Opening Bell: 9.16.08

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Futures Turn Positive, AIG Indicated Higher (CNBC)
We're back! Well, who knows. At least at this very moment. Or, like 15 minutes ago or something, things were ticking up a bit from yesterday. Even AIG is up, after the downgrades came in. Maybe some case of sell the rumor, buy the news or somesuchnonsense. Of course we're a long time from the actual open. Goldman Sachs comes out with earnings in a couple of hours. That should be fun. Also, just looking from the CNBC ticker we have on mute right now in front of us, it seems oil is down too. Are we missing anything here?
BofA and CEO Are Poised to Ascend Banking Ladder (WSJ)
Ok, so now it's Ken Lewis' chance to prove that he's the savior of Wall St. He had a big media day yesterday, obviously, including his press conference with John Thain and the one-on-one with Maria Bartiromo. He did well. Perhaps it's our own biases, but we instinctively trust anyone with a southern accent. That just screams "no nonsense". It's also cool that he's a Georgia St. graduate.
WSJ.com adds to user experience (DMNews)
The new WSJ.com is up and it's well... different. It's actually really dark and ominous looking, though maybe we're influenced by the actual content (all very dark and ominous). But don't judge it yet. The thing is, all redesigns reflexively look bad at first. Think of your reaction every time Yahoo! Finance redesigned. But then a month later you forgot what the old one even looked like. No doubt WSJ.com will be the same. And the main infographic up at the top today is actually a pretty cool touch.
Seoul stock market closes at 18-month low (Xinhuanet)
Rough day for Korea's KOSPI, which didn't trade on monday. Seems that a one-day holiday wasn't enough to stave off the damage. Down over 6 percent to an 18 month low while you were sleeping. By the way, the Monday holiday: Chuseok. Wikipedia describes it as a celebration of the harvest.
Sell-off spreads to insurers (FT.com)
Some more 'while you were sleeping' carnage. In Europe, financials took it all pretty bad, including, not surprisingly, insurers (something about AIG). You can go pick through the numbers, you probably already get the idea.


Obama goes for the jugular (Megan McArdle)
Barack Obama's attempt to hang Wall St.'s woes around McCain and Bush's neck will probably fall totally flat. Megan McArdle ably calls rubbish on the notion, particularly the idea that none of this would've happened under a Democratic adniminstration. Of course, McCain's line that "we will never put America in this position again" is equivalently nonsensical. On the other hand, as we've pointed out, Bush has been a pretty big champton of this "ownership society" nonsense, and the idea that increasing homeownership is some kind of moral imperative for the nation. To some extent, this may have helped inflate the housing boom, and to that extent Bush may deserve a little blame. Still.
The deal of the century? (Oligopoly Watch)
In case you missed it, the real big story from yesterday was that Best Buy bought out Napster! When you felt the earth move at 8:00 AM yesterday, it was the marriage of brick and mortar retail and a subscription music service, not anything else that might've been on the news.
Investment Banking 2.0: Into the Future (Information Arbitrage)
It's never too early to start thinking about the future, however far off the future may be. Roger Ehrenberg has a long piece offering his thoughts. It ends: "Investment Banking 2.0 will be the re-emergence of the boutique, the focused, nimble, high-touch firm that was the bedrock of capital formation in the early years of the stock market boom. Because these mega-firms being created at the urging of the Treasury are not sustainable. They'll live just long enough for investment banking losses to be absorbed by the commercial bank's larger capital base, after which the best talent will flee for greener pastures." Sounds exciting, and sounds like what's happening in tech.
Negotiating with Kenny Lewis (Long or Short)
As we mentioned, Ken Lewis' cocksure demeander charmed us yesterday on what was otherwise a no-smiles kind of day. That being said, the whole deal seemed weird. Watching the press conference reminded us a little bit of the day (we were in high school at the time) when Citi and Travelers announced their deal, and we were promised a new financial order. Long or Short's take on Ken Lewis' negotiation tactics: "Fruit Vendor: This is my last orange, as you can see it's bruised and damaged and, between you and me buddy, I am probably going to throw it away at the end of my shift. I'll sell it to you for a quarter. Kenny Lewis: I WILL PAY $1 FOR YOUR ORANGE BUT YOU MUST ACT NOW!!! That orange is the perfect strategic fit for my oranginization and I must have it. It's even more perfect than the fit of that kumquatwide I bought last year!! Delicious! Fruit Vendor: You, sir, have a deal.
Feynman on...everything (Orgtheory.net)
Having been raised by a physicist, we're steeped in Richard Feynman lore (Einstein lore, too, but then, so is every school kid). As the day goes on, and the news depresses us, we'll probably be taking some time out to watch this Feynman YouTube clips like Feynman on Chess and how it relates to scientific discovery. At 1:20 we like: "The thing that doesn't fit is the thing that's most interesting". Here he's referring to 'castling', though he could also be referring to 'en passant'. Anyway, good stuff.

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