Opening Bell: 3.27.08

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A Decade Later, John Meriwether Must Scramble Again (WSJ)
The recent struggles at John Meriwether's (ex-LTCM) have been documented elsewhere, though the WSJ brings everything up to speed. His big bond portfolio is down a cool 28 percent this year, though more significantly they're dealing with a potential wave of redemptions that they're trying to stem. There's a lesson here. It's not that Meriwether is a bad money manager. We have no idea on that count. And it's not that he's unlucky. Again, same. It comes back to the old, old cliche: that you're better off losing a ton of money in one of the biggest high profile fund collapses of all time then in just a moderately bad one. Cause any fool can lose $100 million of OPM.
Prudent Bear's Approach Delivers Payoff (WSJ)
Amazing interview with David Tice, the longtime manager of the short-oriented 'Prudent Bear' fund, which has been doing well of late. Tice has been a bear for a long, long, long time. Well before anyone coined the term .com bubble. If you ever catch him on CNBC, he just looks like a bear. Very dour. Anyway, the interview: first amazing part is that he apparently went on a date recently (of course he's not married) and when he described his macro view to his date, the date was ruined: "You can almost feel the energy go from the room." Awesome. That's like the coolest story we've ever heard. We have to imagine going on a date with the guy would probably be as fun as going on a date with Ralph Nader. The second best part: where he says down at the end that he really wants to get bullish again. Yeah. Right. No. Way. The dude likes being the negative guy. The contrarian who talks about bubbles everywhere as far as the eye can see. We'll be shocked if we live to see the day he turns positive.
GE and Santander Reach Preliminary Agreement
A little spit swapping from GE and Banco Santander, based in Spain. The latter will acquire GE Money businesses in Germany, Finland and Austria and Its Card and Auto Financing Businesses in the UK. The former will acquire Interbanca, which Santandar got through acquiring ABN. The transactions are valued around 1 billion EUR.
Clear Channel Communications Comments on Temporary Restraining Order Granted in Merger Case by Texas Judge
Clear Channel said in a press release this morning that a Texas judge has granted a "temporary restraining order" against the banks, who are looking to walk away from their funding commitments. No, the banks aren't stalking, they just want to save a few billion. From the announcement: "We are pleased that the Banks and the Purchasers will now be able to move quickly to complete the loan documents and fund the Merger." Somehow we doubt it will move that quickly.


Grassley Asks Whether Paulson Pushed Fed Into Bear Stearns Deal (Bloomberg)
Self-righetous Senators are getting set to inject themselves in the whole BSC-JPM thing, as they pound the table about what the taxpayers have the "right to know". First of all, we doubt too many taxpayers really care about this stuff. Second, why, of all things, do taxpayers have a right to know about this? The government keeps tons of secrets. Is a bizarre and complicated finance deal really worth trying to be transparent over? Meanwhile, Senator Grassley (who always struck us as a bit of a populist -- he's from Iowa, btw), says he wants to know whether it was Paulson who was the driving force behind the Fed's actions, suggesting that if it were, it would represent a political situation.
Introducing the Freakonomics Prediction Center (NYT)
The Freakonomics guys are extending their brand, partnering with a startup to launch a quasi, sorta prediction market. Of course, this is America, so no money. Just, you know, bragging rights and the chance to maybe one day get mentioned in something Steve Dubner writes.
Pressured, Motorola Splits in Two (NYT)
This happened yesterday morning, but we're curious: why haven't we seen any puns about Motorola having taken a RAZR to itself, and slicing down the middle?
Grant Calls Fed's Balance Sheet an `Economist Nightmare' (Big Picture)
Barry posts a Bloomberg interview with Grant, of Grant's Interest Rate Observer fame. Check it out.

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