Opening Bell: 7.7.08

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GM Rises in Europe After Report of Job, Brand Cuts (Bloomberg)
Multiple reports that GM might cut jobs and sell some of its brands sent the stock up in Europe, though it's hard to call any of it good news. Here's WSJ's piece. Obviously, GM like the rest of the automakers has had an abysmal year, as its stock languishes in mid-capsville, at multi-decade lows. Here's a question. Of the following brands -- Buick, Cadillac, Chevrolet, GMC, Hummer, Opel, Pontiac, Saab, Saturn -- which would you sell or drop? Oh, and for a treat. Here's a look at GM layoffs and auto unions from the perspective of the World Social Website.
NBC Universal to buy The Weather Channel for $3.5B (AP)
It took a long time for the ink to dry on this one, but it finally happened, pretty much as expected: NBCU, along with two private equity partners, announced the acquisition of the boring old Weather Channel for $3.5 billion. Is this a big bet on the continued cultural resonance of the global warming issue? Maybe. It has become a big thing at the network. Or maybe it's a top.
Oil drops below $144 in Asia (AP)
Back down under $144, apparently because tension with Iran is easing. Sure.
InBev Seeks to Remove Anheuser-Bush Board (NYT)
Ok, now they are going too far. InBev says it wans to remove the entire Anheuser-Busch board, in its attempt to acquire the American maker of adult beverage maker. Outrage. It's one thing to acquire the company, that's business. But to remove all the directors and pack them with euro-types, with their questionable taste is quite another. Actually, seems this is pretty much just a formality. Really, why is this still going on? What justification is there for Busch not to sell?


'Hancock' bumps 'WALL-E' (SFGate)
We didn't see Hancock this weekend, though we did see Wanted, which was pretty awesome, even if it was terribly derivative of both The Matrix and Fight Club (both fine movies). Money-wise, one story is that WALL-E, the kids movie, didn't have much in the way of legs. It's box fell some 60 percent over the week.
Fast times in Jamaica (Information Processing)
Sorry, as the Olympics draws nearer, you can expect a little more sports on these pages. Though don't worry, they'll (almost) always have some kind of quantitative or economic meaning, though sometimes they'll just be like: whoa that 4x400M relay last night was amazing. Go USA! Anyway, Steve Hsu poses some questions about the superiority of Jamaican sprinting, and why the relatively small country is so disproportionately dominant, given its size. Unfortunately no answers. Just some ideas to munch on.
Punting on gambling stocks in 2008 proves costly exercise (BettingMarket)
Sometimes it doesn't pay to be the house. As anyone that's picked up the WSJ knows, it's been a rough year for Vegas, which is suffering one of its worst downturns in a long, long while. Turns out the online scene has been no better. BettingMarkets put together a chart of online gambling stocks for the first half of the year. It's all bad. The best one is down 11 percent, while the worst of the group lost 35 percent. Depending on your game, it might've been better to be playing against the house.
Goldman star defects to GLG (FT)
Admittedly, these trader-level industry moves are probably something that we ought to pay attention to, so we're starting now with this story of a Goldman star trader going to hedge fund firm GLG, which is losing its own star trader in October. (Insert insightful comment here).

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