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Opening Bell: 2.6.08

Icahn Set to Host Blog On Corporate Abuses (WSJ)
Carl Icahn is apparently set to start a blog at, where there's apparently nothing. It looks a little chintzy. Seems like he could do some design work, though we're sure he won't waste much money on that. We're also still not 100 percent sure it's not a fake. You know, like some Newsgroper spinoff. But apparently it's real. The blog's topic will be corporate governance, so hopefully he'll engage with the broader corporate governance-o-sphere. And just a guess: he's probably not going to go into detail on his active investments, which will be a disappointment. In fact, we were particularly excited to hear his discussion about Greenbriar, the railcar maker.
Asian Stocks Sink After Dow's Plunge (AP)
The back-and-forth volley once again. Hang Seng down 5.4 percent. Japan down 4.7 percent. They're just following us, but now it's time to follow them.
Solid waste oligopoly (Oligopoly Watch)
We once talked to a guy who leaned into us and told us, "If you want to know the real dirt about New York, talk to a trash hauler... one of New York's Strongest." And to be perfectly honest, we weren't surprised that a trash hauler knew where "the real dirt" was, though that's not actually what he meant. He meant in terms of how this city runs and certain unappealing facts about this process. It was basically just a bad choice of words. Anyway, the whole industry is dirty. Oligopoly Watch takes a look at the industry and how hard it is for startup players and the scandals facing the majors. It's almost like the bond rating business.
BHP raises Rio bid; no immediate Chinese riposte (AP)
This has been in the works for a while, but now it's finally happened. BHP Billiton has gone ahead and made a -- are you sitting down? -- $147.4 billion hostile offer for chief rival Rio Tinto. It was seen coming for awhile, but the final numbers are still rather jarring. $147.4 billion. Billiton says it's the firm's final and only offer and that it's all in the hands of Rio. The move, of course, comes after Chinese firm Chinalco and Alcoa took a stake in BHP, so it's not clear how that will play out. Expect this to drag out a long time and to totally dominate Microsoft-Yahoo in the popular consciousness. Ha, yeah right.

Bottom Line for (Red) (NYT)
The bottom line is that the (Red) anti-AIDS campaign has raised $22 million and that's not a whole lot, especially given the marketing muscle and celebrity behind it. We're sure there's spin and maybe the $22 million isn't taking into account "awareness" value, but we know that that's not really a whole lot of money. Maybe there's some better ways to spend our anti-AIDS efforts.
Is Britney Inefficient? (O&M)
An interesting an important debate: is Britney Spears the human manifestation of market failure. Are network effects conniving against efficiency? More here.
2008 US Election (Intrade)
Well, the markets did okay. Obama got a big spike last night, right after the Georgia primary results came in at 7:00, as exit polls suggested he did pretty well among the white vote. But as the night wore on, this result didn't turn into much of a harbinger. In a number of close states, CA, NJ, MA, etc., Clinton got solid victories. Not so solid that the race is over though. In fact, the market is almost unmoved after the day, which might be the most startling fact of all. After a 22-state primary, there's almost no repricing of the odds. On The Republican side, McCain lead early and often and is now priced at a winner's premium.