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Long-term successful stock picking not easy

Someone who happened to buy some Apple stock within the past five years is in danger of thinking that they have become a stock-picking genius. If this describes you, get ready to become your own worst enemy as an investor.

To consistently make money investing in individual stocks is extremely difficult. I was reminded of this recently as I read Phil Town's new book, "Payback Time -- Making Big Money Is the Best Revenge." It reminded me of an earlier book from 2001 by John Spooner with the catchy title, "Do You Want to Make Money or Would You Rather Fool Around."

Smaller, regional banks more efficient

In "Miami Vice," the movie, detectives Sonny Crockett and Rico Tubbs successfully duke it out with a Colombian drug cartel only to be frustrated in the end by a senior American banking official in a palatial New York office. The high-ranking banker, treating actors Colin Farrell and Jamie Foxx like they were 2-year-olds, explains that he can't allow them to get in the way of the bank's highly lucrative relationships with drug syndicates.

I found myself thinking, "Can they really do that? Was there an element of truth?"

Why stocks are not responding to growth

They say the market climbs on a "wall of worry," and most of that worrying comes from the Nattering Nabobs of Negativism out there in the community of economists and short sellers. I spent a morning last week listening to Alan Beaulieu, a widely-respected and historically accurate economist and principal at the Institute for Trend Research. Folded up in my breast pocket was the latest newsletter from Norm Fosback of "Fosback's Fund Forecaster" fame and author of "Stock Market Logic."

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