I’d like to say, “and this just in,” but actually it came in early May, from one of you in Japan. (If your first name is Kohichi, you know who you are.)

I was somewhat unclear what it meant — particularly because the word “unclear” itself in the message that follows threw me off. Well, you’ll see:

In JAPAN there are 1,000,000,000,000,000 yen personal savings. But as you know, Japanes Ministry Of Finance forced a low interest policy to all Japanese banks (even Citi bank Japan). NOW an ordinary deposit is just a 0.01% interest monthly. But a loan interest is 4%!!!

So WE ARE VERY ANGRY (especially retire people). Now Japanese banks are very unclear by their real estate mistake. So we are moving our money to postal savings. We are looking for a good oportunity on a fair competetive trade market. And Japanese stock market is very unclear and they require trading tax (different from NY and LDN)

Unfortunately most of Japanese not be good at ENGLISH. PLEASE MAKE JAPANESE PAGE.

I hesitated to print it just as written, since the English speakers among us will smile at the small errors — but then catch ourselves worrying that we are being smug or xenophobic or whatever. I, for one, am not being smug, because it dazzles me how anyone not born to it could learn English. I certainly couldn’t learn Japanese.

But I think it’s also interesting to see how the world is becoming one — here is a fellow in Japan suddenly as nearby as the family in the house next to you, at least as regards proximity in cyberspace.

Can it be long before computer users worldwide will routinely consider stocks from the whole globe as potential investments? We do that to some extent already, of course, as do the Japanese. But in a few years, if your account is at Ceres or Citibank or American Express or American Airlines or at Merrill Lynch or Fidelity or Microsoft or CompuServe — all of whom, and more, will easily have the technology to carry out your instructions and keep your account in their electronic vault — won’t it be joined by accounts owned by thousands of Japanese and Brits and Argentineans? And won’t they — we — all be interested in American stocks — but also Japanese and Swedish and Brazilian and Russian stocks?

English seems inevitably to be the likely global “standard” (just as Windows/Intel has, for now at least, become the global standard), which gives those of us born to it a guilty edge. But I wouldn’t count Kohichi, et al out for a minute. In the global high-tech economy of the next century, there should be room for virtually every patient, prudent investor to profit.

Now if we could only figure out how to get the non-computer-owning, unskilled, nonsavers of the world a ticket to the party.

I realize I have strayed from Kohichi’s question deep into the stratosphere. Tomorrow I’ll tell you what I told him (proving yet again, no doubt, that free advice is worth exactly what it costs).


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