Harry Newton's In Search of The Perfect Investment
Newton's In Search Of The Perfect Investment. Technology Investor.
AM EST Thursday, September 14, 2006: When in doubt,
stay out. And I'm in BIG doubt about markets at present. I'm not the only
one. Fortunately I feel comfortable sitting heavily in cash and bonds. Imagine
I were managing other peoples' money. Imagine every day I had to try
to make my numbers by gambling on something happening. I'm long commodities
because that's been a good strategy for several years. Now it stinks. I'm short
stocks because most have been falling since May, fulfilling the old adage "Sell
in May and Go Away."
Suddenly, things have gone topsy turvy. Commodities have plummeted. Stocks and
bonds are rising. You'd be forgiven for feeling that Mr. Market was out to get
you. He's succeeding BIG TIME. Want to sense the desperation on Wall Street?
What about the fellow with several million shares of KFX. Look what happened
He learned about the guaranteed way to make a small fortune. Start with
a large one.
Want to feel heavy desperation? Read today's Heard on the Street from
the Wall Street Journal:
As Energy Prices
Sink, Many Firms Are Buoyed.
Airlines and Retailers Likely Will Be Among Beneficiaries As Oil, Other Commodities
Now that energy and other commodities are down, the fortunes of a number of
companies are looking up.
Oil prices remain
near five-month lows, despite a small rise yesterday. Other commodities, from
copper and zinc to gold and aluminum, also have been falling. Because they
serve as critical inputs for the production of a range of products, the fall
of these commodities will help many companies -- and likely will give a shot
in the arm of consumers suffering at the pump.
The drop in
commodity prices has spurred investors to search for stocks that might benefit.
Airlines are obvious candidates. Major airlines around the globe continue
to see strong passenger demand, so profits could climb if they are able to
raise prices while their own costs drop, as fuel prices fall.
A study of trading
patterns during the past three years by Bianco Research LLC in Chicago points
to airlines as the sector most inversely correlated to oil prices. Some investors,
such as Appaloosa Management LP, a $4 billion Chatham, N.J., hedge fund, bought
airlines such as American Airlines in recent days, according to people familiar
with the situation.
Shares of AMR
Corp., the parent of American Airlines, rose 2.1% yesterday to $22.67.
Some airlines have used derivatives to lock in the price they pay for fuel.
This shelters them temporarily from high energy costs but also can keep them
from enjoying lower costs when crude prices fall. More broadly, another caveat
is that the price declines might prove temporary. Energy prices, say, could
surge if the winter is colder than expected or talks with Iran over its nuclear
are likely to benefit if a drop in energy helps consumers deal with the impact
of a housing downturn. Target Corp. has been among the most sensitive to oil
prices in recent years.
say the recent surge in shares of Wal-Mart Stores Inc., Home Depot Inc. and
Costco Wholesale Corp. is a result of shorts -- those who have borrowed and
sold these stocks, betting on lower prices as housing weakens -- who now are
scrambling to buy back shares.
make consumer goods could be helped if consumers, with extra money in their
pockets that was previously covering higher gasoline prices, treat themselves,
says Bob Morris, director of equity investments at money manager Lord Abbett
& Co. Retailers also are helped by cheaper gasoline because it costs less
to drive to their locations. Casual dining restaurants like Applebee's International
Inc. that have fallen hard in recent weeks could benefit, according to Patrick
Dorsey, head of stock analysis at Chicago researcher Morningstar Inc.
are piling into Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co., arguing that it will benefit
as lower energy prices reduce the costs of producing tires. Sixty-five percent
of the company's raw materials are derived from oil, including carbon black
and butadiene, a synthetic rubber, according to a Goodyear representative.
Raw materials, in turn, are 35% of Goodyear's cost of goods sold.
to Procter & Gamble Co. as a winner because lower commodity prices make
its goods' plastic and metal packaging cheaper, while giving a lift to consumer
buying of its products.
like DuPont Co. and paper companies like International Paper Co. both buy
significant amounts of oil to make and transport their products. While some
chemical companies have little pricing power lately, limiting their gains,
these sectors have their fans. "If oil and natural-gas prices are lower,
you might start seeing much better numbers from these companies in the third
and fourth quarters," says David Giroux, co-manager of the $8.1 billion
T. Rowe Price Capital Appreciation Fund.
One sector that
isn't an obvious beneficiary of a prolonged drop in commodities is technology
stocks. Although these companies generally are less energy-dependent than
those in many other sectors in producing their products, momentum-oriented
investors who flocked to commodity-related stocks in recent years could pile
into other areas, including tech. Tech is on the radar of more investors on
the heels of a rash of leveraged buyouts and a sense that some of the companies
are inexpensive. Lower gasoline and other energy bills also would free up
billions for big U.S. companies to spend on areas like technology, which can
have trailed energy shares for two to three years "as energy stocks supplanted
tech stocks as an investment for momentum players," says Thomas Galvin,
chief investment officer of the growth equity group at U.S. Trust in New York.
Maybe the most
intuitive choice is transportation stocks. Big auto makers like General Motors
Corp. and Toyota Motor Corp. could see higher demand for high-margin trucks
and sport-utility vehicles if gasoline prices keep falling.
But many companies
in the transportation group, such as truckers, have been able to pass on their
higher fuel charges to their customers in the way of surcharges, so maybe
they won't enjoy a dramatic benefit unless they see more demand from suddenly
flush customers. That might be unlikely, because the economy is expected to
slow. Also, many of these stocks already have surged, and big U.S. car makers
are still buckling under heavy labor costs.
Of course, getting
excited about stocks in the aftermath of the commodities tumble might be foolhardy
-- the drop in these commodity prices is partly a result of a slowing U.S.
and global economy, a phenomenon that could weigh on the earnings of all kinds
of companies. Stock markets around the globe didn't climb during recent periods
when commodities fell.
But some analysts,
like Howard Simons of Bianco Research, argue that the recent drop in various
commodities likely is "best described as an internal correction in that
market" rather than as a flashing sign that the economy is about to head
lower. "If we really were seeing a global economic downturn, we wouldn't
be seeing commercial real estate strong, credit spreads tight and emerging
markets strong," he says. "This is not a sign to head for the hills."
to call cheap: I shall admit it. I was the culprit who started the
phone industry on the road to selling cheap. When I started, a minute from New
York to Los Angeles was 35 cents a minute. Now it's essentially free if you
use Vonage, Broadview or Skype. That's the good news. The bad news is that as
price has come down, so has quality. Some of the problem is that some suppliers
-- e.g. the VoIP guys -- are using the Internet or Internet-like connections
that simply weren't made to carry voice.
The only solution for you and I today is to have a multitude of alternatives
at hand. Dial with the cheapest first, then move up until you finally connect.
And if you don't connect -- for example on many international calls -- send
an email and ask them to call you. It is not unfair to say that in many respects
America's phone system has become decidedly third world, especially for calling
There is one bright spot on the horizon: Skype-to-Skype calls. Last night, I
downloaded the latest Skype software, donned a headset and had a lovely, long,
free conversation with a friend in Australia, though this morning's conversation
with Chicago was awful. Everything I said I was echoed back to me. The big problem
with Skype is that it seems to be half-duplex, which means the circuit is one-way
and it's hard to interrupt the person speaking. It's like CB radio. You almost
have to say "Over," pause and allow the other person to get a word
in. With Skype both of you have to have Skype software loaded on your computers,
have both them turned on and both connected to a broadband circuit -- either
cable modem or DSL. It's great for people who have families overseas and can
set up appointments for calling. Get yourself a decent headset. Keep the mike
near your mouth. The Skype software easy to download and install. With luck,
you'll get a clear circuit. Go here.
Watch those minor cuts: A
friend cut her elbow, then rubbed it on a smelly mat at the gym. Soon she's
got an infection raging up her arm that powerful antibiotics can't stop. By
the time you read this , she may be in hospital, attached to an intravenous
antibiotic drip. Not pleasant and very dangerous.
Next time you notice a minor cut, paint it with NewSkin liquid bandage.
Keep painting it until it seals completely.
New Skin was invented around 1900 and first trademarked
in 1901. I hear it's made a number of people very rich. Which is great, since
the product really works.
and copying DVDs, downloaded music and movies and TiVos: The entertainment
business has a million ways to stop you copying its products. The copying of
CDs and music and their free distribution to all and sundry has hurt that business.
Kids are the worst with music. The movie business is trying to avoid that same
fate. It's trying to stop you copying a DVD for even your own use.
None of the industry's copy protection works -- if you know your way around
it. Tomorrow, I'll give you a tutorial on how to unlock the copy protection
(also called digital rights management) and make copies for your legitimate
personal use. For my research, if you have some pet techniques/pet software,
let me know.
favorite affliction, Plumbers Crack: Duluth
Trading sells a t-shirt that's 3" longer, designed specially to hide plumbers
crack. 3M is far more creative.
Games. What neuroeconomics tells us about money and the brain. Some
economists are trying to figure what motivates us. They've learned that all
of us normal people hate losing money more than we like making it. That
emotion will often make us make stupid investment decisions. Getting emotion
our of investing is why I keep harping on my inviolate 15% Stop Loss Rule.
My son graduated with a brilliant fellow called Peter Sokol-Hessner, who's now
studying something called "neuroeconomics." The September 18 issue
of the New Yorker Magazine has a long piece by John Cassidy on this new
science. Some excerpts:
Like many people
who have accumulated some savings, I invest in the stock market. Most of my
retirement money is invested in mutual funds, but now and again I also buy
individual stocks. My holdings include the oil company Royal Dutch Shell,
the drug company GlaxoSmithKline, and the phone company British Telecommunication.
I like to think that I picked these stocks because I can discern value where
others cant, but my record hardly backs this up. I invested in BT in
2001, shortly after the Nasdaq crashed, when the stock had already fallen
substantially, only to watch it slide another fifty per cent. I should have
sold out, but I held on, hoping for a rebound. Five years later, the stock
is trading well below the price I paid for it, and I still own it.
wonder what goes on in my head when I make stupid investment decisions. A
few weeks ago, I had a chance to find out, when I took part in an experiment
at New York Universitys Center for Brain Imaging, in a building off
Washington Square Park. In the lobby, I met Peter Sokol-Hessner, a twenty-four-year-old
graduate student, who escorted me to a control room full of computers. Sokol-Hessner
is completing a doctorate in psychology, but he is currently working on a
research project in the emerging field of neuroeconomics, which uses state-of-the-art
imaging technology to explore the neural bases of economic decision-making.
is particularly interested in loss aversion, which is what
I was suffering from when I refused to sell my BT stock. During the past decade
or so, economists have devised a series of experiments to demonstrate just
how much we dislike losing money. If you present people with an even chance
of winning a hundred and fifty dollars or losing a hundred dollars,
most refuse the gamble, even though it is to their advantage to accept it:
if you multiply the odds of winningfifty per centtimes a hundred
and fifty dollars, minus the odds of losingalso fifty per centtimes
a hundred dollars, you end up with a gain of twenty-five dollars. If you accepted
this bet ten times in a row, you could expect to gain two hundred and fifty
dollars. But, when people are presented with it once, a prospective return
of a hundred and fifty dollars isnt enough to compensate them for a
possible loss of a hundred dollars. In fact, most people wont accept
the gamble unless the winning stake is raised to two hundred dollars....
In 1979, two
Israeli psychologists, Daniel Kahneman and Amos Tversky, published a paper
in the economics journal Econometrica, describing the concept of loss aversion.
At the time, few economists and psychologists talked to one another. In the
nineteenth century, their fields had been considered closely related branches
of the moral sciences. But psychology evolved into an empirical
discipline, grounded in close observation of human behavior, while economics
became increasingly theoreticalin some ways it resembled a branch of
mathematics. Many economists regarded psychology with suspicion, but their
preference for abstract models of human behavior came at a cost.
In order to
depict economic decisions mathematically, economists needed to assume that
human behavior is both rational and predictable. They imagined a representative
human, Homo economicus, endowed with consistent preferences, stable moods,
and an enviable ability to make only rational decisions. This sleight of hand
yielded some theories that had genuine predictive value, but economists were
obliged to exclude from their analyses many phenomena that didnt fit
the rational-actor framework, such as stock-market bubbles, drug addiction,
and compulsive shopping. Economists continue to study Homo economicus,
but many recognize his limitations. Over the past twenty-five years, using
methods and insights borrowed from psychology, they have devised a new approach
to studying decision-making: behavioral economics.
Thaler, was among the first economists to cite Kahneman and Tverskys
work; beginning in 1987, he published a series of influential articles describing
various types of apparently irrational behavior, including loss aversion.
that people dont always behave rationally was an important, if obvious,
first step. Explaining why they dont has proved much harder, and recently
Camerer and other behavioral economists have turned to neuroscience for help.
By the mid-nineteen-nineties, neuroscientists, using MRI machines and other
advanced imaging techniques, had developed a basic understanding of the roles
played by different parts of the brain in the performance of particular tasks,
such as recognizing visual patterns, doing mental computations, and reacting
to threats. In the mid-nineties, Antonio Damasio, a neurologist at the University
of Iowa, and Joseph LeDoux, a neuroscientist at N.Y.U., each published a book
for lay readers describing how the brain processes emotions. We were
reading the neuroscience, and it just seemed obvious that there were applications
to economics, both in terms of ideas and methods, said George Loewenstein,
an economist and psychologist at Carnegie Mellon who read Damasios and
LeDouxs books. The idea that you can look inside the brain and
see what is happening is just so intensely exciting.
In 1997, Loewenstein
and Camerer hosted a two-day conference in Pittsburgh, at which a group of
neuroscientists and psychologists gave presentations to about twenty economists,
some of whom were inspired to do imaging studies of their own. In the past
few years, dozens of papers on neuroeconomics have been published, and the
field has attracted some of the most talented young economists, including
David Laibson, a forty-year-old Harvard professor who is an expert in consumer
behavior. Natural science has moved ahead by studying progressively
smaller units, Laibson told me. Physicists started out studying
the stars, then they looked at objects, molecules, atoms, subatomic particles,
and so on. My sense is that economics is going to follow the same path. Forty
years ago, it was mainly about large-scale phenomena, like inflation and
unemployment. More recently, there has been a lot of focus on individual
decision-making. I think the time has now come to go beyond the individual
and look at the inputs to individual decision-making. That is what we do in
make investments, they weigh the possible outcomes of their decisions and
select a portfolio of stocks and bonds that offers the highest possible return
at an acceptable level of risk. That is what mainstream economics says, anyway.
In fact, people often have only a vague idea of the risks they face.
Consider my investment in BT. Back in 2002, there was no way that I could
have predicted how much profit the company would make in 2006, let alone in
2010 or 2020. I bought the stock, nonetheless, convinced that it could only
increase in value.
As imaging technology
gets more sophisticated and easier to use, it may become possible to monitor
investors brains while they trade stocks at their offices. For now,
however, economists are restricted to laboratory experiments, in which they
pay volunteers to play simple games designed to imitate situations that people
experience in daily life. In one study, Camerer and several colleagues performed
brain scans on a group of volunteers while they placed bets on whether the
next card drawn from a deck would be red or black. In an initial set of trials,
the players were told how many red cards and black cards were in the deck,
so that they could calculate the probability of the next cards being
a certain color. Then a second set of trials was held, in which the participants
were told only the total number of cards in the deck.
The first scenario
corresponds to the theoretical ideal: investors facing a set of known risks.
The second setup was more like the real world: the players knew something
about what might happen, but not very much. As the researchers expected, the
players brains reacted to the two scenarios differently. With less information
to go on, the players exhibited substantially more activity in the amygdala
and in the orbitofrontal cortex, which is believed to modulate activity in
the amygdala. The brain doesnt like ambiguous situations,
Camerer said to me. When it cant figure out what is happening,
the amygdala transmits fear to the orbitofrontal cortex.
of the experiment suggested that when people are confronted with ambiguity
their emotions can overpower their reasoning, leading them to reject risky
propositions. This raises the intriguing possibility that people who are less
fearful than others might make better investors, which is precisely what George
Loewenstein and four other researchers found when they carried out a series
of experiments with a group of patients who had suffered brain damage.
Each of the
patients had a lesion in one of three regions of the brain that are central
to the processing of emotions: the amygdala, the orbitofrontal cortex, or
the right insular cortex. The researchers presented the patients with a series
of fifty-fifty gambles, in which they stood to win a dollar-fifty or lose
a dollar. This is the type of gamble that people often reject, owing to loss
aversion, but the patients with lesions accepted the bets more than eighty
per cent of the time, and they ended up making significantly more money
than a control group made up of people who had no brain damage. ...
Not long ago,
I drove to Princeton University to speak to Jonathan Cohen, a fifty-year-old
neuroscientist who is the director of Princetons Center for the Study
of Brain, Mind, and Behavior. Nine years earlier, while he was teaching at
Carnegie Mellon, Cohen attended the conference that Camerer and Loewenstein
organized. I had never taken any economics courses; I had no idea what
they did, he recalled. I thought it was all about setting interest
Cohen has collaborated with economists on several imaging studies. The
key idea in neuroeconomics is that there are multiple systems within the brain,
Cohen said. Most of the time, these systems coöperate in decision-making,
but under some circumstances they compete with one another.
A good way to
illustrate Cohens point is to imagine that you and a stranger are sitting
on a park bench, when an economist approaches and offers both of you ten dollars.
He asks the stranger to suggest how the ten dollars should be divided, and
he gives you the right to approve or reject the division. If you accept the
strangers proposal, the money will be divided between you accordingly;
if you refuse it, neither of you gets anything.
How would you
react to this situation, which economists refer to as an ultimatum game,
because one player effectively gives the other an ultimatum? Game theorists
say that you should accept any positive offer you receive, even one
as low as a dollar, or you will end up with nothing. But most people reject
offers of less than three dollars, and some turn down anything less than five
have been proposed for peoples visceral reaction to unfair offers. Maybe
human beings have an intrinsic preference for fairness, and we get angry when
that preference is violated so angry that we punish the other player
even at a cost to ourselves. Or perhaps people reject low offers because they
dont want to appear weak. We evolved in small communities, where
there was a lot of repeated interaction with the same people, Cohen
said. In such an environment, it makes sense to build up a reputation
for toughness, because people will treat you better next time they see you.
some of the emotional responses that we developed millennia ago no longer
serve us well. As Cohen put it, Does it make sense to play tough with
a person you meet on a street in L.A.? No. For one thing, you will probably
never see that person again. For another, he may pull out a gun and shoot
you. Obviously, we cant alter our brain structures, but it may
be possible to influence decision-making by tinkering with brain chemistry.
Last year, a group of economists led by Ernst Fehr, of the University of Zurich,
demonstrated how this might be done, in an experiment involving what economists
call the trust game.
a key role in many economic transactions, from buying a secondhand car to
choosing a college. In the simplest version of the trust game, one player
gives some money to another player, who invests it on his behalf and then
decides how much to return to him and how much to keep. The more the first
player invests, the more he stands to gain, but the more he has to trust the
second player. If the players trust each other, both will do well. If they
dont, neither will end up with much money.
Fehr and his
collaborators divided a group of student volunteers into two groups. The members
of one group were each given six puffs of the nasal spray Syntocinon, which
contains oxytocin, a hormone that the brain produces during breast-feeding,
sexual intercourse, and other intimate types of social bonding. The members
of the other group were given a placebo spray.
that oxytocin is connected to stress reduction, enhanced sociability, and,
possibly, falling in love. The researchers hypothesized that oxytocin would
make people more trusting, and their results appear to support this claim.
Of the twenty-nine students who were given oxytocin, thirteen invested
the maximum money allowed, compared with just six out of twenty-nine
in the control group. Thats a pretty remarkable finding,
Camerer told me. If you asked most economists how they would produce
more trust in a game, they would say change the payoffs or get the participants
to play the game repeatedly: those are the standard tools. If you said, Try
spraying oxytocin in the nostrils, they would say, I dont
know what youre talking about. Youre tricking the brain,
and it seems to work.
always been concerned with social policy. Adam Smith published The Wealth
of Nations, in 1776, to counter what he viewed as the dangerous spread
of mercantilism; John Maynard Keynes wrote The General Theory of Employment,
Interest, and Money (1936) in part to provide intellectual support for
increased government spending during recessions; Milton Friedmans Capitalism
and Freedom, which appeared in 1962, was a free-market manifesto. Today,
most economists agree that, left alone, people will act in their own best
interest, and that the market will coördinate their actions to produce
outcomes beneficial to all.
potentially challenges both parts of this argument. If emotional responses
often trump reason, there can be no presumption that people act in their own
best interest. And if markets reflect the decisions that people make when
their limbic structures are particularly active, there is little reason to
suppose that market outcomes cant be improved upon.
for retirement. Surveys show that up to half of all families end their
working lives with almost no financial assets, other than their entitlement
to Social Security benefits. Saving money is difficult, because it involves
giving up things that we value now a new car, a vacation, fancy dinners
in order to secure our welfare in the future. All too often, the desire
for immediate gratification prevails. We humans are very committed to
our long-term goals, such as eating healthy food and saving for retirement,
and yet, in the moment, temptations arise that often trip up our long-term
plans, David Laibson, the Harvard economist, said. I was planning
to give up smoking, but I couldnt resist another cigarette. I was planning
to be faithful to my wife, but I found myself in an adulterous relationship.
I was planning to save for retirement, but I spent all my earnings. Understanding
this tendency stands at the heart of a lot of big policy debates.
collaborated with Loewenstein, Cohen, and Samuel McClure, another Princeton
psychologist, to examine what happens in peoples brains when they are
forced to choose between immediate and delayed rewards. For a study the four
researchers published in Science, in 2004, they used an MRI machine to scan
a group of student volunteers who were asked to choose between receiving a
fifteen-dollar Amazon.com gift voucher today and receiving a twenty-dollar
Amazon.com gift voucher in two weeks or a month.
The scans showed
that both gift options triggered activity in the lateral prefrontal cortex,
but that the immediate option also caused disproportionate activity in the
limbic areas. Moreover, the greater the activity in the limbic areas the more
likely the students were to choose the voucher that was immediately available
and less valuable.
provide further evidence that reason and emotion often compete inside the
brain, and it also helps explain a number of puzzling phenomena, such as the
popularity of Christmas savings accounts, which people contribute to throughout
the year. Why would anybody put money into a savings account that offers
zero interest and imposes a penalty if you withdraw cash early? Cohen
said. It simply doesnt make sense in terms of a traditional, rational
economic model. The reason is that there is this limbic system that produces
a strong drive. When it sees something it likes, it wants it now. So you need
some type of pre-commitment device to make people save.
Brigitte Madrian, an economist at the Wharton School, have studied one such
pre-commitment device for 401(k) plans, which deduct part of an
employees earnings each month and invest them in stocks and bonds. Because
the plans are often optional, many people fail to join them, even when their
employers offer to match a portion of their contributions. Laibson and his
colleagues have called for people to be automatically included in the
plans unless they choose to opt out. At companies that have adopted such a
policy, enrollment rates have increased sharply.
plans is an example of asymmetric paternalism, a new political
philosophy based on the idea of saving people from the vagaries of their limbic
regions. Warning labels on tobacco and potentially harmful foods are similarly
intended to keep subcortical structures in check. Neuroeconomists have suggested
additional policies, including warning buyers of lottery tickets that their
chances of winning are practically nonexistent and imposing mandatory cooling
off periods before people make big-ticket purchases, such as cars and
For the full
New Yorker piece, click
wonderful No Smoking scene:
I have no idea if this is for real -- if someone actually painted this burial
scene on the ceiling above a smoking area. If they did, it's brilliant. My hats
off to them.
When I ran a company I'd pay my people $1,000 to give up smoking. Many did.
Several suggested they'd take up smoking so they could get the $1,000 bribe
from Harry to give it up. I thought they actually might. But they never did.
Before we started with the Give-Up Smoking Tobacco bribes, we lost two of our
people to lung cancer. One lady was a a single mother age 39 with two dependent
young children. Her death broke my heart.
sure knows how to hurt you - Part 1
When I was married 25 years, I took a look at my wife one day and
said, "Honey, 25 years ago, we had a cheap apartment, a cheap car, slept
on a sofa bed and watched a 10 inch black and white TV, but I got to sleep every
night with a hot 25 year old blonde.
Now, we have a
nice house, nice car, big bed and plasma screen TV, but I'm sleeping with a
50 year old woman. It seems to me that you are not holding up your side of things."
My wife is a very
reasonable woman. She told me to go out and find a hot 25 year old blonde, and
she would make sure that I would once again be living in a cheap apartment,
driving a cheap car, sleeping on a sofa bed and watching a 13" black and
Aren't older women
GREAT? They really know know how to solve your mid-life crises!
sure knows how to hurt you - Part 2
When I went to the social security office to
apply for Social Security, the woman behind the counter asked me for my driver's
license to verify my age. I looked in my pockets and realized I had left my
wallet at home. I told the woman that I was very sorry but I seemed to have
left my wallet at home!
to go home and come back later." The woman says, "Unbutton your shirt."
So I opened my shirt revealing my curly silver hair. She says, "That silver
hair on your chest is proof enough for me" and she processed my Social
When I got home,
I excitedly told my wife about my experience at the social security office.
She says, "You
should have dropped your pants. We would have gotten disability too."
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.