Delta,It occurred to me this afternoon, as I did my walk along Portland's streets, salty sweat stinging my eyes, a refrain of “step on a crack, break your mother's back” running through my mind, and your question, too, that my “restatement” needed restating. I pondered that for a while, as I navigated through the heat, seeking out what shade I could find, cutting through parks and under trees. Children were playing “Red Rover, Red Rover” in one of them, a game I hadn't seen in years, and its rules lent themselves to building an investing metaphor. But then I realized that everything does, that everything is linked to everything. The question you ask, the challenge you made, could be explored, and explored productively. But, at bottom, no matter how restated, it's not an interesting question to me. I really don't give a fig whether bonds as a category, however defined, are “riskier” than stocks, however defined. Such questions reek of the oil lamp and of the library. Their answers find their way into publications like the “Journal of Finance”, not the lives of ordinary investors. What is Jack's rule of thumb when winnowing choices? “Mark with chalk. Cut with an axe.” I love theory for its own sake. But theory is like marzipan. If you have the sense to not take a second piece, you'll enjoy the experience and be none the worse for the indulgence. For all my appeals to theory, investing is a practical art, and I'm looking for the investing equivalent of beer-and-bait fishing, back-of-the-envelope analysis, and kitchen-table financial planning. What I need, what most people need, isn't elegant theory, but the smarts to say of this particular opportunity, dumped into their lap, whether it's a Yea or Nay. That doesn't answer your question. But, right now, it's the best I can do. Charlie
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