Opening Bell: 6.23.08

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Citigroup to Cut 10% of Investment Banking Jobs (WSJ)
Readers: you'll have to make sure we're on it first if it's true. The paper said last night that Citi would be cutting up to 10 percent of its 65,000 positions as early as today. It sounds like the bank basically confirmed the report to the paper, as a spokesman said: "Citi indicated earlier this year that it would be resizing this business in response to market conditions and as part of our ongoing re-engineering efforts." It's Vikram Pandit's 'bold steps' no doubt. From the report: "Entire trading desks in New York and other cities are expected to be eliminated. And unlike Citigroup's other recent reductions, this round will feature layoffs of dozens of senior managing directors, the people said."
Bunge to Buy Corn Products In $4.4 Billion Food Merger (WSJ)
A big ag deal, though frankly we're surprised that Corn Products is only a $4.4 billion company. Given its business and name and everything, we'd have expected it to be in the teens at least. Despite the boom in business for both companies, their shares had taken a dip due to the fierce Iowa flooding. Nonetheless, Bunge is increased its earnings forecast for the coming year. We don't see any huge symbolism or meaning behind this deal (readers?) certainly it's not as a big of a signal as that Russian fertilizer billionaire buying Donal Trump's mansion.
Obama, McCain Channel Clinton, Bush Legacies on Economy, Taxes (Bloomberg)
Bloomberg says McCain and Obama are channeling the economic policies of Bush and Clinton. Why could this be? Perhaps because neither is that creative with respect to economic thinking, and both Clinton and Bush and McCain and Obama are pretty much conventional party pols with conventional dogma. Democrats: Yup, they favor higher taxes for the wealthy and subsidies for behaviors for the middle class which they like. Repubs: Lower taxes, maybe some lip service towards lower spending. Really, if they're channeling, it's mainly because they haven't really thought of anything new.
Zimbabwe's MDC Quits Runoff; Pressure on Africa Grows (Bloomberg)
In case your keeping tabs. This article pegs the latest inflation figure out of Zimbabwe at 350,000 percent.


Agreements Are Elusive at Oil Talks in Saudi Arabia (NYT)
This is why oil prices may not come down anytime soon just on some jawboning from the Saudi minister. Ultimately, there's not much even they can do. It's pretty much a free market thing, even if they are the biggest producer. And realistically, Saudi can't increase production by that much per day. Here's our favorite line in the article: "The Saudis, who considered the meeting a success because of the high attendance, announced a production increase of 200,000 barrels a day and an expansion of their output capacity if needed in coming years."
The Icahn Report (Icahn Report)
Icahn hasn't updated his blog since that last one on the 18th titled "Corporate Democracy is a Myth". Honestly, we're starting to get the impression that Carl had a few things to get off his chest and is pretty much done with blogging. That's like most bloggers. They get a great idea for a post or two -- maybe a rant about something stupid they saw a newscaster say, or a peon to favorite athlete -- and then they give it up.
My Talk at Money:Tech (Bo Cowgill)
Google's Bo Cowgill is an economist who helps the company study stuff like prediction markets and other interesting avenues for research. Anyway, he's posted a video of his presentation at the O'Reilly Money:Tech conference from earlier this year. It's a good speech, in which he talks about some of the work he does at Google and some rather interesting lessons learned about workplace structure, etc. If you get a few minutes at some point, it's definitely worth checking out.
Flooding may impact stone producers (P&Q Editor's Blog)
It's not just the cornmakers getting hit by midwestern flooding. The stone and cement crowd is feeling the pinch as well, as both Vulcan and Martin Marietta have already cited the flooding for decreased EPS. Both evidently have large footprints in the midwest. Fair enough. We'll give the stone makers a pass. That being said, expect the flooding to hit a hole range of surprising companies in the coming quarter. You know the drill: Barnes & Noble will say people in the midwest stopped reading cause they were spending all their time putting sandbags around their house. Wal-Mart of course, too.

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