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Opening Bell: 12.13.07

ArcelorMittal Offers to Buy All China Oriental Shares (Bloomberg)
They're biggering themselves again. World's largest steel company ArcerlorMittal is snapping up the China Oriental Group, giving it a toehold in the Chinese market. It had already owned a stake in the company, but in order to acquire the whole thing, it offered a 16 percent market premium of $2.4 billion. And on the off chance that Rio and BHP manage to merge, the steel industry is now that much more unified. The picture on the left, of course, is of our friend Lakshmi MIttal presiding over a real wedding, not just a steel merger.
Playing the (Price Arbitrage) Game (MetalMiner)
Speaking of metals, MetalMiner is a new blog that's instantly going in our feedreader. It's all about the world of sourcing metal. Even if metal sourcing isn't your job (and given our demographic, it probably isn't), there's still a lot to learn by reading an industry insider's look at "the game". Anyway, the latest post has to do with metal arbitrage, which should certainly appeal to you.
Asia-Pacific's Economy Likely to Slow (AP)
Even the roaring Asian economy could feel the impact of slowing domestic growth and the credit/mortgage crunch. Indeed, the collective growth rate of East Asian Emerging Economies had been expected at 8.5 percent next year... but now it's at 8 percent. Zouch.
Federal Judge Upholds Law on Emissions in California (NYT)
A judge has upheld a California law allowing it to regulate auto emissions, dealing a setback (maybe) to the auto industry. CAFE standards is not something we've followed closely. The media likes to portray it as the automakers kicking and screaming in an attempt to stop fuel productivity increases, but our guess is that they're not as miffed about the regs as folks claim. Just a hunch.

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Dow Jones Purchase Nears Completion (WSJ)
It all comes down to this: Dow Jones shareholders are voting today on whether or not to support News Corp.'s bid for the company. Of course it's a done deal. As the article points out, the only real question mark is the level of support from the Bancroft's, which was last measured at 37.4 percent of DJ total voting power.
MTV to Let Freelancers Stay on Its Insurance (NYT)
A big win for organized labor. After protesting benefits cuts out in the cold in Times Square, certain freelancers (or permalancers) will win-back their benefits from Viacom, after having had them cut. Apparently, some aren't happy with the new policy, but it still looks like something of a victory. Seriously, we didn't think they had a chance -- after all, who was going to take a handful of striking MTV workers seriously? Well, MTV did.
Bank Ratio Data Can Foreshadow Systemic Banking Crises (Research Recap)
Are we on the verge of total, systemic financial collapse? Hope not. But if this is what keeps you up or not, this paper may help you fill in some of the puzzle. It's not specifically about the US or the credit crisis, but rather it takes a look at what we can glean from Bank Ratio data. Apparently, there's some useful stuff in there. Of course, it's just one piece.
Guild is Not Great (Idea Province)
Just in case you were inclined to support the Writer's Guild, this lesson explains how their attitudes could (thoeretically, possibly) imperil the lives of children. Do read.
Fed Tries to Separate Market Strains From Economy (Bloomberg)
This piece in Bloomberg echoes our view. The Fed has given up on trying to stop an economic slump -- it just doesn't want sharp pain. It's okay if the economy goes into a long, depressing slog, a la Japan, just as long as we don't have some cataclysmic shakeout during the period. It's all about delay delay delay. This is probably a reasonable attitude for the Fed to have. It's only human nature to want to put off the pain for another day.