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

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9:00 AM EST, Thursday, November 20, 2008: Stockmarkets won't rise while thousands of nice people are being fired, while no one is spending, while nearly every company's earnings are contracting and while nearly everyone is redeeming their hedge fund investments.

We have not reached bottom. This is not time to predict bottom nor to catch falling knives, nor to stand in front of speeding trains. As I've written often (to the point of boredom) the only game is to sell short or buy puts. But don't do it with more than 5% of your portfolio. Yesterday the stockmarket fell a whopping 6% to 8% depending on which index you believe. Stocks are at their lowest level in six years. The destruction of wealth continues.

Opportunities for us. People are getting seriously scared. That's opening opportunities for those of us who have a little cash. Try this scenario. Person A agrees to buy apartment or building for $x million. Terms are agreed on. Contract is at buyer's attorney. Buyer gets cold feet at the last moment and pulls out. Meantime seller has committed the monies he's getting from the sale to another deal. Seller is now in big trouble.

New buyer (one of us) steps in and offers cash and a fast close. What price we buy this property at depends on the seller's desperation and our stubbornness.

Harry's number one rule with real estate is: The profit you make on real estate is directly related to the price you pay. It's the only variable you can affect.

Harry's number two rule is don't fall in love with the property. Offer a low price. Figure you have a one in ten shot at getting it. Don't bid higher to improve your odds. There will a zillion opportunities in coming months. Cash is King. Patience is God.

Oppenheimer Holdings (OPY) is going lower.

They got really serious problems. Here's The Boston Globe's story:

BOSTON—Massachusetts' top securities regulator on Tuesday accused Oppenheimer & Co. of fraud over the investment bank's sales of auction-rate securities to customers who couldn't access their money after the market for the risky investments froze.

Secretary of State William Galvin's administrative complaint also alleges Oppenheimer executives and managers sold nearly $3 million in their own personal auction-rate securities holdings within two weeks before the market's collapse last February, without warning clients of growing risks amid a downturn in broader credit markets.

"They kept their clients, and their own advisers to those clients, in the dark, even as they, themselves, got out of that tottering market," Galvin said.

Oppenheimer & Co. -- a subsidiary of Oppenheimer Holdings Inc., whose shares fell 13 percent on Tuesday -- denied Galvin's allegations in a statement saying the company "intends to vigorously defend itself."

"Oppenheimer sold auction-rate securities in the same manner as the entire brokerage industry -- as a cash management tool similar to a money market fund," the New York-based company said. "Oppenheimer and its executives, like dozens of other 'downstream' brokerages nationwide, had no knowledge of the conduct of the major institutions which caused the entire auction-rate securities market to collapse."

Galvin said his complaint was the first such action by a securities regulator against a so-called "downstream" distributor -- a company which didn't directly participate in the auctions as an underwriter, but sold the securities to their own customers.

In its statement, Oppenheimer acknowledged that "there were sales by executives of auction-rate securities." But Oppenheimer added, "There were also executive purchases during this period, and these same executives continue to hold millions of dollars of auction-rate securities (a fact oddly omitted from the complaint)."

The auction-rate securities market involved investors buying and selling instruments that resembled corporate debt, with interest rates that were reset at regular auctions, some as frequently as once a week.

Galvin's complaint seeks to force Oppenheimer to pay back Massachusetts customers who put nearly $56 million into the investments, and either are still holding them, or sold them at losses.

Oppenheimer said Tuesday it "continues to work with regulators and financing sources to try to find a means for its clients to find liquidity from their auction-rate holdings."

Galvin's complaint also seeks to revoke the Massachusetts registration of Chairman and Chief Executive Albert Lowenthal as an Oppenheimer broker-dealer agent.

The complaint alleges Lowenthal sold nearly $1.8 million in such securities two weeks before auctions began to fail in February. The complaint also alleges Chief Operating Officer Larry Spaulding sold $700,000; Greg White, director of Oppenheimer's auction-rate securities department, sold $300,000 of his auction-rate securities, and $100,000 of his wife's; and Louis Gelormino, an ARS desk supervisor and senior vice president, sold $75,000.

Galvin also seeks an order forcing some of the officials to pay fines in a complaint that could come before a state administrative hearing officer in a process similar to a judicial proceeding.

In September, another downstream distributor, Boston-based Fidelity Investments, agreed to buy back $300 million worth of auction-rate securities. It was the first major retail brokerage to make such restitution. That agreement followed investigations, but not complaints, by Galvin and New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo.

Tens of thousands of investors nationwide -- including institutional and individual investors, cities and towns, charities and small businesses -- were left holding damaged securities that couldn't be readily sold for cash once the $330 billion market cratered, regulators say.

Regulators already have reached settlements totaling more than $50 billion in buybacks of auction-rate securities with companies including Citigroup Inc.; UBS AG; Morgan Stanley; JPMorgan Chase & Co.; Wachovia Corp.; Merrill Lynch & Co.; Goldman Sachs Group Inc.; Deutsche Bank; Credit Suisse Group; and Fidelity.

Oppenheimer & Co. is unaffiliated with OppenheimerFunds Inc., an asset manager majority-owned by MassMutual Financial Group.

Shares of Oppenheimer & Co.'s parent, Oppenheimer Holdings, fell $1.67 to close at $11.68 after sinking to a 52-week low of $11.13 earlier in the session. It has traded as high as $49.38 over the past year.

Sensitive Beer (courtesy Comedy Central)

Three hicks were working on a telephone tower - Steve, Bruce and Jed. Steve falls off and is killed instantly.

As the ambulance takes the body away, Bruce says, "Someone should go and tell his wife."

Jed says, "OK, I'm pretty good at that sensitive stuff, I'll do it."

Two hours later, he comes back carrying a case of beer.

Bruce says, "Where did you get that, Jed?"

"Steve's wife gave it to me," Jed replies.

"That's unbelievable, you told the lady her husband was dead and she gave you beer?"

Well, not exactly", Jed says. "When she answered the door, I said to her, 'You must be Steve's widow'."

She said, "No, I'm not a widow!"

And I said, "I'll bet you a case of Budweiser you are."

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.