Opening Bell: 6.28.07

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UBS charged with running 'hedge fund hotel' (Reuters)
Regulators in Massachusetts have accused UBS of engaging in unethical practices to win business from hedge funds. Such activities included offers of free Red Sox tickets and cheap office space. We're not really sure what the problem is. Presumably, UBS shareholders got the better end of the deals, or else UBS probably wouldn't have entered into them. As for the hedge funds, it's also hard to see how anyone got hurt. Maybe some shareholder could be upset that management is making decisions based on anything but alpha, but why should Massachusetts taxpayers be ponying up the legal bill to look out for the millionaires invested in the funds?
A New Genre on Wall St.: Bailout Blog (NYT)
Apparently, the head of the Bear Stearns unit that managed its troubled hedge funds, Richard Marin, has launched a blog. Part of it is details his experiences at the unit, while other entries are about movies that he's seen. But here's the thing. The blog appears to be password protected, which is lame-o. We can't abide by that. So, Mr. Marin, we'd love it if you could see fit to shoot us a password. Or if anyone else knows its contents, we'd love to hear about it.
Hanesbrands plans to send more work overseas (Chicago Tribune)
Underwear maker Hanesbrands (Hanes) said that it will close a number of plants in the US, Mexico and the Dominican Republic, moving that production into even cheaper locales across Asia and Central America. When critics of globalization decry the "race to the bottom", this is exactly what they're talking about. When even Mexican workers aren't immune from cost competition, it would seem that the country is running furiously on a treadmill. But it's also worth asking whether Hanes is getting anywhere. Does it really make good business sense to set up factories and then move on anytime you think you can get a labor edge somewhere else? While it might sound good on conference calls, it comes off as grossly inefficient.
Alitalia Seeks Another Suitor After Aeroflot Withdraws (Dealbook)
The European state airlines have always been troubled in some sense or another, but by all accounts, Italy's Alitalia has been the worst of the worst. Not surprisingly, given what we know about government in Italy, the airline has been, simply put, exceptionally poorly run. It's been trying to unload the damn thing for a while, but it doesn't seem to be doing well. Russian firm Aeroflot had been interested in purchasing, but it pulled out after claiming that it hadn't been given access to critical operating data. Our bet: the papers were probably just lost. So, it's looking for new suitors. Good luck on that.


European Regulator Blocks Ryanair Bid for Aer Lingus (Dealbook)
Meanwhile, elsewhere in the tumultuous world of European civil aviation, regulators have blocked Ryan Air's attempt to buy Irish national carrier Aer Lingus. If you know anything about European antitrust policy, you already know who was behind the decision, though we'll just say that her name rhymes with "really blows". The Irish government had already signaled its opposition to the deal, presumably out of some prejudice against low-cost carriers.
Durable goods orders end run (Chicago Tribune)
Durable good orders unexpectedly dropped in May, adding more credence to the idea that the economy is slowing down. The measure was stung by a drop in aircraft orders, though even if you exclude this measure, the index would still be down. We still have to go back to the question of whether these various indicators tell us anything about the US economy, or whether we simply have a jumble of un-related data that isn't representative of the sum. There are still plenty of indicators looking good. Is it only a matter of time before they turn down, or do various things just not have anything to do with each other?
Beazer fires accounting chief (Reuters)
Beazer, the country's #6 homebuilder, has fired its head of accounting for failing to adequately cook the books, and make it appear as though the housing market is turning around. No, not really, although maybe that's the subtext here. Technically, he's been fired for destroying certain documents in contravention of the company's ethical rules.
News Corp. Awaits Reply From Bancrofts (WSJ)
Rupert Murdoch said yesterday that the heavy lifting is all done in his bid to buy Dow Jones, and that it's now time to wait for the Bancrofts' answer. We really hope he's not kidding, cause that would be a cruel joke if thing weren't anywhere near over.
Ask.com Takes Lead In Designing Display Of Search Results (WSJ)
Walt Mossberg's glowing review of the iPhone lead to a bounce in Apple's shares, as it helped relieve some lingering worries about the company. Today he reviews the latest iteration of Ask.com, which launched a few years ago. Walt likes it, but somehow we can't see it having the same effect on parent company Interactive Corp.
CDS report: Overnight US rally soothes nerves, but worries persist (FT Alphaville)
In Europe, traders of credit derivatives were soothed by the fact that the US stock market rallied yesterday. What's the connection? Well, obviously, there's no direct link, it's more psychological. In otherwords, traders are looking to US stock buyers and saying "well, they don't seem to give a damn about all of these growing concerns, so there mustn't be anything to really worry about". Either that, or this report is full of it.

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