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Opening Bell: 12.30.08

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BlackRock Adjusts Voting Rights (FT)
BlackRock has exercised its prerogative to adjust voting rights, downsizing Merrill's influence from 49.5% to 4.9%, which is in effect BlackRock saying "Please go away, you're not welcome here any longer." In its void the firm has moved PNC Financial Services, which has 33% ownership in the company, to 47% voting rights.
Madoff scheme touches schools (Greenwich Time)
How will future Noel generations get into these "public schools" now? Damn you, Madoff. Damn you to hell.

Two Greenwich private schools and a Stamford-based Hebrew school are among the hundreds of nonprofit organizations across the country that were partly funded by foundations invested in Bernard Madoff's allegedly fraudulent fund.
The three schools last year received nearly a quarter of a million dollars from The Valerie and Jeffrey S. Wilpon Foundation, a charity co-founded by Greenwich resident Jeffrey Wilpon, chief operating officer of the New York Mets.
The foundation is run as a charitable arm of Sterling Equities Inc., a Great Neck, N.Y.-based investment firm where Wilpon serves as executive vice president. That firm, which was founded by Wilpon's father, Fred Wilpon, was allegedly swindled by Madoff, perhaps out of hundreds of millions of dollars.
In fiscal year 2007, the foundation donated more than $227,000 to Greenwich Country Day School, a private school where Wilpon serves on the board, according to a recent tally compiled based on foundation tax returns.
Wilpon's foundation also gave $15,000 to the Brunswick School.

US Shores GMAC With $6B (Reuters)
The deal is $5B in senior preferred, at 8% plus $1B to GM to help GMAC through transition in to a bank holding company.
Ford's Answer To The Auto Crisis (AP)
Now your American Made Car can self park: because you just can't be bothered.
The Government Should Stick To Governing (Bloomberg)
The funniest part of accepting federal money has to be watching the congressional leaders that think they're in charge of it tell you how you should spend it; their years in banking have affording them a certain experience in dealing with financial crisis most bank presidents wouldn't have.
Daily Borrowing From Emergency Funds Down (AP)
The AP has numbers that suggest daily emergency borrowing is down on average of $1.9B a day to $86.3B.
Airlines Saving Cash (WSJ)
As goes fuel so goes the airlines - and now that the price of oil has dropped, they're taking every opportunity to hedge and raise capital.
IMF Calling For More Global Action (FT)
"Across-the-board tax cuts or bail-outs of troubled industries such as the automotive sector are likely to waste government money while doing little to stimulate the global economy, the International Monetary Fund warned on Monday."
The IMF is making a valid point; anymore the economy is the US isn't based solely (or even by majority) on the happenings inside the US, but they're missing something very, very important: US voters don't understand that.
All they see is that "my tax dollars" are going out the window - but in reality, it wasn't or isn't their tax money. It's the federal government's tax money. Moreover, you never saw or had access to it, you couldn't ever touch it: you have no claim to those funds.
Nevertheless, it isn't going to happen: we're not sending money oversees when Americans are losing jobs.

The Blagojevich Tapes (AP)
"Federal prosecutors are asking a court to allow lawmakers investigating Gov. Rod Blagojevich to hear tapes of four potentially incriminating phone calls the governor had with a lobbyist."
Blagojevich's attorney has been playing down the significance of the audio tapes, but that's his job: I don't see how "Blagojevich conspiring with a lobbyist to collect a campaign contribution in exchange for the governor signing gambling legislation" could be insignificant.

--William Richards