Andy Long: ‘Would Robert, a ‘CPA who specializes in international tax issues,’ really have us believe that Stanley is moving its headquarters because it likes the weather? Technically, he’s correct, Stanley will still owe taxes on all US operations. As a practical matter, though, I predict that Stanley’s US operations will suddenly become MUCH less profitable while its overseas operations will become MUCH more profitable. This will be done through transfer payments and overhead allocations. There are some [flaws in] corporate taxation; but let’s be honest about what corporations [that pretend to move to Bermuda] are trying to accomplish.’

Toby Gottfried: ‘In your November 16 column a correspondent advocated buying the Smith Barney Aggressive Growth Fund based on its track record, which you pointed out might not continue. Today, in item #2 of this article, I read that the respected manager of this fund made a big play on Tyco (and other poor choices) which sent the fund to ‘an ugly 27.9% year-to-date loss, worse than 96% of its category rivals.”

☞ Well, it’s so much easier to pick a good fund in hindsight than prospectively – unless you choose index funds. Then it’s easy, because index funds are ‘guaranteed’ to outperform 80% or 90% of their peers over the long run (even more if you’re investing in a taxable account). That said, of course, if the market drops by 50%, so in all likelihood will your index fund (by 50.2%, actually, allowing for the expense ratio). But most other mutual funds would drop even more.

PILL SPLITTING

It is crazy that a 25-year-old man of steel like me – this is how I think of myself, even if it’s not how my knees think of me – would be suggesting a tip like this, but you won’t be 25 forever, either (and you may have grandparents), so listen up. Part I: Lipitor really works. For all I know it will kill me some other way (see the archives for October 12 and October 15 for reader warnings), but my cholesterol plummeted so sharply after the first month’s daily minimal 10 milligram dosage – from 253 to 144 – that . . . Part II: I began ‘pill splitting’ even more aggressively. I had begun buying the 40mg Lipitor tablets and cutting them in quarters, because even at Drugstore.com a year’s supply of the 10s would come to $678, versus just $269 buying the 40s and eating them in quarters. But now, armed with the results, I began nibbling the 40s rather than cutting them, hoping to make each last for about 6 days instead of 4. This is good because Lipitor tastes pretty rotten -adding to my sense that I am doing something worthy – and because if Lipitor is bad for me, as some of the MDs in the crowd have suggested (and I am increasingly coming to believe), I am taking even less of it. And because I have now cut my cost even further, to about $180. My latest test score: 145. I’m excited to be rated now in the lowest risk category for heart disease, but even more excited to be saving $500 a year.

THE REAL ESTATE BUBBLE

In many parts of the country (Manhattan, for one, curiously, in the wake of 9/11), we’re in one. More thoughts on this soon.

 

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