Opening Bell: 12.5.07

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Ex-Amaranth Traders Lose 15% at Moore Capital's Canada Unit (Bloomberg)
This is total hearsay on Bloomberg's part, but word is that some ex-Amaranth traders had a rough November at their new hedge fund at Moore Capital. By rough, says the sources, their fund was down 15 percent for the month. One investment consultant had this to say: `"Assuming clients are invested in more than just this pool, they could be OK.'' Very reassuring to know that if your entire portfolio is not in one fund, then a 15 percent, one-month loss isn't the end of the world.
Florida Fund's Debt Has `Indeterminate Value,' Blackrock Says (Bloomberg)
We've only half been paying attention to this $14 billion fund down in Florida that's facing liquidity problems. The good news that its assets aren't worthless. Assets rarely are. The bad news is that the value of these assets is "indeterminate", so there's on way to sell them at this time. Sounds familiar. Anyway, yesterday we were on an elevator for about 20 seconds and they had CNBC playing and we saw Florida AG Bill McCollum (the erstwhile Rep. on the Clinton impeachment committee) assuring folks that the fund had good managers, who have been performing well for years. Picking up pennies in front of steam rollers, perhaps? Then again, we may have misheard him, since there were 6 other people chatting in the elevator, so he may have said no such thing.
Senate Approves Peru Trade Deal (NYT)
We've sort of been feeling like the news is too negative. Seriously, it's all losses, loss of confidence, frozen funds, etc. Anyway, the Senate has approved a trade deal with Peru, so hopefully that will help brighten all of our days.
GMAC Will Name Chief Risk Officer After Mortgage Loss (WSJ)
Remember back in the old days when GM was described as a "bank that happens to make cars." Boy, those were the days. We never really bought it, and as it turned out, the company's banking business wasn't as awesome as everyone thought. Anyway, it seems like a little late for this, but the company (GMAC) is appointing a CRO, a Chief Risk Officer. Of course, we assume they've always had someone in charge of managing risk, but that person probably didn't have any power. Instead, their job was probably to make sure that the numbers were arranged in such a way so as to make risk look contained, regardless of what bets the the bank made. Now, they'll be right their in the c-suite, so there'll be no ignoring 'em.

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Cisco taps former Motorola CTO to fill vacant management slot (San Jose Mercury News)
Cisco is hiring the recently departed CTO of Motorola. Why is are we telling you this? Not because we think you really care, but because her name is Padmasree Warrior, which is probably the coolest name for a CTO ever. Seriously.
Abbott Labs cuts 1,200 jobs as stent market ebbs (Reuters)
Stent maker Abbott Labs (they do other things as well, obviously) is shedding 1200 jobs, due to the weakness in the stent market. This isn't a surprise. We've been following stents for awhile on the Opening Belll, and are constantly astounded at, well, the troubles of this market. But there's another reason for the layoffs. Turns out, Abbot is just getting too darn good at making stents. That's right: too much efficiency. When you can make stents blindfolded and in your sleep, like Abbott apparently can, you can probably shed a lot of jobs.
Poker Player Reese Dies at 56 (AP)
One of the world's all-time great poker players, Chip Reese, passed away yesterday at the age of 56. He died in his sleep from complications from pneumonia. The winner of last year' WSOP HORSE (Hold 'em, Omaha, Razz, Stud, 8/ better)championship, mainly focused on high stakes cash games apparently, he also tried his hand at business: Brunson and Reese eventually became business partners, investing in everything from oil wells and mining to TV stations and racehorses and becoming sports betting consultants. None of the ventures was successful, Brunson said. "We went to look for the Titanic. We went to look for Noah's Ark. We were two of the biggest suckers whenever it came to business, but we both had poker to fall back on," Brunson said. "Thank God we could play, so we always survived."
Another Bush Legacy (The Agitator)
Radley Balko has an interesting char that looks at the growth of federal subsidy programs. As you can see, it's skyrocketed under Bush II, which is no surprise to anyone. But it's always gone up -- what's most interesting is that the slowest period of growth on the chart over the last 22 years was from 1995-2000, the great period of divided government. With Clinton and the Republicans at loggerheads, they really didn't manage to up spending too much. Expect this to zoom ever higher if a Democrat wins the White House and the party holds both chambers of Congress.
Did the New York Giants Risk Losing the Game to Cover the Spread? (Freakonomics)
Some pretty explosive allegations against the New York Giants here: that they (might) have managed the final few minutes of last Sunday's game in such a way as to ensure that they beat the spread, but while risking the W. We have no idea, but an interesting read.

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