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Opening Bell: 12.14.07

Dubai's Debt Cloud

This is a story you won't read about much. The red-hot emirate Dubai is starting to face some questions over its finances. Everybody knows the basic story: no oil, so they invested in all this other stuff, like financial services and tourism, etc. And all that's gone really well. But having oil might've helped a little bit, at least in the cash flow department. Anyway, apparently the ratings services are getting a little skeptical and this time they want to be ahead of the ball (for a change). Just as long as the money comes through for all those crazy buildings, we're happy.
Lufthansa to Buy 19% JetBlue Stake for $300 Million (Bloomberg)
We're not quite sure what the significance of this is just yet. The news started breaking late in the trading day yesterday that Lufthansa would take a major stake in jetBlue, sending the company's shares sharply higher. The company has had a pretty rough year, starting on Valentine's day, and since then has lost a good chunk of its value. Though in fact it was already off its highs even by then. Should be interesting to follow, if nothing else.
Baseball's Drug Bust Casts Wide Net (WSJ)
On the one hand, we're very happy the Mitchell Report came out when it did: we can't help but notice that stocks did a nice turnaround just as news was breaking. On the other hand, it really is a big steaming pile of garbage isn't it? Logically, there are about a million holes to poke in the hole thing, like why didn't the 70 no-name stiffs who took steroids end up hitting 60 homeruns like Bonds, Sosa and McGwire? And how can they legitimately say that taking steroids encourages kids to do the same thing, when the only way kids know they have is when guys like George Mitchell stage big press conferences announcing as such?
F.D.A. Panel Rejects Over-the-Counter Cholesterol Drug (NYT)
No doubt about it: the FDA is looking out for you. A panel has rejected an attempt by Merck to have a low-dose version of its anti-cholesterol drug sold over the counter. The panel noted that in a trial, many who wanted to buy the drug wouldn't have been suited for it. Meanwhile, if you're concerned about your cholesterol, you can always go to your local, all-natural apothecary and find 25 different herbs and tinctures that will supposedly do the job just fine.

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News Corp. Completes Takeover of Dow Jones (WSJ)
And there you go. As expected, the long bloody battle ended quietly. Word is that the news News Corp. management are in the offices, cracking whips starting today.
Why Opera’s antitrust complaint against Microsoft is a bad idea (ZDNet)
You might've missed the news yesterday that the small browser maker Opera has filed an antitrust complaint against Microsoft with the EU. The complant:...... bundling Internet Explorer and Windows. Wow, that's a blast from the past. But of course, then again, so is the EU's attitude on technology and antitrust, so you never know if it will resonate. It's sort of pathetic really. Other browsers, most notably FireFox have done just fine by competing. Just in case you are interested any more in how ridiculous this is, check out the above link, which has some pretty scary stuff in it.
Wal-mart and mom-and-pop (Ideoblog)
Interesting looking academic paper on whether Wal-Mart has had an impact on the profitability of Mom & Pop retail operations. The answer appears to be no. Also, Reason magazine this month looks at roughly the same thing, drawing particular focus to record stores, where small shops that know the local market have crushed the megashops, like Virgin and HMV.
Report: Kansas Cotton Dropped by Half (AP)
A truly jaw-dropping report on the missed opportunities for Kansas cotton.