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Opening Bell: 11.03.08

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Government finally says "No" to someone's request for a Bailout. (NYT)
GM's request to tap the loot provided by the 700B US Financial Bailout Package was politely declined last week, leaving the GM/Chrysler deal a little stickier. GMs argument pretty much stemmed from the point that they should qualify as car sales are off by 26.6% in September, 12.8% YTD, and that's not good for a lot people. Cerberus, which reportedly paid $7.4B for the car manufacturer has been trying to strike alliances on the international level, but has thus far come up short. I think Chrysler should be allowed to fail, as I don't see the value added by them being around. I understand that there's tens of thousands of jobs at stake, but one point rings clear: there's too much Supply in the automotive market.
FTSE posts marginal gain - 0.7%. (Reuters)
While Lloyds and Barclays did their best to drag down the FTSE last night, it was the energy and mining sectors that pushed the index higher through the session: strong metal prices allowed for modest gains.
Of more long-term interest: it appears as though HBOS has taken a £5.2B loss due to investments in "risky" assets, which is up £2.7B in the third quarter. On the upside Lloyds revised its numbers saying that the synergy due to the deal could show savings of up to £1.5B per year, up from £1.0B as stated previously.
Middle East may be joining Welfare Line. (WSJ)
Iraq is taking an unprecedented step: due to falling oil prices, the country is cutting its budget by 16%. Here's the kicker: ""We could have had a bigger budget but the lower price of oil has affected us," Mr. Jabr said in a speech Saturday at a conference promoting U.S.-Iraq business and investment relations."
You read that right, in a joint conference promoting the U.S.-Iraq ... and stop: that's as far as we needed to go. Consider this: the one country that the US has a pretty stable hand on in the Middle East is saying "Yeah, we could spend less, it's okay that Oil prices are down, that makes us happy" while the other countries, let's say the ones that don't like us (good morning, Iran) are cutting production by 199K B/D. I'm not a conspiracy theorist, this one just sits a little too out in the open to ignore.
Societe Generale Profit Declines 84% on Writedowns. (Bloomberg)
There's this joke I've heard that goes: "I have a French rifle for sale, never shot and only dropped once" at which point the person throws their hands up in surrender. So, what were looking at here is France's third largest bank showing massive declines, and doing so on the heels of this embarrassing debacle, which makes me wonder just "how together" these people have their **it?
JPMorgan Halts Foreclosures, to Redo Mortgages (CNBC)
"Prime mortgages, especially where there are pay-option ARMs involved, (are) becoming a broader issue," said Charles Scharf, head of retail financial services at JPMorgan.
Have a pregnant teen daughter? Want one? (Reuters)
Teen pregnancy has now been linked to racy television behavior, according to the Rand Institute. While teen pregnancy has been on the decline since 1991, the study focuses on the roughly 1MM girls (women?) that happen to wind up with seed during the course of their developmental years. Really? You're just now coming around to the fact that daddy's little girl sleeps with half of the UES because she was watching it on TV for the last decade? I can't imagine what Gossip Girls is going to do to future generations of women, nor do I care, really.
Today in Economics. (Bloomberg)
We're going to be looking at the Construction numbers at 10ET, with the consensus showing about .8% down. Also set to drop at ten, and just as important, is the ISM Manufacturers Index which should show a contracting market.
Down Construction coupled with a drop in Manufacturing is going to have people screaming recession from the roof, so be ready for a fairly annoying day. I think Waxman should investigate this immediately: could it be that the contractor pay scale is so ridiculously high compared to the value added by their job functions that it's driving the Index down? If they were to take pay cuts, offer their services at 1/10th the current rate, would we see an increase in new construction? What's a cow? Cake or Death?
--William Richards