Skip to main content

Opening Bell: 6.5.08

Temasek rebuffed late plea from Bear Stearns (FT)
Another tid-bit worth adding to the official history of the decline of Bear: The failed bank sought rescue funding from Temasek, the big SWF from Singapore. According FT's 'people familiar with the matter' declined for political and practical reasons, i.e. they just didn't want to invest in Bear. The request for a lifeline was made that Friday, the 14th, so it was truly a last-minute deal.
Verizon in Talks To Acquire Rival Alltel (WSJ)
Props to David Faber for getting this one right first... Vodafone has confirmed that its Verizon Wireless business is in talks to acquire Alltel, the rival network taken private awhile back for around $27 billion. And in fact, according to reports, that's the price that Verizon would be paying, so not much of a return for the PE-owners of Alltel. Actually, no return. We're thinking that just getting paid back, however, would be a nice "win" for the debt holders in this case.
Backstage at a Bank Funeral: Feds Swoop In on an Unsuspecting Town (WSJ)
Very, very cool piece looking at the process by which the FDIC takes over a failed bank. Not a "bank" like the ones we usually talk about, but an actual bank: you know, depositors, tellers, gumball machine in the lobby. The whole thing is about perception, trust, and the frailty of the bank business model, once folks start doubting its solvency. In order to avoid arousing panic, the article notes, FDIC officials, when they first enter a town, pay for stuff on their own credit card and lie about who they work for, lest anyone get wind that they're in town. We're hoping they get reimbursed.
Obama Campaign Open to Helping Clinton Pay Off $20 Million Debt (Bloomberg)
Clinton is going to officially concede on Saturday, according to multiple reports, which will no doubt devastate her rabid supporters. It looks like the Obama campaign may have had to bribe her a little, as his surrogates suggest he'd be willing to help her pay off some of her campaign debt (which is to herself). Just to have her out of the race, we think it'd be worth it.
Wings paint Hockeytown red (Detroit Free Press)
Sorry, but whenever one of our teams is champ, we've gotta let you know. Bring out your fresh octopii.

World 'faces years of high food prices' (FT)
So says the UN. You can take it with a grain of salt, though you might want to save some to season away the years of rancid, gamey, sub-standard food you'll be eating well into the next decade.
Food Is Gold, and Investors Pour Billions Into Farming (NYT)
Speaking of food... NYT looks at all the finance-folk buying into the ag business directly. The most unintentionally hilarious part has to be the pic of a hedge fund head sitting in front of a dual-monitor setup with the caption: "Andrew J. Redleaf, head of the hedge fund Whitebox Advisors, bought several grain elevators from ConAgra and Cargill." For one thing, glad you had to be in front of your monitors to pull that one off, and for another thing, we can't wait to see how you mark them to model, if things turn around. This is also a great line: "Some traditional players in the farm economy, and others who study and shape agriculture policy, say they are concerned these newcomers will focus on profits above all else, and not share the industry's commitment to farming through good times and bad." Yes, we can guarantee to you that Andrew J. Redleaf does not share a commitment to farming through good times and bad.
Yes Ben, the Dollar Does Matter (InformationArbitrage)
Roger Ehrenberg takes aim at the notion that the weak dollar doesn't matter. It's an idea that hasn't necessarily seemed wrong when we've thought about it in the past, but Ehrenberg offers some sharp point, notably the fact that the us is a debtor nation: the weaker the dollar, the more expensive it will be for us to borrow. The whole thing is worth a read.