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Jingle Bell: 12.27.07

The $50 Ticket: A Lottery Boon Raises Concern (NYT)
It's pretty ludicrous for the government to crack down on all sorts of gambling, but then promote lottery tickets, which offer a terrible payout ratio.But that's really obvious. An interesting trend is the growth of $10, $20 and $50 scratch off tickets. Naturally, it's got the public-health types freaking out. If these more expensive tickets were causing players to play more scratch off, it would be an interesting study. But it's also possible that the net amount spent is staying the same, and that people are opting to buy one $50 ticket, as opposed to ten $5 tickets. If the latter is the case, that's just efficiency. Plus it's a more concentrated rush. Anyway, in a few years, some academic will do a paper on this, and we'll let you know what they conclude by linking to the abstract in an obscure journal.
Citigroup May Cut Dividend by 40%, Goldman Sachs Says (Bloomberg)
Citi shareholders counting on that fat dividend shouldn't be, at least according to Goldman Sachs. The firm predicted the dividend would be slashed up to 40 percent, in an attempt to shore up capital. Then again, this is sort of old news. Citi's dividend looks big because nobody thinks it will last. For most, it looks like a matter of when, not if.
Why isn't E.W. Scripps a Raging Short? (Infectious Greed)
When the Home Depot opened in Manhattan a few years back, and the city flew into an orgiastic state, we realized that homemaking as pop culture had reached ridiculous proportions. Yes, faucets and lumber are nice, but come on. It's a Home Depot. Not only was the housing boom to blame, but it also had to do with the endless stream of TV shows relating to building homes, remodeling, etc., that tried to make home ownership sexy. So now that the underlying force, the housing boom, has come to an end, what to make of home ownership as pop culture, and how is that an investment play? Paul Kedrosky likes shorting Scripps, the parent company of Home & Garden Television (HGTV), Food Network, DIY Network (DIY), each of which is filled with home-related content that could very well be at its peak. Just something to chew over.
Nokia Delays N-Gage Game Service for a Second Time (Bloomberg)
Shocking, really shocking.
Durable Goods Flat, Business CapEx Spending Falls (Big Picture)
Barry Ritholtz's take on today's punk economic data. Right up his alley.
'Long-Short' Funds Labor to Thrive (WSJ)
Several "long-short" mutual funds that promise hedged, market neutral returns have faired badly this year. Basically, they sound like the poor man's hedge fund. And it sounds like you get what you pay for. Then again, by actually attempting to, you know, hedge, they're probably more hedge fund than a lot of actual hedge funds.

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