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Opening Bell: 1.4.08

Even Trucks Hit the Wall in an Erratic 2007 (NYT)
Yes, the car market in the US was that bad this year. Even truck sales stunk up the joint. Trucks, of course, have long been the on bright spot on the US scene, particularly for US automakers. Even back in the day, naysayers who said GM was nothing more than a big bank had to admit that they also made some money on trucks. Here's a weird line though from NYT: "Even when sport utility vehicles lost their allure earlier this decade, pickups hung on, fueled by the need among builders and business owners to replace their workhorses, and by the need of some drivers to own the biggest wheels on the block." Lost their allure? When? Maybe they're just playing to the crowd with that one.
United Airlines says weather hurt December traffic (MarketWatch)
United Airlines says that the worst weather it's seen in 80 years caused it to have twice the industry delays in the month of December. Plainly, the heavens are trying to play a trick on the company, by making storms happen right around United hubs that mysteriously only affected United, leaving its competitors unscathed. Not surprisingly, the union blames staffing shortages.
Americans late payers on most loans since 2001 (Reuters)
We keep hearing about how it's not just subprime, that all forms of debt, from commercial real estate deals to credit cards is imperiled. Word is that Americans are getting really delinquent on their loans. Just curious: is it at all possible that people are just lazy about sending in payments? Speaking form personal experience, anytime we have a bill to pay that can't easily be payed electronically, it often gets paid a few days late. If so, that could clear a lot of this up. SImple fix.
Europeans chafe under New Year 'nanny state' laws (AFP)
It's not just New York and every municipality this side of the Atlantic. Back in the old country, the creep of annoying laws, banning all kinds of things that governments deem not good, is starting to pick up. Pretty soon you'll have to travel to South East Asia to get Foie Gras and smoke a cig.

Gap names Kneen Banana Republic creative director (Reuters)
No really, this time, the Gap and its subsidiary Banana Republic are finally going to refresh its product line, making it appealing again. While the appointment of creative director Simon Kneen only applies to Banana, we really think they still need help at the Gap. Cargo pants in the window? Please.
Romney's big investment in Iowa turns bitter (Salt Lake Tribune)
Well, a big loss for the private equity guy in the race last night. After spending untold millions in Iowa, Romney lost to a preacher from Hope, Arkansas -- the man from Hope. Romney's mistake: he should've sold pieces of himself to investors. Rather than invest so much of his personal fortune into the race, he ought to have invest about 1/10th that and got outside financing for the rest, so that other people would be holding the bag after he imploded. It wouldn't have helped him win, but it would've eased the blow some.
2008 US Election (Intrade)
Okay, Intrade totally sucked yesterday. There I said it. Sure, it was right in the morning -- Huckabee and Obama both pulled out very comfortable victories. But, there was a brief period, when the early reporting precincts had Edwards leading, that the Obama contracts really started to tank. Now look, these were like 15 percent of the precincts and everyone knew they weren't going to hold up, especially the pointy headed experts on TV. But the traders freaked out for about 10 minutes. Then the contract turned around once Obama started coming back, but the market looked pretty reactive from our perspective. As for the race today: whole new ballgame. Hillary is down to 50 percent to win the nomination, while Obama is up to 47.5 percent. Obviously, that doesn't leave much for Edwards. And your new Republican front runner is none other than John McCain, though at 30 percent, er, technically, $.30 on the dollar, it's still a wide open ballgame.
Parent of Dating Sites Looks for a Match (NYT)
JDate parent Spark Networks up for sale.