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Opening Bell: 6.22.07

Blackstone prices IPO at $31 a share (CNNMoney)
As you very well know, this is the day. All the controversy, quiet periods, tax discussions, share pricing, underwriting, complaints about discrimination in the underwriting process, debates over valuation, etc.; they all manifest themselves today. In actuality they sort of manifested yesterday, today is just the unwashed masses get a crack at the shares. And it's really just beginning of the story, not any culmination or anything, but you know. Unfortunately, the timing of the offering might make it a little harder to do the typical Friday slack off.
U.S. Labor Leader Aided China's Wal-Mart Coup (WSJ)
For the past several years, there's been a mad rush among entrepreneurs and big businesses alike to break into the China market. Going to China is almost seen as a strategy itself, something that's a good idea even without any coherent vision of what to do when you get there. Seeing as the streets are paved with gold, that really doesn't matter too much. You just go there and collect your money. Turns out, even labor organizers are salivating over the country of 1 billion people that aren't making a living wage. Andy Stern, head of the SEIU, has been getting deeply involved in Chinese labor issues, and was one of the architects of the organization of Wal-Mart employees in the country. Now he's looking to do even more, much to the chagrin of US businesses operating there.
Bears back in control (CNNMoney)
Which is easier, predicting market movements in the short term or the long term. Well, in the long term, you can probably say that "stocks will go up", and you'd probably right. But in the short term, as in the morning before the market is open, you have all kinds of futures data, European and Asian market activity, economic indicators and so forth to help you make your guess. Here's the thing, which we've come to realize, these articles that purport to say which direction the market will go in on a given day are almost always wrong. We'd love to see a study of this, or maybe we'll start tracking it ourselves, and give you the answer. Day one of the experiment starts today. The pre-market article says down. We'll give you the report after six months.
Qualcomm CEO welcomes iPhone (AP)
Although there's no Qualcomm technology in the iPhone, the company says it's looking forward to it. Can you guess why? Duh. Cause it validates the market, or something like that. The company expects consumers to show greater interest in the spectrum of higher-end phones, while the other makers are expected to step up their gain. Always gotta appreciate folks that look on the bright side.

Nissan Triumphs Over UAW in Senate Bill (AP)
It's long ago gotten to the point that you have to dread anything that comes out of this Congress. No matter what you think of a bill's headline proposal, you have to figure that it's totally crooked and riddled with loopholes. Consider last night's passage of a bill upping CAFE standards. First of all, it was mainly supported by Democrats (duh), but it was partially crafted by Alaskan Senator Ted Stevens. Also, many Democrats were against it, because the UAW stood against, because the UAW is worried that it'll hurt auto jobs. Meanwhile, Nissan was for it (the only company that was), since it's products are already the closest to being in compliance. Ah, you gotta love representative government, no? Also, the bill specifies a minimum of 35 mpg for SUVs by 2020. How in the hell are they going to do that?
Once Again, Trade Effort Stumbles on Subsidies (NYT)
During free trade talks in Germany, the US wound up in a disagreement with India and Brazil over how much subsidies they're allowed to give their farmers, and the size of the trade barriers that they're allowed to put up. So, like every other WTO-related talk, nothing happened.
Bear Stearns Plans $3.2 Billion Fund Rescue to Halt Fire Sale (Bloomberg)
In an attempt to salvage its High-Grade Structured Credit Strategies Fund (a name that should make anyone run for the hills), Bear Stearns is doubling down on it. It's offered to acquire up to $3.2 billion in loans that the fund has currently taken out from outside parties. The move prevents those loans from being sold at firesale prices, which would be disastrous, since, you know, it would reveal a market price for these assets.
Supernova and the Centrality of Paris Hilton (Infectious Greed)
Paris Hilton is clearly a central figure in the world of business and economics, as her flings with Greek shipping heirs predicted the wild boom in the shipping industry over the last few years. Turns out, she's also important to tech startups, as Paul Kedrosky noted while sitting on a panel at the Supernova conference. The heiress' name came up more than anything else, even Google, Ajax and Web 2.0. And just imagine how much her name would be coming up if she weren't in the clink. Oh wait.