Opening Bell: 8.12.08

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Russia Halts Attack on Georgia (WSJ)
Objectives of the military operation have been achieved, said Dmitry Medvedev on state TV. He added that they could start fighting again, if the Russians get any resistance or pushback and he didn't say anything about withdrawing troops. Probably too early to call this "peace".
Oil Goes to the Bears (WSJ)
Meanwhile, even war can't help oil right now, as the stuff slides even further below $114. Before we say oil is reversing, though, we need to try out a more things, like a good Nigerian pipeline attack or some offhand comments from the President of Iran. Also, has anyone considered that Summer Driving Season is coming to an end? Couldn't that explain it all?
Recall Leads Whole Foods to a Change (NYT)
It's easy to take a shot at Whole Foods, calling it an overpriced province of elitists. Sure, there's some of that. It's also a place to consistently find high quality products -- and there's a million other places around that actually charge more or less, and are more boutique-ish. Still it's easy to see how a meat contamination scare strikes right at Whole Foods' key brand message. Evidently one of its meat suppliers got sold and started using some sub-standard slaughterhouse in Omaha, leading to some bad ground beef that got a couple of people sick. Bad, but not necessarily reflective of Whole Foods being a sham. It seems like they've moved pretty quick on this one, and absent another event, we'll give 'em the benefit of the doubt that they're on top of things.
JPMorgan Loses $1.5 Billion Since July on Debt Prices (Bloomberg)
Something about more writedowns and falling debt prices and a deepening housing split. Oh you know the drill.


China's July inflation eases to 6.3 percent (AP)
China sure is pulling out all of the stops for these Olympic Games, no? This includes special technology to stamp out the rain and certain designated free speech, or protest zones, a la a modern day college campus. And they even made inflation ease ahead of the vent. This has been the subject of much handwringing over the past couple years, and though it's still fairly brisk, official consumer prices grew just 6.3 percent in July, the lowest in nearly a year. Even a 14.4 percent rise in food costs was the lowest in a year. And besides, that's volatile so you can strip that out either way.
Will Michael Phelps Win Eight Gold Medals (ESPN)
Lots of folks talking about this poll, asking people whether Michael Phelps will in fact get 8 gold medals (he's at three, following the non-excitement last night). Anyway, ESPN breaks it down state by state, and shows that the majority of people in each state thing he will except Vermont. The map looks a lot like Reagan-Mondale, if you flipped the colors. As someone who spent time in Vermont, let me throw 'em under the bus: they'll take any opportunity to tweak any institution that they feel is too patriotic or jingoistic for their liking? Is swimming jingoistic? No. But they've got a pretty low bar on that one. Sorry, but it's true. And it explains why they're haters. BTW: Here's the Tradesports contract for Michael Phelps winning at least 8 golds. As you can see, the market doesn't think it's a slam dunk, though it also looks thinly traded, so who knows.
Inflation expectations, gold, and oil (Unenumerated)
Even though the oil bubble is totally burst and yesterdays news, we still like debating the economics behind it. We're also fans of James Hamilton's EconBrowser blog. We'd link to his analysis of oil stuff more often in the Opening Bell, except that it's not exactly pre 7:00 AM material. So with that in mind, here's an interesting post from Nick Szabo slamming James Hamilton's commentary about the relationship between the price of oil and the dollar. If you're up for it this morning, come back and let us know what you thing.
Explainer of the Day (Bayesian Heresy)
Last oil thing of the day: a really nice chart explaining the component prices of high gas prices -- which again, are totally a thing of the past now. It's time to take the wraps off the Winnebago.

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