell Turkish Airlines (who changed their
clocks), Microsoft (which changed all my computers) and the U.S. Government's
through-the-air wireless signal for those nifty clocks which always keep the
right time (only they no longer do. All my wireless clocks got automatically
changed to the wrong time.)
So, in the interests
of saving some time (for me) this morning, I'm going to assume you missed yesterday's
column and I'm repeating it. This gives me more time to catch up on the pile
of stuff on my desk and research a great column for tomorrow. Meantime, have
you been watching my Australian mining stocks and the two ETFs that deal with
emerging markets? They're soaring. Now to yesterday's column.
I take your money today?" hawkers in Istanbul's Grand Bazaar intone.
I went to Istanbul for an investment conference and to check out Istanbul real
estate. I came back with jet lag and these conclusions:
1. Oil will
continue to skyrocket. $150 is in sight. There's too much demand, too many
oil fields drying up (e.g. Mexico), too many insurrections messing up supply
(e.g. Nigeria). Many economists say I'm wrong. They point to their calculations:
A 1% decline in demand has typically brought a 10% drop in the
price of oil. As exhibit one, read this:
An Oil Crunch?
Ask Chinese Truckers
How bad is the petroleum squeeze right now, with tight supply-demand worries,
perennial tension in the Middle East and winter-fuel anxiety driving oil up
to another record this morning, above $92 a barrel in Asian trading? Authorities
in China -- whose ever-growing petroleum consumption has been one of the overriding
factors driving oil-price growth for at least half a decade -- are now rationing
diesel fuel. Soaring oil prices are shrinking refiners' profit margins, and
supplies are running short. The rationing, at state-run service stations in
at least four of China's economically booming coastal provinces, is limiting
truck drivers to about 20 liters -- roughly five gallons -- per visit, Reuters
reports. And industry officials tell the paper that many in related enterprises
in Guangdong province, the country's manufacturing and export hub, "simply
suspended business amid the dearth of fuel supplies." And yet, Royal
Dutch Shell, which reported a decline in quarterly earnings yesterday, "warned
that record high oil prices were being driven by speculation and political
tension, not a lack of supply," as the Financial Times reports.
2. The dollar
will continue to fall. As we widen the gap between what you can earn in
interest here and there, more countries and people will choose to invest there.
Everyone in Turkey wants Euros. They rue the declining dollar. I paid $35 for
a hamburger in Istanbul. That was "only" $25 Euros. Once the mighty
dollar was worth more than the Euro.
is a wonderful place to invest money. More about that tomorrow. One fact:
Istanbul is now Europe's largest city. It's anywhere from 18 million
to 25 million. In 1950 Istanbul had under a million people. Nothing has kept
up. This means opportunities for everything from hotels, to colleges.
5. There is
a huge business in Europe building green buildings with devices and techniques
that save energy -- from skylights to windmills, from photovoltaic arrays on
rooftops to airtight building construction. But the business is driven by new
laws passed by European governments which give extra-special treatment to oil
replacement. For example, in France you pay approx. 7 Euro cents to buy electricity
from the grid. If you pump electricity back into the grid (via windmills, photovoltaic
cells, etc.) they pay you 45 Euro cents. That's a huge incentive to install
this new technology (much of which is -- ironically -- coming from the States.
I5. There is
a huge business in Europe retrofitting buildings to make them "green,"
i.e. energy efficient. One thing they do in Europe is pump new buildings full
of smoke and plug the holes where the air escapes). I suspect this business
will develop here as energy costs rise further, making more and more techniques
economical. European findings: Green buildings get 3%-6% higher rent and a 2%-3%
improvement in occupancy.
6. I really
like Turkish Delight, a concoction made from starch, sugar, pistachio, hazelnuts,
walnuts and rosewater. But eating a whole box of it in one night will
give you a gigantic tummy ache. I speak from experience.
1. Check in at the business class line -- irrespective of which class
you're actually in. It's easier to give you a boarding pass than to push
you off to your real line.
are critical. Three is minimum. Most planes are antiques. All seat cushioning
disappeared long ago. You need one pillow to sit on; one to put behind
the small of your back; and a third for your head to sleep. I
always take my Duxiana Travel Pillow. The other two I scrounge from the airline.
To get a Duxiana call 214-739-8133 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
3. Take all
your stuff in one suitcase. You can travel for a week out of a 22"
carry-on bag and a backpack. Take a couple of things you can wash and dry overnight.
Too many bags are getting lost these days on airlines to trust checking in.
4. There are
more ways of staying in touch cheaply overseas than Carter had liver pills.
WiFi at hotels and Internet cafes are everywhere. I carry a laptop. It works
for email and Skype phone calls. Popping local GSM cards into an unlocked GSM
phone is also good for cheap phone calls. A friend carried a Vonage phone. It
had a WiFi searcher. When it found a WiFi network, you could call or receive
calls (on his local U.S. number). This Verizon BlackBerry 8830
s a pleasure to carry overseas. Get off the plane, turn it on. Bingo, you're
on a Turkish cell phone network, ready to make and take calls. It's that fast.
But with it (and all American "global" phones), you must get it set
up in the States before you leave.
5. Spend your
money on business class or a better hotel? Go coach. Spend money on a better
hotel. It's an interesting tradeoff. This time I went coach, stayed in a nice
place. The tradeoff was worth it.
6. Take lots
of batteries. If you use your laptop on the plane (as I do), you need to
assume that your plane doesn't have power outlets. I took three extra batteries.
I had about 12 hours of capacity. More than enough. Going to Istanbul, Turkish
Airlines had laptop outlets at every seat. Coming back they had nothing. That's
what I've found with Delta, American, United, etc. Some planes have outlets.
Some don't. You never know.
7. Yes, it's
possible to sleep in coach.
A fellow passenger on Turkish Airlines flight 1 from Istanbul to New York
Sunday, October 28, 2007.
8. Take a small
roll of black electrician's tape. It's useful for attaching the local plug
to your cord, otherwise it falls out.
9. Take your
iPod. Planes and airports are so awful these days you need your music.
is not cheap, nor interesting. Don't waste your time looking.
11. You don't
need to be at the airport three hours in advance. One and half is more than
12. Don't eat
everything they put in front of you. Traveling means less exercise. Therefore
more food equals more fat.
favorite Microsoft warning:
Johnny Strikes Again
The teacher asked the class to use the word "fascinate"
in a sentence.
Molly put up her
hand and said, "My family went to my granddad's farm, and we all saw his
pet sheep. It was fascinating."
The teacher said,
"That was good, but I wanted you to use the word "fascinate, not fascinating".
Sally raised her
She said, "My
family went to see Rock City and I was fascinated."
The teacher said,
"Well, that was good Sally, but I wanted you to use the word "fascinate."
raised his hand. The teacher hesitated because she had been burned by Little
Johnny before. She finally decided there was no way he could damage the word
"fascinate", so she called on him.
Johnny said, "My
aunt Gina has a sweater with ten buttons, but her breasts are so big she can
only fasten eight."
The teacher sat
down and cried.
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 .
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