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Opening Bell: 11.19.07

Merger winds blow 2 ways (AJC)
What did we tell you? We said last week that all of this talk about Delta and UAL merging was almost certainly rubbish. And when the smoke cleared, it turned out to be not much more than a hedge fund pushing the idea and hoping that that the idea would collect enough momentum to turn from vapor into reality. The funny thing is how it was reported, as if it was right around the corner. Maybe it's too early to say we were right on this one, but it looks like we were right.
China Freezes Lending to Curb Investing Frenzy (WSJ)
Finally, China is doing something about its overheating economy. What took 'em so long? Seriously, it was so obvious that they needed to cut down on runaway lending, so as to give the country a fighting shot at a soft landing. Word is, banks are being given 'til the end of the year to get their house in order. That being said, if they really get tight with the money, this could give rise to a criminal lending club (ie a mafia); basically loan sharks for large enterprises. Seriously, you'd probably pay 75 percent interest to build a gum factory if you figured it could grow as fast as the 500 other gum factories you've watched spring up in your back yard.
Swiss Re Has $876 Million Loss Due to Subprime Credit Write-Down (WSJ)
Not the biggest writedown by any means, but banking reinsurance giant Swiss Re has lost $876 million through the end of October. But, the company says its on track to earn a profit for the year and show a solid ROE. Again, not a huge loss by today's standards, but one to make sure you've got in your database.
Wall Street Plans $38 Billion of Bonuses as Shareholders Lose (Bloomberg)
A populist headline from Bloomberg about big Wall St. bonuses in light of investor losses. It's true though, no yachts for the shareholders this year. Still, shareholders have been getting paid in yachts for a long time now, so they can't be too picky. On average, the bonuses will work out to $201,000 per employee, though when you factor in what the Goldman guys are getting, in particular the top brass, it's really not that much for the average Streetworker.

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Stagehands, Producers Talks Break Down (AP)
Throw out your hopes of a Thanksgiving comeback for Broadway. Got family in town to see a show? Guess you're going to have to see some off-off-off-off Broadway one-woman show about single mothers getting sent off to fight in Iraq. So yeah, big losses for the big plays, and of course the whole mid-town economy, which sucks in lots of cash on the side.
Northern Rock Won't Get Extended Aid as Bids Received (Bloomberg)
Just curious: Does anyone else instinctively think "30 Rock" when they read about Norther Rock and then have to remember that obviously all of these articles aren't about a TV show. Thing is, we're not even fans of the new Tina Fay vehicle, so it's not clear why we keep making this mistake. Just wonderin'
Amazon will launch Kindle ebook reader on Monday (Guardian)
If we're to believe Amazon, the world of Reading2.0 starts today, with the official launch of Kindle, its ebook reader. Lots of folks have been sipping the ebook kool-aid for awhile now, but, still no major effect on the industry of printing books. Yes, the technology has its hardcore devotees, but no device has yet been the iPod of books. Amazon is hoping to change that with a snazzy device an integrated store and a bunch of wireless services. We'll get back to you on this in five years when either the world has changed or it hasn't.
PayPal offers secure way to shop non-PayPal sites (Reuters)
Interesting financial advance here... PayPal has launched a way for customers to use PayPal even on sites that don't accept PayPal. Holdon, say what? When you go to a site that doesn't accept PayPal, the service will create a one-time, disposable MasterCard number that's attached to your PayPal account. For the merchant, it looks like a MasterCard transaction (MasterCard Inc. is involved with the endeavor), but to you, it's just a PayPal payment. Actually, it turns out that Google has had something like this before, via is Checkout service, but nobody has ever heard about it, which tells you what you need to know about the success of Checkout.
Housing, Credit Markets May Hurt Economy (AP)
Very intriguing stuff here.