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

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8:30 AM EST, Monday, September 17, 2007:
Heady weekend, enjoying the tension of my daughter's large, complex, upcoming wedding. Old rules revisited: Committees make slow decisions. Family committees make even slower ones.

Alan Greenspan is pushing his new book, doing the traditional author thing: lots of talk shows and lots of controversial information tidbits. How much you believe of this is irrelevant. What's relevant is selling the book. From today's Wall Street Journal:

"I'm saddened by the whole political process, and it's not an accident that Republicans deserved to lose in 2006 -- it wasn't that the Democrats deserved to win," he said. "When it came time to rule, all of a sudden their ratings collapsed, and the reason they collapsed is they're just as negative as the Republicans."

...Mr. Greenspan also said he had put the odds of a national decline in housing prices at less than 50-50, at least until a couple of months ago, based largely on the experience of Britain and Australia. His book notes that in both countries, home prices, after sustained booms, have "leveled out or declined slightly, but at this writing have not crashed." But he says he has become less optimistic since his book was finished, when it became clear the construction industry was unable to reduce the number of housing starts below the rapidly falling level of home sales.

There is now a "very large" inventory of unsold, newly built homes whose condition is deteriorating more rapidly, than, say, a steel mill's, and that puts pressure on builders to sell them quickly, he said. As a result, "we have the capability of far bigger price declines," which will pinch home equity, lead to more defaults on subprime mortgages and pressure consumer spending. The probability of a recession, which earlier this year he put at one-third, is now "slightly more than a third," he said. ...

"I was brought up in the Republican Party of [Barry] Goldwater. He was for fiscal restraint and for deregulation, for open markets, for trade," Mr. Greenspan said in the interview. "Social issues were not a critical factor. The Republican Party, which ruled the House, the Senate and the presidency, I no longer recognize. It's fundamentally been focusing on how to maintain political power, and my question is, for what purpose?"

"Let's split the difference." He wants $1 million for his castle. You'll pay $800,000. He baulks. Offer to "split the difference." It usually works. The key: Make sure your first bid is low and you are really prepared to pay that middle price. If not, drop your opening bid.

The Fed meets tomorrow to discuss interest rates: Everyone seems to think we'll get a small cut. That should be good for the stockmarket, but won't significantly help the credit crunch. It remains ultra-hard for many people and many companies to borrow. It will work itself out once the lenders figure how much the bad loans may cost them, and hence, how much they have left.

What is noise? From an article in Time in 2001:

The Federal Aviation Agency has defined noise pollution as, among other things, noise loud enough to disturb a family's television watching. Only a great culture could present its people with a dilemma like that.

Learn Chinese (well, sort of):

That's not right Sum Ting Wong
Stupid Man Dum Fuk
Small Horse Tai Ni Po Ni
I think you need a face lift Chin Tu Fat
Our meeting is scheduled for next week Wai Yu Kum Nao
He 's cleaning his automobile Wa Shing Ka
Your body odor is offensive Yu Stin Ki Pu

The drive-thru confessional:
The elderly priest, speaking to the younger priest, said, "You had a good idea to replace the first four pews with plush bucket theater seats. It worked like a charm. The front of the church always fills first now."

The young priest nodded, and the old priest continued, "And you told me adding a little more beat to the music would bring young people back to church, so I supported you when you brought in that rock'n roll gospel choir. Now our services are consistently packed to the balcony."

"Thank you, Father," answered the young priest. "I am pleased that you are open to the new ideas of youth."

"All of these ideas have been well and good," said the elderly priest,

"But I'm afraid you've gone too far with the drive-thru confessional."

"But, Father," protested the young priest, "my confessions and the donations have nearly doubled since I began that!"

"Yes," replied the elderly priest, "and I appreciate that. But the flashing neon sign, 'Toot 'n Tell or Go to Hell' cannot stay on the church roof."

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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