That’s an abbreviation writers and editors use: TK. It stands for ‘to kome’ – not because we can’t spell, but because by misspelling it in this way, we assure that it won’t accidentally make it into print. The copy editor (or, now, the spell checker) will surely spy it and yell across the room, ‘Hey Harry – we still have some TK’s in the platypus piece!’

Unfortunately, Harry and I were not able to come up with a clever title before the presses started rolling. So harried have we been, indeed, we nearly forgot to feed the platypus.

FROM THE BERKSHIRE-HATHAWAY ANNUAL REPORT

“In neither the purchase of goods nor the hiring of personnel, do we ever consider the religious views, the gender, the race or the sexual orientation of the persons we are dealing with. It would not only be wrong to do so, it would be idiotic. We need all of the talent we can find, and we have learned that able and trustworthy managers, employees and suppliers come from a very wide spectrum of humanity.” – Warren Buffett

ROTH RAMIFICATIONS

David Maymudes: ‘I haven’t heard much discussion of it, but isn’t the Roth IRA an obvious case of shifting tax revenues from the future to the present, so that we can claim we’re balancing budgets?’

☞ Yes – and the worst part about it is that we’re NOT balancing budgets – we choose to blow the surplus by cutting taxes on those already best off. The only justification, or partial justification, for making Roth IRA withdrawals tax-free is that it may encourage a higher savings rate, and thus enrich us all. But be fiscal policy as it may, from the point of view of one’s own personal finances, a Roth IRA is likely to be a very good choice.

BALTIMORE – OR LESS?

Ed Pariser: ‘Smug accounting of the Arab world’s finances by Baltimore Jewish Times publisher Andrew Buerger doesn’t remove the reality of what we are constantly told is ‘the only democracy in the Middle East’ treating its neighbors as sub-humans. As an American Jew, I was one of millions who supported the operations Buerger recites that brought oppressed Jews to freedom. When we were supporting those operations with our dollars and our volunteers, we believed Israel to be a model of fairness, freedom, and civilization. Under Sharon’s regime, we find the current Israel to be arrogant, aggressive, and antagonistic toward their neighbors (who have been in limbo for 35 years). Sharon is now finally culminating his plan to destroy the Palestinian leadership that he began with his provoking visit to the Temple Mount two years ago. I hope that American Jews and fair-minded Israelis (like those servicemen who were recently unwilling to participate in the further destruction of the West Bank) will thwart Sharon’s goal of bringing down the land-for-peace process by denying him any future funds and manpower.’

☞ Maybe so; but Arafat acted with tragic cowardice in not accepting – or at least accepting as a very good base for further negotiation – Barak’s offer to give back 97% of the land Arafat sought. It was Arafat who, thus, assured Sharon’s election. Wouldn’t it be great if – its always being darkest before the dawn – the current nightmare now led the Saudis and others to apply real pressure and incentives for peace?

SIX MONTHS LATER

I am more than a little surprised that the market is higher today than it was September 10. I sure didn’t see that coming. In the wake of the six-month anniversary, I looked back to the September 18 column to see how my five stocks had fared:

Then Now
AMR 18 27.5 +52%
BA 36 49 +36%
JNPR 12 13 + 8%
HMC 18.5 21 +13%
UAL 18 16.5 – 8%

I think the market is even less of a bargain here than it was September 10, and certainly less of a bargain than on September 18, but the market has a way of scoffing at me.

I’ve sold my AMR, BA and UAL, and hold the other two – but only because I can afford to play around at this. Periodic investments in index funds, buying and holding, make more sense.

 

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