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Welcome back Zulu, where ya been?

It has been crazy on the markets the past couple weeks. It should steady itself over the next couple months though. Wish I knew of some good stocks. I've basically been putting the proceeds of any sales of existing stocks in my portfolio towards paying down my car. Bought some Cisco recently though it could take a while till it sees any significant gains.
 

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Man, when I was in college I played a FOREX simulation game during a class in International Finance. I tripled my "fake money" in a period of 2 months. I know if I tried it in real life though I'd get burned. If you really know what's going on and what the trends are you can make a shitload by trading currency forwards.

I don't think China's anywhere near tapped out and the same goes for India. Both countries will continue to grow at or near double digit rates of growth and the total market caps of their stock markets in relation to their GDPs are microscopic when you compare them to the U.S. or other developed countries.

As far as the developed world goes, I'm liking Japan. They really haven't grown much at all in the past decade but they're just now finally coming out of a funk. Inflation is back in the positive which is a huge positive for consumer confidence (people don't have to worry about buying a car today when it will be cheaper to buy a month from now). So far the good news out of Japan hasn't done too much for their markets but it will some day.
 

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A good income trust (Canadian version of a Master Limited Partnership) that I own in my portfolio is ARC Energy. It took a hit from $30 to $20 a unit after the tax change was announced, which was when I bought it. Now for my $2000 investment I get $20/month in trust income (12% annual return). It's also a little play on politics. I expect if nothing changes and they do go ahead with the tax change in four years its price will go no lower. The potential to be taxed has already been built into the price when it sunk from $30 to $20 overnight, after the announcement. If however, the energy trust sector is successful in lobbying Ottawa to make an exception for their trusts or if the Liberals come back into power and actually keep their promise (I know this is a stretch...) to scrap the tax it can go back up to the $30, where it was at.
 

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Start with a regular (weekly/biweekly/monthly) contribution into a (some) global mutual fund(s) until you have over $5000 accumulated. Then look at individual stocks at a minimum of $1000 per investment (and make sure you can at least buy 4 or 5 different ones to start out to be somewhat diversified). Keep the mutual fund contributions going as your sort of "doorway" to your investment account. This keeps the account growing (regardless of how your stocks do) and you take advantage of averaging your base cost by spreading out the mutual fund purchases (something you can't do with stocks if your monthly purchase is only a few hundred dollars at a time).

A suggestion for a somewhat diversified portfolio would be:
1 financial company (I'm liking Goldman Sachs lately)
1 big high tech (United Technologies, Cisco, Apple are some good ones)
1 resource company (all kinda so-so right now but Encana looks decent)
1 consumer staple (if entering or in a recession) or 1 consumer discretionary (if leaving a recession)
1 high risk, high potential small-cap stock, like a tech start up or something
 
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