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Mr. Negativity: all my investment options stink...
Old 09-22-2004, 08:39 PM   #1
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Mr. Negativity: all my investment options stink...

I'm sitting on a large cache of I-bonds and I feel like I should have more diversification and upside potential since I'm relatively young. However, none of the major asset classes appeals to me right now:

US equities:
- prices have still not returned to historically "sane" levels
- companies could be hurt by rising commodity prices (demand for raw materials in China, higher oil prices driven by political instability in the middle east)
- retiring baby boomers will start drawing down retirement assets, we'll see a net outflow of assets from the mutual funds, and the lack of demand could depress equity prices for a while

Bonds:
- yields are abysmal
- could drop in value if rates continue to rise (it would be hard for rates to get much lower)

International equities:
- many of the respectable markets are highly dependent on the US market, little true diversification
- many of the "less-respectable" markets are too risky (political and currency risk) for me to put a large percentage of my portfolio there

Real estate:
- can't buy individual property because my job requires mobility
- REIT funds could get hosed if interest rates rise, property values drop

Hedge funds/private equity:
- don't have enough assets to qualify

Individual stocks/options/currency exchange:
- don't have the time to muck around with these

So what does that leave me with? Index funds based on precious metals, inverse interest rate funds, and international funds focused on pacific rim economies? Someone please tell me I've overlooked something...
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Re: Mr. Negativity: all my investment options stin
Old 09-22-2004, 09:06 PM   #2
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Re: Mr. Negativity: all my investment options stin

Well, I feel the same way, so this is a bit of a reach:

US equities:
+ The market P/E is below the 15-year moving average
+ The price/book is too.
+ So is the price/cashflow.
+ The spread between E/P and the 10-year treasury yield looks pretty good

Bonds:
+ TIPS real yield is close to the 50-year historical average for treasuries. Better than a sharp stick in the eye.

International:
+ Asia looks pretty good. China is experiencing hypergrowth and probably has a lot more upside. Japan is coming off a brutal 15-year beating.

Sectors:
+ Energy will replace tech as the next hot growth sector.
+ The aging boomer population means leisure and healthcare will get a flood of dollars

And, of course, there are lots of ways to make money if you want to work at it.
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Re: Mr. Negativity: all my investment options stin
Old 09-23-2004, 09:55 AM   #3
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Re: Mr. Negativity: all my investment options stin

Wow, what a stream of negativity. I have a sneaking suspicion that what is lurking under all of these bullet points is a fear of exposing your assets to volatility. If this is the case, it is pretty useless for use to quibble over specific points. After all, there are always bears out there putting out articles, etc. on why its still a bad time to invest in equities/real estate/bonds/whatever. If you are happy with your dinky savings bond returns, then so be it and get saving.
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Re: Mr. Negativity: all my investment options stin
Old 09-23-2004, 10:47 AM   #4
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Re: Mr. Negativity: all my investment options stin

Hey Soupcxan...I feel the same way. There arent many places to go without committing yourself for longer than I want to be committed. Just peanut butter the assets around, go for value wherever you can find it, and wait it out. Or buy a bunch of 4.5% 5 year cd's and wait for something good to happen.

Wab...those 15 year moving averages sound great when they include 6 years of stupidly inflated equity prices. PE's are WAY above historic levels and we're either going to get a big dump or a long sideways period. Or equities will remain overpriced indefinitely, without any basis for their expense. Against ANY historic average/mean analysis I've seen, we're at least 10% over valued. Even gigglers like "Morningstar Fair Value" says we're 7% overvalued...you know...the guys who said stocks in 2001-2002 were 20% UNDERvalued :

You've shown me yet again that the data can be tortured to produce any answer you want...but I sure as heck wont be buying a lot of growth stocks or any broad market indexes anytime real soon. :P
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As I see it you have four choices.
Old 09-23-2004, 11:24 AM   #5
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As I see it you have four choices.

While we're pointing out how messed up the market is, let's not forget that dividend yields are still too low for stocks to be worth buying. Oh, wait, that happened in 1958, so maybe that indicator's not working right now. But it could happen again!

Back to your options:

1.) Continue buying I bonds. Better buy a lot of them for a 4% SWR. At least you won't have to worry about volatility or whatever the govt is calling the inflation rate. (I'm not sure that I bonds will beat ACTUAL inflation, but we don't seem to have a better low-volatility alternative.) But if sleeping at night is your highest priority then this I bonds will do the trick.

2.) Wait for your ideal market to arrive. I guess that's 1932, 1933, 1973, Oct 1987, or 2002. Do you really want to put up with everything else that made those eras such an "attractive" investing opportunity?

Everyone runs around after these dates (well, the survivors do) proclaiming what a great time they were to invest. But I remember plunking down a bunch of money in 2000 when QQQs were "only" $61/share. I did some more in 2001 when they were on fire sale at $40. I bought more in 2002 at the insanely low price of $35 and watched them drop to $20. I finally "wised up" in June 2002 and bought some small-caps, bought more in July, and bought even more in Oct. By the time we reached an all-time low in March 2003 I just couldn't muster up the investor discipline (or the cash) to buy anything else. In fact at that point I was wondering if I'd need the cash for gold bullion and ammunition. I was almost desperate enough to update my spouse's resume'.

Add the "distractions" of unemployment, runaway inflation, family & health issues, world "peace", civil unrest, and wondering if you'll have enough fuel oil or gasoline to be able to continue not freezing your assets off and getting to work on time. And you expect, in this state of mind, to be able to identify an investing opportunity with the chutzpah to cash in all your assets and start buying?

Sure, I bought like crazy in Oct 1987 and profited handsomely-- a year later. My point is that when things are blackest, your valuations may still not seem optimal. And if they do seem optimal, Murphy's Law of Investing will guarantee that there's an even deeper shade of black lurking just beyond the next market open.

So stop waiting for optimal values. You can still ER even if you invest at "suboptimal" prices. But you can't ER if you don't invest at all, so let's look at more options.

3.) Learn to predict the future. Predicting the future neatly resolves a pernicious retirement obstacle. All of our analysis tools are based on history, and to use them we have to presume that the future will continue to resemble the past. There's no logical basis for this conclusion, but if we threw it out then we'd kill off the entire statistics & stock-analysis industries and also throw millions out of work.

If you choose this future-prediction option, please remember me kindly when I inquire about the direction of equities & interest rates. But until you're feeling confident about this option, here's my recommendation:

4.) Close this window, surf over to your TreasuryDirect account, grab your assets firmly in both hands, and start investing them in a diversified mix of stock & bond index funds. (For you this would consist of selling I bonds and using the proceeds to buy a low-cost stock index fund.) Do it until you're having trouble sleeping and then back off a little. Read Bernstein's "Four Pillars" book, pay particular attention to his paragraphs on the 20-something asset allocation, educate yourself out of the fear of volatility, and then use your employment cash flow to DCA in more equities. Minimize expenses, max out your 401(k) & IRAs, pay off your credit cards, blah blah yadda yadda.

Eventually the realization will dawn that you're in your 20s-- you're as close to immortality as you'll ever be and you're invulnerable by virtue of youth to almost every investing crisis. Cash flow (from employment) DCA and time IN the market will, by the time you're in your 40s, have overwhelmed every other "problem" you see in fundamentals or valuations.

I felt the same way about volatility 20+ years ago. I got over it by education & experience. (That was easy in 1982-2000 but I also did it in 2000-?.) You can do one of those now and the other will come with time. I also got over "volatility anxiety" by virtue of having a job that kept me out of touch with the market for weeks, and by realizing that market performance was much better from months to years than it was when Maria Bartiromo was breathlessly "updating" us after every commercial break. Hopefully you can benefit from my experience without having to go through your own, but either way you'll succeed.

One final thought. Another poster on this board with absolutely zero ER credibility has been waiting for stock valuations to improve since 1996. He's been in cash for EIGHT YEARS. Since he has so much experience with that approach, perhaps you could let him educate you on his success... but personally I think it'd be less painful to learn to live with volatility.



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Re: As I see it you have four choices.
Old 09-23-2004, 11:51 AM   #6
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Re: As I see it you have four choices.

Quote:
But I remember plunking down a bunch of money in 2000 when QQQs were "only" $61/share. I did some more in 2001 when they were on fire sale at $40. I bought more in 2002 at the insanely low price of $35 and watched them drop to $20.
I think we've just identified how I ended up with six figures worth of capital losses ;)

I started buying in at nasdaq 3000, then again at 2000, rode it down to 1100-whatever, then sold when they made it back up to 2000.

But it was a boatload of fun from 98-00, buying those on the dips and selling them three days later for a $50k profit...
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Re: Mr. Negativity: all my investment options stin
Old 09-23-2004, 12:01 PM   #7
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Re: Mr. Negativity: all my investment options stin

Quote:
PE's are WAY above historic levels and we're either going to get a big dump or a long sideways period.
You're right; P/E's are way above the long-term historic average. * *And do you know the last time they were close to the historic average? * Try 1982. * Can you imagine missing the entire bull market from 1982 forward?

A 15-year moving average smooths out a lot of the peaks and valleys. * If you don't like 15-years, then pick something that feels right to you. * Pick whatever metrics you like, but if you're going to time the market, you might at least consider back-testing to see how well you would have done.

If you wait for historically "sane" P/Es, you might wait for a very long time. * Just ask ***** *

Personally, I think the stand-alone P/E is useless. * At a mimimum, you need to look at it in the context of current "safe" returns. * And since risk-free money returns next to nothing, a relatively high P/E is even more justified than a moving average would indicate.

And this bit of optimism is brought to you from somebody who thinks the long-term returns from stocks going forward will be close to zero *
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Re: Mr. Negativity: all my investment options stin
Old 09-23-2004, 12:06 PM   #8
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Re: Mr. Negativity: all my investment options stin

Quote:

Personally, I think the stand-alone P/E is useless. * At a mimimum, you need to look at it in the context of current "safe" returns. * And since risk-free money returns next to nothing, a relatively high P/E is even more justified than a moving average would indicate.
I'll go you one better: P/E is totally useless because you have no way of knowing what the quality of the "E" is unless you pull back the covers and start digging around in the machinery. That's one of the reason I swing toward individual stocks: I can't tear apart the whole market and really understand what is going on like I can with an individual company.
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Re: Mr. Negativity: all my investment options stin
Old 09-23-2004, 12:11 PM   #9
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Re: Mr. Negativity: all my investment options stin

I wouldnt and havent suggested staying out of the market, and I know the overpricing has been in place for a while. I'm sorry, have I been talking to ***** long enough that I'm being confused with him?

What I'm suggesting is carefully thinking the purchase of growth stocks, or even broad indexes that have a lot of overpriced growth in them right now. I'm actually getting close to 60% stocks overall (including my ira), although excluding the ira I'm closer to 45%. But they're all value, healthcare and energy. Not a lot of high priced flyers.

I dont feel like I did when I was investing in the early 90's, that we were on firm ground and all that was needed was staying the course. I'm starting to feel like I did in '99 when I remained fully aware that we were trading on air and it might stop at any moment.

I do hate being branded 'dirty market timer', but factually my getting the heck out in 1/00 put me into the ER game. Investing cautiously since then has kept me in it. I think sometimes during periods of very special circumstances, you need to make macroscopic buying and selling decisions.

I'm up ~9% year to date. This seems reasonable given that my taxable portfolio has rarely strayed above 35% stocks and overall has been ~50%. My sleeping has been fantastic!
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Re: Mr. Negativity: all my investment options stin
Old 09-23-2004, 12:27 PM   #10
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Re: Mr. Negativity: all my investment options stin

Another poster on this board with absolutely zero ER credibility has been waiting for stock valuations to improve since 1996. *He's been in cash for EIGHT YEARS.

This appears to be a reference to me. So I will respond.

I do not agree that I have zero credibility re early retirement issues. I am the author of "Secrets of Retiring Early," which was the #1 best-selling report in the history of the Soapbox.com site. Prior to the time when I raised questions re the methodology used in the intercst SWR study, intercst had included a notice in the FAQ page for the Motley Fool board saying that newcomers should "read every post by *****, they are all on the list of most-recommended posts." I have authored a book titled "Passion Saving" that I will self-publish early next year. I was chosen by Motley Fool to serve as a paid instructor for their "Roapmap to Retirement" course. My work in this field was profiled in a five-part radio series aired on an Oregon radio station. I have been doing research in this field for 13 years, and have received scores of e-mails from readers expressing gratitude for the insights I provided them.

The reason for Nords' ire is that I raised questions about the methodology of the SWR study published at RetireEarlyHomePage.com. All of the claims that I have made have stood up to intense challenge. William Bernstein says that the methodology used in the REHP study is "highly misleading" because it fails to take account of the effect of changes in valuation levels. JWR1945 has been studying the historical data for 28 months. All of his research backs up Bernstein (and me).

Nords himself is guilty of being highly misleading when he says that I have been in cash for eight years. My portfolio is comprised of TIPS and ibonds paying roughly a 3.5 percent real return, and CDs. I put a portion of my assets into CDs so that I would have funds available to put into stocks when the SWR for stocks climbs back to a level consistent with my plan, which calls for a 4 percent annual take-out.

The SWR for the TIPS and ibonds is well in excess of 4 percent. JWR1945's research (which he publishes at the SWR board at NoFeeBoards.com) shows that, in the event that stocks perform in the future as they have in the past, stocks will be offering a SWR of well in excess of 4 percent in the not-too-distant future. So the long-term prospects for all three of my asset classes are good. In contrast, JWR1945's research shows the SWR for stocks at today's valuation level to be roughly 2.5 percent.

Had I relied on conventional methodology SWR studies to craft my Retire Early plan, I would be back in the workforce today. My "retirement" date was August 1, 2000. JWR1945's research shows that the SWR for an 80-percent S&P portfolio in January 2000 was 1.6 percent. The SWR for TIPs when they were paying a 4.1 percent real return was 5.85 percent. For a retiree with a $1,000,000 portfolio, that's the difference between living the rest of your life on $16,000 per year or living the rest of your life on $58,000 per year.
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Re: Mr. Negativity: all my investment options stin
Old 09-23-2004, 12:31 PM   #11
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Re: Mr. Negativity: all my investment options stin

Wow...I tried to read this post and all I could hear was geese honking...hmmm...
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Re: Mr. Negativity: all my investment options stin
Old 09-23-2004, 12:32 PM   #12
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Re: Mr. Negativity: all my investment options stin

Punk Ass Tool, go back to your cardboard box. Despite the possibility that an Oregon radio station wasted valuable air time on your sorry quest for self-agrandizement, you do not have any credibility. Go back to the gutter where you belong.
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Re: Mr. Negativity: all my investment options stin
Old 09-23-2004, 12:38 PM   #13
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Re: Mr. Negativity: all my investment options stin

If you wait for historically "sane" P/Es, you might wait for a very long time. * Just ask *****

It's true that stocks can remain overpriced for a long time. What of it? When I purchase stocks, I am making a long-term committment to that asset class. I am not a day-trader or a month-trader or a year-trader.

If you are in stocks for the long term, you do better if you purchase at reasonable price points. It's not me who says that, it is the historical data that says that. I am not aiming to maximize my investment return for a five-year time-period or for a ten-year time-period. I am looking 20 and 30 and 40 years out. When you look 20 and 30 and 40 years out, the historical data delivers a strong message--take valuation into account because over the long-term valuation matters!
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Re: Mr. Negativity: all my investment options stin
Old 09-23-2004, 12:48 PM   #14
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Re: Mr. Negativity: all my investment options stin

Quote:
Punk Ass Tool, go back to your cardboard box. *Despite the possibility that an Oregon radio station wasted valuable air time on your sorry quest for self-agrandizement, you do not have any credibility. *Go back to the gutter where you belong. *
What did he do to engender this vitriol, sleep with your wife?

As far as I can see, he is a bombastic egomaniac, but no more so than some others around here.

And I absolutely cannot see what is wrong with the points he put forth in his last post above.

Plenty of very sharp people recommended TIPs back when they were at 4%. Among them was James Grant. Even if the adjustments are less than adequate, they would at least give one a pretty good start.

I have a suggestion. Since it is obviously not in the realm of the knowable what course is the best at this time, let's just agree to let people have their ideas without being vilified for them. Then in five years or so, we can have a look and see just who was dumb and who wasn't. Or maybe everyone will be smart in his or her own special way.

Mikey
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Re: Mr. Negativity: all my investment options stin
Old 09-23-2004, 12:49 PM   #15
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Re: Mr. Negativity: all my investment options stin

When you look at 50 year periods of time, the data show that rolls of toilet paper with the most sheets provide the best value. That's why smart investors will wait to buy until there are at least 1000 sheets on each roll.
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Re: Mr. Negativity: all my investment options stin
Old 09-23-2004, 12:51 PM   #16
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Re: Mr. Negativity: all my investment options stin

Quote:


I have a suggestion. Since it is obviously not in the realm of the knowable what course is the best at this time, let's just agree to let people have their ideas without being vilified for them.
Mikey
I've got a better idea. Let us ban h***s, who has already worn out his welcome pretty much everywhere else and will inevitably start driving people away from this forum with his postarrhea.
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Re: Mr. Negativity: all my investment options stin
Old 09-23-2004, 12:57 PM   #17
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Re: Mr. Negativity: all my investment options stin

As far as I can see, he is a bombastic egomaniac, but no more so than some others around here.

Thanks, Mikey.

I think.

Let's just agree to let people have their ideas without being vilified for them.

Thanks for sure on this one!
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Re: Mr. Negativity: all my investment options stin
Old 09-23-2004, 01:20 PM   #18
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Re: Mr. Negativity: all my investment options stin

Yeah Mikey, I went that route too. Figured everybody should have their say and didnt see the troll right away.

It took a while, but its definitely there.

Try asking some questions and disagreeing with the parts that dont work or dont make sense.

You'll see it too, in time.

Theres a reason why dozens of reasonably sane people packed up and walked away from a discussion forum when the troll was allowed back.

After all, why would someone keep showing up in places where they arent particularly wanted, and they get smacked in the face every time they show up? Because they want attention and they want their decisions and ideas to be supported.

Thats swell. I think we got the trolls ideas on the table after the first paragraph or two a couple of years ago. Good time to move on.

Or you can wait until he starts talking about the death threats and the threats of bodily harm, and how he's been persecuted for just trying to do the right thing. Or his super duper ratings on some crappy paper doled out from a bogus web site. Or that he's getting email support from all sorts of important industry speakers and writers...he just cant share that with us. Or that he's got a great book for sale that nobody wants to publish. Or you can wait until you've pointed out the huge dump truck sized holes in his 'theories' and 'tools', then watch him alternately post as himself and as others to make it look like there are other people who actually think all this hogwash is worth discussing.

If that doesnt work, wait for the 5 page long stream of consciousness CHP's...

In case its been missed, here are the valid, good points:

- stocks may be overvalued right now
- its bad to own overvalued assets
- buying tips at 4% was a good idea
- buy them again if they get that high

Now can we stop talking about it so it will go away until its next semi-monthly "I need an attention fix" comes around? And then not talk to it then?
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Re: Mr. Negativity: all my investment options stin
Old 09-23-2004, 01:42 PM   #19
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Re: Mr. Negativity: all my investment options stin

Why would someone keep showing up in places where they arent particularly wanted, and they get smacked in the face every time they show up? *Because they want attention and they want their decisions and ideas to be supported.

That's not the only possible reason, TH. I want these boards to succeed. Boards thrive when a diversity of viewpoints is permitted. They die when all are required to toe the company line.

Here are some words recently posted to the SWR board by "MacDuff": "Some of the most helpful and insightful market discussions on the web take place on these pages." I founded that board. So I am pleased to see that the work I have put into it is paying off big time for aspiring early retirees who take advantage of the learning resource I created.

MacDuff is not the only aspiring early retiree who has expressed gratitude to me for coming forward with the Data-Based SWR Tool. There were over 100 posters who expressed a desire that reasoned debate be permitted at the Motley Fool board. There is no other topic that lights up a Retire Early board the way that discussion of the realities of SWRs does, so long as the discussion consists of a reasoned exchange of views. We saw that here with the "SWR of 6.21 Percent for 27 Years" thread.

Or you can wait until he starts talking about the death threats and the threats of bodily harm

That stuff really happened, TH. You have noted a number of times that I was banned from the Motley Fool board. I received my first notice re the banning within three hours of the time that the death threat was posted. I believe that it is reasonable to surmise that the Motley Fool lawyers played a role in that. There were a lot of fine contributors who left that board after the threats were posted. That's a fact that can be verified by checking the post archives.

Or that he's got a great book for sale that nobody wants to publish.

I have not yet approached any agents or publishers re my book. I made a determination that I would ultimately get a better deal if I self-published and built a good track record to take to big publishers when I approach them. Whether that strategy will work out or not we will have to wait and see.
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Re: Mr. Negativity: all my investment options stin
Old 09-23-2004, 02:55 PM   #20
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Re: Mr. Negativity: all my investment options stin

Theres that goose honking sound again...weird!
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Be fearful when others are greedy, and greedy when others are fearful. Just another form of "buy low, sell high" for those who have trouble with things. This rule is not universal. Do not buy a 1973 Pinto because everyone else is afraid of it.
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