Opening Bell: 11.20.07

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Posco Opposes BHP's Plan to Buy Rio, Executive Says (Bloomberg)
If Microsoft were buying Google, the news coverage would certainly blot out the moon. We'd have 50 straight days of above-the-fold front-page NYT headlines on the subject. That's not happening, but BHP Billiton is making a bid for Rio Tinto and Rio Tinto may turn around and do the same, and in this commodity climate, with so much at stake here, it's pretty damn big news. Anyway, we'd cover it some more, but it's not our main beat. For that you have to read Steelbreaker.com -- unfortunately it's in German and you need a password. But the latest is that Korean steelmaker Posco is freaking out about the merger, since they're not crazy about the monopoly potential in the base metal market.
SAP TomorrowNow Chief Resigns; Sale of Unit Possible (Bloomberg)
The parties in Larry Ellison's word must happen every night. Earlier this year, his company launched a major lawsuit against SAP, accusing it of improperly downloading internal Oracle documents. And now all of the management at the helm of that unit, TomorroNow, is gone -- resigned in shame. TomorrowNow is SAP's division that serves Oracle users with cut-rate service. It may even have some customers on The Street. Naturally, Oracle hates TomorrowNow's existence, since it takes food out their mouths. But now SAP may just jettison the unit to put the problem to bed, a major coup for Ellison and Oracle.
Holiday travelers unfazed by gas prices, airport delays (Sun Sentinel)
This article claims that travelers are unfazed this year, by things like high gas prices, long delays at the airport and lost luggage. Perhaps unlettered is the better word. Yes, people are still traveling the hell out of Thanksgiving. But that's because it's a holiday and they feel compelled. Nobody likes it. Nobody is unfazed. Travelers are the most fazed people in the world. Delay their flight for 15 minutes and they're ready to jump over the ticket counter and strangle the clerk. Seriously, we've seen it -- they had to bring cops in. It was the day after Valentine's Day at JFK. Eventually there's a breaking point. With gas at $200 next year and flights running 90 minutes behind schedules, people will just telecommute to Thanksgiving.
Pinot Contest (Felix Salmon)
On our 21st birthday, back in college, we had a friend get 20 bottles of wine and then had a big groups of friends over to do a wine tasting -- yeah, not exactly your typical bender, but whatever, that's now how we rolled. What made it fun was that we did the tasting in the style of an NBA slam dunk contest. Everyone got cards with numbers on them that they held up after each sip. Anyway, sounds like Felix Salmon did something similar, except naturally he totally one-upped us and brought in all kinds of econometrics. Instead of just determening which wine was the best, he created a scatterplot and did a study of price/quality correlation. Show off. Anyway, looking for a good wine? Check out the post.

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Housing Starts in U.S. Probably Fell to 14-Year Low in October (Bloomberg)
Just in case you wanted an exact tab of where we were. October 93 was the last time we were at this level.
The Speculation Economy (penned by GW Professor Larry Mitchell) (Truth on the Market)
Yes, the news flow is doing its annual die-down, since people can't be asked to keep on top of things when they have to get to the airport 48 hours early. That being said, here's a book review of a new book that sounds pretty interesting. The Speculation Economy: How Finance Triumphed Over Industry. Looks like it'd make for a great Channukah gift this year, as it's all about the way our modern financial industry is an outgrowth of various regulatory schemes. Elizabeth Nowicki likes it, which is a pretty good endorsement.
On Broadway, Growing Gloom About the Holidays (NYT)
The Broadway strike could go on for a while and it's apparently costing the city $2 million per day. What's funny is that never in our lives have we ever been so interested in Broadway, home of the most antiseptic theater ever performed. We suspect a lot of people feel this way, so perhaps it would be in the industry's best interest for this to drag on. And then when it's over, maybe try making some plays that are more than just recycled Billy Joel songs or 90s movie hits.

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