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Opening Bell: 10.4.07

Lean Crop of Dollars (NYT)
We can't really abide by any food subsidies, but if we have to subsidize food, we'd much rather it be fresh fruits, veggies and lean meats than corn, corn, more corn, soy, corn, corn, wheat and more corn. Again, we're sure that the alternative policy would create all kind of negative, unintended results, but it may not contribute as much to obesity (and diabetes, etc., etc.). But, despite their best efforts, produce growers aren't gaining much traction in their efforts to lobby Capitol Hill, in part because they're not as organized as the traditional grain-based ag lobbies. On the other hand, they did send 9 fetching watermelon queens up to the hill. We can't imagine what the corn queen looks like, but it's probably not a pretty sight.
GOP urges probe in China firm deal (Washington Times)
Bill Gertz of the Washington Times, who's made something of a career out of China paranoia, reports that Republicans are concerned about Bain Capital's plan to partner with Huawei to buy 3Com. The concern is whether government computers could somehow be compromised by the networking giant's relationship with a Chinese company. Let's see how to break this to Congress softly... if you're worried about government tech somehow coming from China, you might need to get into a time machine and go back 30 years. Seriously, even when the government is using American technology, it's probably just "American" technology, with half the parts, or more, sourced from Aisa. Really, to worry about this deal shows a profound ignorance, of, well, current reality.
Republicans Grow Skeptical On Free Trade (WSJ)
Oh gosh, a new poll done by the WSJ finds that Republican voters are now overwhelmingly negative on the idea of free trade, by a 2-1 margin. No wonder Republican politicians have totally abandoned that stuff. Honestly, we had no idea. We're going to slink into a cave once we're doing writing the Opening Bell today. Let us know when reality has righted itself. On the other hand, Ron Paul had a monster fund raising quarter. Probably because the few Republicans with free market leaning are so starved for choices.
U.S. Firms Circle Northern Rock (WSJ)
The Journal reports that Cerberus and JC Flowers are both interested in acquiring a stake in troubled British bank Northern Rock. It notes that both firms have experience with banks in crisis, having been involved in the Japanese market when it cratered. Anyway, we hope that they prevail here. Frankly, it's a little tiresome to always see US assets snapped up by the Chinese or Dubai, not that there's anything really wrong with that. Time for us to step up and start buying foreign companies again, even if they're like Northern Rock and in really rough shape. We're pretty clever in the end. It's our mortgage mess that started Northern Rock's troubles, and now we're going to use that to get 'em when they're down. Bravo.

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DaimlerChrysler CEO Defends Name Change (Forbes)
Why oh why would Dieter "Dr. Z" Zetsche want to change his name. He's got a great name. Oh, nm, they're changing the name Daimler Chrysler, to reflect the absence of Chysler. Seems reasonable. Pending shareholder approval, it will now be known as just Daimler AG, although some are evidently miffed that Benz won't be part of the name. The fact that some shareholders are getting bent out of shape on this issues is pretty strong evidence that shareholders out to butt out of the company's business.
Airlines delay, divert or shelve nearly 30% of flights (MarketWatch)
Sadly, it seems inevitable that a major regulatory overhaul of the airline industry is in the offing -- and not the good kind of regulatory overhaul, but the kind where they add a bunch more regulations. Performance is too poor and frustration is too high for politicians to sit around doing nothing. Of course, George Bush has a new found free market streak late in his career, evidenced by his vetoing of the child health bill, so maybe he'll stand firm (kidding).
Place your bets! Will 787 deliver on time? (Seattle PI)
The site NewsFutures, a betting market of sorts, has set up a new site that merges online betting with charity. Since it's illegal to bet for a profit, the company is hoping that users will want to place wagers if the money goes to third-party cause. Okay, might happen. One of the contracts listed is on the arrival of the Boeing 787, which, let's face it, seems perilously close to being the new A380. People are really wondering whether they'll get it together in a timely manner. Perhaps, Airbus, by discovering its wiring problem over a year ago, was actually ahead of Boeing.
Harmony Gold Mining secures 2 bln rand loan with Nedbank
We kept seeing the name Harmony Gold Mining in the headlines yesterday evening, but weren't sure what for. Now we realize why. The company has signed a 2 billion rand credit facility with Nedbank to fund expansion plans. Good for them.
Floating Dubai’s (RGE Monitor)
Apparently yachts are no longer considered luxury goods. They're simply indispensable for the rich, according to a quote Brad Setser noticed in the Times. Anyway, we pretty much agree.