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Opening Bell: 3.14.08

Chrysler tells all employees to rest in July (Detroit Free Press)
We mentioned yesterday that Chrysler's latest executive add was an ex-Toyota guy. But we're wondering what he thinks out of the latest news: the company is shutting down for two weeks this coming July in order to save money. The news was announced in an email sent by CEO Bob Nardelli to the troops. It's a rather un-Toyota move, since there whole thing is flow and continuity. Maybe it is that bad: so much inventory and waste in the process, that they're willing to grind the global gears to a halt, with all that entails, to get a clean start. And just curious: is Bob Nardelli a manufacturing guy? Because the idea of just shutting down and starting over sounds like something that works on a spreadsheet if you're trying to play a little catch up, but seems fairly disconnected to the shop floor.
Microsoft, Yahoo meet to talk merger: report (MarketWatch)
Various reports yesterday said Microsoft and Yahoo met to discuss their deal... perhaps the first official meeting between the two sides, but hard to say. Apparently they weren't so much negotiating, but rather Microsoft was pitching its case on the benefits of the deal.
Paul's Weather Theory of Socioeconomics (Infectrious Greed)
A cool theory on how the weather reports can teach you about the local economy. Example: in San Diego, apparently, they typically start of weather reports about how bad the weather is in the rest of the country (rain, hail, wind, snow, sleet, etc.) before getting to the part about how it's a slice of heaven in San Diego. The theory: it's basically a way of making people who live in the heart of subprime-ville feel a little better about themselves. The theory also extends to Brazil, but you can click through on that.
Update on Weekend Storm (Joe Sobel's Weather Blog)
We're having a hard time divining the socio-economic implications of this particular weather-related blog posts. But we're still a big fan of Joe Sobel's weather writing: He uses words like "maybe" and "suspect" a lot, conveying a very appropriate level of uncertainty. More weather reports should try to do the same.
The Root Cause of Email Overload (Evolving Excellence)
So more wisdom from people who understand manufacturing, but this time it's something relevant to you: the root cause of email overload. We're still under a mountain of RSS feeds and we're fearful that we won't climb out of it. It might be time to take the Nardelli tack -- erase everything and start with a clean slate.

The Bracket, Cracked (WSJ)
It's two days until Selection Sunday and then in just a few days after that starts the greatest sports post-season known to man: The NCAA Tournament. The Big Dance. The Tournament of 8-Squared. WSJ, in its infinite wisdom, has done some analysis and decided to put it on page one. Check it out before you fill out your card.
Japan Economy Quakes Anew As Yen Soars Against Dollar (WSJ)
Speaking of the weak Dollar, we continue to hear more anecdotal evidence about the benefits of it to the US economy. Like, tech developers are getting calls from people in Eastern Europe and Asia to help work on new web projects. That's not really a joke: we heard that from a guy this weekend. Meanwhile, there's a connection between the surging Yen and the cratering Nikkei.
Debt Collectors Try to Put on a Friendlier Face (NYT)
It should be boom time for the debt collectors, so it makes sense for them to be happy. Beyond that, even debt collectors are really salesman aren't they? They go to some family who owes, say , $10,000 and won't pay it, and then sell them on the idea of paying less. "How about $7,000 and this whole thing goes away." So a new "friendlier face" act probably goes a long way. Also: debt collectors are hiring, so they themselves may help sometime people out of their funk. Hey maybe they could hire people who are in debt, garnishing their wages directly.
Maui Drivers Watch Gas Prices Reach $4 (AP)
We thought it was a little unfair, the other day, when President Bush got savaged for not knowing that gas was costing $4 per gallon in some places. No wonder he didn't know: it's Hawaii. When was the last time he got out there? What, does he get to take a vacation or something. We live in New York, so we didn't know either, but now we realize, that even if we lived in Illinois, we probably wouldn't have noticed the price of gas in Hawaii. And gas is always expensive in Hawaii. It's just part of the tradeoffs.