China, Hong Kong Hit By Credit-Tightening Measures (WSJ)
While you were sleeping, your Asian shares fell. Once again, the Chinese Government jacked with reserve requirements in the hopes of cooling things a bit. Inflation is at 12-year highs. So the market dropped by 7 percent. This is all par for the course. Hong Kong's Hang Sen fell by just under 4 percent.
E.U. Snubs Microsoft on Office Systems (NYT)
Well at least they're being consistent: The EU, which has given Microsoft a real hard time over anti-trust stuff for awhile, is recommending that various business and government units use open source software, as opposed to MIcrosoft products. Given their stance, that's not ridiculous. What is ridiculous is that in the US, while various governing bodies including states went after the company, they continued to rely on it exclusively. The best is when government web sites demand that users be on Internet Explorer to access some e-service. So with one hand you slap the monopoly and with another you perpetuate it. Ultimately the EU thing shouldn't be to worrisome though for the company... the history of open source adoption by fiat has been pretty poor.
Apple Aims for the Masses With a Cheaper iPhone (NYT)
We were hoping it wouldn't happen, but it did. The iPhone 3G was announced. It would've been really cool if folks had been totally wrong, and some other something had been announced, but no such luck. The basic verdict... Apple wants to own market share big time. The price has been sliced to $199, though data will fees will be a bit more expensive. And it's all on the traditional model now. No more monthly recurring revenue streams to Apple -- just a one-shot, one-kill deal, though there's now the whole third-party apps business, which will provide more business for the company. Even this Apple hater at the Opening Bell is tempted to pick one up given the price.
China's Haier considers bid for GE unit (FT)
Chinese appliance maker Haier has been on the short list for the GE Appliance business from the beginning. Presumably it's got the capital, or access to it, as well as the desire to move westward with a proven brand name. What more do you need, really? It's one of several global bidders, including Mexican and European firms, and word it it's pondering a bid somewhere in the $7 billion range. GE Appliance had revenue of $7.2 billion last year.
Corn Deluged by Iowa, Illinois Rain Cuts Yields, Boosts Prices (Bloomberg)
This is just what we need, more external, upward pressure on ag prices. Normally it's droughts. The farming world is in a perpetual state of drought, and it seems to have been so for the last two decades. On the other hand, farmers continue to farm in droughtland, so perhaps we have to rachet back our rain expectations, and just acknowledge that the midwest has never been the rainforest... but wait! Now it is rain. In Iowa, massive rains last month are what's damaging crops. Such a cruel twist of fate. Corn is already up 44 percent this year.
Obama: Give economy $50 billion boost (CNN)
Hey! Obama! The primary is over... you can end the pandering tour anytime you want. No doubt McCain will come out in favor of a $100 billion stimulus next. Problem is the two kind of agree on a bunch of stuff, even econ. Even, for that matter, beef and ranching policy.
More Telecom Deals Coming? Don't Be So Sure (TheStreet)
Kinda obvious, but also kinda important... just because Verizon is buying Alltel, it doesn't mean there's a slew of big wireless deals in the hopper dying to jump out. Maybe something could happen with Sprint or T-Mobile, but there aren't really that many players left, and each time there's a deal, the Humphrey Hirfindahl index gets closer to the red zone, making regulatory clearance a tougher sell.
Do We Really Need a Few Billion Locavores? (Freakonomics)
It's not that we hate the notion of people eating food out of their garden -- in fact, some truly fresh and delicious vegetables can be procured that way. And the time spent tending, say, a tomato in the backyard can provide a welcome respite from the worst of city living. But the notion that we'd be better off economically if we all took this route is dangerous hogwash. Stephen Dubner takes a look at the issues, including the econ. Basically, the global food econ is like any other global economy. It works. This is also a good point on the nutrition aspect: "There's a lot to be said for the nutritional value of home-grown food. But again, since one person can grow only so much variety, there are bound to be big nutritional gaps in her diet that will need to be filled in."