Opening Bell: 9.15.06

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Internet Betting Executive Is Allowed to Leave U.S. (NYT)
Well, at least one British exec is going back to London, for now. Governor Pataki vacated a warrant to transfer Sportingbet chairman Peter Dicks to Louisiana, and so he can fly back to London. Still, he's supposed to show up in Louisiana down the road to face a charge of "gambling by computer". There's something very Louisiana/Voodoo sounding about the crime of gambling by computer. Note that Louisiana has riverboat casinos; it's really the computer part that gets them, probably because it's the devil's funbox. Wonder if anyone's taking odds on whether Dicks ever shows up for his Louisiana court date.
Oil drops to $63 (CNNMoney)
Oil continues its beeline path downward, but the US government is trying to ruin all the fun. Just as oil touches $63/barrel, here comes more sabre-rattling about sanctions against Iran. Noooo. Don't you get it; that'll only push the price of oil back up again, and with it tank the US economy. Though we suppose anyone would have to agree, it's better to tank the US economy today, then for the US economy to get bombed by Iran 5 years from now. Of course, you have to assume that US foreign policy could prevent anyone from acquiring 'the bomb', which is no slam dunk.
Hedge Funds Flirt With Heresy: Going Public (NYT)
You may not need to have wealth anymore to invest in a hedge fund. Just a few clicks in Ameritrade and a $12 internet market order will be enough, if Fortress Investment Group, a hedge fund with $24 billion under management, decides to go public. The advantages to going public, for a hedge fund, are the same as any other company. The institution separates further from the principals, offering a way for people with a stake in the company to walk away from their holdings and the company. If Fortress did go through with the plan, the actions wouldn't be completely unprecedented; Kohlberg Kravis has taken some public money for a unit, while the Man Group, in London, went public, though it positioned itself as a commodities broker.
BP Seeks OK to Restart Part of Prudhoe (AP)
Just as a reminder of how little people know about which way the markets will go, it's funny to remember that the recent sharp retrenchment in energy prices has come about since the shutdown of BPs Prudhoe Field. At that point, people were screaming that a barrel of oil was bound to go to $100, or that we might see significant shortages (note: if the price went to $100, it would be top revent shortages. But you know that). At this rate (cross your fingers, baby) the big discovery in the Gulf may actually be unprofitable if levels hold. Now BP is asking for permission to get the oil pumping, on a limited basis, so that it can do some testing on its pipes. Problem is, there are some caribou somewhere in Alaska that could theoretically lick the oil off the ground and get sick.


Buyout, retirement offers to all 76,000 Ford UAW members (Chicago Tribune)
After seeing how many GM workers would take a lump of cash as an inducement to quite their jobs, Ford has decided to go down the buyout route. Yesterday, the UAW announced that ford would offer buyout packages ranging from $35,000 - $140,000 to all 76,000 of the company's UAW members. Sounds nice, but a lot of Wall St. bonuses are going to be much bigger than even $140,000, so what's the big deal? And the Wall St. folks don't even have to quit their jobs and look for good work in Michigan if they take the cash.
WHO Calls for Spraying Controversial DDT To Fight Malaria (WSJ)
The impact of mass illness to developing economies should be obvious to anyone. If everyone you knew had to take weeks of sick days every year, their places of employment would suffer, with all of the obvious follow-on effects. So addressing the scourge of malaria would be a boon to many. In a move that will make environmentalists flip their lid, the U.N.'s World Health Organization has said that DDT should be used to combat the disease. As far as we know, the research indicates that the inverse correlation between DDT use and malaria is pretty strong, i.e. when it's used malaria goes down. In places where it's banned, the fight against the disease hasn't gone well. So yes, the ultimate battle now begins between first-world environmentalists and third-world disease sufferers.
Dynegy to Merge With LS Power in $2.3 Billion Deal (Bloomberg)
Yep, Dynegy's still around. Who knew? After the company failed to buyout Enron back in 2001, it suffered from its own Enronesque implosion, which included jailtime for some company execs. But though it came within an inch of its life, it managed to stave of bankruptcy by selling units. The company is scrounging together $2.3 billion to buy out LS Power group, which performs a range of activities in the power industry.
TV Announcers and Diminishing Marginal Returns (The Alpha & Omega)
We'll be up front here; you can put this one squarely under the "it's Friday and there isn't much news today" category of links. Still, it offers an interesting point about sports announcers that could also apply to CNBC talking heads and other people you know. The longer someone hangs around, the more they repeat themselves, and the less useful that is. Aging sports announcers with the same few cliches and one liners? Just turn on ESPN and imagine it was 1995. That's not too hard. Or turn on CNBC, and think back to when you first saw Larry Kudlow as a guest analyst when he worked at American Skandia. He was probably talking back then about how pessimists were losers. So yeah, all these guys should have a shelf life, as few get better by age.

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