Archive for May 2006

  • 26 May 2006 at 10:04 AM
  • Summer

Get Out of Town

The roads east from New York City are in good shape this morning. But as you know, that can change fast. Traffic.Com’s LIE page provides real time updates on Fire Island and Hamptons bound traffic. Right now the LIE is rated “clear” with just a bit of construction, all scheduled to be cleared up before this afternoon.

  • 26 May 2006 at 9:05 AM
  • Summer

Summer Time and The Living Is…

Let’s face it. Between the house out east, the new summer wardrobe, the car rentals and the sundry costs of living well between Memorial Day and Labor Day, summer in and around New York can get a bit pricey.

This advice from the Natty Banker won’t help at all.

Opening Bell: 5.26.06

MarothDet.jpgFord to Pay 10.6 Percent Yield in U.S. Debt Exchange (Bloomberg)
Psst… want some high-yield corporate paper? If so, Ford is offering over 10% in a new bond offering. It’s a bold move for a company, and strategically probably a wise one. The company is in a high-leverage situation here (remember, people keep referring to auto stocks as options anyway) and since they have to survive now, it makes sense for them to give it everything they’ve got, not necessarily preserver for a future they won’t have. It’s like when you’re down 3-1 in the World Series and your ace is rested. You don’t bench him because you’re worried about who you’re gonna pitch in game six. You worry about that in game six. So Ford is saving its cash now, deferring some payments, and devoting their resources (they claim) to developing some hot new cars which will go toe-to-toe with the Japanese. Sounds exciting. When the cash is owed down the line, they’ll worry about that then.
Phone Tax Laid to Rest at Age 108 (NYT)
There really should be a law that requires all laws to sunset after 10 years and disappear if not renewed. Yes, this does get into a college-philosophy dilemma; but does that law sunset too? Nevertheless, the phone tax, as you know, was initially passed 108 years ago to help pay for the Spanish-American War, which ended after a few months. Even though the war finished up sometime ago, the congress — surprise surprise — never got around to repealing the tax. Hey, would you? But now they’re even repealing the tax retroactively, so if you go through all of your bills, and figure out how much you paid over the last three years, there will be a place to indicate that on your 2006 tax return. You might get as much as $50 back. Awesome. Of course, it’s not really a tax cut without an equivalent spending cut, but…
Arcelor Plans $1.59B Merger With Severstal (AP)
Arcelor was supposed to be spending this week mulling over the Mittal buyout offer. Apparently, that’s not all that was going on behind closed doors, the company found the time to negotiate and agree on its own merger with Russian steel concern Severstal. And in case there was any doubt, this would seem to be their answer to Mittal, nyet. This isn’t the first defensive merger they’ve announced though, since Mittal’s initial offer. Who’s to say that this won’t make them more attractive, as it only means the combined company will be larger?
Fed May Be Less Concerned With Wage Inflation After Pay Data (Bloomberg)
The market may find relief (or even cheer) in surprisingly “benign” wage data. In other words, at least according to the official measure of statistics, wages aren’t going up very fast. The market can take comfort too, in some evidence that the economy is slowing (yesterday’s GDP number notwithstanding). But not too mention the obvious fact, that none of these statistics are, you know, good, it’s not like the Fed’s rate hikes have really been damaging to the market. All that stuff about not fighting the Fed has to be thrown out the window, or will at least need revision, when this chapter of the market comes to a close.

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Meanwhile, In Other White Collar Crime News

We’ve been so wrapped up with our EV Day coverage that we haven’t mentioned today’s other big White Collar Criminal news. Today is the deadline for Martha Stewart to respond to the three-year-old SEC civil suit claiming she engaged in insider trading when she sold shares of ImClone in 2001. Stewart’s responses to investigators during the investigation into that sale eventually led to her conviction for obstruction of justice, serving jail time and having to wear a really ugly device around her ankle.
There is speculation that Stewart will settle the case with the SEC. Her lawyers were reportedly still in settlement negotiations yesterday with lawyers for the SEC.
The Return of Martha Stewart, the Civil Case

Banker or Not-A-Banker

Despite Wendy Straker’s warnings against dating investment bankers, some of you kids are still doing it. Or at least trying to. Because sometimes you might only think you’re dating a banker.
Meet Shane, a shy administrative assistant who likes to make up stories about himself when he meets women.

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  • 25 May 2006 at 3:32 PM
  • Enron

EV Day: Employee and Jury Reactions

enron2.jpgEnron Verdict Day (EV Day?) continues! Not surprisingly, the Houston Chronicle has some of coverage of the post-verdict scene. Here’s the Chronicle’s reporting on what memebers of the jury told the press after the verdict. This story runs down the reactions of ex-Enron employees, including one who speculates that Lay and Skilling are aliens from another dimension.

  • 25 May 2006 at 2:42 PM
  • Enron

The Smartest Guys In Gen Pop

enronlogo.jpgEnron Verdict Day continues here at Dealbreaker with a round-up of the latest blog commentary.
Former Enron executives Ken Lay and Jeff Skilling will still be the smartest guys in the room. It’s just that the room will be in prison. [Red State Diaries]
“Retirement cost-saving tip: Die in prison.” [Xenophile]

The only bad thing is that other Enron hotshot – the egomaniac that had sex with hookers in the office after hours? Yeah. He’s probably on an island somewhere, flashing cash and laughing it up. Damn. What’s his name? I can’t find it. Maybe later.
The jury has spoken in the Enron case. While I did not follow it closely, I did read bits of the defendants’ testimony. Each of them at one time or another showed the jury a quality in a part of their personalities that is more than deadly in a jury trial. The quality? Arrogance. [Flares Into Darkness]
The other reason he took so long is that his children were signing over their houses so that he could get out on bond. [ Born at the Crest of the Empire]
Tom Skilling of WGN-TV Chicago is the best TV weatherman in America, all classes and probably all-time. He has the misfortune to be the brother of Jeff Skilling, of Enron infamy, who has just been convicted of everything but aggravated sidewalk-spitting and a count or two of insider trading. It’s an interesting morality play of two brothers, products of the same genetics and environment and all that, both very talented guys, one of whom used his abilities for Good and the other…not so much. [Corrente]

  • 25 May 2006 at 2:22 PM
  • Vonage

Vonage Resists Telecom Stock Rise

screwedcrack.jpgOn a day when telecom stocks generally went up, Vonage managed to drop more than ten percent. Nyquist Capital is predicting that the class action lawyers are probably already preparing lawsuits.

I’ll be the first to call it – the class-action attorneys are going to try and monetize the Vonage customer class of shareholders that took 13.5% of this deal. Vonage used tactics of a bucket-shop, pitching yours truly by email, voicemail, and snail mail. Fair? No. Reality? Yes.

Seeking Alpha has a round up of other reactions to the Vonage slide.
Telecoms mostly gain, but not Vonage
Vonage – Lipstick on a Pig [Nyquist Capital]