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

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9:00 AM EST, Thursday, October 30, 2008: 79 years ago. On October 28, 1929 the stockmarket fell 38.3%. The following day it fell 30.6%. From
October 1929 to the summer of 1932, 86% of stock market value was wiped out. By 1933, one-third of U.S. banks had closed and 25% of the population was unemployed. John Kenneth Galbraith wrote in his book The Great Crash, "there were no reasons for expecting disaster. No one could foresee that production, prices, incomes and all other indicators would continue to shrink through three long and dismal years."

I instance this because there are aspects of today's mess that are eeringly familiar. There is one BIG difference, Our government is spending money like a drunken sailor. Any time I have personally jumped into something without adequate thought, the end result was a disaster. Washington's Bailout Plan was done in a rush, without thought. It is proving one gigantic disaster. AIG is spending and spending more of my taxpayer money. Where did the (AIG) cash go? The banks we gave huge monies to were meant to lend it to businesses and people to get the economy moving. But they're not lending any money, they're buying other banks.

I don't blame them. Why would anyone lend against assets that are falling in value? Banks typically lend against real estate. Here are some stories from New York real estate. They all happened in recent days:

+ One fellow walked from his $200,000 downpayment because he figures the value of the apartment has dropped far more than $200,000 since the time he signed the contract, and he doesn't want to throw good money after bad. That's set in motion a chain of events where his seller must default on her purchase, because she can't afford to buy without the fellow buying, so she's walking away from $350,000. Yuch.

+ The buyer was about to sign the contract. At the last minute he said to his seller, "not at this price I'm not". The seller agreed to drop his price almost 15% to get the deal done. It got done at a 15% lower price.

+ A prospective tenant negotiated an office lease downtown. The lease is ready to sign. The tenant came in and said $4 off per square foot (about 10%). The landlord agreed to the reduction and one month free rent. Then the prospective tenant says "We need a million dollars less over the term of the lease." The landlord said "We'll give you half a million." On Friday, the tenant called the landlord, "We have signed your lease and attached a different rent schedule. Enclosed is a check for the first month's rent and the security deposit." As of writing this morning, the landlord hadn't seen his new rent schedule.

+ In the last three weeks, demand for New York City commercial rentals "have fallen off a cliff."

Today's tips: Always negotiate your hotel bills over the phone with the hotel directly. Nobody is staying in luxury hotels any longer. My friend recommends this approach: "I'm coming in for three nights. Give me your best room at your cheapest rates."

If you're renting space, be aware landlords don't like to drop their asking rents. But they will give you oodles of free rent.

Why ultra-high dividend yielders smell ultra-sick: In my October 1 column I talked about ultra-high yields. I wrote, "There's even one called Golden Ocean Group (GDOCF) yielding 59% to 65% (depending on how you figure). It's a dry bulk shipper. It yields a lot because the market thinks it's going out of business. Its stock has cratered." Here is the chart from October 1.

Here is the chart from last night:

On October 1, I wrote, "Spot rates for bulk cargo have cratered. There's another one called Star Bulk Carriers (SBLK) which is yielding only 20%. In this case the dividend looks more solid, since the company has forward sold its capacity for the next several years."

Look at last night's chart. The price has cratered further. But the dividend yield is now 32.4%.

In short, don't believe high dividend yields. Often they just get higher and higher in today's crappy market.

I changed servers: The Internet works by numbers. It translates names, like to a number, like The idiots at my hoster, "upgraded" my site last week. But they forgot to point to the new web site. For now, it's best to reach my site by going to

Ain't Photoshop wonderful? Halloween is tomorrow night.

Favorite New Yorker cartoons.

My brain keep reminding me of two old nuggets,

+ "If the Federal Government were put in charge of the Sahara Desert, within five years there'd be a shortage of sand."

+ Washington is 8 square miles surrounded by reality. John F. Kennedy (or someone else).

Been on Amtrak lately? Sadly, I am forced to ride it regularly. I figure one in ten Amtrak trains arrive at their destination on time. When one arrives on time, all the passengers celebrate.

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.