Opening Bell: 5.8.08

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Consumer borrowing unexpectedly surges in March (AP)
Some interesting info on the consumer front, as Americans dipped aggressively into their credit card borrowing lines in March -- at a faster rate than expected. It's a double-edged sword though. On the one hand, sure, it's a little troubling that shoppers had to put so much on high-rate plastic. But spending is spending. Better they keep shopping and run into a wall of debt than neither.
Papa John's surpasses $1 billion in online pizza sales (AP)
Why anyone would pay hard money for online pizza is beyond us. But you know kids these days: with their Facebook and its juvenile practice of gifting nonsensical items. Still, so much money in it. And Papa John's of all companies. Again, quite surprising, but if the model works, that's great.
Wave of Lawsuits Over Losses Could Hit a Wall (NYT)
This story probably hasn't gotten enough press: what will the lawsuit situation look like when this credit collapse is all over. We're still sorting out dotcom related law suits (or if we're not still dealing with them, that's a recent change), and those losses were sort of peanuts to some of the hits investors are taking here. Granted it's different -- there weren't many retail investors in risky SIVs, etc. But still, where there's a loss there's a suit.
Best Buy to Invest in U.K. Retailer (WSJ)
Best Buy and Europe's (quaintly named) Carphone Warehouse have announced a JV, whereby Carphone Warehouse will fold its stores in with Best Buys in exchange for a cash payment. The two chains will operate as one company on the continent, although the smaller footprint shops will still be branded Carphone Warehouse, while large, big-box Best Buys will still be Best Buys. We're always a little skeptical of these retail situations with multiple names and store footprints, but maybe they won't integrate them too deeply. And maybe it's time to change the name away from Carphone Warehouse. Just a thought.
Toyota's Net Income Falls 28% (WSJ)
They continue to get tripped up: A combination of a strong Yen and a rough market in the US pushed Toyota's net income down by 28 percent. Sales were up, however, a modest 3.8 percent, so the problems can't totally be pinned to seemingly top-line factors. For the coming year, Toyota says its profits will come in below expected. Toyota shares currently trade around $104, down from a high of around $140 last year.


The Dreaded R-Word (American)
Six economists around a table debating whether we're in a recession or not. This ain't a science folks, that's for sure. See also this, on CEA Chairman Edward Lazear not seeing a recession. And, while you're at it, see this from Barry, on how recessions often start off with an uptick in GDP.
ExpressJet: Probably Toast (Felix Salmon)
Another airline possibly on the brink. This one's a unique case though, cause it's getting hit from multiple angles. There's oil, but duh. There's also the auction-rate market, totally harshing the ExpressJet's liquidity mellow. And then there's a credit card holdback being imposed, whereby its credit card payment processor is only paying it 50 percent of transactions amid doubts about the company's viability. Who knew the Airline business was a trust-based business model. It is. As noted though, it still trades at $3 per share.
Oil Just Out-Bubbled the Tech Bubble (Infectious Greed)
You always gotta be a little bit careful with these charts overlaying past patterns on top of one another, but still, this one is very interesting. It's form these guys originally, and it puts a chart of the oil rise against a chart of the tech and home builder booms. Certainly a lot to chew on there.

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