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Opening Bell: 10.29.07

Sears Holdings Reports Third Quarter Results
So earnings at Sears Holdings got slices to $2 million in the recent quarter, from $196 million last year. We we all set to snark it up, saying something sarcastic like "we're sure they did a great quarter, but we're just too stupid to really appreciate the subtlety of the results." But, maybe sometimes a bad quarter is just a bad quarter, even at Sears. To wit: "We are very disappointed in our performance for the third quarter. We cannot blame our results entirely on the retail and macro-economic environments. We have much on which to improve and are working hard to do so." We certainly applaud their forthrightness.
E*TRADE Financial Announces $2.5 Billion Investment Led by Citadel
Troubled online broker E-Trade is getting $2.55 billion in cash and it's not petrodollars. Actually, it very well could be petrodollars. It's coming from hedge fund Citadel, which for all we know, counts
several billion in petrodollars under management. In fact we wouldn't be surprise to see that at all. The fund had previously owned 3 percent of the company, but it stands at 20 percent. Also, the company is replacing its CEO Mitchell Caplan, though no full-time replacement has been named.
Talking Ourselves into Recession (Business & Media Institute) (via Talking Biz News)
Amy Menefee at the free-market oriented Business & Media Institute says everyone should shut up about the recession already, or it'll turn into a self-fulfilling prophecy (ah but aren't they all?). She notes that for all the talk, the majority of policy makers and economists don't see a recession actually happening. That's funny, because that doesn't fit with half of the conference calls we've heard this quarter. In many cases, management isn't predicting recession -- they're saying we're in one right now. This all seems very similar to things felt in late 2000, when "49 out of 50 economists" kept saying there was no recession in the offing. And then there it was.
Trappist Command: Thou Shalt Not Buy Too Much of Our Beer (WSJ)
Interesting article with some important points about economics. The Journal looks at the plight of Trappist, beer-brewing monks, whose brew is in incredibly high demand, especially compared to the meager supply. The monks, you see, aren't interested in being a beer powerhouse, so they've kept supply and price down, which has created all kinds of havoc. Best line: "This beer is addictive, like chocolate," said Luc Lannoo, an unemployed, 36-year-old Belgian from Ghent, about an hour away, as he loaded two cases of Westvleteren into his car at the St. Sixtus gate one morning. "I have to come every month." Oh, really? Didn't know beer could be addictive.

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Oil futures climb more than $4 on pipeline fire (MarketWatch)
Admit it traders, your dreams of $100 oil are dashed, and now you're grasping at straws, looking for the flimsiest of excuses to push prices higher. A pipeline fire worth$4? What, never heard of the fire dept? Also, note that Brent Crude is only around $90, and seeing as we have a bumpersticker that says "This Car Runs on Brent North Sea Crude", we won't really consider the market to have hit $100 until both LSC and Brent both get over the hump.
NAR’s Temporary Housing View (Matrix)
For a while there, it looked like the NAR may have done some soul searching and come to terms with the fact that things are seriously different now than they were, say, two years ago. But, the NAR is as the NAR does, and they can only be honest with themselves for so long. Once again, new chief economy Larry Yun is out calling all off these problems temporary and overblown. Maybe it's true. People were snapping up the homebuilders yesterday for something.
Video games seen benefiting from toy scares (LA Times)
We've suggested all kinds of stimulating and educational gifts you can get your kids for Christmas, rather than getting them evil, mind-wasting, lead-laden toys this year. Yes, it seems that people will spend loss on toys... but maybe just to the benefit of video games, which is hardly better. Well, Guitar Hero is pretty cool, but that's the only one.
$200 Billion to Invest, but in China (NYT)
Don't expect to see our electro-dollars to come home the same way our petrodollars have. The sense, at least, is that China's big state-run investment fund isn't inclined to make big US purchases the way they have in Dubai and Abu Dhabi of late. Instead, they plan to invest their money in home-grown assets. It makes ense. China actually has a real economy, with multiple sectors. If all they had was oil, they'd probably be investing abroad and diversifying too.