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Opening Bell: 3.24.08

JPMorgan in Negotiations to Raise Bear Stearns Bid (NYT)
The speculators may get paid off: JPM is said to be considering a quintupling of its original bid for Bear Stearns, meaning it would pay $10/share, rather than the original $2. Despite all this talk about folks sopping up the stock at any price just so they could vote for the $2 offer, the move is seen as helping JPM win over shareholder holdouts. According to the report, it's the Fed that's hesitant to see the renegotiations, partly because it doesn't want to have seen as engineering a bailout of Bear shareholders.. If the two sides do agree on the $10 price, Bear may invoke a rule, legal under Delaware law, allowing JPM to buy up to 39.5 percent of the company without shareholder approval. Caveat investor: the talks could still collapse at any moment.
Revealed: the dirty tricks of rogue traders (Telegraph)
Lots of talk across the pond about the so-called recent 'bear raid' on HBOS. The Telegraph offers a major expose on the whole thing, including several juicy details of it, like: the creation of front companies to disseminate faulty research, hacking into corporate email systems, money germinated out of Sinagpore, money paid to jurors in a case involving the company, etc. The only thing the Telegraph won't say about all this: the name of the fund, which it claims if for legal reasons. Anyway, you might want to read the whole thing to get a better sense of this. Definitely will be worth following. (via Daily Caveat)
Who Says You Can't Go Home Again? (WSJ)
Former executives at Countrywide are getting back in the game. With support from Blackrock, a group of colleagues led by former President Stanford Kurland are setting up a new distressed mortgage venture, whose aim is to actively go in and restructure non-performing loans and then restructure them -- flipping them for a profit. The name of the firm is simply awesome: Private National Mortgage Acceptance Company LLC, or PennyMac. The fund will have $2 billion and be based in the same Cali town as CFC.
Oil, Gold Decline on Dollar Recovery; Wheat Rallies on Supply (Bloomberg)
Commodities and the dollar looking to be continuing their actions off of last week, though these things flip around in an instant. God hit $906 per ounce, while certain oil contracts are around $100. One Euro meanwhile is worth $1.53. Looks like Bernanke really has been vindicated.
Chairman Cox says Bear might've lived, cause it had plenty of liquidity. It just didn't have confidence -- a point we've discussed multiple times in the past. Frankly, we're not sure it matters either way. There's not really a second prize for having had liquidity, but no trust. But, as Gordon Smith at the Conglomerate points out, maybe this vinidicates Cramer a little bit. Or maybe the CEO Alan Schwarz for that matter.
BoE, Fed deny mortgage security buyout plan (Reuters)
Don't believe everything you see linked-to from Drudge. At least officially, there are no plans for a major bailout via central banks acquiring massive amounts of mortgage-backed securities on the open market. This had been reported by the FT, though both the BoE and the Fed say it's not true. On the other hand, the BoE says it has certain unspecified tricks up its sleeve.

Replacing Wire With Laser, Sun Tries to Speed Up Data (NYT)
We've heard in the past that this could be big: replacing the wires that connect circuitry with tiny lasers. Apparently physical connectors inside of electronics remain a big bottleneck, so even though data moves faster and faster, it gets bogged down when it gets inside the device. Apparently SUN is at the cutting edge of this stuff.
'Meet the Press' transcript for March 23, 2008 (
Did you miss Erin and Maria on Meet the Press on Sunday? We did, because we pretty much just watch McLaughlin these days -- although MTP usually is our second choice if we have to watch two. So in case you missed it -- the two were talking economy -- here's the transcript.
Google Distorting Info on 20% Time? (Google Blogoscoped)
Apparently the whole Google 20 percent thing -- 20 percent of an employee's time should be spent working on side projects -- is basically a thing of the past. And the most famous product to have come out of that, GMail, didn't. It was a normal project (no surprise there). Sounds like Google is becoming just another normal company.