ING to Sell Reinsurance Unit to Berkshire Hathaway (Bloomberg)
More buying activity from Buffett. Despite some of the troubles that General Re has caused its parent company, Berkshire Hathaway is upping its role in the reinsurance market, buying off a unit from ING for a modest $440 million. Among the areas ING is involved in include possible settlements for tobacco and asbestos claims. ING stil has a US-based reinsurance division that it may hold on to.
Buffett to Start A Bond Insurer For Cities, States (WSJ)
And not only is BRK buying, but it's also entering new lines of business. At least it's talking a good game. Sensing a moment, given the weakness in the major bond insurers, the company says it will enter that business, er, "seek permission" to enter it. Buffett told the WSJ that the company would commit "quite a bit of capital if we like the business." So take that what you will. You really have to hand it to him. The man has dominated the holiday news cycle. All these big announcements on the slowest week of the year, when nothing's going on. The media already loves Buffett, but in the absence of other stories, it's been 24/7 Buffettvision. Well done.
Broadcast of Golden Globes Is in Doubt (NYT)
Sparing the thousands of viewers whose husbands and wives might've made them watch it, there's talk that the Gold Globes -- Hollywood's least respectable award show -- may not get broadcast. You know, there's the whole writer's strike going on, which sorts of casts a pall on any industry-related "festivities". Now if they cancel the Oscars, that might be a big deal. But the Globes? That ranks somewhere below the Cable Ace awards in terms of credibility. We'd rather watch the Tony's even if every Broadway score these days is nothing but a load of a-melodic half-talking/half-singing.
Amazon to Sell Warner Music Minus Copy Protection (NYT)
Amazon will start selling the entire Warner Music catalog as DRM-free MP3s, which is pretty cool. Whether it helps Amazon make gains against iTunes remains to be seen, but it's hard to see the news as anything but an unalloyed good for the company.
Explaining CDOs, Overcollateralization Edition (Portfolio)
There's some famous short story about a group of English majors who sit down over some wine and admit the one book that they're ashamed not to have read. Actually, we don't know whether this was a short story or a short film or a novel, or whether it never even happened in fiction. After all, we heard about it third hand from someone who'd claimed to have read it. Anyway, they all go around until one says that they hadn't read Hamlet and the rest freaked out. That was just too much. Not having read For Whom The Bell Tolls was one thing. Hamlet was quite another. Anyway, in case you feel like that Hamlet-less English major, with respect to your knowledge of CDOs, Felix Salmon gives you a chance to catch up and join the gang.
Where is the Copper Market Headed in 2008? (MetalMiner)
Wouldn't you like to know?