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Opening Bell: 3.1.07

China, Japan Lead Markets Lower (WSJ)
Assuming nothing major happens, this might be the last day for awhile of leading off with the Asian market wrap. But for now, it's still worth mentioning their response to our response to their mini-meltdown. First of all, it was another bad day in China, as the Shanghai index dropped 2.9%, erasing much of the gains from the day before. The Nikkei was down, but only by .86%, while the rest of the markets in Asia were mixed. Malaysia, which has been one of the harder hit markets also had a rough session, losing 1.55%.
Is the S.E.C. Changing Course? (NYT)
There's something about being a bureaucrat, even a high-level one, that brings out an individual's irresistible urge to regulate. You could probably make Friedrich Hayek the head of Bureau of Indian Affairs, and he'd have 25 new rules for you governing tribal land by the end of his first month. And so it's been the case with Christopher Cox, the second most famous Ayn Rand-nik to serve in a high position over the last several years, has basically stayed the course at the SEC. But now some observers see him shifting back towards being "pro business" and away from being "pro investor", even though investors invest in businesses, and that what's good for businesses tends to be good for those who invest in them. Are Sarbanes-Oxley and hedge fund regulations really pro investor?
Oracle Deal for Hyperion Is Expected (NYT)
Over the last few years, software maker Oracle has gone on a stunning acquisition spree, singlehandedly consolidating an entire sector. It's slowed down a bit over the last year, but the company has never indicated that its acquisitive days were in the past. The company is now expected to make a play for Hyperion Software, a making of business intelligence software that lets companies analyze their performance.
Oil Rises on Iran Nuclear Concern, U.S. Gasoline Supply Decline (Bloomberg)
As we said yesterday, we're really not too fond of "this market did this because of this" stories, since the "because of this" part is usually whatever the reporter can come up with before the deadline, or maybe whatever they got some trader to quote for them. That being said, it seems a little silly for the oil markets to rally on Iran nuclear activities. After all, wouldn't their switch to nuclear power ease oil demand?

Icahn to Buy About $2 Billion of Motorola Stock, Company Says (Bloomberg)
Carl Icahn is stepping up his assault on Motorola, as he plans to take $2 billion position in the company. Motorola's been something of a turkey over the last year. In his view, the company needs to spend more money on dividends and buybacks (of course), but the company also needs to find a successor to the RAZR that doesn't in in a ZR. Well, maybe it can end in ZR, but it better be something more novel than RIZR.
The story changes ... is volatility back? (RGE Monitor)
So, in all the maelstrom over the last few days, what's the dog that didn't bark? Maybe it's the US Dollar, that didn't jump when everything else started collapsing. We recall having a conversation with a friend a couple years ago arguing that as long as the dollar jumps when there's a mini-crisis, you know it's still the world's reserver currency. As Brad Setser puts it, "One interesting point: the dollar didn’t benefit from today’s flight to quality. Fair enough. The currencies of countries with big current account deficits facing a shortfall in private inflows aren’t classically considered the gold-standard by those looking for a safety. " Zing!
As Market Fell, Some Big Names Won Their Bets (WSJ)
Well look at that. Look who profited while everyone else was panicking. Non other then John Meriwether, formerly of Long Term Capital Management. According to those who know, he had some nice bets on US T-bonds and the Yen, which allowed him to stay in positive territory. Also, an individual at Deutsche Bank made out like a bandit after a recent bet against the subprime sector. He was probably borrowing shares from this dude at Goldman, who is now on the street.
Cuban and the Cubs: A Match Made in Heaven? (Dealbook)
We know that the Tribune Company is having a garage sale, and everyone knows that Mark Cuban wants to buy a baseball team, so the rumor was floated that Mark Cuban might buy the Chicago Cubs. At this point, the odds seem against it, but who knows. Cuban hasn't really had a followup to his wildly successful, and it seems that he'd rather park his billions in sports teams and movies that can succeed in other ways besides making money.