Opening Bell: 2.21.08

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SocGen Reports Record Loss on Trading, Writedowns (Bloomberg)
Actually, SocGen's latest report doesn't look so bad. The French bank, reeling from the actions of a single, lone, trader, with no help from anyone else, or oversight from anyone above him, says it lost $4.9 billion in the quarter. It also, btw, took a subprime hit. But really, this is the kind of loss you'd expect from most banks this quarter.
Virgin Galactic plans more spaceships (Reuters)
Richard Branson's space company, Virgin Galactic, says it expects to build more vessels, with an eye for a commercial launch in 2010, just two years away. What's more, it hopes to turn a profit within five years of launching, so 2015. Suppose that's true, it's not too hard to imagine, in 2015, Virgin Galactic being one of the few profitable civil aviation outfits -- assuming he can pass along fuel prices and the pilots union doesn't prove too much of a thorn.
French Bank Says Its Controls Failed for 2 Years (NYT)
Speaking of Kerveil, SocGen believes its controls failed it for two years, as the first "rogue" trades occurred in 2005. THe bank's initial report also says what we just said -- he was a rogue. At this point, there's no evidence pointing to the idea that he had a partner in "crime", assuming he's actually found to have engaged in a criminal act, and assuming the French have the same concept of innocent until proven guilty that we have, though we're not sure if they do.
Obama Raised $36 Million (AP)
Forget the headline number. Everyone knows Obama is a prolific fundraiser. The important fact: Clinton's $5 million loan to her own campaign carried a 1.26 percent interest rate. Even when Romney loaned money to himself, he didn't charge his campaign interest. See, she's a hardcore capitalist, regardless of what folks think of her.


Sharper Image Files For Bankruptcy (Forbes)
The amazing thing is that it was still around, given that the Ionic Breeze business peaked a few years ago, while its retail stores are basically a spot for weary travelers to get a free massage -- and little more.
U.S. Navy Missile Hits Spy Satellite (WSJ)
Time to fire up Star Wars again. We hit the satellite, sparing us from toxic fumes and the off chance that our spy satellite could fall right into the Kremlin and not be so smashed up as to render it unusuble. So despite our miserable track record of knocking things out of the sky, we did it. Now we just have to solve that little problem of hitting hurling sub-orbital objects with virtually no lead time in measuring their coordinates. Shouldn't be much of a jump.
Is it finally time for a national broadband policy? (Telephony Online)
Nope.
Reed Elsevier to Buy ChoicePoint for $4.1 Billion (Dealbook)
London-based Reed Elsevier is buying US data firm ChoicePoint for $4.1 billion, expanding its data capabilities, which already include certain parts of its Lexis-Nexis database. The company believes it will now have a fast-growing risk management business, with baseline revenue of $1.5 billion.

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