Opening Bell: 10.23.07

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Nike to Buy Soccer-Shirt Maker Umbro for $580 Million (Bloomberg)
Back when we were youngsters, kids couldn't get enough of Umbro's checkered soccer shorts. Seriously, they were the cool thing in school. We had a couple pair ourselves. Now we're strictly Nike though. But here's a felicitous union. Nike is buying Umbro for $580 million. These days, the company mainly sell soccer jerseys, as we haven't seen the checkered shorts in a long time. Actually, we looked online for the shorts a few months ago and couldn't find much. Hopefully Nike will ramp up the volume of them again.
Oil Trades Near $86 as Turkey Says Diplomacy May Avert Strike (Bloomberg)
Turns out, the price of oil is all about the Kurds -- who knew? We thought there were all kinds of geopolitical factors, plus strait up geological factors, like pike oil. Nope. Evidently oil sank (boo! hiss!) on word that Turkey is holding out hope for a peaceful solution to "the Kurdish question". Anyone want to modify their oil-$100 predictions?
Rangel's Corporate-Tax Bill May Frame Future Debate (WSJ)
What the hell, Charlie Rangel would like to lower the corporate tax rate to 30 percent? Are we still asleep. Actually, it's not that radical. Yes, the liberal NYC Rep. would lower corporate taxes from 35 percent to 30 percent, but he'd make it up with higher expenses elsewhere. In particular, he's looking to change the tax code to penalize overseas manufacturers. All in all, sounds like a terrible idea. It's one thing when there's a level tax rate across all businesses (of course there isn't, because there are tons of loopholes), but it's another thing when taxes are used to dictate economic policy objectives. So yeah, the corporate tax rate should be lower, but this sounds like a non starter.
The personal isn't political (always) (Megan McArdle)
A good discussion of why it's silly to equate a laissez-faire policy stance with personal selfishness. And of course there's the converse, when people thing that the politically egalitarian are somehow more generous-minded.

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Apple Reports Fourth Quarter Results
So, yeah, they pretty much rocked. Depressingly, when it comes down to it, Google and Apple are still blowing away earnings, performing much better than their tech industry peers. Still, Google and Apple bull sure can be obnoxious, no?
Many Red Flags Preceded a Recall of Hamburger (NYT)
The times is back on the recall beat. This time it isn't china, but "big meat". It specifically walks through the events of the Topps beef factory, now out of business, which faced recalls this summer due to e. Coli tainting. Not to diminish the suckiness of e. Coli, but doesn't it seem like we have a pretty healthy food system? After all, save one or two people every once in a while, deaths seem pretty durn rare.
Redefining Business Casual (NYT)
So apparently some companies are doing away with the over-casualness of Friday business casual. We wouldn't know (duh). That being said, isn't there something cyclical about biz cazh? If we recall, these same stories popped up around the end of the last boom, or maybe they came about once we were in a recession. Either way, there's always a lash, a backlash and then a back-backlash, etc. with this stuff. So if you're still a big fan of biz cazh, don't worry, it'll be back.
A Vital Engine of Economic Growth (American)
Most of this should be old hat to readers of the 'Breaker, but John Chapman at the American explains why private equity is an engine of growth (and in turn, why it's been to lucrative). Not new, but still refreshing given the unceasing anti-PE sentiment always wafting about.
Cat Call (Big Picture)
In case you missed it, lots of folks talking about Caterpillar's earnings, and what it means for the economy. Barry Ritholtz picks out some juicy bits from the conf. call designed to demonstrate that yes, the economy is on shaky ground.

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