Opening Bell: 12.03.08

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Goldman Considering Internet Banking, Free Pens and Checking (Reuters)
Take a moment to let that sink in. Everybody good? Okay. In a move to cheapen the brand name and blend into a crowd of "the average" Goldman is seeking to join the world wide web community of Banking, though they're not sure exactly how or when it's going to be done yet. While the immediate gratification of the idea is obvious, in the long I can't help but think it's going to help destroy the prestige of the firm. Glenn Schorr feels the same way:

"This move is pretty much the polar opposite of what you think about when you think about Goldman Sachs," said the UBS analyst. "But one of the keys to their future is being able to fund their balance sheet, and if they and others can't do it in traditional ways, it makes complete sense to explore other avenues."

Merrill Plans To Cut Bonuses (Reuters)
Merrill Lynch is looking at a 50% cut on average, with traders and investment bankers who are lucky enough to not get laid off bearing the brunt of the cuts.
If Merrill's thought here is that cutting bonuses won't have any affect in attrition, they're wrong. The argument that no one on the street is a just one, but firms are still picking up value hires and internationally there's been some opportunity. Moreover, the street has a good memory of such things: I can promise you that performing traders won't readily forget getting it in the ass, and will seek to relocate when the opportunity arises.
Paulson Concerned Congress Has Turned Into Little Bitches (WSJ)
Paulson is temporarily halting his request for the remaining $350B because Congress's whining and "we need this" attitude is unbearable. I would appreciate an all or nothing stand by the man here: these people haven't had a clue what's going on since day one, but they've insisted on injecting their opinion into everything, which is a testament to their ignorance. The form of our Government is primarily to protect: whereas ultimately freedom is primary goal, sanctioned intervention into the everyday only serves to subvert that. But they're not protecting us in this case, their protecting their interests - they're just so closely aligning it with protecting us that to attack one is to attack the other, parasite and host.
Government shouldn't be parasitic.
Icahn Sues Friend/Real Estate Mogul (NYTimes)
Icahn is playing the billionaire equivalent of "slaps" with longtime friend Leon D. Black as the two head for court over Realogy Corp.'s seeking to refinance $1.1B of debt and the negative impact it may have on shareholders.
Icahn: "I'm getting bored, man; you wanna come over and play G.I. Joes?"
Black: "I would love to.. wait, No! Come on. You know what? Screw you man!"
Icahn: "Leon, man, you gotta cross over the anger bridge and come back to the friendship shore."
Black: "'Cross over the anger bridge?"

Icahn
: "Yeah, that's where you're at: you're stuck on the anger bridge."
Auto Wants $34B (WSJ)
I'm positive that the auto companies are failing, and I have no doubt that it's going to put thousands of people out of work, but it's indicative of the problem that two weeks ago GM needed $12B to float and now they need $18B. The only option at this point is a structured failing of the companies, a stoppage of production, and a restructure through Chapter 11. New leadership would have to be brought in - that would be imperative - none of the old members could seek to gain from this in any manner. New operating budgets, US Government picks up the pensions for GM (bene's go out the window), Chrysler manufacturing and processing gets absorbed by Toyota or Nissan, Ford is forced to stop making POS autos.
--William Richards

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