Opening Bell: 8.4.08

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Fed likely to hold rates steady amid crosscurrents (AP)
After flailing about and slashing like crazy over the past several months, expect lots of "steady hand of the captain" metaphors when the Fed doesn't move interest rates. Now comes their steely resolve.
The High Cost of a 'Free Credit Report' (NYT)
Longstoryshort: Freecreditreport.com, the heavily advertised credit report site, isn't actually free. Or there's some fine print or something, and it can end up costing you. But you knew that already, cause they must spend a bajillion on advertising, and they're not doing that for charity. The point is though -- and this is one we've made before elsewhere -- like the Dell dude of our time? You just know that guy is going to get busted for something and then go down as a critical face of this moment in time. Does anyone sell t-shirts yet with his likeness, cause if not, they should.
Time Warner Is Ready To Deal AOL Components (WSJ)
Time Warner has extricated its legacy dial-up sub. business from its content and advertising business, according to this report. The announcement will be made along with earnings on Thursday. This has been a really long, slow process. Technically speaking a sale of the access business has been on the agenda forever. Should be interesting to get clean financials for both units. After EarthLink showed this quarter that there can be lots of income growth in the business courtesy of cost reductions, we'll see how much AOL has been doing of the same.
Brangelina get $14M from magazines for twins' photos (Newsday)
Today's the day! People magazine finally unveils photos of Angelina Jolie, her partner and their two new twins. They reportedly got a sweet $14 million from it. Just curious: is there any way these photos will really drive an additional $14 million + profit for the issue. Maybe it will. That seems high to us, but if someone who's done more analysis on this question would like to chime in, that'd be great..
Time for a Second Stimulus Package? (American)
Surprise, the first stimulus package turned out to be an utter failure. It seems that an economic strategy that's based on the theory of counterfeit (the printing press) will only get you so far. So now it's time for another one. The question is, will this one rest on the same theoretical underpinnings as the last one? Anyway, not sure we totally agree with this report from The American, suggesting some avenues that Congress might go down this time. But it's a lot better than just handing out crispy new checks. That's for sure.


Jewish Channel Offers Issues, History and Offbeat Movies
It took quite some time for our friends at the Jewish channel to get on all the major cable carries. Now they are carried by Time Warner, Cablevision and Verizon, chocked full of fascinatingly quirky programming. Yet another example of the rise of niche programming. In the future, the mass of your mass communication will be much smaller, more homogeneous and (if you do it right) more loyal.
Cool videos to start the week
We agree with Tom Kirkendall, this is a really cool video to start the week with. It's not really a video, so much as it is a map showing the growth of Wal-Mart locations since its inception in 1962 to the current day. Now some may look at this and remark about how Wal-Mart's grown like kudzu or wildfire, and there's no doubt that's true. But another fascinating aspect of this visualization is that Wal-Mart really was a regional retailer till pretty late into last century -- basically until the early/mid 90s. Suspect that'd surprise a lot of folks.
Detroit tells workers of impending layoffs (DetroitNews)
Sad news from home... Detroit plans to issue city layoffs by the end of September. What a rut that city is in. Unbelievable, really, how consistently Detroit has been unable to make any economic progress whatsoever. One reason for the budget shortfall is: "...in part because of the City Council's refusal to sell half of the Detroit-Windsor Tunnel." It'd be depressing if the city sold its half of a key tunnel just to make budget one year. On the other hand, there's probably no good reason for the city to own it.
Alexander Solzhenitsyn, RIP (Volokh)
Ilya Somin offers some views on the death of Alexander Solzhenitsyn. Here's more from Gordon Smith at the Conglomerate.

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