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Opening Bell: 10.29.07

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O'Neal Out as Merrill Reels From Loss (WSJ)
No press release just yet from Merrill, but nobody seems to have any doubt that today is the day of O'Neal's departure. The only real unanswered question, it seems, is how much severance he'll be getting. And then of course, it's not clear who will be succeeding him. An internal and external search is expected.
Lehman Brothers CEO sees US economic growth slowing after credit market crisis (Dow Jones)
Lehman Brothers CEO Dick Fuld sees the US economy s;owing down as a result of the credit market. Thing is, he told this to German newspaper Handelsblatt. Maybe he didn't realize that there would be some English speakers that can also read German, who would then translate the story and rewrite it as a Dow Jones Newswires story... very sneaky indeed. Looks like his plan to keep the bad news from Wall St. was foiled. He still says, however, that he isn't predicting a recession, but that could have something to do with translation issues.
Gap Vows Action After Child Labor Report (AP)
Gap says it will make a serious effort to stamp out child labor at its Indian operations, after allegations that the company's clothes are made by kids. Crazy, this company has been dealing with the same charges for some 15 years now, and every time the response is always the same. Granted, the folks making the charges aren't typically the most informed... child labor is a big cause among high schoolers, as sort of a starter political issue. Still, you'd think by now Gap would now a bit more about heading off the issue.
China's Yuan Rises Most Since Dollar Link Ended; Bonds Decline (Bloomberg)
The Yuan rose 0.3%, the largest move since the iron link between it and the Dollar was lifted. Not that there are any measures that will really cool off China, but policymakers are still clinging to the notion that a few tweaks here and there, will be able to slowly correct some of the major imbalances out there. Best of luck to 'em.

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Oracle Lets BEA Bid Die; Icahn Pushes for Auction (WSJ)
So Oracle has dropped its BEA bid. Done, gone, walked away... kaput. No longer interested. Now the stock falls, and now management is left, with a stock price below what it could've been, Carl Icahn breathing down their necks and a whole bunch of upset shareholders. Brilliant (sarcastic, if you're talking about BEA management; brilliant if you're referring to Ellison). In a statement, Oracle said this: "if the BEA shareholders are unhappy with the behavior of the BEA board it is up to those shareholders, not Oracle, to take the appropriate action." The company also dropped other hints that it could revisit the bid in the future, if the situation was right, though it said it had no guarantees. So the idea may be, let the board get beat up for a while over this... let some lose their jobs, and them come in when the stock is at $8 and put in a $12 per share bid. Just watch.
Driving a Hummer On Tokyo Streets Takes a Battle Plan (WSJ)
Yes, apparently it takes a battle plan to drive a Hummer in Tokyo. Actually, this is an interesting article; apparently, the ridiculous Arnold-mobiles are taking off in the country, which, as you could imagine, isn't really designed for cars of that size. Good to see they're spending again.
Dear Economist, I am a woman in my early 30s. I am also a virgin. Should I be? (Financial Times)
Advice columnist/economist Tim Harford answers the tough questions indeed.
Making Money from Droughts (Paul Kedrosky)
We've heard a few people talk about water as the new oil, which is pretty scrazy (scary, crazy), since there's no ethanol or solar power to come in and take its place. Paul Kedrosky has a couple links outlining the bullish case on water and possible money making plays on the theme. Still, our libertarian optimist thinks that the price of water desalinization and transport will miraculously plummet, proving to be a solution for the whole problem. We're sure Julian Simon would agree.
$90 a barrel: Is it time to start worrying about the oil price shock of 2007? (Econbrowser)
Is oil finally going to prove our undoing this time? We've been doing fine so far. Actually, the oil story doesn't even seem to be as big as it was last year. Sure, oil is at $90, but where are the oil hearings, the calls for windfall profit taxes? Where's Chuck Schumer standing outside of a Hess? Has it even come up in the Presidential debates? Has John Edwards accused Hill of being in the pocket of Big Oil? Then again, maybe these are all signs of complacency.