Opening Bell: 9.12.06

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US hiring outlook stable for rest of 2006-survey (Reuters)
To the man on the street, the only economic stat worth the paper it's printed on is employment data. You can have your adjusted GDP, Core CPI, Baltic Dry Index, etc., but leave him the numbers on whether he'll have a job at the end of the year. If we were to run for office as a populist politician, we'd make the employment data the centerpiece of the campaign, and promise to stop collecting anything else once we got in office. So, the news for our Joe Sixpack looks ok. Hiring through the rest of the year is seen as stable, with slightly more businesses planning on increasing positions as opposed to scaling back. Meanwhile, St. Louis Fed President William Poole (AKA, the only other Fed Governor that anyone's heard of) says that his organization ignores employment at its peril, and that high unemployment damages the Fed's credibility as much as high inflation. William Poole: Fed Governor of the people.
Strong Reaction Expected After Big Box Veto (cbs2Chicago.com)
In the middle city, Mayor Daley took out his veto pen, and blocked (temporarily at least) a measure that would require big-box retailers (Wal-Mart) to pay a so-called living wage to all of its employees within Chicago. A living wage is defined as $10/hour in salary, and another $3/hour in benefits, which is a lot. Already, one initial supporter of the measure has changed her mind. Wal-Mart is currently breaking ground on a new store in her district. Get this: Constituents have told her that they don't want to keep going out to the suburbs to shop at Wal-Mart. Makes sense. Still, the Mayor (or, in Chicagoese, Da Mare) needs one more supporter of the bill to switch in order to sustain the veto. And while we're on the subject of bad Chicago laws, maybe it's time to overturn the ban on foie gras.
MySpace: The Business of Spam 2.0 (Exhaustive Edition) (Valleywag)
In the annals of business, there are all kinds of apocryphal tales about young lads shining shoes, saving pennies and then eventually becoming major steel magnates. Most of the time, the truth is different. Like they shined shoes, but only because their parents wanted to teach them the value of hard work during summers off of school, before ultimately going to Harvard as a legacy. Valleywag has a nice look at the tale surrounding the launch of MySpace; turns out the history isn't nearly so plucky as everyone imagined. It wasn't started by Tom, the ubiquitous friend to all of man. Rather, it was started by a bunch of spammers, who selected Tom to be their mascot. Granted, none of this matters now. It's very popular and making a lot of money. It could come out that it was started by Saddam, and it wouldn't make a difference.
Harvard to End Early Admissions; Pressure on Rivals (WSJ)
There was one nice thing about having done poorly in high school: there was no chance of going to an elite university. And thus, there was no worry about early admission, trips to Boston for college interviews, thinking about "reach" and "safety" schools, etc. But, having gone to school with many who were in that boat -- and having experienced that subtle emotion that combines jealousy and schadenfreude -- we do know how the game is played. So, if you're a parent, and you're working on the Street, then you're children will probably have to play this game at some point or another. If you're like us, you'll tell them to go to junior college for two years to see if college is really for them. If you're like everyone else, note that Harvard has dropped early admissions, and some see others likely to follow suit. It probably won't change much, but if you've hired a strategic advisor to help on your kid's admissions quest, make sure their advice takes into account the changing landscape.


Congress wades into HP probe (AP)
Ok, it's now officially going too far. Though we would never expect Congress to show restraint and stay out of a charged situation, it's hard to see how a simple action like spying on fellow board members really warrants Congressional action. Actually, it's not even completely clear why this warrants special attention from the California AG and the Feds? Granted, they may have the jurisdiction, but don't pretexting and other forms of identity theft go on all the time? And as identity theft goes, this type of pretexting is a pretty minor infraction, given that it leads to no monetary damages, or anything like that. Time to step back and breathe.
Materials costs fall boost for industry (The Birmingham Post)
In the UK, as here, the cost of raw materials continues to decline, which is a boon for businesses that spend a lot on them. It's nice when your company's costs start to subside, allowing for some margin relief, in theory at least. But what we're really excited about is the end of commodity-related crime. No more homeless guys scaling the walls of our apartment looking to rip out air conditioning coil. No more nights driving down poorly lit streets because some folks stole the lamp posts and sold them for scrap metal. That would be a nice change.
Waiting For Steve: T-Minus 12 Hours & Counting (Paid Content)
Everyone loves a Steve Jobs keynote, right? Right? Except for last time, he looked kind of tired and didn't introduce anything new, so it didn't go over all that well. This time though he's expected to introduce a movie store to iTunes, and possibly a new iPod that's all screen, ideally suited for watching movies. Can someone get us a live webcam of the line in front of "The Cube" this afternoon?
The Walk-through Walked Away, But Not Out (Matrix)
Jonathan Miller delivers a requiem for a blog -- specifically, the NYT real estate blog dubbed the Walk-through. The paper shuttered the site after gaining no traction with readers, and failing to contribute any meaningful content. But here's the kicker: Miller identifies the source of its problems as having had run-ins with bubble bloggers. In case you didn't notice, there's a whole contingent of bloggers who do nothing but write about the real estate bubble. You can see a small list of them here, but there are many more. Apparently, the Times tried to take these guys on, but was miserably rebuffed and then left dazed by all of the pushback. And the perception was that the Times wouldn't give an answer on whether there was a real estate bubble or not. Priorities people -- these are the big issues that you have to deal with. In other blog news, Under The Counter signaled that it's throwing in the towel. Just saying.
The Rich Sleep Efficiently (Marginal Revolution)
It must be no fun being poor. In almost every category you can think of, the poor have it worse than the rich? Money? Yep. Stylish clothing? Mmhmm. Even sleep efficiency, i.e. the length of time spent lying in bed compared to the length of time spent sleeping. Apparently, the poor have more hours of just lying there, which is really the way we've spent many of hour worst waking hours -- just waiting to fall asleep, worrying that the longer we stay up, the worse our morning will be. And in other interesting study news, the concept of risk homeostasis has been found to hold for bicyclists and helmets. In other words, the safety afforded by wearing a helmet (on the aggregate) is mitigated by the proclivity of helmet wearers to drive dangerously.

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