Opening Bell: 3.21.06

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Mack Facing Challenge At Morgan (Bloomberg)
Weird, we were sure you could just bring in a new face and solve everything. Apparently not. Nine months into his reign as CEO, Morgan Stanley's stock still trails its piers. In M&A, the company has lost market share, while the company has shown gains in other areas. Ultimately, the stock's top-rated analyst expects tomorrow's earnings to come in at the same level as last year's.

Senators Demand Yuan Revaluation (Reuters)

If you want to know the fair exchange rate between the dollar and the Yuan, ask Sens. Lindsay Graham and Chuck Schumer who are proposing a whopping 27.5% tarrif on imported Chinese goods, unless the country lets the exchange rate move to a fair value. The senators, who in another life must have been brilliant Forex technicians, allege that the Yuan is currently undervalued by 15%-40%, which would seem to leave a lot of wiggle room in deciding what's fair.
Bernanke To Keep Raising Rates (Bloomberg)
So this is the deal with incoming fed chiefs; they have to prove they're tough. Ben "Helicopter" Bernanke signaled yesterday that he's gonna keep on keepin' on, raising rates despite concerns over a flat yield curve. The Journal has a different tilt, noting that under a different interpretation of the same data, Bernanke believes that rates should be held lower than normal. Naked Shorts nails it: The Wall Street Journal's Fed-watcher Greg Ip seems to be saying that The Helicopter is either more - or less - coherent than his predecessor. Exactly.
Oracle Beats Estimates, Sales Miss (WSJ)
Oracle posted acquisition related gains, yesterday, thought its core database sales were weak. This is the price of Larry Ellison's ego. It seems that buying out every competitor, no matter how weak, may make you the king of Silicon Valley, but may not please the money people on the opposite coast. Recently, the company has been buying up various open-source distributors, so perhaps more of the same can be expected.


Google Launches Finance Vertical (Bloomberg)
Google took the covers off of their long-awaited personal-finance site today. The site features Google's typically clean look, interactive charting, and even has a section of blog listings. And in case Google doesn't have enough of your personal information, you can upload your portfolio's holdings there as well. Paul Kedrosky thinks that including blogs will invite market manipulators: I wonder what they're planning to do keep the market manipulators away. Because I can just imagine the conversations: "Alice, before coming down for dinner I saw a story on Google Finance that a small former mining company based in Vancouver is buying Google and Microsoft and Oracle -- and the stock only trades for $0.18!" "Oh, that's interesting dear. Maybe we should buy some tomorrow after mall-walking."
BabyUniverse to Move to Nasdaq Capital Market Under New Symbol 'POSH' (PR Newswire)
You may have missed the news yesterday that BabyUniverse.com would, after a long and fruitful period, be leaving the AMEX to jump to the NASDAQ. Is the loss of BabyUniverse.com the death knell for this increasingly irrelevant exchange? Only time will tell, but mark you calendars now to remember this pivotal moment.
Communists Try To Unionize Starbucks Baristas (WSJ)
Communists, socialists, anarchists; whatever you want to call them, the radical IWW union is looking to organize oppressed workers at the beloved coffee chain. By oppressed, they mean part time workers with health insurance, and dental, and domestic partner benefits. But as long as the percentage of workers insured at the company is lower than it is at Wal-Mart, the union will find some way to complain. Of course, the union doesn't really represent any Starbucks employees, since few of them seem interested in complaining.
How Age Effects Investment Ability (Moneyscience)
Do your investment skills improve as you age, or does cognitive impairment cancel out the effects of becoming wise? It looks like both, according to a new study, though ultimately the results aren't good. Research shows a 2% annual risk-adjusted decline on returns for older investors. No word on whether Kirk Kerkorian's returns, from GM, have been factored in.
Another Handheld From Microsoft (CNN Money)
If at first you don't succeed... Fresh from an underwhelming reaction to their latest Swiss-army knife handheld, The Origami, which only launched last week, Microsoft is looking to try again. This time it will be based on their popular XBOX console, and will play music, videos, as well as games. It'll probably connect to the internet and have a digital camera too, that's just our speculation though. Of course it won't be released for another year, maybe too. Remember when the iPod was announced? It was available the next day. Perhaps Mr. Softy still has something to learn when it comes to product announcements.
EA To Release Derivative Godfather Game (Forbes)
Walk down Broadway and all you see is recycled content from other parts of the entertainment world. A Wedding Singer musical? Check. A Monty Python musical? Check. A Will & Grace musical? Give it a year, two tops. Video games too seem attracted to derivative content. Today, Electronic Arts, looking to break their slump, and expand outside of their core sports video games,releases The Godfather, though Forbes is unsure whether the game will do much to improve their bottom line. They should have made a game based on Scarface, at least then it would have sold well in college dorms.
Sirius Settles With Three Music Companies (NYT)
The RIAA further sinks it's tentacles into satellite radio broadcaster Sirius. Because Sirius sells a Tivo-like device, that allows listeners to record and save content for later, the labels demand a bigger cut. Look for the rest of the entertainment industry to try to get their cut of TV DVRs.

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