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Opening Bell: 12.19.07

Bear Stearns Chiefs to Skip Bonuses (WSJ)
This is going too far. Look, it's been a rough year at Bear (as elsewhere), but skipping bonuses? You gotta eat, right? Then again, you have to wonder how big the bonuses were going to be for Jimmy Cayne & Co. this year. As a totally objective statement, if they were too meaningful, they were probably too big. This is still just a report. It's possible that at the last second, they'll take the money. But all in all, probably some smart PR and a positive message to send to the mass of employees.
Fed's lending proposals too late to save homes (Mercury News)
An op-ed from the San Jose Merc is represenative of the views on the new fed mortgage efforts: too little too late. And you know what: that's awesome. The only good things that the government does are the cosmetic ones. You knew the new proposals were a total joke, because they were "discussed" in a filmed meeting, in what was obviously the most scripted conversation Ben Bernanke's ever been part of. Hilarious.
Martin's Double Vision (WSJ)
Ah, Kevin Martin. On the same day he lifted an old rule on owning newspapers and radio stations in the same market, he imposed a cap on the size of any one cable company. He maddens and infuriates everyone on each side of the aisle. No doubt if asked, he'd whip out the old chestnut, "when I've got big corporations and left-wing activist groups complaining about me, I know I'm doing something right!" (wink)
German business climate at 22-month low (MarketWatch)
See, the EU may not be that picture of economic strength you thought it was. German business statistics have slumped to a 22-month low. And there's all that stuff about shifting demographics, young to old, ethnic strife, socialized health care, enormous public debts. Sounds like us, except more consternation about immigration.

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G.M. to Start Another Round of Buyouts and Seek Cheaper Labor (NYT)
What's the saying: you can never be too thin, you can never have too many friends, and you can never have too few employees if you're a car company. Also, you can never pay them little enough. We might also add: we can never have too low trading commissions, to cop a phrase from Ben Stein back in the days he use to shill for etrade.
Detroit Revival Vies With Industry’s Decline (NYT)
Finally, a revival is underway in our hometown.
Magna Carta Sells for $21.3 Million (WSJ)
A rare original, first-edition copy of the Magna Carta is worth $21.3 million. That seems like an emanently fair price to us. Obviously, it should be worth a lot more than most fine art, and at $21.3 million it is. The buyer: David Rubenstein of the Carlyle Group. Figures that a private equity guy would get it. Now he's going to use it as collatoral to take out $100 million in loans. Then he's going to devise a brilliant leasing scheme for people who want to borrow it and securitize the document, so that the public can own little bits of it.
Apple of the W. Side Eye (Post)
Another Apple store for the Big Apple, this time at 67th and Broadway. We were in the cube this weekend. Packed like crazy. And as much as we're ambivalent about Apple stuff (and we are), we were glad right then that there were already two other open Apple stores to ease the congestion just a little bit.
`Deal With Devil' Funded Carrera Crash Before Bust (Bloomberg) (via CrossingWallStreet)
Just an awesome story about subprime. It starts with a guy making a $5,000 bet on one hand of Blackjack in order to make payroll at his subprime lender back in 2002. Our kinda risk taker. For real.