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Opening Bell: 4.1.08

UBS Seeks Fresh Capital, Expects $19 Billion in Write-Downs (WSJ)
Exactly as expected, UBS says it has raised up to $15 billlion (also about 15 billion CHF thanks to currency parity) and that it expects write downs of $19 billion. That's a lot of money. Total write downs at UBS have now reached $31 billion. The company hopes to hive off all of its nasty, real estate-related assets by turning them into a separate unit, which may be spun off or sold. Perhaps the idea is that if you bundle a mountain of illiquid assets and turn them into their own company, you might be able to catch a bid for 'em. Also: The Chairman is stepping down. He's being replaced by the general counsel, who is apparently not actually named Chuck Prince.
Maybe not so nonsensical after all (Econbrowser)
How hard could home prices fall? 50 percent? Economist Menzie Chinn thinks that number sounds a tad high, but it's possible. An interesting report, walking through the numbers and the math to figure our worst-case scenarios for the housing fall. 50 percent seems a bit beyond the range of what's realistic, but it's not totally impossible. Anyway, some interesting stuff in there to read through.
Dell Weighs Alternatives to Its Link With CIT (NYT)
Dell's found itself tied up in the whole credit mess via its relationship with commercial finance firm CIT, which is having all kinds of problems of its own. Basically, CIT has been the backbone of the Dell Financial Services unit, which provides loans to finance Dell products. Anyway, no official word yet on what the company plans to do, except that it will, of course, explore some strategic alternatives. The article notes that both Microsoft and Avaya are CIT partners.
Microsoft Unlikely to Raise Yahoo Offer (WSJ)
The Journal reports that Microsoft isn't interested in raising its offer, as Yahoo would like. Who knows though what's really going on. Hard to say whether this is news news, or whether this is spin coming out of Microsoft designed to send a message. That being said, the report says there haven't been any fresh talks lately, which is newsy, since a lot of folks have been interpreting the recent quiet as meaning that the two sides were busily hatching together a plan.
Record reserve growth, record dollar reserve growth and no evidence of diversification among the countries that matter (RGE Monitor)
Foreign governments continue to sock away ginormous piles of cash and that cash is still in dollars. Despite the precipitous slide of the greenback, there really hasn't been a diversification away. Brad Setser takes a very long and detailed look at the asset compensation around the world. Definitely worth a scan if this is your bag.

Uh-Oh: Cars/Vacations/Flat Panels Not Tax Deductible (Big Picture)
Just a note: if you refi'd your house and haven't done your taxes yet, and you spent some of your refi money on stuff like flat panel TVs or cars, that part is not tax-deductable. Stupidly (in our opinion) a flat panel TV doesn't count as an improvement to the home -- yes, but what if it's a wall-mounted one? Apparently it doesn't matter. Barry thinks it's going to be a problem. We're not so sure. We can't imagine that all those people in refi-subprime land were spending their money on HDTVs.
Google and Virgin announce Mars expedition and colony
HAHAHA It's April Fools and Google came out with this hilarious press release about Richard Branson's Virgin Group and it funding a mars expedition. Can today be over yet?
Maltese Falcon for sale, asking € 115,000,000 (SuperYachtTimes)
VC Tom Perkins is selling his super high tech yacht. Check out the picture. Awesome. (via Dealbook)
Does eBay Offer Commodities? Good Question (SeekingAlpha)
There might be something interesting in here for auction wonks. Or this could be an April Fool's Day joke. We're not exactly sure. It's something about whether eBay offers up commodities for sale on its site and the ensuing legal implications of this. Sort of long and ponderous and then by the end it talks about the tools available to eBay Turbo Sellers. So we're not exactly sure what's up. How's that for a ringing endorsement, eh?