Opening Bell: 9.24.07

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Rumours of massive gold find boost BHP Billiton (Guardian Unlimited)
Shares of base metals miner BHP BIlliton jumped on rumors that the company had found the world's largest gold reserve. Good for them, if true. This reminds us of the age old question relating to gold-backed currencies: what if someone were to find some ridiculous amount of gold in their back yard? Would that destroy the currency overnight, as the value of the world's existing gold plummeted? (The picture on the left, of course, is of a man adding value to the economy, while dipping a pan into water, looking for gold).
Banks Reduce Backlog of Unsold Debt to $370 Billion (Bloomberg)
The gigantic debt overhang was reduced by 2% last week to a mere $370 billion. Banks were able to find buyers for loans for First Data and Allison Transmissions. $370 billion may seem daunting, but don't worry. Remember back in 2001, when people said we'd never work through all of the internet bandwidth we'd built up? Well now it's 2007, and once again, we're laying more fiber across the oceans. Just last week, news emerged that Google lay a pipe to China. Of course, it's not quite a perfect analogy, we're just saying, stuff does get worked through in due course.
Wal-Mart Asks Suppliers to Rate Energy Use (WSJ)
Wal-Mart will ask its suppliers to measure the amount of energy that goes into making their products. Some might see this as yet another cynical attempt on the part of Wal-Mart to ingratiate itself among activists. Or, it could have a legitimate business reason to do this. After all, given two equal products, the one that required less energy is probably more efficient. Any company can fall on their sword with respect to pricing, but by looking at a company's energy consumption, you can get a good sense of how tight a ship they're running. So by asking companies to calculate this stuff, Wal-Mart should build a good profile of its suppliers.
Dell to sell PCs, notebooks in China through Gome stores (MarketWatch)
Dell continues to do what once would have been unthinkable: find retail partners for its computers. While it looks to eke out shelf space in the US at some second-tier electronics shops, the company has signed a deal with GOME, China's biggest electronics store, to distribute its computers there. We're not sure if they're having the same problems in China as they're having here (namely that consumers want to touch and feel a laptop before they buy it), though it would make sense. As such, this sounds like a decent score.

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China stocks hover around 5,500 mark (China Daily)
Not that this is "news" per se, but China shares have hit yet another all-time high. Bully for them. Hong Kong, too.
Rumors of Statistical Arbitrage's Death Greatly Exaggerated (Infectious Greed)
Who says that the quant space has become too crowded with too many funds engaged in the exact same play? new study claims plenty of good profit making opportunities are still out there, across a range of asset classes. Certainly, the post-hiccup profits turned in by some of these funds would suggest there's truth in that.
Comcast in Barron's (Again) (Controlled Greed)
When we noticed, last night, that Barron's had written a bullish piece on Comcast, we thought to ourselves, "hmm, Barron's seems to have a thing for Comcast, since they've written the same article several times now". Granted, the stock's been on a great run over the last couple of years, so you can't directly fault Barron's for banging the drum on its bullishness. Anyway, Controlled Greed noticed the same thing. If it happens again, that'll really warrant the tinfoil hats.
Retailer’s Shortcut From Desktop to Store (NYT)
Apparently, a number of retailers are rulling out "site to store" services, whereby one can purchase an item online, but pick it up in the store. In part, the idea is that this saves on shipping costs... but of course, there's the whole part about driving to the store, not to mention the wasted time. Basically, we find it pretty hard to see what's appealing about this. Perhaps if you already have to go to the store, like going to Wal-Mart to buy food, but then picking up a stereo that you ordered while there. That's conceivable, though it still seems odd. Maybe it has nothing to do with money or time, but timing. If you work all day, and can't be home when the UPS guy arrives, then it could make sense.
Myspace offers ad-supported mobile version (AP)
Fox says it will launch a free version of MySpace for mobile phones, which will be supported by ads. Very, very interesting. Sounds a lot like, um, the free version of MySpace that's on the regular internet. Makes us wonder -- is there a paid version of MySpace where you don't get ads? That might even make the site tolerable to view.

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