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Defying The Market [Secure eReader]
eBook by Stephen Leeb

eBook Category: Personal Finance/Business
eBook Description: For almost two decades technology has been the greatest wealthbuilder in history, with high-tech stocks like Microsoft creating millionaires seemingly overnight. But technological progress is slowing. This slowdown will intersect with other key worldwide trends to create new boom markets in nontech areas like energy services, food, and real estate--and only investors who know where to look will continue their bull market gains into 2000 and beyond! Defying the Market provides research-driven techniques for uncovering the new winning stocks, along with strategies to hedge your portfolio against the uncertain new economy. Award-winning stock timer and financial writer Stephen Leeb and financial journalist Donna Leeb reveal 21st-century investment realities that all investors should heed, including: Companies positioned to soar in the next market wave; High-flying technology stocks whose best days are behind them; Specific stocks and stock groups to buy NOW--and those to avoid; 6 sample portfolios that will benefit any investor regardless of goals, risk tolerance, or available assets. Great investors are not, and have never been, crowd followers. Even as they build substantial portfolios in healthy markets, intuitive investors constantly watch for signs of change that are overlooked or ignored by mainstream investors. Discover for yourself how you can uncover and interpret these signs with uncanny accuracy!

eBook Publisher: McGraw-Hill Companies, Published: 2002
Fictionwise Release Date: June 2002

"Stephen Leeb has devised a simple, yet enormously profitable, stock-picking formula."--Daily News

"Stephen Leeb is a top performing money manager."--The New York Post.


Much of this book -- an investment guide to the late 1990s and the first part of the twenty-first century -- has to do with technology, a topic of endless fascination and debate. Everyone has an opinion on technology. You love it, you hate it; you must have the latest version of Windows, you still use a manual typewriter; you're plugged into the Internet, you still use a rotary telephone. It takes all kinds.

As one of the authors of this book, I happen to like technology. In fact, I've always liked to have the latest and the best, at least in those areas I care about. Take computers, for example. Since I bought my first personal computer in the early 1980s, I've probably upgraded at least 20 times, moving from an Apple II through a 386 and most recently to a Pentium II 400 megahertz with 384 megs of memory and two monitors. I'm also an avid biker and was one of the first to buy a titanium bike when it came out a few years ago. I bought a Mercedes 500E not because I had any interest in whatever prestige might be associated with the name Mercedes -- if that were my motivation there were bigger and flashier models around -- but because it was so technologically sophisticated. And I'm passionate about music and have sought out the most advanced sound system technology could provide.

As part of my interest in technology and science, I read everything I can get my hands on. For instance, I subscribe to or buy such magazines as Science, Nature, New Science, and Science News, to name a few, and read them cover to cover. I also am a sucker for any book, obscure or well received, that has a technologic or scientific theme. Just mention to me a book with a title such as Technology, Pessimism, and Postmodernism, and I'm in the bookstore like a flash.

My interest in technology is part hobby but is also highly complementary to my work as an investment adviser. Technology is part and parcel of today's world, and no one can understand the economy and the financial markets or make intelligent stock recommendations without an extensive awareness of technological developments.

There's a reason that I'm proclaiming my good technological credentials right up front. For in the last few years, somewhat to my bemusement and amid the hoopla of books and articles proclaiming the imminent onset of digital nirvana, I have become aware of the latest and most significant trend in technology. It's not a new generation of electronic devices or a higher level of automation in factories. Rather it is an across the board slowdown in technological progress. And I have become convinced that this slowdown will turn out to be one of the key investment realities of the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries and maybe beyond.

Investors who recognize the slowdown in tech and understand how it relates to financial markets around the world will have a big head start when it comes to winning the investment sweepstakes. Investors who fail to take the slowdown into account, risk picking the wrong stocks or the wrong industries and missing out on the biggest opportunities.

In the chapters that follow, we explain what this slowdown in technological progress -- in conjunction with other key trends -- means for you as investors. But first, a few more words on exactly what we mean by the limits of technology, because we don't want you to get the wrong idea. You could write a book about the downside to technological progress -- the glitches, the risks, the impact of technology on social relationships and education, and so on. Nearly every day, in fact, I come across an article or televised discussion dealing with one or more of these areas.

The glitches? We've all experienced them -- the computer that abruptly crashes, erasing hours' worth of work, the VCR that tapes the wrong show (we'd concede that the latter might be a case of operator error). The Y2K problem could be a glitch on a super-large scale.

As for the potential risks, the Internet alone raises fears ranging from child molesters scouting for victims to hackers finding their way into your bank accounts. Too much time at the computer keyboard can cause carpal tunnel syndrome, while there is considerable evidence that overuse of cellular phones can cause cancer.

These and others like them are all legitimate concerns. But while the particulars are different, this type of concern is really nothing new, in the sense that technological progress has always been a question of trade-offs. We love our cars but bemoan pollution, reckless drivers, and maddening traffic jams. We couldn't do without electricity but every so often, when experiencing a blackout, discover there is something inexplicably appealing in being forced to do nothing but gather around a candle-lit table once night comes on. In the end it comes down to which technologies you're used to. One generation's innovations are the next generation's necessities, for better or worse.

As for the social and psychological impact of new technologies, as in the past you could debate this forever. E-mail has been extolled for bringing families closer together in ways that apparently were never possible by mail or phone. On the other hand, educators and parents worry about how well children will become socialized when, from an early age, they are more accustomed to playing computer games than to playing with other kids in someone's back yard.

Some people rhapsodize about the Internet's potential to make the whole world a village. (The comedian Jackie Mason, on the other hand, muses that people praise the Internet because they say it can bring someone from Siberia right into your home. But, he asks, suppose an actual Siberian came knocking on your door. Would you let him in?) On a more serious note, a recent study by researchers at Carnegie Mellon University found that spending even a few hours a week online apparently causes increased feelings of depression and loneliness.

As I said, someone could write a book on all these topics and, in fact, many people have. But this book is not one of them. Basically, this book is neutral when it comes to the highly charged and personal questions of whether technology is good or bad or in what ways it is either. Those are essentially moral and philosophical issues, and while they're fascinating, this is an investment book.

Rather, in this book we stand back and look at the rarely perceived fact that however you feel about technology, it happens to be reaching certain limits. I have no preconceived bias against technology and no axe to grind. I'm simply interested in reporting the development I've noted -- which is that technology to a significant extent is losing its edge -- and tracing what this will mean for investors.

We're not Luddites, and it's not a question of going back to a simpler past or divesting ourselves of the technology we already have. We'll continue to live with all the technological advances of the past, which will continue to surround us and define our world. Moreover, technology will keep evolving in ways that on a superficial level might seem new and different, and many of the forms it takes will make life more convenient or more fun or possibly more complicated.

The point, though, is that for now -- the popular impression notwithstanding -- the true technological breakthroughs are behind us. And this, together with other key trends that we will describe, will have a pervasive impact on all your investments.

-- Stephen Leeb

Copyright © 1999 by Stephen Leeb and Donna Leeb

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