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Opening Bell: 1.10.08

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Citigroup, Merrill Seek More Foreign Capital (WSJ)
This probably won't surprise anyone, but word is that Citi and Merrill are both on the hunt for more foreign cash. Merill may get up to $4 billion and Citi's take could be another $10 billion. The other part of the story isn't a surprise either: more writedowns are probably coming and they'll probably be big. As these things go, writedown announcements seem to come pretty close to capital infusion announcements, which can't be a coincidence. So far it hasn't raised any eyebrows, for the most part, but it is worth noting that companies are only revealing their latest troubles once they've got the capital in place to make up for it. If these reports from the WSJ are true, it'll be interesting to watch the timing. Time to deep-six the phrase "beat-and-raise" for awhile (partly because it seems likely that they'll be getting rarer) and start referring to "slash-and-raise". Other tidbits: At citi, the dividend will be slashed. Oh and more layoffs.
Capital One Cuts 2007 Earnings Forecast (AP)
Seeing as its already 2008, it shouldn't be hard for Capital One to make a pretty accurate forecast for 2007. The company has cut estimates on increased customer delinquencies for credit cards. The good news: there's nobody who didn't see this shoe dropping.
Are Slow Drug Approvals Curbing Stock Price Boosts? (Research Recap)
Some interesting analysis on how the FDA has been changing the length of time and the rigor of the drug approval process and how it might be affecting stock prices for drug companies. To recap the research recap, the answer to the above the question would appear to be 'yes'.
Bundchen Denies She Only Accepts Euros (AP) (via CrossingWallStreet)
For a story that never made much sense to begin with, this one seems to have a lot of, erm, legs. Once again, supermodel Gisele Bundchen says she has no intention of going Euro only, contrary to persistent rumors. This rumor is now a few months old. A few months more it'll be in urban legend territory, in the same league as those ones about Jamie Lee Curtis.

CES: Leavin’ Las Vegas (Tech Trader Daily)
If you're at all interested in tech, then you've been overwhelmed by CES news this week. Eric Savitz at Barron's has a nice 2 minute highlight real to recap this year's show.
Norway and Gender Diversity in Corporate Boards (Conglomerate)
Last night out at the bar (it was trivia night -- "pub quiz", as agent Eames once called it on Law & Orcer: CI) someone had a copy of the economist out on the table (before the event began; during the event that would've constituted cheating) and there was an article about the requirement in Norway that 40 percent of corporate boardmembers of public companies be female. This got a lot of news back in 2003, but it's only coming into force now. Most companies are in compliance, but there are some companies that have gone private, because achieving this rate wasn't feasible. Also interesting is that some women, who are highly sought after are like on 25-30 boards. As Daniel Sokol notes, one good thing will be a wealth of new data. The problem for sociologists and anyone else in the non-scientific sciences (and economics is one of them) is that it's hard to create an actual lab. So if the EU countries would all please adopt something really unusual, our researchers would appreciate that. Asia too, if you don't mind.
What Are the Prospects for a Two Recession Bush Presidency? (Econbrowser)
Heh, hadn't thought of that.
What Do Real Thugs Think of The Wire? (Freakonomics)
Being avid fans of the wire and on again/off again fans of Freakonomics, this seemed interesting. Steven Levitt favorite Sudhir Venkatesh, whose probably the world's foremost experts on the economics of street gangs, sits down with some folks retired from the game to watch the first episode of The Wire. Some interesting highlights from the night of viewing. None of them, alas, tradable.
Taxpayer Advocate Urges ‘Apology Payments’ (NYT)
A federal "taxpayer advocate" wants the IRS to pay $1000 to taxpayers every time they screw up. Sounds nice, but who will ultimately be footing the bill? That's right: the same taxpayers that are supposed to be protected. And the IRS isn't a for-profit institution (ironically), so it's not like anyone will lose any skin over having to fork out $1000 bills. Apparently, the job of taxpayer advocate is, get this, a real government job. No wonder their solution is to solve tax woes with more spending.