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As long as there are fools, there will be scams (access required)

I'm a barber who loves your column and listens to lots of bad-luck stories. Your October column about the church people who invested $9,000 in 1,000 U.S. $1 silver certificates prompts me to ask why so many financial scams work. A customer told me he had lost $17,000 in an oil drilling partnership that had promised him a 32 percent return. Another invested $7,000 in Iraqi dinars, losing it all, and a bowling buddy lost $11,000 trading stock options.

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Beware the rising stock (access required)

I am convinced the Standard & Poor's 500 is headed to 1600 or higher this year. I've completed these (enclosed) detailed calculations, concluding the S&P 500 will earn $107.42 and trade at 15.1 times earnings. Then by extrapolating these numbers, I place the Dow Industrials at about 15,864.

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Buffalo nickels don’t make cents as investment (access required)

The Federal New York Mint is selling 1-pound bags of silver-clad Buffalo nickels of various dates for $49, which includes a free stone arrowhead with each order. If there are approximately 45 to 50 nickels per pound (my guess), and if silver-clad Buffalo nickels are worth an average of 75 cents each, about $35 per bag, then this sounds like a great investment.

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Are obscure stocks worth the risk? (access required)

My pharmacist son-in-law likes to research small, unknown stocks that trade below $10 a share and invest in a few hundred shares of each. He has had a few big wins, but over the past decade I think his many small losses have used up most of his big gains.

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What grade should F Funds get? (access required)

I work for Social Security and have their Thrift Savings Plan. I would like to transfer some of my money from the very conservative and guaranteed G Fund that just pays about 2.2 percent to the F Fund that pays 4.28 percent but isn't guaranteed even though the money is in bonds.

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Need TIPS? Don’t go for the gold (access required)

I asked my broker about a good inflation hedge, and he pushed us to invest $25,000 in American Century Global Gold Fund. My wife and I are very concerned about inflation when we both retire in nine years at age 67. We have a $141,000 portfolio of income/growth stocks you recommended in the past, and we reinvest all the dividends as you recommended.

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