Opening Bell: 3.20.07

Publish date:

Delta CEO to Forgo Extra Payout (WSJ)
The CEO of Delta, who has been guiding the company through bankruptcy court, will not receive a dime in bonuses when the reorganization is finally complete. Instead, the money that might have gone to him, as well as some other left over cash, will be distributed among many of the company's unionized workforce. Typically, of course, a turnaround CEO is looking for a big payoff when the restructuring is successfully completed but Gerald Grinstein says his goal is to see the company succeed, not to enrich himself. Sorry, but this is all way too saccharine for us. For one thing, the guy is 74, so he probably doesn't have much need for a big multi-million dollar bonus at this point. Instead, he could easily be looking to simply secure his legacy in the twilight of his life. While in a sense it's "nice" that so much money will be going to the rank-and-file workers, it doesn't make all that much sense. A turnaround specialist should receive a big bonus once things are complete, because otherwise why take such a risky job? After all, when you're dealing with a company that in some way is teetering on collapse, you're opening yourself up to legal problems if things do go south. Of course, you don't have to take our word for it. We imagine that Gretchen will have something to say about Gerald sooner or later.
U.K. Inflation Rate Unexpectedly Rose in February (Bloomberg)
A fresh whiff of inflation was noted in London, prompting concern the the Bank of England will find itself in a tightening mood. Of course, this only pushed the Pound higher, as speculators wanted to get in ahead of higher rates. But there's some good news. The UK has decided to overweight energy in the inflation statistics that it collects from now on. How is that good news? Well, if energy prices fall, as many people predict, then inflation data numbers should sink as well. Of course, if energy prices surge, that's ok too, cause economists can just say that things aren't so bad, ex-energy. Perhaps even more controversially, broccoli has officially replaced brussel sprouts in the UK's inflation basket.
O'Hare awaits big bird (Chicago Tribune)
The infamous A380, which yesterday was in New York, continues its maiden voyage in throughout the states. Today, it will land in Chicago, the Windy City, and fittingly, high winds will prevent it from swooping down over Boeing headquarters. Although, it's a little strange that a plane the size of a football field should have problem with wind. We're not sure if Boeing executives will come out to O'Hare to check it out and greet it, but it would be a real classy gesture if they did.
BP faces blizzard of criticism (Guardian)
In 2005, BP, as everyone knows, had a major blast at its Texas City plant resulting in the deaths of 15 workers, and the injury of 180 more. It was a pretty bad incident, and the years since then haven't exactly been the best for the company, even as its industry has enjoyed some good times. So it seems like it's sort piling on a little late for the US Chemical Safety Board to just now be releasing a report on the incident that's critical of the company. At this point, we're pretty sure they get it. Plant explosions are bad.

Nowadays, Angola Is Oil’s Topic A (NYT)
These days, even communist countries know to call themselves Democratic Republics or People's Republics because to the rest of the world, these are palatable (if not a bit tired) euphemisms. Angola still has the hammer and sickle on their flag, welll, their version of the hammer and sickle, which is a machete and a cogwheel. Still, money is money. The Times notes that Angola is the new OPEC 'It girl', as its natural resources remain relatively untapped. No doubt the other countries in the cartel feel better about themselves and their backwards political systems by comparing themselves to Angola.
Court Rejects Suit Against Enron Banks (Dealbook)
A court rejected the idea of class action suits against banks that were advisers to the Crooked E. Individuals, if they like, can still hire their own attorneys and bring cases against the bank, but there's not gonna be any massive, easy-to-join lawsuit for shareholders. This sounds like a good ruling to us, if only because this nonsense has to end somewhere. Sure, people would like to collect on their losses, but at some point the victims of fraud have to appreciate that if they're never going to get all their money back. And ultimately, to some extent, it should be the victims of fraud that lose out the most, because, well, they're the victims, not everyone else.
Data Center Power Consumption (Infectious Greed)
Paul Kedrosky has a cool chart showing power consumption at data centers over the last few years. Sure enough, it's been soaring on a watts/square foot basis. We'd love to see a chart outline watts/data processed as well, which would be equally fascinating. Paul? There's been a lot of talk in the past year or so, about the increasing environmental footprint caused by the tech industry, which certainly uses its share of energy and toxic materials. But it should be noted that technology makes things more efficient, and ultimately is itself energy saving.
Prediction: A binding carbon market in 7 years (Environmental Economics)
Speaking of the environment, John Whitehead makes the prediction that binding carbon trading schemes will be in place within 7 years. He notes that the current regulatory state is similar to the way things were 7 years before the passage of the Clean Air Act, which brought with it its own cap-and-trade scheme. If true, you should be building your models now.
'Liar loans': Mortgage woes beyond subprime (CNN Money)
If you thought the subprime fiasco was ugly, wait'll you see what happens in the "stated income" mortgages market. Well, we're not sure what will happen, but many feel that the market surrounding these mortgages, in which the borrower doesn't have to give the bank much data, is primed for collapse. Maybe, but maybe things won't be so bad. What's one reason that people might want a loan without having to provide documentation? They're drug dealers. Now, we're not going to say that a $386 billion market is filled with drug dealers; apparently the loand are popular with real estate investors as well. But either way, it seems a little inaccurate to just say that these are sub-subprime, and so the collapse is inevitable. And isn't the drug market counter-cyclical?