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Opening Bell: 9.13.07

Likelihood of a Recession Is Given Better Odds
According to a Journal survey, the odds of a recession are now up to 36%, which is up from 28% last month. If history is any guide, it will be in the forties next month. Even if things don't deteriorate, the 64% of economists who think everything is going okay will start to wonder why the ranks of the pessimists are growing, and then they'll switch their vote, just to be joiners.
Wal-Mart's New Tack: Show 'Em the Payoff (Washington Post)
Wal Mart's got a new slogan, ditching its famous 'Always Low Prices' after 19 years. Now it's the fairly straightforward 'Save Money. Live Better' which is pretty much a truism. Really, who can argue with that? The slogan was developed by the same firm that dig the Geico Gecko, which is odd, seeing as the Gecko is about as unstraightforward of a campaign as you could come up with. We're going to go out on a limb, and guess that this new slogan doesn't do a whole lot to turn things around at the retailer. Just a guess.
Pimco Starts Distressed-Debt Fund (WSJ)
Who needs Fannie and Freddie to sop up extra mortgages when you've already got well-run companies looking to invest more in this space. Pimco is launching a $2 billion distressed-debt fund, as it looks to pick up cheap, undervalued mortgage assets. Pimco's not the only doing this, either. Granted $2 billion isn't going to save anything overnight, but if there are bargains out there, someone will snap them up.
Court halts ban on imports of Qualcomm cellphones (AP)
Quallcomm has won a good victory in its intellectual property spat with Brodcom, as a federal judge has ruled that a ban on the importation of its cellphones should be halted. Broadcomm has successfully alleged patent infringement against Quallcomm, leading a lower court to issue an injunction against the importation of Qualcomm chips. It's just temporary, but seeing as the company has a good shot at prevailing in the end, it's a big win to not be subject to the ban temporarily.

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Senators Urge More Stringent Rules for Toy Safety
Here's a game. We didn't put the name of the pub in the link. Can you guess which one it is just by looking at the title? No clicking! No, seriously, it's just not worth it.
My Jet Is Bigger Than Yours (The American)
Jillian Cohan at The American offers a defense of the much-maligned private jet. Honestly, we were hoping for something a little more aggressive and contrarian, but she makes a good case nonetheless. Basically, the quality gap between a private jet and a commercial first class ticket is pretty big. And, in terms of time and speed, there are all kinds of advantages for the former. So while it may look like nothing but opulence, there are practical reasons why private jets make so much sense for CEOs and the other megawealthy.
Burning Water (Felix Salmon)
Another guy claims to have developed a perpetual motion machine, an engine that burns salt water, creating an unlimited supply of power. Whatever, you know it's false, they always are. Period. Just in case you needed more proof, Felix Salmon notes that the guy is trying to get government funding. That's all you need to know, seeing as venture capitalists are investing in anything with the word "green" in it. If the guy can't even get some VC to plunk down $5 mil, and is instead looking to the government, you know he's full of it.
Piff, paff, poof - UK M&A vanishes (FT Alphaville)
Dealwise, things have really fallen off a cliff in the UK, just like here. So don't feel all alone. In august, M&A activity hit a mere $9.4 billion, down from $59.4 billion in July. Zouch. And average deal size? Just 75 million. That's nothing. Like, when they're that cheap, might as well just advise on them pro bono.
Dollar Declines to All-Time Low Versus Euro on Slowing Economy (Bloomberg)
We can thank all those economic geniuses predicting a recession for this one. The dollar has slipped to an all-time low against the Euro, as currency traders fear continued economic weaknesses. And these currency moves have a big impact. The World Series of Poker Europe is now underway in London, and entries were a lot lower than had been expected, probably because the buy-in for the main was £10,000, which is basically twice as much as the $10,000 main event buy in stateside. So yeah, this isn't just academic.
The strategy of cashlessness (Free Exchange)
Forget everything you've ever heard about how economists can be impractical with their sole focus on theoreticals and hypotheticals. The nameless blogger at the Economist's Free Exchange blog shows how economics can save you money on dinner. Get this: If you never have cash on you when dining out with friends, someone is likely to pick up your tab, provided you're "good for it". But (and here's the kicker), if they are likely to forget about that, then it's a free dinner! Man, that's genius. Seriously, sometimes economics really helps out.