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Opening Bell: 6.25.08

Illinois Plans to Sue Countrywide, CEO (WSJ)
This is just the beginning of the legal fun we'll have... Illinois (where we might have gone to school K-8th grade) is suing Countrywide and its CEO, citing deceptive marketing practices in the sale of mortgages, ultimately wreaking havoc on the state. Just cause we're board of making the same argument on this stuff over and over, we're going to skip making a point altogether. That being said, this seems a little crazy: "Ms. Madigan says she is asking that all Countrywide loans originated using "unfair and deceptive" practices be rescinded or modified in some way, even if Countrywide has to repurchase the loans." If that's successful, it pretty much compels every other state to follow suit.
Barclays to Raise $8.9 Billion to Shore Up Capital (Bloomberg)
Add it to your spreadsheet. You'll never guess that investors included Temasek (Singapore), Qatar, China and Japan.
Monet fetches record $80.5m (Reuters)
We'll try to save the art market analysis for Felix Salmon, but it doesn't look like he's commented on this one yet. Anyway, some painting of water lilies took in over $80 million, almost double what had been expected. Altogether, Christies' "meet the impressionists" night took in $284 million, over a quarter of a billion dollars. We don't really know what any of this means, but just in general hard not to see it as a continued healthy sign. Tomorrow morning, we can find some more hard analysis other than what's going on in our mind: "that's, um, a lot of money."
Approval Is Near for Bill to Help U.S. Homeowners (NYT)
Just in case Illinois can't single-handedly turn the housing crisis around, have no fear. Congress is on it. Here's the key chunk of what the bill looks like: "The centerpiece of the Senate package is a rescue-refinancing plan aimed at stemming the tide of more than 8,000 new foreclosures a day that lenders are filing across the country. The plan would allow distressed borrowers and their lenders to stem losses by allowing qualified owners to refinance into more affordable, 30-year fixed-rate loans with a federal guarantee. The legislation would also provide benefits for first-time buyers, who would receive a refundable tax credit of up to $8,000, or 10 percent of the value of a home, on purchases of unoccupied housing. "

So Is The Economy Really That Bad? Indicators Say "No" (Beef)
As much as we typically like the dazzling analysis that Beef Magazine puts out, we're not 100 percent convinced with this column, if only because the argument seems a little light. That being said, the cattle folk sit at the crossroads of just about everything big: higher grain prices, real estate prices, energy costs, waning consumer demand, floods, droughts, etc. Some people would ask UPS or FedEx how the economy is doing, and that's fine, but you should broaden your horizons a bit.
The Greenest Show on Earth: Democrats Gear Up for Denver (WSJ)
Are we just compensating for our own insecurities on how seriously we take environmental stuff? Seriously, what is it that makes stories about the struggles of green do-gooders so amusing. Nonetheless, they kinda are. To wit this WSJ piece on Democrats trying to do a "green" (doi) convention and how irksome that's proven to be. One hitch: fanny packs made out or organic cotton don't exist. Here's the part we like though, cause it says a lot about discourse. The mayor challenged the city to make the convention the greenest one ever. That's probably unrealistic, given the comparably light environmental footprint of past conventions. So, said the convention's "green director" the goal now is to make it: "The most sustainable political convention in modern American history." Honestly, that's even worse.
State vs. anarchy -- the false dichotomy (Unenumerated)
So true.
Qatar in talks on LSE, German bourse partnerships: TV (Reuters)
Yesterday it was announced that the NYSE won the bidding for a 25 percent stake in the Doha exchange, edging out the Deutsche Bourse and the LSE. But it looks like those other two may not be totally shut out. Evidently, Qatar's sovereign wealth fund has been chatting them up on various "partnerships" in order to bring about a leap in the country's financial markets, whatever that means. For the most part, it's all pretty vague and early at this point.