Opening Bell: 12.21.06

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FedEx 2Q Profit Up, Share Price Falters (Forbes)
So goes FedEx so goes the nation. That's the saying right? So revered is FedEx as the ultimate bellwether for the US economy, that apparently top economists and fed governors like to consult with FedEx management about the trends they're seeing. You know, it never hurts to get a little more real-time data to slip into the latest beige book. And it make sense. The company isn't just a proxy for what consumers buy, it's basically the logistical glue that holds many companies together, which you know if you've ever worked in an office that revolves around the hourly visits from the FedEx guy. So, the company says its latest profits are up, but that its outlook is tempered by weakness in the US economy. Scary stuff, much more so than any inflation report.
IBM Ends Director Stock Options, Spotlighting Popular Perk's Decline (WSJ)
All those backdating directors seem to have ruined it for everyone else. IBM has announced that directors will no longer receiver pay in stock options, but will be paid a flat $200,000 a year salary. It really is amazing how radically the consensus seems to shift on corporate governance issues. For awhile, it was thought that without options, there was no way for directors to have an incentive for companies to succeed. Now the incentive is, if the company doesn't succeed, shareholders are gonna sue your ass. That's actually a good motivator.
EU investigation grounds Ryanair bid (The Guardian)
One day before its bid to acquire Aer Lingus was to expire, the EU announced an investigation into the offer, which means that this round is all but officially dead. It's not clear what exactly the EU wants to check out, but you know they like to investigate things, just in case. Ryan Air promises to launch another bid as soon as the investigation winds up, which should be in 5 months.
The Cautious U.S. Boom in Oil Shale (NYT)
...and every six months or so, newspapers have to do an article about shale, wondering whether it's the next big thing. Well, Canadian oil sands are still the next big thing, but shale can't be far behind. Apparently, there's some new technology to make it marginally cheaper to refine. Next...


Iceland Unexpectedly Raises Benchmark Rate to 14.25% (Bloomberg)
We really don't follow the Icelandic economy a whole lot, but maybe we should. All we really knew about their economy is that one day it's supposed to be run completely on hydrogen, setting an eco-friendly model for the world to follow. In the meantime, the central bank rate stands at 14.25%, suggesting that the hydrogen economy can't get here soon enough. Inflation, and a big trade deficit are seen as the big problems for the economy.
Private jets escape European carbon emissions proposal (Times Online)
The Google guys must be regretting having purchases such a giant private plane now. Turns out that private jets will be exempt from EU carbon emissions regulations, but only if it's light and sleek. Anything that might be equivalent to a Lincoln Towncar of the sky has to pay the piper. Of course, Google can fit a lot more people into its plane than most private jet owners, maybe there will be a carpooling lane.
Vodafone plans $13bn move for India group (Financial Times)
Already the world's largest global wireless firm, Vodafone plans a massive expansion into India, where it will bid $13 billion for Hutchinson Essar. As the whole mobile phone thing matures, places like and India chine represent the best possibilities for continued growth for some time.
Trump, O'Donnell face off (Boston Globe)
Why are we linking to this? Because the news cycle starts to slow down big time in these days as we slouch towards Bethlehem. Donald Trump indicated he would sue Rosie O'Donnel for criticizing him on TV and saying he had gone bankrupt. Let's face it. It seems like Donald Trump has painfully thin skin. Like, that's pathetic. And he did go bankrupt at some point, right?

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