Opening Bell: 1.18.08

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MBIA, Ambac Bond Default Risk Exceeds 70%, Swaps Show (Bloomberg)
Maybe, just maybe the ratings agencies are going to have to lower their numbers on MBIA and Ambac. It's just a possibility. While they're humming and hawing on this question, a new analysis of default swaps done by JPMorgan pegs their risk of a bankruptcy during the next five years at 71 percent. Financial peace of mind indeed.
Germany says talks needed over Nokia plant closure (Reuters)
Nokia recently announced plans to close a plant in Germany and move it to Romani. But Germany will have none of that, of course. A German official said that talks were needed and that the company had to explain the move. Here's what they're going to say: cheaper costs of doing business. QED.
NYSE Euronext to Acquire American Stock Exchange (Reuters)
We mentioned this last night, but wanted to add one thing. Shouldn't the Amex's slogan be "Three letter tickers without the burdensome listing requirements"? Assuming they keep the Amex as a standalone market, there's no reason this couldn't still be its slogan.
Nikko Cordial Stock Swap To Proceed Despite Citi's Woes (Dow Jones)
If you follow Citi closely, this was probably somewhere near the top of your list of concerns, but have no worry: the company's bid for Japan's Nikko Cordial is still on, despite the precipitous decline in Citi stock.


Fed Chief’s Reassurance Fails to Halt Stock Plunge (NYT)
We watched his testimony. The man seemed pretty glum, which is what the commenters on CNBC kepts saying all afternoon. The best though, wasn't the testimony, but was when CNBC played a highlight reel of his commentary set to music. And the music was that really intense sounding classical music that's usually found on NFL Films Presents. Really drove the burn, baby, burn message home.
Fox Business Channel Market Top ? (Big Picture)
We've been watching a little more Fox Business lately (don't ask). Seriously, don't. Yes, it's just as bad as the reviews, and yes, it sort of feels cool to be one of a club of just 6001. Think about how small that is. THere are trading floors with more viewers watching CNBC than all of what Fox Business has. Barry Ritholtz wonders whether the launch of FBN will go down as some sort of contrarian indicator, given that its mid-October debut was basically when the market peaked.
Cramer Rant, Version II (Big Picture)
Two Ritholtz in a row, but we had too after this line about Jim Cramer's latest ranting: "Give Cramer credit: This is a huge reversal from his prior (wildly incorrect) commentary on Housing, SubPrime and the Financials." Yes, give him credit indeed.
Weekend Preview: Is Cloverfield The New Snakes On A Plane? (Box Office Junkie)
Funny title, interesting question. How does internet buzz translate into box office success? Cloverfield seems to have it. And of course Snakes on a Plane (SOAP) had it in buckets. Oooh, and we're really going to regret saying this, but (here we go), so does Ron Paul, whose performed about as well in the primary as SOAP did at the box. Sorry.

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