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Opening Bell: 6.6.06

Ailes: Fox Business Channel Not Open for Business (Broadcasting Cable) (Via Controlled Greed)
Say it ain't so!! Fox News boss Roger Ailes appears to have quashed longstanding rumors of a Fox business channel that would compete with CNBC. We really CNBC needs some competition, just to keep it honest. CNN tried a few years back, but, you know, they were CNN. If you've ever watched the weekend business shows on Fox News, you know they bring fresh new angles to the coverage of business like "Are green whackos killing your portfolio?" and "Are anti-Guantanamo liberals causing inflation to rise?" and "Are secular humanists causing the yield curve to flatten?". All good and important stuff, and it's a disappointment that it doesn't appear to be happening. And you just know their female anchors would be about 4 shades blonder than those on CNBC.
Google to Release Web-Based Spreadsheet (NYT)
Google is moving further onto Microsoft's turf, with the release of a free web-based spreadsheet that will go up against Excel. Along with their recent purchase of Writely, a web-based word processor, they're getting close to having a fully rounded out productivity suite. Now all the need is a Powerpoint competitor, and they've basically got it. What's going to be really killer about the spreadsheet app is that it will emphasize collaboration. This is one of the major problems with Excel, that if two people want to collect data together, and enter it into a shared file, it's a nightmare. It involves too much sending files back and forth and cutting and pasting. For groups with projects, this could be a good alternative.
Stock Research Firm Fulcrum Global Partners Shuts Down (NY Post)
Here's some fitting news on 6.6.06, Fulcrum Global Partners, which pitched itself as simply an honest alternative to corrupt Wall St. research is shutting down. Founded in the wake of Spitzer's Wall St. investigations, the company really played up their ethical practices -- all well and good, but apparently not enough to make a buck. It appears the cost of honesty is too much of a burden on the industry, or at least you can't make a business on that alone.
M.S. Drug Can Return, With Limits (NYT)
It was almost a year and a half ago that Biogen and Elan got the devastating news that their M.S. drug Tysabri had to be pulled from the market due to an extremely rare but deadly side effect. It was particularly bad for Elan, which had nothing else going for it, and was already on the verge of bankruptcy once. The company staked its entire existence on Tysabri and the hope that it would be a major winner on the market. Well, after a long and winding road, Tysabri is back on the market, only the second drug to ever make it back once pulled. Of course, it's not clear why it took a year and a half to determine that people should be allowed to take it, if they're apprised of the (very rare) personal risks -- for many MS sufferers, who get few results from the existing medications on the market, a lot of their suffering has been unnecessarily maintained by the absence of the drug. Congrats FDA, thanks for looking out for us. It will be interesting to track sales for Tysabri, to see how much its market potential has been damaged by the setback.

The wonderful thing about TGRs... (Knowledge Problem)
Yesterday we linked to Martin Feldstein's piece in The Journal about tradable gas rights. Today we bring you the other half of the story -- all of the excellent reasons why the plan is a disaster in the making. As we hinted at in the last line, the devil's in the details. Who gets the rations? What are the exceptions? How are they allocated? What about diesel? What about people who leave the country on business? How is this not like a wartime rationing scheme that attempts to have an orderly method of trading? Why not take the typical economic approach for dealing with negative externalities, which is to tax the bad behavior and directly disburse the money to affected victims, like the poor, and those suffering from asthma? All good questions that even if left unanswered bring about enough complexity to doom the program.
Affluent Americans sour on real estate (CNN Money)
We're not inclined to trust financial polls; generally speaking, people don't know what the hell they're talking about. Supposedly, wealth Americans expect their stock portfolios to rise by 8% in 2006 -- they have no idea, and they probably didn't even have that number in their head until the second after they were asked the question. People probably are inclined to believe what the wealthy say, because they imagine them with their private banker going over stock agates in the living room. The interesting part of the survey, perhaps, is how negative they've turned on real estate. Only 48% of them expect their real estate portfolios to rise, which is strange since you'd think the wealthy, of all people, would know that real estate always rises by a little. Makes you wonder how they got rich in the first place.
Iran Sees `Positive Steps' in U.S.-Backed Incentives (Bloomberg)
The NYSE really ought to open a satellite trading floor in Tehran, since it seems that the only person more influential to US markets than Bernanke is Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Forget parsing cryptic language about the economy, just learn to speak Farsi and figure out what kind of day the Iranian leader is having. If he's talking about nukes and Israel and bombing the country's own oil fields, that's trouble. If he's chatting amicably about going to the World Cup, and how he is a man of peace, then buy some stock. The latest good vibrations out of Tehran is that they see 'positive steps', whatever that means, coming from the latest US-backed overtures to getting the country to stop producing nuclear fuel and use up more of their oil.
Acme Packet, Another VoIPO (GigaOM)
Despite the disastrous Vonage IPO, which we've covered here extensively, it looks like the market will be getting more plays on the technology. But haven't you've heard the old cliche, oh what is it, something about the people who made money in the gold rush being the ones who sold the picks and pans? Well, Vonage was the company that went for the gold, where as Acme Packet, which just filed for S-1 sells a networking component that is vital to VoIP. And the market is likely to acknowledge the difference; after all, Vonage's weakness wasn't an indictment of VoIP technology, but an appreciation that the market is moving and evolving so fast, that Vonage already looked like an old fashioned telco incumbent.
Stocks dive after Bernanke's warning (SF Chronicle)
What a turnabout; yesterday morning we were talking about how the dollar was likely to fall once Bernanke stopped raising rates. Further rate hikes were seen as necessary to keep dollar buyers in the market. But then Bernanke did a jitter-inducing warning, all de rgueur for a Fed Chief, and the market craters just like that. You know the whole story already, right? Oil, inflation, Iran, Stagflation, panic selling, etc. All the good stuff.