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Opening Bell: 1.23.08

Regional Indexes Rebound (WSJ)
It's been a volatile week and it's only Wednesday. After two days of fear, the foreign markets reversed course, with several former big losers surging by 5 percent. The big winner was Hong Kong, which tacked on a cool 10.7 percent. Japan sort of lagged, gaining only 2. So will we take our cues from abroad?
U.S. Futures Fall, Point to Sixth Straight Drop for S&P 500 (Bloomberg)
Probably not. It's sort of hard to get excited about a rate cut and a surge overseas when iPod unit sales are only growing by 5 percent and when the growth story of the decade reports conservative first quarter guidance. In addition, we've got eBay and Motorola on tap today, so could be more bad news. Nobody wants to hear that Motorola's new strategy revolves around more iterations of the RAZR. That'll be good for another half a percentage fall on the S&P.
Stocks May Drop to Reflect Recession, Strategists Say (Bloomberg)
This is awfully specific. An analyst at Bank of America says stocks need to drop another 4 percent to really price in a recession. Apparently the withering declines have so far been profit taking, or basically they're just not enough. 4 percent's pretty minimal though. What he's essentially saying is that a recession will be fully priced in sometime this afternoon, or maybe Thursday or Friday.
The (Unlisted) Hot Tickets at Davos (Dealbook)
Dealbook's Davos Diary reports, unsurprisingly, that the hot tickets at the World Economic Forum are not the main panels, but the private panels, lunches and after-parties hosted by top names, like Rupert Murdoch and the Google Guys. Makes sense. It's the same with SxSW down in Austin. Sure you can be like everyone else and go see Feist, or if you know what's hot, you can go to some listening party/bbq with the Pixies. Anyway, to us Davos has always seemed to attract more attention than it's worth. Yes, we understand that anytime you have the super-famous ans super-powerful hanging out in Switzerland together it's news. Fine. But we've never heard of anything of substance or meaning coming out. It's basically a chance for George Soros to be a boldface, right? Back in the day when it was all Bono, Bill Gats and Kofi Annan -- that seemed like its metaphysical peak.

What does the Enron cert denial mean? (Ideoblog)
You know you want to know.
Ken Lay: Not Such a Bad CEO After All? (O&M)
And speaking of Enron, it's about time the revisionists revised their view of Ken Lay. Actually, it seems a little early. He hasn't been dead that long. He must've been really good for his legacy to start resurrecting itself so soon. From the paper: "News analysts assert that a positive feature of Lay’s legacy is that CEOs are now spending more time monitoring the details of financial reports and internal controls. This study suggests that the opportunity costs of this change in CEO behavior are higher than these analysts suggest." That we have an easy time believing.
Urgently, Washington Responds (NYT)
Washington is frequently criticized for being too slow, so this article about how quickly the various players in the economic stimulus have come together should counter some of those critics. On the other hand, if you're like us, and you think Washington moves too fast, then here's some disturbing, Capote-esque literature about how fast Bernanke, Paulson, Nancy Pelosi and others can swing into action ot stave off an emergency. As we see it, there aren't many important things that can't wait a day or even a month. Rarely do you regret taking a deep breath and keeping your impulses in check, especially when it comes to stuff like doling out $150 billion dollars or slashing interests. Anyway, while guys like Jim Cramer yell to they turn purple that people shouldn't panic, Roger Ehrenberg has some nice advice: "Pull out the New York Times crossword, sharpen your skills, read a good book and hold on." We'd add play some chess to that, but that's just us. Oh and do more lifting.
The Inevitable Dumbing Down of Building Systems (New Daedalus)
We made a bet to a friend the other day that the next big economic expansion in the US would come from advances in energy technology and energy utilization. That stuff's been hot for awhile, but maybe a little early. It might need one more bust/boom cycle to really take off and start being a growth leader. And we don't just mean solar power and ethanol or even algae, but advances in how traditional electricity is consumed. But the above is a sobering piece from our favorite blog on smart buildings.