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Opening Bell: 1.12.07

AT&T to phase out Cingular brand (
Quick question: which US carrier is going to offer Apple's iPhone? If you said Cingular you're wrong, because by the time it comes out there will be no Cingular, just the old, staid, AT&T of yore. Why the company is rebranding Cingular as AT&T (a process that starts on Monday) seems just plain odd. Back when there was AT&T Wireless it had the reputation for the worst quality and worst customer service. In fact, it was so bad, that AT&T (which was a separate company at the time) wanted to sue AT&T Wireless for dragging down the brand's good name. Meanwhile, all of the effort put into branding cingular was now just a total waste. Who are the marketing geniuses that came up with this one?
Costco Bias Suit Is Given Class-Action Status (NYT)
Costco is the big-box retailer that liberals can love. Its CEO doesn't get paid an exorbitant salary. Its workers make somewhere close to a "living wage" It's even included in all of the "blue" funds, along with Apple and Google. Compare that to Wal-Mart, which routinely is being sued for things like gender discrimination. Oh wait, Costco is too. A federal judge has given class action status to a bias suit brought by 700 women against the company, claiming that they were discriminated against in their pursuit of managerial positions. In making the ruling, the judge said, "plaintiffs have presented strong evidence of a common culture at Costco which disadvantages women." Zing.
U.S. Scrutinizes Grant to Jobs (WSJ)
Just to be clear, the iPhone may have distracted the media from Jobs' backdating woes, but the federal government doesn't appear to care much. Maybe if the phone had had 3G connectivity -- which is a glaring omission -- then the feds would've backed off this whole backdating thing. As it is, they're still actively scrutinizing the evidence.
NYSE May Allows Real-Time Quotes; Google, CNBC To Provide Data Without Charge; To Sit out (PaidContent)
Back when individual investors really started trading at home, en masse, the real time quote was like a thing of gold. In order to get access to RTQs, you either had to pay out the nose, or you were limited to only so many for month. So it definitely wasn't a good idea to keep hitting refresh if you wanted constant updates on your stock. Those days are long gone. The NYSE is on the verge of opening up the floodgates, allowing sites to distribute them for free, for a $100,000/month fee, which is a drop in the bucket for sites like Yahoo and Google. On the other hand, the stingy Dow Jones properties, WSJ and MarketWatch aren't planning on ponying up, saying there isn't that much interest (that may be sorta true, most people already have access to such quotes from an online trading account).

For Many M.B.A.’s, Dream Job May Be Just That (Dealbook)
It may be a good time to be an MBA grad these days, but it's not that good. Apparently, it's not as good as back in 1999, when a Stanford grad basically walked off campus and into an Aeron chair as an executive at some .com. These days, despite the boom in private equity, the number of aspirants for these jobs far outstrips their availability. So, basically, a whole graduate program down the toilet.
Court rules that Lott cherry-picked (Deltoid)
Other than Steve Sailer, Steve Levitt's biggest detractor is economist John Lott (aka Mary Rosh), who sued Levitt over a line in Freakonomics that suggested that John Lott fabricated his research results. Somehow economists suing each other over stuff like this seems a little petty, but then again, since economic rock stars are the new Parises and Lindseys, we're really not that surprised. The good news for Levitt is that the judge has thrown out the suit, leaving Lott with little to do except maybe work on the next version of "More Guns, Less Crime", which for some reason never quite saw the same pop success of Freakonomics.
Search and confidence (Stumbling and Mumbling)
Everybody knows someone who has much more confidence and self-esteem than is warranted, given their abilities and talents. You know, guys like Gareth from the British version of The Office. They think they're really bright geniuses that are irresistible to women, when in fact they're none of the above. A new study shows that this is a real, consistent phenomenon, and that people who are totally out to lunch on things tend to be real-confident about themselves, while people who actually have skills tend to be less confident (Of course, the true geniuses genuinely know they are). Unfortunately, the study gives no advice on how to deal with these people.