Opening Bell: 12.11.07

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Libya May Invest $100 Billion Abroad, Premier Says (Bloomberg)
When Libya buys out Bear Stearns, then the political blowback will begin. Nah, that's not going to happen, but while major investments from Abu Dhabi and Dubai are politically palatable (because they're fun-loving, secular capitalists, just like us), major Libyan investments won't go down so easily, even if they aren't officially working on WMDs or anything.. And with $100 billion in cash reserves and stated plans to invest abroad, it's only a matter of time before those investments come.
NYSE Euronext joins march of bourses to Beijing (Reuters)
Just a hunch, but it seems like this China thing is going to be big. Certainly if we were placed in charge of some major international financial institution, we'd be all over it, so it makes sense that the NYSE is opening up offies in Beijing, as it lookis to rustle up some business there. Actually, we've been pretty floored at the sheer level of stock market capitalization coming out of the country lately. Seriously, it's staggering. The NYSE is already getting its fare share, but the more the better.
U.S. Employers Trim First-Quarter Hiring Plans, Manpower Says (Bloomberg)
We tend to trust private corporate surveys more than government surveys, though there's nothing like sitting down with a good beige book and a glass of Pinot Noir on a Saturday evening. But the the latest survey from Manpower is not very good. Looking ahead to Q1, which is barely two weeks way, corporate hiring levels look anemic. Then again, maybe it doesn't have anything to do with the economy, rather it's simple a matter of increased, inflation-fighting productivity.
Rio To BHP: Put Up Or Shut Up (Forbes)
Turns out, BHP hasn't actually put a formal offer out yet. That's annoying for Rio, because there's technically nothing for it to reject. Now Rio is requesting that BHP put an offer on the table, or get the hell out of (Phelps) Dodge, so to speak.

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Medvedev: Putin Should Become Russian PM (AP)
Worried about stability in Russia? Don't be. After Putin is constitutionally barred from holding the presidency, his likely successor Dmitry Medvedev will appoint him as prime minister, in all likelihood. And we only guess who'll be wearing the pants in that relationship.
Ask.com Puts a Bet on Privacy (NYT)
Privacy is a hot trend right now. With fears over how much info Google and Facebook collect, everyone has woken up to the fact that information shared online is, well, shared. So also-ran search engine Ask.com is trying to hit on a nerve by being the privacy search engine, as it will offer features that let you erase past queries. Will it make a difference? Would you switch? We doubt in on both measures. Partly, it's that people don't really care about privacy. That's just a word they come up with when there's something else irking them, but they can't put their finger on it. And even half of those who claim to care, aren't willing to expend any effort to that end.
For a Few Dollars More, Dining Improves on Longer Flights (NYT)
On Sunday, we were down in Washington, DC and got the chance to check out the Air & Space Museum, because they were having a special exhibit about the history of air travel in the US. It was good: almost the entire thing was in some way related to deregulation. The biggest shame of course is that when airlines started competing on price, they stopped competing on the attractiveness of their staff, though honestly, we'd still prefer a cheap ticket. Other than that, airlines served better food pre-deregulation -- again, because it was how they were able to compete in a regulated environment. But you know all this. Anyway, now we can have our cake and eat it too, maybe. Or at least our cheap flight and our cake. Increasingly, for a few bucks, airlines are puttting real dishes back on the menu, though for now they seem gross. Chilled black olive spaghetti? Blech.
Economists Say Recession Risk Is Climbing (WSJ)
A month ago, the last time the polled economists, it looked like very few saw a recession coming. But we predicted that in the following month, there would be more. Because that's how these things work. That's how it worked during the last recession. Each month, the majority of economists would rule out a recession, but then each month, more would change sides. Still the majority don't see a recession, but it's up to 38 percent, from 33 percent. Also, there's a quote from Dianne Swonk in here. Where's she been?

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