Opening Bell: 9.20.07

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Trade Group: Holiday Sales to Grow Slow (AP)
It's never too early to talk about what a disappointing shopping season it's going to be. As far as we're concerned, we should just give up on the notion that the holiday season will ever be good again, because for as long as we can remember, retailers have complained. And if we assume some sort of long-term, macro negative from all of this credit stuff, well, then, that makes it even harder. Anyway, retailers are calling for just 4.0% growth this year, which is down from 4.6% from the year before, although it's above the doldrums of the last recession? Our forecast? 3.0% Bam, we said it.
Dubai to Buy Large Stake in Nasdaq (NYT)
Forget about middle eastern investors snatching up European exchanges (although they're doing that too). Word is that Dubai is going to take a large stake in the NASDAQ, which is altogether unsurprising and surprising at the same time. The deal, which has yet to be announced officially, would see Dubai with a 20% - 30% stake in the exchange. See, all that oil money which we've watched leave our shores over the past several years are coming home (to roost, some might say) where they belong.
Euro breaks past $1.40 for the first time (MarketWatch)
As you know, we're not real big on causal explanations here at the 'Breaker, but we still can't help feeling like the fresh highs on the Euro aren't totally unrelated to the 50 bps cut by the fed. Meanwhile, the odds continue to grow longer against us taking another European vacation at any point in the next several years. And with gas prices the way they are, there's simply no reason to ever leave New York.
China Freezes Prices in Inflation Move (AP)
China's come up with a novel way to fight inflation that the US government might consider looking at if things get worse: freezing prices. So brilliant, and yet so simple. Actually, we're a little skeptical about this story, since it doesn't look well-verified, and the Chinese government has a way of saying a lot of different things based on who is doing the talking. Can't always trust those trusted unnamed Communist Party officials, who find their way into plenty of stories.

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Area ranks 8th nationwide in time drivers lose because of congestion (Detroit Free Press)
Some study came out yesterday looking at the most congested cities in the country and now every regional paper is running an article about it, particularly if their city made the list. One of the worst was Detroit, which surprises the hell out of us -- because there's no economy there. There's none. There's some stuff in the suburbs, but does anyone actually commute from the city to the suburbs or vice versa? Not as far as we know. Perhaps this is just really good evidence that traffic is more a function of road policy than it is usage and capacity.
Stelmach says he'd stand up to big oil (Canada.com)
Even in Canada, where oil has fueled a boom in jobs, investment and a rise in the Loonie, politicians still talk about "standing up to big oil". Who''s next, the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia?
Estimating O.J. Simpson's economic impact (MarketWatch)
So there's this debate going on right now: will the OJ II be as much of a media circus as OJ I? Sure, people probably have OJ fatigue by now -- after all, it's not like he's been out of the news for the last 10 years -- and of course, this case is about sports memorabilia armed robbery, which isn't quite as sensational as murder. On the other hand, Greta van Sustren, who practically owes her career to the guy, already has a blog about it. And then there's a million other gossip sites that will post updates on it every 15 seconds. And, in a sense, because it's not a murder trial, the rest of the media will feel more comfortable making light of the whole thing. Anyway, MarketWatch has found its angle, calculating the economic benefit to Las Vegas form this trial, which it estimates at $20 million, just based on the number of journalists covering it. It could go higher than that, although their analysis doesn't take costs into account. What's more, $20 million is just a drop in the bucket for the Vegas, so really, this was just an excuse for MarketWatch to talk OJ, which proves our point exactly, that this is going to be big.
REVIEW: Mint’s A Personal Finance After-Banking Treat (GigaOM)
Have you heard about Mint.com yet? It's the new online personal finance site trying to be Quicken 2.0. It's getting rave reviews, and it took top prize at the recent TechCrunch40 conference, which either means something to you or it doesn't. Anyway, we checked it out cause of all the hype. Our review: sorry, but thumbs down. First of all, the site was moving at a crawl. What is this, Christmas '99? And second of all, it could only grab your bank account data, nothing from investments, which makes it patently useless for most people with any money whatsoever. Perhaps if you're a just-out-of-college East Williamsburg renter, with one job, one checking account (that rarely has more than $500 in it) and one credit card, then you might get some value out of it.

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