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Opening Bell: 1.29.08

Baucus Stimulus Plan May Spur Conflict (WSJ)
One of those things they teach you in undergrad poli sci is that the Senate doesn't like to take its cues from the House. The House could pass a resolution calling the Senate the most important of the two bodies, and the Senate would still find something in the language to change. So it's no surprise that Senators are not quite ready to rubber stamp the eocnomic stimulus first passed in the House. Sen. Max Baucus has proposed an alternative econ stimulus plan, whose main divergence from the House bill seems to be that wealthy folks get a rebate too. There's also an unemployment insurance extension not in the House. Just proves that the Senate/House divide actually runs deeper than the Democrat/Republican divide, which is actually sort of depressing.
Liberty Media Moves to Take IAC From Diller (WSJ)
The mind-boggling trapezoid known as the John Malone-Barry Diller-Liberty Media-IAC relationship has only continued to get more bizarre in the last week. Ever since IAC decided to split itself into five companies, the various parties have been growing tense and now Libierty wants Diller ousted. Great drama.
Operator of Walk-In Clinics Shuts 23 Located in Wal-Mart Stores (NYT)
This is too bad: we've always been optimistic about the role that retail, walk-in clinics could play in the healthcare system. You know, for your garden variety malady, you just walk in, pay $30 to a nurse and get your prescription. But what sounds good on an intellectual level doesn't always work in business, it would seem. CheckUps, which was operating clinics inside Wal-Marts has decided to shutter 23 of its stores and it's behind on payments to its nurses. Not sure what's going on exactly, but obviously not a great sign.
Further revelations dent SocGen’s reputation (FT)
The Kerviel story has legs -- which is as you'd expect when you're talking $7.1 billion. Increasingly, it's one of those what/when did they know kind of deals. And then when maybe earlier than previously admitted, even if the what isn't obvious. But apparently warnings were given as early as a year ago about a trader named Jerome Kerviel and how he was trading Eurex derivatives. What exactly those warnings were, however, is not known.

Florida Republican Primary
We recently met a well-known TV political pundit who absolutely refused to give us a prediction on who would win the Florida Republican primary today. So let's go to the markets... as voting begins in the Sunshine State, John McCain hovers in the mid- $.50s while Romney is in the low $.40s and Rudy, who staked his entire campaign on the state is at $.03 on Intrade. Romney and McCain have been trading the lead for the past week or so. McCain was up after SC, then Romney after leading in some polls and now McCain after getting some key endorsements. So what's the trade? Well, we'll defer to the experts. Good luck.
Wisdom of the Web (NYT)
Just curious: What's with NYT and business traveler blogs. A couple years ago, if we recall, they actually wrote an article about how business travelers weren't blogging much. Seriously. They must've been so desperate for blog-related stories that the absence of a certain genre of blog was noteworthy. But alas their wish has been granted cause now they are blogging. They specifically site, which aggregates some business travel blogs, including Gary Leff's View From The Wing, which we've been fans of for awhile. Not that we're obsessed with frequent flyer miles the way these guys area. But to get an economic understanding of the civil aviation industry, it's an interesting angle.
Liveblogging the State of the Union (Megan McArdle)
Megan McArdle liveblogged the State of the Union last night and her summation looks about right to us. Here's our question: if the markets decline today, will Larry Kudlow blame it on the Republican President? And it's fair of him to ask: if the markets go up today, will we finally admit he's right that markets basically just move up when Republicans are in the spotlight?
Power Shortages Affect Gold, Platinum and Aluminum (Metal Miner)
Metal Miner relays some interesting information on the ground in China about industrial operations forced to curb back production due to electricity shortages. Literally, certain operations, like metal plants and even mattress makers have been reducing their output, because they don't have the juice to run full bore. The same is happening in South Africa, apparently, which is affecting their mining industry. Certainly a story to pay attention to. As a commenter notes, maybe a global recession couldn't come soon enough.